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Knossos History

Knossos History: Take a Deep Breath

Knossos Palace, located on the Greek island of Crete, is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.

The palace was built around 1700 BC and served as an important center for Minoan culture until its destruction by a fire around 1450 BC. It is believed to have been the home of King Minos and his legendary Labyrinth, where he kept the Minotaur which featured prominently in Greek mythology.

Knossos Palace has inspired many stories and legends throughout history, but what do we really know about this ancient site?

wall paintings in ancient Knossos ruins

Table of Contents

Knossos has been inhabited for millennia, with the earliest Neolithic settlement (c. 7000 BCE) being the most notable. Evidence of Neolithic presence can be found throughout Crete in caves, rock shelters, houses and settlements; Knossos is no exception as it holds a thick layer dated back to before its Palace Period reign.

The first settlers had chosen bedrock as their foundation – an indication that they knew what was around them could not be displaced or destroyed easily by external forces.

Upon his discovery of the palace at Knossos, Arthur Evans estimated that around 8000 BCE a Neolithic people arrived onsite via boat and constructed their first village made out of wattle and daub.

However, according to recent radiocarbon dates this estimate has been pushed back even further to approximately 7000-6500 BCE. Evident by an abundance of clay and stone incised spools scattered throughout the site, it is clear these individuals were also very skilled clothmakers.

Among the more delicate artifacts unearthed were axe and mace heads crafted from a variety of stones like greenstone, serpentine, diorite, and jadeite. Additionally discovered were obsidian knives and arrowheads as well as their original cores which had been flaked away in order to create them.

Of particular importance was an abundance of figurines depicting animals or humans–most notably those portraying nude females sitting or standing up—leading scholars to believe they may have been used for ancient religious ceremonies honoring a Neolithic mother goddess.

During their exploration of the Knossos palace, archaeologists discovered a Minoan artwork depicting an iconic goddess flanked by two lionesses.

This deity is present in many other works from that culture. John Davies Evans, unrelated to Arthur Evans, continued the excavation process of pits and trenches around the palace with a concentration on Neolithic era artifacts.

During the Aceramic Neolithic period (7000-6000 BCE), an estimated 25-50 people occupied what is now known as Central Court in small huts made of wattle and daub.

They farmed crops, kept animals for sustenance, and buried their children within floorboards during times of tragedy.In our modern world, hamlets are still seen today as places of close-knit communities consisting of various families who practice exogamy and live in proximity to one another.

Privacy is often nonexistent here, leading to a high level of intimacy between the residents. People typically spend most of their time outdoors only seeking shelter for the night or during inclement weather; some may even be semi-nomadic or nomadic!

The Middle Neolithic period (5000–4000 BCE) saw the flourishing of a settlement that housed 500-1000 people, living in more family-oriented homes with timber windows and doors. Its main room featured a fixed, raised hearth at its center while pilasters and other raised features occupied the walls’ perimeter.

Below this was situated The Great House – an impressive 100m2 stone house divided into five rooms boasting one meter thick walls suggesting it had another level built above it. It is improbable that the house served as a private residence like its other counterparts, implying instead it was likely utilized for communal or public purposes. This could be seen as an early model of what later became known as palaces. 

In the Late Neolithic period (approx 4000-3000 BCE), population growth grew dramatically and this may have been one factor leading to an increased need for such large buildings.

 

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Minoan period, Knossos golden Era!

The Minoan history of Knossos is a fascinating one, with archaeological evidence suggesting that the site has been inhabited since at least 7000 BCE. During this time period, Neolithic people arrived onsite via boat and constructed their first village made out of wattle and daub. Archaeologists have also discovered various artifacts from the Aceramic Neolithic period (7000-6000 BCE), including axe and mace heads crafted from greenstone, serpentine, diorite or jadeite. 

Additionally unearthed were obsidian knives and arrowheads as well as figurines depicting animals or humans which may have been used for ancient religious ceremonies honoring a Neolithic mother goddess.

In more recent times during the Middle Neolithic period (5000–4000 BCE), an estimated 500-1000 people resided in family-oriented homes with timber windows and doors surrounding a fixed hearth at its center. Beneath this was situated The Great House – an impressive 100m2 stone house divided into five rooms boasting one meter thick walls suggesting it had another level built above it; likely utilized for communal or public purposes rather than private residence like its other counterparts.

The Minoan period, however, is arguably the most famous era of Knossos. Archaeological evidence suggests that the site has been inhabited since at least 7000 BCE; Neolithic people settling in this area via boat and constructing their first village made out of wattle and daub. 

Many artifacts from this time have been discovered, such as axe and mace heads crafted from greenstone, serpentine, diorite or jadeite as well as obsidian knives and arrowheads. Additionally unearthed were figurines depicting animals or humans which may have been used for ancient religious ceremonies honoring a Neolithic mother goddess. 

The Minoan period was one of great prosperity and growth, with population numbers skyrocketing during this time. This could have been one of the many factors that led to an increased need for such large buildings in the Late Neolithic period (approx 4000-3000 BCE).

Overall, Knossos is a fascinating site with a long and varied history. From its inception as a Neolithic village to its eventual expansion as a bustling Minoan city, the history of Knossos is one full of excitement and intrigue. It’s no wonder this site has captivated archaeologists and historians alike for centuries!

The architecture of Knossos also provides modern day researchers with an insight into how ancient civilizations lived and built their homes. 

Evidence of the existence of Neolithic circular houses constructed with wattle and daub can be seen, as well as more sophisticated structures like The Great House, which was used for communal or public purposes rather than private residence. 

Additionally, various artifacts uncovered such as axe and mace heads crafted from greenstone, serpentine, diorite or jadeite as well as obsidian knives and arrowheads, hint at the many rituals and religious ceremonies that took place at Knossos.

The site of Knossos is truly a remarkable one, with its long and varied history providing modern day researchers with an insight into how ancient civilizations lived and built their homes. It’s no wonder this site has captivated archaeologists and historians alike for centuries!

Today, the archaeological site of Knossos stands as a testament to its resilience throughout the ages. Despite being abandoned in 1100 BC and suffering from an earthquake in 365 AD, Knossos still stands proudly on the hillside. 

Visitors can explore the site and learn about its fascinating history, while admiring the intricate architecture that has been preserved over the centuries. It’s also possible to view a range of artifacts found during excavations such as axe and mace heads crafted from greenstone, serpentine, diorite or jadeite as well as obsidian knives and arrowheads.

The Great Minotaur!

The legend of the Minotaur is one of the most fascinating and enduring myths in Greek mythology. The story goes that King Minos of Crete had a daughter, Pasiphae, who was cursed by Poseidon to fall in love with a white bull sent from the sea. 

She then asked Daidalos, a famous craftsman of her time, to build her a wooden cow so she could satisfy her lust for the bull. As a result of their union, the Minotaur was born – half man, half bull!

The Minotaur was an intimidating creature with superhuman strength and ferocity, who dwelt in the Labyrinth of Knossos. King Minos ordered Daidalos to build the Labyrinth so that no one could find the Minotaur and bring it harm. It was an elaborate structure, full of winding corridors and dead ends, designed specifically to trap anyone who entered.

The Minotaur terrorized the people of Crete until Theseus, an Athenian prince and hero of Greek legend, came to their aid. He was determined to slay the beast and set out for Crete, armed with a ball of yarn that had been given to him by Ariadne – daughter of King Minos. Theseus successfully navigated the winding corridors of the Labyrinth, killing the Minotaur and bringing an end to its reign of terror.

Today, visitors from around the world come to explore the site of Knossos, in hopes of discovering the secrets that lie within. Although the Minotaur is no longer present, its legend lives on as a reminder of the power and resilience of Greek mythology. The story serves as a warning against greed, hubris and overconfidence, while also highlighting how courage and cunning can help us overcome even the greatest of obstacles. It is a story of true heroism, and a reminder of what can be achieved when we set our minds to something.

In conclusion, the legend of the Minotaur stands as one of the most captivating in Greek mythology, with its complex characters and powerful themes inspiring countless generations. Its story serves as an enduring reminder of the power of courage and determination in overcoming even the most daunting obstacles. The site of Knossos is a place to explore, with its intricate architecture offering a glimpse into ancient Greek culture and providing insight into this timeless myth.

Historical Timeline of the Minoan Civilization

Early Minoan Period

c. 3000 BC: The Early Minoan period begins with the establishment of the first settlements in Crete. Minoans start to use bronze tools and develop pottery skills, marking the beginning of the Bronze Age in Crete. ||| c. 2700 BC: The Minoans develop a hieroglyphic writing system, although its exact nature remains unknown due to the limited number of inscriptions found. ||| c. 2200 BC: The first palaces, including the one at Knossos, are built, signifying a shift towards more complex social structures.

Middle Minoan Period (c. 2100-1600 BC)

c. 2000 BC: The Minoans start building multi-story palaces with plumbing systems, reflecting advancements in architecture and engineering. ||| c. 1900 BC: The palaces are mysteriously destroyed, possibly by an earthquake. They are soon rebuilt on a grander scale. ||| c. 1800 BC: The Minoan civilization reaches its peak during this period, known as the Protopalatial Period. Trade expands with Egypt, the Aegean Islands, and mainland Greece. ||| c. 1700 BC: The Minoan Linear A script, which still remains undeciphered, comes into use.

Late Minoan Period (c. 1600-1100 BC)

c. 1600 BC: The eruption of the Thera volcano causes devastation across the region. Although it doesn't destroy the Minoan palaces, it severely disrupts the civilization.||| c. 1450 BC: Mycenaeans from mainland Greece invade Crete, marking the beginning of the Mycenaean influence over the island. The Minoan Linear A script is replaced by Linear B, a form of early Greek. ||| c. 1375 BC: The Palace of Knossos, the last of the great Minoan palaces, is destroyed, possibly due to an invasion or rebellion. ||| c. 1200 BC: The Minoan civilization gradually declines and is eventually absorbed by the Mycenaean civilization. |||

The Legends of Knossos

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