KNOSSOS, CRETE - SEPTEMBER 2006
Crete, located in the Eastern Mediterranean, some 160 km south of mainland Greece, is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. It is roughly 260 km from east to west, 56 km at its widest point and 12 km at its narrowest section, with a coastline of 1046 km. Crete was the centre of Europe's most ancient Bronze Age civilization, named Minoan by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, after the mythic «king» Minos, which is associated in Greek mythology with the Labyrinth.
Though the first human settlement in Crete dates back to 7000 BC, the Minoan civilization flourished from approximately 2700 to 1450 BC, and left five main palace sites in Crete: Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Kato Zakros and Galatas.
Knossos is the largest of the preserved Minoan palaces, probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It was excavated, and somehow reconstructed by Arthur Evans, whose work was not without raising some criticism for the methods used in re-creating the Palace. Anyhow, from the tourist (not archaeological) point of view, the site is much more «understandable» than the regular ruins sites...
There are very limited written records of the Minoan, and many are written in the not yet deciphered script known as Linear A; so the knowledge of the Minoan society is very short. But what you can see on the site, and what you may find in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum is surely of great interest.
"ROOM with a Minoan column. Contrary to most Greek columns, which are smaller at the top and wider at the bottom, the Minoan columns are smaller at the bottom and wider at the top"
"PITHOS - Large storage jars (made of ceramic and with this particular shape) that were used primarily for grains, seeds, wine, and oil"
"BULL-LEAPING - One of the most notable frescoes in Knossos is the bull-leaping, in which an athlete grasps the bull's horns and vaults over the animal's back. Whether a religious ritual or a sport is not known. Probably a mythological dance with the Great Bull"
"LADIES IN BLUE"
"THRONE ROOM - This room has an alabaster seat supposed to be a «throne». I read at the Knossos Guide that the President of the International Court of Justice in the Hague seats in a replica of this throne, assuming that Minos was the first judge of History..."
"PRINCE OF LILIES - Probably a priest-king leading an unseen animal to sacrifice"
"SOUTH PROPILEUS - With re-painted frescoes"
"BULL FRESCO at the reconstructed North Entrance"
"PHAISTOS DISC - The most precious item at the Heraklion Museum, the Phaistos disc is one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. One may read why at Wikipedia"
"BULL - Horns used to drink"
"IDOLS WITH SNAKES"
"MUSEUM - The museum guide by Mr. Sakellarakis (former director of the Heraklion Museum) is an absolute must!"