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The alluring island of Crete is the largest Greek island and it was the place where the famous Minoan civilization thrived. According to scientists, the Minoan civilization is one of the earliest civilizations of Europe, classifying this period from 3650 to 1400 B.C, which is in the middle of the Bronze age. For one to realize how old this period is, one should know that this period began before the Mycenaean civilization, even before the period labeled as “Ancient Greece”.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans was the one to discover Minoan settlements and gave the name “Minoan” to this period, deriving from the name of “King Minos” who according to mythology, was the first King of Crete. During those excavations that lasted for about 35 years, four magnificent palaces came to light: Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Zakros.
Knossos Palace is the largest of them all, exceeding archaeologist’s original estimations about its size, and it is considered to be the most prominent center of the whole Minoan civilization. The area was first excavated by Minos Kalokairinos in 1878. This excavation was conducted during the Ottoman occupation. In 1990, Arthur Evans not only discovered this monument of immense importance but also restored it partially along with his team and even planted some pine trees inside the archaeological site. Knossos is located just 5 kilometers away from Heraklion, near the Kairatos river.
Knossos palace was of utmost luxury and according to Mythology, this was the place where King Minos had been living. There are plenty of frescoes that beautifully cover the palace’s walls with depictions portraying flowers as well as sea life and various items reveal that the Minoans were technologically advanced for their time. There are many pieces of pottery found in Knossos palace and scientists believe that the Minoans might have used specially designed wheels for pottery. ?t is estimated that Minoans had been living, for the most part, peacefully, yet there are some weapons discovered. Another significant discovery was that of two important scripts: Linear A (which is yet undeciphered) and Liner B.
There is a myth that surrounds Knossos. Legend has it that King Minos commanded an experienced craftsman to build a labyrinth for “Minotaur”, a creature which was half bull and half man. The Athenian Theseus killed Minotaur with the help of King Minos’ daughter, princess Ariadne, who used a thread.
No one is really sure about how and why this amazing civilization ended. According to the commonest theory, this civilization was destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that were common in that area, but this theory is still debatable.