Gournia is located 17 km east of Agios Nikolaos and 2 km west of Pachia Ammos in the Lassithi prefecture. At this important archaeological site an entire Minoan settlement was discovered. The city prospered around 1.600 – 1.400 BC and its decline came with its destruction, most likely by fire, around 1.200 BC. On the crest of the hill, large buildings were found, presumed to have been the palace or better the administrative center of the ruler of the region. A shrine with important findings was found not far from the palace.
Relief clay tubes with snakes on them and a clay female figure with raised arms were found on an offering table. The female figure had a snake twisted around her body and it was a cult idol but it is not known if she was a goddess or a priestess. We don’t know the meaning of the snakes either. There is a theory relating snakes to chthonic powers which is supported by the fact that jaybirds were found there as well. Having the animals of the sky and the earth gives the impression of good and evil.
All the findings from Gournia are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Heraklion.