The Minoan civilization of Middle to Late Bronze Age Crete, named after the legendary King Minos, presented a tantalizing mystery to the outside world even before Sir Arthur Evans began his excavations at Knossos just over years ago. The remains of this rich civilization include colossal labyrinthine structures which Evans originally called "palaces," and art works consisting of naturalistic, bold, and graceful depictions of lush landscapes, bull-leaping acrobatics, and bare-breasted women. The fragmentary nature of the archaeological evidence, the selective emphasis on certain categories of evidence, several varieties of as yet undeciphered pictographic scripts, and various Greek legends that have filtered down to us over the past centuries, have heightened both fascination with and speculation about the Minoans. Today, new discoveries, careful consideration of the existing evidence, and improved methods of analysis are giving scholars new insights into the function of the Minoan palaces.
A labrys from Messara Plain. In Greek mythology, King Minos dwelt in a palace at Knossos. He had Daedalus construct a labyrintha very large maze by some connected with the double-bladed axe, or labrys in which to retain his son, the Minotaur.
Daedalus also built a dancing floor for Queen Ariadne. As far as is currently known, it was William Stillman, the American consul who published Kalokairinos' discoveries, who, seeing the sign of the double axe on the massive walls partly uncovered by Kalokairinos, first associated the complex with the labyrinth of legend, calling the ruins "labyrinthine".
The myth of the Minotaur tells that Theseus, a prince from Athens, whose father is an ancient Greek king named Aegeusreason for the name of the Greek sea the Aegean Seasailed to Crete, where he was forced to fight a terrible creature called the Minotaur. The Minotaur was a half man, half bull, and was kept in the Labyrinth — a building like a maze — by the king Minos, the ruler of Crete.
The king's daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus. Before he entered the Labyrinth to fight the Minotaur, Ariadne gave him a ball of thread which he unwound as he went into the Labyrinth so that he could find his way back by following it.
Theseus killed the Minotaur, and then he and Ariadne fled from Crete, escaping her angry father.
As it turns out, there probably was an association of the word labyrinth, whatever its etymology, with ancient Crete. The sign of the double axe was used throughout the Mycenaean world as an apotropaic mark: Axes were scratched on many of the stones of the palace. It appears in pottery decoration and is a motif of the Shrine of the Double Axes at the palace, as well as of many shrines throughout Crete and the Aegean.
And finally, it appears in Linear B on Knossos Tablet Gg as da-pu2-ri-to-jo po-ti-ni-ja, which probably represents the Mycenaean Greek Daburinthoio potniai, "to the mistress of the Labyrinth," recording the distribution of one jar of honey.
Hellenistic and Roman period[ edit ] This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message Fieldwork in revealed that during the early Iron Age, Knossos was rich in imports and was nearly three times larger than indicated by earlier excavations.
Whilst archaeologists had previously believed that the city had declined in the wake of a socio-political collapse around BC, the work found that the city had prospered instead, with its final abandonment coming later.
The city had two ports: According to the geographer Strabo the Knossians colonized the city of Brundisium in Italy.
The city employed a Phocian mercenary named Phalaikos against their enemy, the city of Lyttus. In the 3rd century BC Knossos expanded its power to dominate almost the entire island, but during the Lyttian War in BC it was checked by a coalition led by the Polyrrhenians and the Macedonian king Philip V.
Many of them were inscribed with Knosion or Knos on the obverse and an image of a Minotaur or Labyrinth on the reverse. The Romans believed they were the first to colonize Knossos. By the 13th century, it was called Makruteikhos 'Long Wall'; the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves Bishops of Knossos until the 19th century.
Discovery and modern history of the antiquities[ edit ] Main article: Knossos modern history The site of Knossos was discovered in by Minos Kalokairinos.These palaces are the foremost accomplishments of Minoan architecture, unprecedented in their size and scale.
The four major palaces we know of are Knossos (the largest), Malia, Phaistos, and. The palace of Phaistos is one of the largest palaces in Crete and is located in the Regional Unit of Heraklion.
It came to light during the excavations carried out by the Italian archaeologist F. Halbherr in the last two decades of the 19 th century, while the Italian School of Archaeology continues investigations in the area today.
Minoan Architecture Minoan architecture consists of several structures which acted as centers for commercial, religious, and administrative life.
Archaeologist have unearthed in Crete a Minoan landscape filled with tombs, palaces, villas, towns and the roads that connected them. The most famous of all the Minoan Palaces is the Knossos Palace located in Heraklion on the island of Crete. For many people who visit Greece, this archaeological site is listed as a “must-see”.
However impressive it is, the castle is also in ruins because of a massive fire that destroyed its walls. The Function of the Minoan Palaces - Storage, Work, and Ritual: It has been calculated that about one-third of the ground space of the Minoan palaces was devoted to storage (Begg ).
Typically, storage areas were located in the west and north wings, where they took the form of a row of long, narrow rooms called magazines. Criterion (iii): The Minoan palaces are the most characteristic and impressive testimonies of the Minoan civilisation that flourished during the Bronze Age ( BC).
Complex monuments, constructed to serve the various needs and functions of the Minoan cities, they constitute the most important archaeological evidence for the understanding.