Knossos Archaeological Site was inhabited since 7000 BC. Knossos palace was constructed during
the Bronze Age
around 1900 BC. Despite its age it is surprisingly advanced
and sophisticated. The archaeologists who discovered and reconstructed
parts of Knossos palace was an amateur archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The
complex served both as a political and religious centre. It was
gradually between 1900 and 1400 BC on a side of the Kephala hill. The
end of the Minoan culture came around 1600BC when Thera volcano eruption
and subsequent tsunami laid a havoc to islands in the region. Crete and
Knossos Palace was badly damaged. It was inhabited for several more
decades, but Minoan culture never fully recovered to its former glory.
Legend of Theseus
Palace of Knossos is a maze of expansive network of rooms, 1300 in total.
Even in the ancient times, long before re- discovery by Sir Arthur Evans
ancient Greeks were impressed by an ancient and mysterious culture of
the Minoan civilization. Over time they formed a legend about a of mythical king Minos (thus Minoan civilization)
who once ruled here. The legend goes that wife of Minos, Pasiphae
fell in love with a bull, that was sent by Poseidon, god of the sea.
This unnatural love gave life to ferrous beast that became known as the
Minotaur. King Minos couldn't kill the Minotaur so he ordered Daedalus
to design a labyrinth that served both as a home and a prison for this
creature. In order to feed his appetite King Minos ordered his ships
with black sails to travel to mainland Greece. Greeks were forced to
hand over 7 women and 7 men annually. All these young men and women were
fed to the Minotaur.
When once again mourning ship with black sails entered
the Athenian harbor, young son of king Aegeus Theseus decided to join
men and women to sail to Knossos. Theseus brought a sacrifice to Apollo,
the patron of sea travelers. Delphi
oracle predicted that a goddess of love Aphrodite and sister of Apollo
heard his prayers. When victims were brought to Knossos palace King
Minos and his daughter Ariadne noticed athletic and handsome Theseus.
The goddess Aphrodite aroused a strong love in Ariadne. She secretly
gave Theseus a sword and a ball of yarn.
tied a threat at the entrance of the Knossos labyrinth. Inside the maze
he managed to kill the Minotaur. He returned to the surface by following
a thread. Young Athenians damaged ships of residents of Knossos and
sailed only remaining ship back home. They stopped near an island of
Naxos. Theseus fell asleep and god Dionysus (god of wine) visited him in
his sleep. He ordered Theseus to abandon Ariadne on the island since the
gods of Olympus decided that she must become a wife of Dionysus. Theseus
did not dare to ignore divine command. Ariadne stayed on Naxos.
Theseus sailed ships back home to Athens. He
was overtaken by grief
and he subsequently forgot to change the black sails from black to white. His father,
Athenian king Aegeus
assumed his son is dead and committed suicide by jumping into the sea.
Greek immortalized his name by naming the Aegean sea
after king Aegeus.
Reconstruction of Knossos Palace.
Palace was actually a real labyrinth.
was a symbol of strength and agility and it was a common symbol
of a Minoan
culture. Bull's horns adorned the top of the palace around its perimeter.
Greeks probably found these depictions and a legend of Minotaur was
Throne Room of the Minoan kings in Knossos
First known paved road in Knossos
toilets and expansive water drainage system along with multilevel
buildings gives some archeologists hint that this might be the base of
the myth of Atlantis that was described by Plato. Besides evidence of
massive tidal waves and ash from a Thera (Santorini) eruption in the 15th
century BC coupled with foreign invasion further supports this idea. The
city was later rebuilt and remained active through Roman and Byzantine
periods, but with a significantly decreased population.