Cnossos or Knossos (in Greek old
/ Knôsós ) was probably the capital of the Crete at the time of the Minoan period. The city would shelter the Palais of the king Minos, most important of the Minoan palates and undoubtedly most known of the sites crétois since its discovery in 1878.
Cnossos is the greatest known Minoan archeological site today. Its aspect and its size make a place remarkable and impossible to circumvent of it ages of antiquated Europe.
DiscoveredThe ruins of Cnossos were discovered in 1878 by an antique dealer crétois, Minos Kalokairinos. It led the first excavations, updating of the stores in the western wing of the palate, as well as elements of frontages.
March 16th, 1900, a British archeologist, Arthur Evans, buys the whole of the site and starts excavations of great scale. The excavation and the restoration of Cnossos, as well as the discovery of the civilization which it itself called Minoan, of the name of the legendary king Minos, are inseparable from the person of Evans. Evans was assisted by Duncan Mackenzie, which had been already announced on the building sites of excavation of Milo, and by Theodor Fyfe, an architect of the British school of Athens. Using local peasants as diggers, Evans updated in a few months an important part of a unit which he considered to be the palate of Minos. Actually, Cnossos is a complex whole of more than 1000 overlapping parts and was used at the same time of administrative and religious center, but also as center of storage of food products.
The precise chronology of the Minoan history remains subjected to guarantee; however, from main tendencies are distinguished. Arthur Evans divided the Bronze Age in Crete into three periods: the old or (MA) Pre-palatial Minoan (v. 3000-2200). Then, the average Minoan (MM) or Proto-palatial (v. 2200-1500). And finally, recent Minoan (MR) or Néo-palatial (v. 1500-1000). With the successive discoveries, each one of these periods itself was divided into three periods, quantified in Roman numerals (I, II and III), themselves divided into two under-periods (has and B).
The site of Cnossos is populated since, shortly after the arrival of the first colonists on the island of Crete. During thousand-year-old IIIe, corresponding to MY, stone constructions multiply. One finds the traces of a large building built to MY III (v. 2200), undoubtedly precursor of the Old Palate, built as from 1900 (MISTERS IA). It is what is called the phase archéopalatiale (MY III with MISTERS I, 2100 to 2000).
This Old man or First Palate extended around a central court. The organization of buildings around a central court is a constant of the Minoan system palatial, except with Phaistos, where it seems that the place missed. The construction of a palate seems to result from the need for organizing the city, after its expansion during the previous centuries. Constructions are laid out around the central court in western, northern wing and east. The Old Palate is destroyed about 1800-1700 (MISTERS II B) by several Séisme S, frequent in Crete.
The rebuildings during the 17th century mark the beginning of the construction of the New Palate (MISTERS III A). This construction continues gradually until its destruction about 1350. The palate of Cnossos seems to have been the politico-cultural center of the Minoan influence on Crete and the islands of the Aegean Sea, influence perceptible until in Egypt or Syria. The eruption of Santorin towards 1628 (MR. I A), if it does not mean the disappearance of Minoan civilization like suggested it Spyridon Marinatos, seems however to mark the beginning of the decline of the Minoan power
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