Ancient, Ageless Crete

By Halper, Stefan; Brown, Lezlee | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 14, 1998 | Go to article overview

Ancient, Ageless Crete


Halper, Stefan, Brown, Lezlee, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Crete is striking in any season. An island of contrasts southeast of Athens, Crete combines the varied cultures of the eastern Mediterranean.

It is home of the 4,000-year-old Palace of Knossos and the Labyrinth, which, according to Greek myth, was built to house the Minotaur, a monstrous creature with the head of a man and the body of a bull.

By air, the traveler arrives at Canea on the northwest coast or Iraklion in the center of the northern coast.

Iraklion is an ancient seaport that for centuries has been filled with a cacophony of sounds and smells, bustling markets, street vendors and colorful clothes. Today, the largest city in Crete also features upscale designer shops that line the narrow cobblestone streets.

Dating back to Neolithic settlements, the city reflects the imperial cultures - Phoenician, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman - that have occupied the island through the centuries.

The haunting influence of Venetian architecture is everywhere in Iraklion, which was once the port to Knossos. The massive battlements at the entrance to the harbor, known as the Koules fortress, are a wonderful example of the influence of the Venetians who occupied the city from 1204 to 1669.

Phoenician influence survives in today's boat designs, and the Ottoman Turks left their cuisine and other delights. Mainland Greece's metropolitan presence gives focus to the island's government, law and business communities, not to mention its seductive cafe and night life.

Iraklion also is home to the Archaeological Museum, the world's finest collection of Minoan artifacts. This must-see museum is a great find for the amateur archaeologist, the historian or just the ordinary curious traveler. Containing some of the oldest artifacts in Western civilization, it provides a unique perspective on today's Euro-Atlantic culture.

The museum's 20 galleries display artifacts found on Crete dating to 5000 B.C. Exhibits on the lower floor include pottery, miniature sculptures, gold and metal work, tools, weapons and a sacred Minoan ax. Among the earlier artifacts, dating from 2600 B.C., are striking marble figurines representing women with arms folded across their abdomens.

Archaeologists call them Cycladic idols because of their similarity with findings on the Cyclades, a group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea north of Crete. The scientists believe that the figures represent a Neolithic female goddess.

Historically, the figurines show that Crete had links with the Aegean islands in this early period, because the statuettes were either imported from the Cyclades or are copies of Cycladic works.

The museum also features a unique pottery collection dating from 2000 B.C. Called the Kamares style, many of the pieces were discovered in a single cave at Kamares on the slopes of Mount Ida, Crete's highest mountain. What makes these pieces so remarkable is their high quality, which illustrates the technical sophistication of the period.

The pottery is decorated in a polychrome style, which features white and red vegetable dyes on the vessel's lustrous black background. Each has amazing curvilinear decorative patterns and motifs, often using olive branches and leaves that complement its shape. But what many find most extraordinary is the remarkable technical quality of the "eggshell ware" pottery. The cups in this style have extremely thin, delicate walls, only about a millimeter thick. They are light and their unique surface has both a metallic and luminescent quality.

The museum's upper floor, called the Hall of Frescoes, displays some of the most remarkable Minoan frescoes ever discovered. An important Minoan art form, these paintings that date from 1600 B.C. give us insight into one of the first important European civilizations.

The frescoes depict scenes from a reflective and amusing society that was punctuated with processions, ceremonies and games.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ancient, Ageless Crete
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.