Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Aegean Art

What is the Palace of Knossos?

The mysterious Minoan culture is famous for the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, discovered on the island of Crete in 1900 by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. Evans called his discovery the “Palace of Minos,” referring to the mythological maze which imprisoned the Minotaur. The Knossos Palace complex contained hundreds of rooms of various sizes and shapes, including storerooms, workrooms, and administrative rooms. One storeroom was so large, it could hold over twenty-thousand gallons of oil in jars. While the layout of the palace appears disjointed and confusing, each space was designed to have access to fresh air and plumbing, and was elaborately decorated with wall paintings and frescoes. The palace appears to have been completely destroyed and rebuilt, and Minoan culture seems to have been severely disrupted by at least one major natural disaster, possibly a catastrophic earthquake or volcanic eruption—or both.


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