The Palace of Minos at Knossos

The Palace of Minos at Knossos

The Palace of Minos at Knossos

The Palace of Minos at Knossos

Synopsis

On March 23, 1900, Arthur John Evans and his staff began to excavate on Crete, looking for the fabled site of Knossos, where an extraordinary civilization, a precursor to classical Greece, was rumored to have existed. Almost from the first shovel stroke, artifacts began to emerge. Evans realized that here was "an extraordinary phenomenon, nothing Greek, nothing Roman. A wholly unexplored world." The Palace of Minos at Knossos recounts the exciting story of uncovering a remarkable society lost to the world for 3,500 years, from its initial discovery through its excavation to the structure we see today. Sidebars on archaeological techniques, illustrations of the sites, tables, and diagrams throughout provide a wealth of information on the Palace. The use of artifacts and other "documents" recovered from the Palace bring out the voices of the people of the past, offering clues to who they were and how they lived. The Palace of Minos at Knossos concludes with an interview with archaeologist Chris Scarre who talks about the misperceptions about Knossos and what we really know about its culture.

Excerpt

Anewspaper announcement in 1899 invited the British public to contribute to the Cretan Exploration Fund. Evans was one of two directors of the Fund. The other was David Hogarth, head of the British School at Athens (BSA), an organization that promotes British study and archaeology in Greece. Evans hoped that the Fund would raise enough money to pay for the excavation and the cost of buying Kephala. To his dis- may, it raised far less than he had anticipated.

In later years, the discoveries at Knossos would attract contribu- tions to the Cretan Exploration Fund. But at first Evans bore the expenses himself, helped by frequent donations from his father. In some ways this pleased Evans, who wrote to his father in late 1900, “I am quite resolved not to have this thing entirely ‘pooled’ for several reasons, but largely because I must have sole control of what I am personally undertaking.”Because Evans owned the land and paid the bills, he had total control over the work at Knossos. Evans regarded the ruins as his to uncover, interpret, and protect as he chose. Athough a new Cretan antiquities law required him to turn over most artifacts to the local government, he was allowed to keep minor finds.

On March 3, 1900, Evans and Mackenzie began their excavation by cutting into the top of the highest point on the center of Kephala where Kalokairinos had foundpithoi in the ruins of what . . .

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