Sir Arthur Evans

Archaeologist of Knossos Palace, Crete

William Blake Richmond portrait of Arthur Evans

Portrait by William Blake Richmond

Sir Arthur Evans was a distinguished scholar and archaeologist, intimately involved with Knossos Palace in Crete, he was its champion and faithful recreationist.

In this age of very fast trains, planes and even faster emails, of rapid money transfers and next-day-delivery courier services, it is hard to truly understand the magnitude of Arthur Evan's achievements in archaeology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

He not only revealed a hidden civilisation, he named it and created the dating system by which we categorise it, all in a time before cars, concrete or cash machines.

Arthur Evans - Early Life

Arthur Evans was born on the 8th July 1851, in Nash Mills, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, England.

He had two brothers, Lewis and Norman, and a half-sister Joan. His father was John Evans and his mother was Harriet Dickinson. His father was a successful paper manufacturer, operating The John Dickinson and Company business, which came to him through his wife's (and cousins) family, the Dickinson's. They were a family of great wealth.

Evan's father, and before him his great grandfather, where learned men, interested in knowledge and antiquity. They, as well as Arthur's uncle John Dickinson, were members of The Royal Society.

John was a budding archaeologist, with a study overflowing with flint and bronze. He took the young Arthur on flint collecting expeditions in Britain and France. Arthur took on his father's interests, although in his own way. Arthur admired knowledge and education, and he loved collecting coins in place of flint.

Evans studied history at Harrow and Oxford, and later at Göttingen.

Evans was extremely short-sighted, which worked as a great advantage for him over the years. He very reluctantly wore his glasses. Items held a few inches away could be seen in almost microscopic vision. Even faint signatures of artist's names on coins could be discerned if he held them close.

Evans was not a sporting man, he was opposed to organised team sports. He was a physical, fit man who loved to travel.  In this he was quite unique for a man of his class, as he loved travelling off the beaten track and roughing it.

In 1871, when only 20 years old, Evans travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He became enamoured with the south Slavic people and the natural landscapes; the Dalmatian coast, their architecture, and their culture which was a blend of Roman, Byzantine and Moslem. A hearty, proud and tough people.

See the continuation of Evans' biography here...