Thursday, February 9, 2012

Knossos

Knossos is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Greece, once the capital of Minoan Crete, located near the current capital city of the largest Greek island, Heraklion. Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, however it was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC, marking the end of Minoan civilization. 
The economic, social and political development of the settlement led to the construction of the Palace of Knossos, towards the end of the second millennium BC, being the seat of the legendary King Minos. The palace of Knossos was also associated with the mythological labyrinth. 




The palace was destroyed at about 1700 BC, probably by a large earthquake or foreign invaders. It was immediately rebuilt to an even grander complex and until its abandonment, it was damaged numerous times due to earthquakes, invasions and in 1450 BC by the colossal volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini), which is believed to have brought a massive blow to the Minoan Civilisation, destroying it for ever. However the invasion of Mycenae was also a reason for the decrease of the Minoan civilization. 





The first large scale excavation was undertaken in 1878 by Minos Kalokairinos, a wealthy art lover, during the years of the Turkish occupation, excavating parts of the palace and many pithoi (storage pots). However it was Sir Arthur Evans in 1900-1931 who excavated not only the palace but also the entire surrounding area of Knossos. The palace complex was excavated in only 5 years. Evans restored the palace, which has been criticised as inaccurate; nevertheless he has given a feel of how the palace once was, during its glory days. 

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