Crete: Knossos

Generally, this Ancient Minoan site is referred to as the Palace of Knossos and, in researching the trip, I discovered a bit about the site to the point that I wasn’t all that keen on seeing it. Whilst I say that my travel passion is all things Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptian it isn’t strictly true. I love all things Ancient so why not lump the Minoan civilisation into the mix?

The bigger problem I had with visiting the site (other than not knowing anything about the Minoans as a people) was what I’d read about Arthur Evans and his archaeological find. From everthying I’d read, he had moved items, rebuilt things and generally made assumptions that have later been proven wrong. I didn’t want to see that. In Athens, I hated the Roman Forum where Ancient pillars had clearly been rebuilt with wrong materials (but then I also hated how some ancient building foundations had a metro system cut it in half).

I appreciate why these rebuilds are done because otherwise its just a bunch of ruins. Except it isn’t with a bit of knowledge and imagination. Some of the places in Greece and Rome might not look as impressive as things in Egypt but that doesn’t mean it should all be faked. I think I also became biased by the travel guides all complaining about Evans’ errors. It doesn’t get you all excited.

But then I got there and a lot of it still looked ruiny to me. Plus the guide on tbe Thomson/First Choice excursion was fantastic and really explained the Minoan way of life. It had never occured to me that it was so different to the Ancient Greek civilisation. The biggest plus with our tour guide was that she really explained why Evans made the errors that he did. It wasn’t fully through lack of knowledge or ignorance of another civilisation’s history. It wasn’t even all because of bare faced assumptions. It was around the turn of the century where eveything was changing. Women were ladies and men were men. Everything was kings and queens where everyone remained in their places. But it would be less than two decades before a new form of war craft would alter the world and everyone’s roles would change. Kings and queens would no longer be what they were, the world would never be the same again and Arthur Evans had found what everyone else wanted him to call a palace with a king’s throne room and a queen’s throne room – because everywhere needed a palace, kings and queens.

This was assumed to be the Queen’s room with the pretty dolphin fresco that was found on the floor. Except why would a Queen’s Megaron be that small and have three doors leading from it?

First of all, I’m used to the ruins on top of a hill being a place of worship, it being the closest place to the heavens and the gods. Not that it’d be a palace for kings. That’s not the Greek way. And so, under the pressure of the changing world and those around him, Evans moved baths to put it closer to his queen’s room. He moved artwork found on the floor and put it on the wall where it clearly belonged. Except it didn’t and his core set of rules by which he was playing, that by which he was judging the Minoans where wrong. We now know that and the place didn’t look all that bad.

There were obvious differences between the newer and older construction but in places it gave for a better feel and atmosphere. The differences with the Minoans and Greek were huge. The Minoans are theorised to have more of a community way of life in that women died younger in those days especially if they have given birth. The children were then raised by other women within the community. It was all really fascinating.

The North entrance would be from the sea and would welcome all visitors to the city/island. They would walk up through and past the fresco of the charging bull.

The bull was sacred to the Minoans and celebrated throughout Knossos where both men and women, due to gender equality, performed bull leaping.

Unfortunately it was all so fascinating that I was too busy listening and looking and ended up not getting many pictures. Especially as the tour guide failed in telling us that there would be no “free time”. What made this worse was that we were then taken into Heraklion (the island’s capital) to have lunch and see the sights. You might remember from my earlier posts on Crete that it was in Heraklion that I wanted to go to the museum. Except it was a Monday and museums aren’t open on a Monday. The fact that Thomson failed to tell me that (or remind me of what day was what on holiday) was pretty disppointing and there was very little to do.

This was erected between 1523 and 1540 and opposite the fortress is the arsenal where ships would be repaired and built.

Across the small harbour from the fortress, the arsenal is where the ships would be built and later repaired.

So we wandered around for three hours – three! – and saw some of the Venetian walls and fort, none of which looked as good as Rethmyno town which we opted to not visit.

The whole holiday wasn’t a complete fail, but it also wasn’t the best holiday and all because of the excursions. Still, I’m already looking into which island to visit next!

~ Persephone M

Check out my Crete: Samaria Gorge post or Crete: Discovering the West post or the overview/hotel blog.
The guide books that get me around everywhere!

The theatre in Knossos where viewers were expected to stand rather than sit and watch what was being performed.

This Royal Road leads from the Theatre and is the oldest road and theatre in … the world I think I was told, but definitely oldest in Europe.

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