Crete Day 5
Knossos Travel Blog› entry 7 of 13 › view all entries
We were recommended to book a guided tour since the area is huge. So we dicided to do so and after that (which was about 1 1/2 hours) there would be time enough to take some pictures. The guide was very kind and well educated. She told us a lot of the history in a perfect german ;)
I've forgotten a lot and I need Wikipedia's help one more time ;) :o
Knossos (alternative spellings Knossus, Cnossus, Greek Κνωσός pronounced [kno̞ˈso̞s]), also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan civilization and culture.
The city of Knossos remained important through the Classical and Roman periods, but its population shifted to the new town of Handaq (modern Heraklion) during the 9th century AD. By the 13th century, it was called Makryteikhos 'Long Wall'; the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves Bishops of Knossos until the 19th century. Today, the name is used only for the archaeological site situated in the suburbs of Heraklion.
The palace is about 130 meters on a side and since the Roman period has been suggested as the source of the myth of the Labyrinth, an elaborate mazelike structure constructed for King Minos of Crete and designed by the legendary artificer Daedalus to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.
Labyrinth comes from the word labrys, referring to a double, or two-bladed, axe. Its representation had religious and probably magical significance. It was used throughout the Mycenaean world as an apotropaic symbol; that is, the presence of the symbol on an object would prevent it from being "killed." Axes were scratched on many of the stones of the palace. It appears in pottery decoration and is a motif of the Shrine of the Double Axes at the palace, as well as of many shrines throughout Crete and the Aegean. The etymology of the name is not known; it is probably not Greek. The form labyr-inthos uses a suffix generally considered to be pre-Greek.
The location of the labyrinth of legend has long been a question for Minoan studies. It might have been the name of the palace or of some portion of the palace. Throughout most of the 20th century the intimations of human sacrifice in the myth puzzled Bronze Age scholars, because evidence for human sacrifice on Crete had never been discovered and so it was vigorously denied.
Many other possibilities have been suggested. The modern meaning of labyrinth as a twisting maze is based on the myth.
Several out-of-epoch advances in the construction of the palace are thought to have originated the myth of Atlantis.
It would be far to many informations if I would copy the whole report from Wikipedia. If you're interested you can read it by yourselves ;)
Well, let me say that: it was very impressive although it was too crowded. Sometimes we had to wait very long until we could get into some buildings like the Throne Room or the Queen's Room. After walking around for about 4 hours we were exhausted from all those informations, the heat and the people around. We decided to visit a more quiet place.
At late afternoon we've been to Gortyn. There's also an ancient place but not as well known as Phaistos and Knossos therefore it was amazingly quiet there.
Gortyn, the Roman capital of Crete, was first inhabited around 3200 BC, and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 BC. Placed in the valley of Messara in the north of the Psiloritis mountain in the current position of the settlements of Metropolis and Ten Saints (Hagioi Deka), and near the Libyan Sea.
Among archaeologists, ancient historians, and classicists Gortyn is known today primarily because of the 1884 discovery of the Gortyn Code which is both the oldest and most complete known example of a code of ancient Greek law.
It was very nice to wander around the area. It cooled down a bit and we had a greek coffee in the cafeteria.