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I'm an Aussie who likes wandering all over the world but keeps coming back home to paradise and my family. If you are reading this on one of my travel blogs, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them. If you are reading the Diabetes and weight loss blog - I hope it helps in your battle with the beast. Cheers, Alan

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Ancient Knossos, Crete, Greece.

Travel Date 14th July 2013

Knossos is only a few km out of town on the fringe of the suburbs and can be reached on the local inexpensive bus. I have always wanted to see it, ever since I first read about the ancient Minoans and the re-discovery of the ancient palace. 

I thought I would arrive early and avoid the crowds. I failed. The queue was very long in the hot sun. There was shade under this canopy, but it took quite a while to reach this point and even longer to reach the ticket office.

When I reached the front, after buying my ticket I repaired immediately to the nearby cafe for a cold beer. It was over 35C in the shade according to the weather report that day, and much hotter than that in the sun.

I will let the pictures tell most of the story, with a few words of explanation between them.

Arthur Evans, an English archaeologist, is responsible for the Knossos we know today. He was shown the site by a local man in 1894 and made excavation and reconstruction of parts of the palace his life's work after that. 

Unfortunately his work has led to controversy, because his reconstructions owe much to his own vision of how things were in Minoan times and many of his reconstructions have made deeper archaeological investigion of sections of the site impossible. An excellent description of Evans and Knossos history is here: Arthur Evans & the Minotaur.


Over the past ten years I have visited many ancient sites. When looking at Knossos it was hard not to compare with Mycenae, Pompeii, Rome, Petra, Jerash, Trier and Athens among others. To be honest, although I am very glad I went and I enjoyed the experience, I also have to agree with those who criticised Evans for his anachronistic attempts at reconstruction of Knossos as he imagined it. 

It is true that the use of concrete and paint make the ancient buildings easier to visualise, but the whole place took on the air of a Las Vegas version rather than the real thing. One is often left wondering how much is really as it used to be, how much is as Evans believes it was and how valid his imagining of Minoan life was.

The local tourism industry would disagree because the crowds at Knossos were greater than any I encountered at those other sites, with the possible exception of Petra. Hopefully the site will go through restoration rather than reconstruction over the next few decades.


There is archaeological evidence of human habitation on Crete going back nearly 10,000 years. For those interested in more details I found an excellent brief history of Cretan civilisation on this web-site: History of Minoan Crete. Knossos was built in the period known as Neopalatial around 1700-1400 BC.

Mid-way through wandering the site I sat for a while in the beautiful location imagining life for a Minoan.

They developed one of the most advanced civilisations of any ancient era, long before the time of Alexander. The Minoans were almost as ancient to him as he is to us.

Earlier I mentioned the early Cretan's development of indoor sanitation and water supply. I believe these pictures show part of the system. Possibly this is a section modern Cretans might benefit from studying more closely...

Their civilisation was eventually destroyed by Mother Nature when Thera exploded in volcanic fury about 1475-1450 BC with a resultant tsunami. That was followed by an invasion by Mycenaeans, a civilisation which had already embraced much of the Minoan culture through trade prior to that invasion. The Minoans never recovered from those events.

The queue waiting to see the Throne Room
Throne Room, left side
Throne Room, right side
The entry queue was even longer when I left in the afternoon. I am very pleased I saw Knossos but I left a little sad.

Cheers, Alan

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