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the minoan caravanserai in knossos

Exploring the Caravanserai of Knossos: An iconic Minoan reception building

Knossos, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete, continues to captivate visitors from around the world. At the site, tourists can explore impressive palaces, storehouses, workshops, and other structures, each serving a unique function. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at one of Knossos’s most intriguing structures: the Caravanserai. Built during the Neopalatial period, this two-story building served as a public reception venue for travelers and their goods. We will delve into its unique architecture, luxurious rooms, verandas, storerooms, central building and public function, plumbing system, and Stone Bath

Table of Contents

An emblem of Neopalatian Period

The Neopalatial Period of the Minoan civilization (1600-1400 BCE) saw the construction of grand palaces, finest crafts, and significant civic structures. One of these notable structures is the Caravanserai. Situated in the northwest part of Knossos, it was set aside from the palace’s official area. Since the complex was located close to a major crossroads, its location facilitated communication and trade between the palace and the wider world.

The Caravanserai’s architecture

The Caravanserai’s architecture and design symbolize the wealth and advanced technology of the Minoans. It was a two-story building with open access from the south, consisting of multi-purpose rooms and furnishings. The plumbing system, such as the one discovered in the storerooms, was a revolutionary innovation of the time.

Upper Floor

The upper floor of the Caravanserai was the most luxurious section. The colorful walls and open verandas provided visitors with stunning views of both the Vlychia stream and the Palace of Knossos. These rooms may have served as accommodation to the higher-class people, who were treated with high regard.

East Wing

The east part of the Caravanserai was the most essential section. Its storerooms, consisting of underground chambers, contained countless jars for food and trade. In the storerooms, cereal remains and other food items were discovered, revealing valuable information about Minoan diet and trade.

Central Building

The central building of the Caravanserai was Sir Arthur Evans’ most complex construction in the building. With an impressive portico, large chamber, painted pilasters and the Partridge Frieze, the central building is significant. The latter is an exquisite example of Minoan color palette, portraying a variety of birds, fish, and flowers, emphasizing the importance of the natural world to the Minoans.

The Stone Bath

Finally, the Stone Bath is also an intriguing feature of the Caravanserai. The built basin is connected to a system of plumbing and drains towards a waste hole, suggesting that it was used for ritual purposes. Water was considered the ancient sanctuary’s most significant element, and public facilities such as the Stone Bath were a symbol of the Minoans’ social sophistication.

The Caravanserai of Knossos was undoubtedly an iconic Minoan reception building, providing services to travelers and their cargo. With its impressive architecture, luxurious rooms, underground storerooms, central building and public function, plumbing system, and Stone Bath, the Caravanserai is a valuable resource for modern-day researchers and historians. It also demonstrates how advanced the Minoan civilization was, and how they contributed to the wider world’s developments. Tourists from all over the world are welcome to visit the site and explore the Caravanserai’s many exciting features.

Sources – Further Research