Monastiraki lies in the valley of Amari, on the natural route leading from northern Crete to the Messara plain. Excavations have brought to light a centre of the Old Palace period (1950-1700 B.C.). which was destroyed by fire following an earthquake. The large number of storerooms and the existence of two archive rooms with many clay sealings indicate a palatial character for the site.
Other finds on the top of a neighbouring hill suggest there must have been a religious centre in the area, as well.
The site was first excavated during the Second World War by the German Archaeological Institute under the direction of E. Kirsten.
In 1980 the Department of Archaeology and Art History of the University of Crete began systematic excavations, which are still in progress. In the years 1982-84 the excavations were conducted by the University of Crete in collaboration with the University of Naples.