Malia - the Nu Quarter
Located directly to the northeast of the Mu Quarter and around 300m from the Malia Palace, the Nu Quarter was excavated between 1988 and 1993 under the direction of Alexandre Farnoux (French School at Athens - Paris IV) and Jan Driessen (Belgian School at Athens - UCLouvain). It is a Late Minoan IIIA2-B (c. 1370-1250 BC) complex consisting of three main wings built around a 9.5 by 12m courtyard bordered by a portico in its southern part (fig. 1).
Figure 1. Plan du Quartier Nu, avec en gris foncé les sondages menés sous les niveaux MR IIIA2-B. Relevé J. Driessen ©EfA
Figure 1. Plan of the Nu Quarter, with the surveys carried out under the LM IIIA2-B levels in dark grey. Survey J. Driessen ©EfA
Amongst the most exceptional discoveries, attention should be drawn to the presence in the southeast corner of this courtyard of a 2.6 by 2.6m pebble mosaic, with a design of spirals, lines and diamonds. On it, the remains of a large model house with four windows and a gable roof adorned with two chimneys were discovered (fig. 2). The complex was occupied during two main periods, separated by an episode of destruction caused by an earthquake. This earthquake probably destroyed the isolated Room 14 at the eastern extremity of the Nu Quarter, in which was discovered the skeleton of a victim of this event. In addition to the rooms where people lived, the Nu Quarter has furnished the remains of dining activities, which have been identified by the presence of three ditches into which large quantities of high-quality pottery were thrown (fig. 3).
Figure 2. Maquette de maison en argile découverte au Quartier Nu. Cliché J. Driessen ©EfA
Figure 2. Clay model house discovered in the Nu Quarter. Photo J. Driessen ©EfA
Figure 3. Sélection de matériel céramique issu des niveaux MR IIIA2-B au Quartier Nu. Clichés Al. Farnoux et Chr. Papanikolopoulos ©EfA
Figure 3. Selection of ceramic material from the LM IIIA2-B levels in the Nu Quarter. Photos A. Farnoux and C. Papanikolopoulos ©EfA
The numerous surveys carried out under the LM IIIA2-B levels of the Nu Quarter revealed traces of inhabitation that extended through the Protopalatial and Neopalatial periods (1900-1700 and 1700-1450 BC). Study of the Protopalatial levels and remains has indicated the presence of one or several dwellings destroyed at the end of Middle Minoan II, in the generalised destruction that then struck the site of Malia. Paved rooms, some covered in a plaster coating that was sometimes painted red, testify to the quality of this ancient occupation under the Nu Quarter. The Neopalatial occupation can be seen in the form of several distinct structures, perhaps already organised round an open space that looks forward to the LM IIIA2-B courtyard of the Nu Quarter. In the structure situated under the northwest part of the Nu Quarter, several fragments of frescoes were discovered. They show plant motifs - papyrus and leaves - and perhaps also an eye, as well as bands of colours that must have framed bigger compositions (fig. 4). These fragments are all the more interesting as frescoes have rarely been found at Malia. The mature LM IA dating of the ceramic material from the majority of Neopalatial deposits under the Nu Quarter does not mean that the fire that brought this occupation to an end cannot be linked to the eruption of the Santorini volcano in c.1530 BC (on a late dating). Either way, it is part of a context of major destruction at the site of Malia in LM IA.
Figure 4. Fragments de fresques issus des niveaux néopalatiaux sous le Quartier Nu. Cliché L. Manousogiannaki ©EfA
Figure 4. Fragments of the frescoes from the Neopalatial levels under the Nu Quarter. Photo L. Manousogiannaki ©EfA
Select bibliography
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Inscriptions peintes en linéaire B à Malia', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 115.1 (1991), pp. 71-97.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Fouilles à Malia. Le Quartier NU 1991', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 116.2 (1992), pp. 733-742.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Fouilles à Malia. Le Quartier NU 1992', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 117.2 (1993), pp. 675-682.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Mycenaeans at Malia?', Aegean Archaeology 1 (1994), pp. 54-64.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, Malia. 'Quartier Nu', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 118 (1994), pp. 471-477.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Le Quartier mycénien de Malia', Proceedings of the 6th International Cretological Conference held in Rethymnon 1990, Herakleion, 1996, pp. 311-315.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'Malia à l’époque mycénienne, Grèce. Aux origines du monde égéen', Dossiers d’Archéologie 222 (1997), pp. 66-70.
J. Driessen and A. Farnoux, 'La Crète Mycénienne ou les noces de Thésée et Ariane', in J. Driessen and A. Farnoux (edd.), La Crète mycénienne, Paris, 1997, pp. 1-7.
I. Schoep and C. Knappett, 'Le Quartier Nu (Malia, Crète). L’occupation du Minoen Moyen II', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 127.1 (2003), pp. 49-86.
J. Driessen, H. Fiasse, M. Devolder, P. Hacigüzeller and Q. Letesson, 'Analyse spatiale au Quartier Nu à Malia (MR III)', Creta Antica IX (2008), pp. 93-110.
J. Driessen, A. Farnoux and C. Langohr, 'Favissae. Feasting Pits in LM III', in L. Hitchcock, R. Laffineur and J. Crowley (edd.), DAIS, The Aegean Feast (Aegaeum 29), Liège-Austin, 2008, pp. 197-206.
J. Driessen and H. Fiasse, ‘"Burning down the House". Quartier Nu at Malia. An ArcView Analysis', in N. Vogeikoff-Brogan and K. Glowacki (edd.), STEGA. The House and Household on Crete from the Neolithic to Roman Period (Hesperia Supplement 44), Philadelphia, 2011.
M. Devolder, 'Le Quartier Nu (Malia, Crète). L’occupation néopalatiale', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 136-137.1 (2012-2013), pp. 1-82.
J. Driessen, A. Farnoux and C. Langohr, 'Two more Linear B inscribed stirrup jars from Malia', in I. Kaiser, O. Kouka and D. Panagiotopoulos (edd.), Ein Minoer im Exil. Festschrift for Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier for the celebration of his 65th birthday, Bonn, 2015, pp. 59-74.

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