Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Minoan Knossos

Knossos on the island of Crete is even older than Mycenae.  This was the centre of the Minoan civilisation, widely considered the oldest and the source of the Greek culture.  The Minoans, popularly represented by the legends of King Minos, is believed to have flourished  here  3,400 - 5,600 years ago.   I saw a photo of the famous fresco (painted directly on the wall) of a man (in red) leaping head over heels over a bull, supported or watched by two women (in white) years ago.  

I found it here on the walls of the reconstructed king’s palace.  It is much smaller than I expected.  Unfortunately this is also a copy.  The original is in a museum, because, I presume, that it is too valuable to be left in the open.  The king's palace was a three storey palace.  I reminded myself that it was built more than 3,000 years ago.    The engineering achievements of the Minoans are impressive.  

There is another famous fresco of a prince with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.  Some people say this is really a woman.  I tend to think this is a man.  

There is a throne in the “throne room” in the reconstructed king’s palace.  Did King Minos sit in this throne?  The legendary half-man half-bull, virgin-eating Minotaur was believed to have lived in the labyrinth underneath the king’s palace.  Is the labyrinth still there waiting to be excavated?

There is a theatre which is rectangular in shape, as opposed to circular as in many of the later Greek theatres.  It is also quite modest in size, with an apparent capacity of just a few hundred, as compared to some of later Greek and Roman theatres which can seat thousands and even tens of thousands of people.  

Perhaps it is a reflection of the fact that the Minoan civilization itself was rather modest in size compared to later civilizations.  At its peak the population at Knossos was believed to be around 100,000, 3,700 years ago.   Since its script is still undeciphered, much of its history is still a mystery. 

The Greeks were truly ahead of most of us at that time.  It is exciting to have able to come here and stand on the ground where these great people lived.  

No comments: