Knossos (pronounced Kuh-nuh-SOS) is the ancient Minoan palace and surrounding city on the island of Crete, sung of by Homer in his Odyssey: “Among their cities is the great city of Cnosus, where Minos reigned when nine years old, he that held converse with great Zeus.” King Minos, famous for his wisdom and, later, one of the three judges of the dead... [continue reading]
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In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a monster with the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. The Minotaur was the offspring of the Cretan Queen Pasiphae and a majestic bull. Due to the Minotaur's monstrous form, King Minos ordered the craftsman, Daedalus, and his son, Icarus, to build a huge maze known as the Labyrinth to house the beast... [continue reading]
William R. Shepherd
published on 26 April 2012
Mycenean Greece and the Orient about 1450 BC. Inset: Reference Map of the Nile Delta.
The partially reconstructed wing of the palace of Knossos c. 1500 BCE.
The Palace at Knossos, Crete, (c. 1500 BCE). A restored upper-level lightwell.
Located on the fertile Mesara plain in central Crete, Phaistos has been inhabited since the Final Neolithic period (ca. 3600-3000 BCE). The settlements greatest period of influence was from the 20th to 15th century BCE, during which time it was, along with Knossos, Malia and Zakros, one of the most important centres of the Minoan civilization. Settlement continued... [continue reading]
Christine Morris and Alan Peatfield
published on 19 March 2012
Ritual has always been a popular subject of study in archaeology and anthropology. Early ethnographers relished the details of its drama, and early archaeologists found it a convenient explanation for those finds they could not explain. More sophisticated modern scholars ponder the symbolic complexity of its action, and debate its social function. And... [continue reading]
The Minoan palace at Knossos, Crete (c. 1500 BCE).
This Attic black figure vase shows Theseus killing the Minotaur of the Cretan labyrinth. A feminine figure looks on from the right, possibly Ariadne. Late 6th, early 5th century BCE. (Archaeological Museum, Milan).
Until Sir Arthur Evans unearthed the palace of Knossos, the half-man-half bull killed by Theseus was considered just a popular legend; archaeology changed that perception. King Minos, of Crete, fought hard with his brother to ascend the throne and, having won the kingship and exiled his brother, prayed to the god of the sea, Poseidon, for a snow white... [continue reading]
Ideally situated in a sheltered gulf surrounded by mountains, Zakros (or Kato Zakros) in south-eastern Crete, was the fourth largest Minoan settlement after Knossos, Phaistos and Malia. The ancient name has been lost and the present one derives from the nearest local town. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the settlement achieved its greatest influence in the palatial... [continue reading]