Knossos ~ Minoan Civilization on Crete

#1 Aug 20th, 2014, 15:28
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#1
Around three thousand years ago, the Palace of Knossos overlooked the Cretan Sea on the hills above (present-day) Iraklion, amidst eucalyptus and cypress groves.* The cypress trees date from the Minoan period; whereas the eucalyptus came from Australia much much later (actually during the 1950s) in an effort to combat malaria.














*"The area around Knossos was first inhabited circa 7000 B.C. during the Neolithic Period. The Palace of Knossos was constructed towards the end of the second millennium B.C. Knossos was the seat of the legendary King Minos and the main centre of power in Crete."

You may read more details here:
http://www.explorecrete.com/Knossos/knossos.html


The Minoans were constantly fighting for control of the island of Crete as well as surrounding areas in what would later become Greece.** The opulence of their lives was matched by the entombed treasures accompanying them to the afterlife. The bronze weapons they used helped them to overcome their enemies. The exquisite potteries and the minutely inscribed tablets in Linear A and Linear B script bear witness to their daily lives. When the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans attempted to reconstruct the palace, he probably had not foreseen the vast numbers of tourists whose feet would destroy his work. Visiting today, along with coach parties of Italian tourists and their voluble guides, one is struck by the theatricality and the arbitrary nature of his reconstruction.

**
A map of Minoan Crete
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See: http://www.timemaps.com/civilization...n-civilization


A visit beforehand to the renovated and much-hyped Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, helps to picture the erstwhile scene of young boys, during their initiation, jumping across the backs of sacred bulls, whilst Minoan maidens danced with their curled tresses flowing, and Minos watched from the Throne Room. Legends and facts interwoven with personal interpretations flow like swallows across the stones and the buzz of cicadas almost deafens the murmurs of the hordes of camera-toting tourists.

A labyrinth of wooden walkways have mostly replaced the worn-out stairs.

We catch a glimpse of the path descending into obscurity which was the scene of murder on celluloid in the recent blockbuster "The Two Faces of January".

But where did the Royal Procession go ? Are they now on the upper story, next to the Bull fresco ? Or have they taken refuge from the fierce sun in the underground room where we used to be able to admire reproductions of the Figure of Eight fresco (now closed for renovations) ?

Theories about the disappearance of Knossos are usually based on the consequences of the volcanic eruption at nearby Thira (Santorini) and the ensuing tsunami. Earthquakes lasting centuries and volcanic ash that caused crop failure contributed to the death of their livestock and the migration of the Minoans.

It is truly miraculous that we can still walk among these stones and hear echoes three thousand years old reverberate in our ears, if we have the imagination to travel back in time.


*********************


We firstly visited the Museum, and then the site of the Palace of Knossos. Here are a selection of photographs taken a couple of days ago. A combined ticket to the museum and the archaeological site costs 10 Euros per person, and they are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summers.


The Snake Goddess




Minoan Bull's Head



A statue replica of young boy diving across (a representation of) a bull in the Palace of Knossos





Minoan dance




[more photos (lots more photos) coming soon]
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Aug 20th, 2014 at 17:23.. Reason: One more acrobatic dive !
#2 Aug 20th, 2014, 17:40
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Treasures from Knossos, Minoan artefacts at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Here are some pictures of typical Minoan artefacts:

Intricate designs on Minoan pottery


Bronze arrow heads


Minoan seals in the form of animals, birds & insects


Jars which accompanied the dead to the afterlife



Minoan Writing and Records of Animal Husbandry



Write like a Minoan



Minoan Inscriptions



Double Jars



Vases from Knossos



Minoan necklaces and other adornments



Minoan figurines and pithari (jars)



Jar with inscription of Cretan "kri kri" or wild goat
#3 Aug 20th, 2014, 17:56
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The ring of King Minos

King Minos' ring was discovered by accident in 1928





#4 Aug 20th, 2014, 17:59
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#5 Aug 20th, 2014, 18:05
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There is much to read on the subject of Ancient Crete. For a start, on the subject of the legends surrounding Knossos, see here:

http://www.odysseyadventures.ca/arti...Knossos01.html
#6 Aug 20th, 2014, 18:10
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In some ways, life in Minoan times was no different to modern Greece. The barbecue was already in evidence and spit-grilled meats were enjoyed at Knossos, as well as seafood. Although nowadays the ruins of the palace are several miles inland, at the time of the glory of the Minoans their palace was next to the sea. They luxuriated in nature and its bounty.






For more about the Minoan diet, read on:
http://www.explorecrete.com/cuisine/cora-honey-wine.htm


Taken from an explanatory notice in the museum:
Quote:
DIET
The diet of the Minoans consisted of the vegetable and animal products of the Cretan land. Cereals, pulses, the olive and the vine were systematically cultivated. Carbonised remains of wheat, barley, oats, broad and field beans, peas, lentils, olives and grape pips have been found at many sites.

These products are referred to on Linear A and B tablets. Organic remains show that sheep and goats, cattle and pigs, wild game, fish, snails and shellfish formed part of people's diet, which would also have included fruit, vegetables, wild greens, dairy products, herbs and spices. The range of foods consumed was determined by social and economic class.

Bee-keeping is attested by the peculiar vessels identified as bee smokers, while bronze fishhooks are evidence of fishing. Food preparation vessels include tripod cauldrons, basins and spit-holders. Various other cooking vessels and implements also survive, such as clay funnels and bronze tongs.
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Aug 20th, 2014 at 19:57.. Reason: Added food notes :)
#7 Aug 20th, 2014, 18:26
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The Script of the Minoans ~ Linear A and Linear B















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See this account of Linear B:
http://www.crystalinks.com/linearb.html



Unlike the Phaistos disc, which has still not been deciphered !




For more about the archaeological site of Phaistos in Crete, see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaistos


And to learn more about the Phaistos Disc, see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaistos_Disc


Another link about Ancient Scripts:
http://www.ancientscripts.com/cretan_hieroglyphs.html

Quote:
Bronze Age Crete was home to the powerful seafaring civilization known to the modern world as the Minoans. As the first literate culture of Europe, the Minoans employed not one but two related writing systems. The more commonly known system is Linear A due to the rectilinear shape of its symbols. The second system, more ancient but less well-known and even less understood, is called Cretan Hieroglyphs. It is so called because of the relatively naturalistic style of the characters, as compared to the more "abstract" forms in Linear A. Many signs resemble natural objects like body parts, plants, animals, implements, weapons, ships, as well as more abstract symbols.

This link is also very informative for background information:
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/linearb.htm


For how the mystery of Linear B was solved:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...as-solved.html

*******************

We will soon be viewing the Minoan frescoes…
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Aug 20th, 2014 at 19:33.. Reason: a wobbly link
#8 Aug 20th, 2014, 21:38
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The Hall of the Frescoes

I cannot help agreeing with the Rough Guide of Crete (my version is thirty years old but this still applies!) that the Hall of the Frescoes in the Heraklion Museum is the most exciting room in the place.

Minute fragments of original Minoan frescoes have been painstakingly reconstructed, sometimes with liberal artistic freedom. At the Knossos site, nothing of the originals remains, only reconstructed impressions. Much ink has been wasted on complaining that the colours are too bright. However, it is also believed that they are very true likenesses of the originals. But who can say ?

One of the earliest frescoes excavated from the Palace of Knossos, the Saffron Gatherer, has been erroneously painted with the head of a boy, even though archaeologists believe the original fresco depicted the body of a monkey.
#9 Aug 20th, 2014, 21:46
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The Dolphin fresco was situated in the Queen's Megaron once upon a time





The Figure-of-eight Shields made out of cow's hide was situated in the Hall of the Royal Guard adjacent to the King's Megaron or the Hall of the Double Axes




The natural world features strongly in the following frescoes.

The Monkey Fresco



The Partridge Fresco



The Blue Bird Fresco
#10 Aug 20th, 2014, 21:50
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The most completely restored of all the Knossos frescoes is the "Bull-Leaping"


The fresco was painted around 1400 BCE, and depicts a young man performing what appears to be a handspring or flip over a charging bull.

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull-Leaping_Fresco


One of the most famous of them all is that of "The Ladies in Blue"



Here is the "Prince of the Lilies"


Read more:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_the_Lilies
#11 Aug 20th, 2014, 22:11
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In conclusion, here are a few more pictures taken on the actual site of the Palace of Knossos










Pitharoi (Jars) for storing olive oil and wine
#12 Aug 20th, 2014, 22:50
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#12
Marvellous virtual tour and great photos theyyamdancer!!! The cradle of Western civilization indeed. I admire the archaeologists and historians who decipher such detail and place them in the historical time-scale with such little evidence.
#13 Aug 20th, 2014, 22:54
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Thanks ViShVa !

I have visited three times in the past thirty years, and only now is any of it beginning to make sense to me.

#14 Aug 20th, 2014, 22:58
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A Hellenic tour is well overdue for me! But I need mucho time as there is just so much to cover. Perhaps Crete is the right place to start.
#15 Aug 20th, 2014, 23:07
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The pottery looks so good, I wonder if it's new.
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