Anemospilia is a lonely site, standing on a windswept slope of Mount Juktas, facing north toward Knossos and the Aegean. Its very name means "Cave of the Winds."
In 1979, archaeologists Yanni and Efi Sakellarakis discovered the remains of a building complex which appeared to be a Minoan temple with four rooms. It had been destroyed and burned during an earthquake which had occurred sometime around 1700 B.C., at a time when palaces and towns all over Crete suffered widespread destruction.
The Sakellarakises discovered a skeleton (the "acolyte") in the outer corridor, too badly smashed to determine even age or sex; the individual had been trying to flee the collapsing building. In another chamber, they found a male lying on his back with his arms drawn up to shield his face from the falling roof beams, and a female lying face down in one corner, where she'd fled seeking shelter.
But the biggest surprise waited on the altar. By now, it was apparent that the earthquake had interrupted some sort of ritual. As the altar was excavated, bones started to appear. And then, it slowly dawned on the archaeologists that the victim wasn't an animal at all, but a young man, trussed up with his arms behind his back, and his knees drawn up to his chest. Forensic analysis of his bones indicated he had already perished and his blood had drained out when the earth shook and the building caught fire.
Poseidon's wrath had interrupted a human sacrifice in progress--the first and only such ritual of its kind ever discovered in Minoan Crete.
In the 1980s, John Prag and Richard Naeve, who had undertaken the reconstructions of the individuals at Mycenae's Grave Circle B, were called in to give faces to the four victims of the Anemospilia disaster. Unfortunately, the "acolyte" and the sacrificial victim were too badly damaged to reconstruct, but the team was able to give faces to the priest and priestess.
The priest stood 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was between thirty and forty years old when he died. The priestess was 5 feet tall, and in her early to mid-twenties. She suffered from anemia, and examination of her teeth revealed that she would have had severe halitosis in life.