Palace of Knossos
The ruins of the palace were discovered in 1878 by the Cretan Minos Kalokairinos who began excavations.
Beautiful frescoes were discovered on the site, showing us the nature of the society of the earliest Cretans.
Below you will see the Bull Leaping Fresco which is one of the most famous of all. It brings into question the nature of the relationship of the earliest inhabitants with the bull. Of course it seems that the young boys or girls are jumping the bull...is this part of a display of skill or a bull-fighting sequence?
Also below you will see the fresco name Minoan Lady which shows beautiful blue colours and the distinguished profile of a beautiful woman.
In the throne room of Knossos you will see the striking Griffin Fresco, with stunning red colours. There are two griffins facing the throne, these mythical creatures had the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
See more information about the history of Knossos on this page...
Statuettes and jewellery were found on this site giving us questions about the role of women in the Minoan civilisation, such as the Snake Goddess (see below).
Theories abound about the rituals and the type of society of the Minoans. The art shown here is enough to set historians on myriad paths of interpretation.
Were they a Goddess-based culture? Were they peaceful and nature-loving? Did the women hold power and lead the spiritual life of the island? Was the this the home of the Queen instead of King Minos?
The British archaeologist that excavated the site was an interesting character named Arthur Evans, see more about him here; a full biography which shows his life's work in uncovering the Minoan history of the island. He controversially reconstructed many features of the site according to his own imagination.
Below is a video of the archaeological site as it stands today:
Below is a map of Crete showing the location of the Minoan palaces:
5 km from Iraklion - central Crete
62 km from Iraklion - central Crete
40 km from Iraklion - central Crete
50 km from Sitia - eastern Crete