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Knossos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Knossos</b>Posted by bawn79<b>Knossos</b>Posted by bawn79 bawn79 Posted by bawn79
2nd January 2008ce

Phaistos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Phaistos is a palace and Bronze Age settlement in southern Crete. Situated on a ridgetop with expansive views, the site has yielded significant finds of Minoan architecture and pottery as well as the undeciphered ancient symbol language of the Phaistos Disk. There are actually two palaces on site from different eras, with architectural elements of royal apartments, theatre, grand staircases, raised processional walkway, stormwater runoff systems, paved courtyards, magazines and offering basins for animal sacrifice. The fieldnotes herein are the result of my on site work of June, 2005 along with review of extant literature.

HISTORY. Phaistos has origins in the Neolithic era as in the case of Knossos, Kamarais Magasa and other locations; moreover, civilizations at Phaistos advanced steadily in the era between 3000 to 2000 BC and reached its zenith of art, language and architectural achievement in the middle of the second millennium BC. Iron Age re-occupation of the site eventually occurred after destruction of the Palace by earthquake, (Van Dyke, 2003) and eventually the rise of the center at Gortyn over-shadowed Phaistos by the late first millennium BC.

ARCHITECTURE AND ART The Old Palace is surprisingly well preserved, since the New Palace was set back eight meters leaving significant old palace elements in tact. The paved West Court of the Old Palace was covered with rubble a meter deep which became the ground level of the New Palace. A unique feature of the Central Court is its formal north facade, a symmetrical front with half columns and flanking niches for sentries. Phaistos exhibits numerous round subsurface pits known as 'koulouras'', probably used for storing grain.

Like Knossos and Zakro, Phaistos also boasts a labyrinth, although not nearly so elaborate as Knossos. (Castleden, 1990) A large private suite with bath at the north edge is similar to one at Mallia, especially with regard to designing to take advantage of views.

The quintessential artwork of Phaistos is the famed disk, with its 242 undeciphered symbols incised in spirals on both sides.(Mollin, 2005) On one side of the clay disk is an eight petaled rosette, and on the obverse is a helmet. Illustrating an advanced state of language development, the disk is also cited as the first version of movable type, since its design meets all requisite criteria.

Sophisticated pottery is found at Phaistos particulary in the Middle and Late Minoan periods. Examples of techniques include polychrome specimens and embossing in imitation of metal work. Bronze Age works from Phaistos include bridge spouted bowls, eggshell cups, tall jars and immense pithoi. Designs include complex geometric as well as zoomorphic shapes. Jewelry has also been recovered at Phaistos such as a gold necklace of beads with a double argonaut design. Iron Age Phaistos is known for production of terracotta figurines which emphasize facial detail.

CULTURE. Phaistos was the second most important Bronze Age settlement of the Minoan culture, and has many developmental and artistic similarities to its rival Knossos. Bronze Age Phaistos exhibited a strict caste system with an elite ruling class and small upper class enjoying most of the societal wealth. The larger number of peasants and slaves carried out the preponderance of labor, but subsisted in a simple manner. As in other Minoan cultures this arrangement appears to have been very stable over millennia, in that the populace revered the king and enjoyed the perceived protection from him. (Pomeroy, 1999)

ENVIRONMENT Phaistos is situated on a prominent coastal ridge, with expansive views of the Lasithi Mountains and the Asterousi Range, in addition to the broad fertile Messara Plain below. At the western end of the ridge sits the archaeological site of Hagia Triadha. The palace itself is aligned toward a prominent mountain saddle in the Psiloriti Range. Viewed from Phaistos, to the right of the saddle is the sacred cave of Kamares, which has yielded some of the finest Middle Minoan pottery. (Cadogan, 1991) The ancient water supply derived from the Ieropotamos River supplemented by deep wells on the ridge.

There is evidence that Phaistos expanded beyond its resource base during Middle Minoan I and II, especially in regard to over-exploitation of its surrounding agricultural resources. (Branigan, 2001) This attainment of the prehistoric population to local carrying capacity occurred at a similar time to that observed at Knossos through evidence of deforestation. (Hogan, 2007) In the middle to later Bronze Age, Phaistos expanded into the Amari area by founding the satellite center Monastiriki.

* Ruth Van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock (2003) ''Archaeologies of Memory'', Blackwell Publishing.
240 pages ISBN 063123585X
* Rodney Castleden (1990) ''The Knossos Labyrinth: A New View of the 'Palace of Minos' at Knosos'', Routledge ISBN 0415033152
* Richard A. Mollin (2005) ''Codes: The Guide To Secrecy From Ancient To Modern Times'',
CRC Press, 679 pages ISBN 1584884703
* Sarah B. Pomeroy (1999) ''Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History'', Oxford University Press, 544 pages ISBN 0195097424
* Gerald Cadogan (1991) '' Palaces of Minoan Crete'', Routledge, 164 pages ISBN 041506585
* Keith Branigan (2001) ''Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age'', Continuum International
Publishing Group ISBN 1841273414
* C. Michael Hogan (2007) ''Knossos'', The Modern Antiquarian
C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
29th December 2007ce

Knossos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Folklore

King Minos of Knossos clearly was a real person, but the treatments of Homer are difficult to discern, since the poet liked to toy with his readers in intermixing fact with embellishment. Factually Minos reigned at Knossos as the king of all Crete prior to the Trojan War (early to mid second millennium BC).

Legend holds that Poseidon gave Minos a splendid bull for sacrifice, the elegance of the bull placed Minos in awe, so that he refused to sacrifice the animal. The enraged Poseidon punished Minos by causing his wife, Pasiphae, to have a child that was half-bull, half-man, the Minotaur. Minos ordered Daedalus, his master architect, to design the labyrinth at Knossos to confine the bull-man Minotaur.

Minos' human son Androgeus competed in the first Panathenaic Games in Athens, but King Aegeus was angered when Androgeus won all the contests; Aegeus slayed Androgeus, with Minos responding with war on Athens; Athens capitulated to a peace by sending seven fair young women and men yearly to Crete to be imprisoned with Minotaur in the labyrinth.

The Minotaur stalked them within the giant maze; the process endured for three years until Aegeus' other human son, Theseus, penetrated the labyrinth and slayed the Minotaur; Theseus Minos' daughter, Ariadne, gave Theseus a spool of thread, which he unwound as he explored the labyrinth, allowing him to retrace his steps and escape the enormous maze. The above story is further memorialized by the historian Plutarch, who further muddles fact with fiction and adds a moralistic ending.

In any case the actual Minos was a potent king who died on Sicily in an attempt to re-capture Daedalus.
C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
26th December 2007ce

Lato (Hillfort) — Links


Photos and some descriptions of the Lato site, with emphasis upon images of the main gate.
C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
26th December 2007ce

Knossos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Knossos is the largest Bronze Age settlement on the island of Crete, and it also can lay claim to one of the most advanced civilizations of Europe of that era. It is an expansive palace as well as a religious and residential center, but is also steeped in legend and mystery involving King Minos,. the Minotaur and the Labyrinth as recited by Homer. Originally developed as a large neolithic village around 6000 BC, Knossos evolved into a sophisticated center of language and arts with significant Egyptian contact between 2500 to 1800 BC. The Palace, built at the zenith of Knossos culture, exceeded 1300 maze-like rooms, and was the source of the ancient labyrinth legend. The data herein are based upon my work at Knossos in June, 2005 combined with literature analysis.

NEOLITHIC. Knossos is the only city-sized Neolithic settlement on Crete, with three well defined layers of material bedded to a final depth of seven meters below the Bronze Age city; the Neolithic settlement on Kephala Hill actually extends well beyond the boundaries of the later Bronze Age city. The oldest Neolithic level reveals coarse hand-made brown clay bowls and other unornamented open containers. Pottery artifacts are burnished and many contain handles. (Castleden, 1990) The middle Neolithic manifests more refined pottery, with intricate incised geometric designs and some bird and animal motifs. Hatched triangles, dotted fields and chevrons are incised on ladles, partitioned trays and vases; some use of tubular handles is evident.

Late Neolithic Knossos offers remains of recognizable buildings. For example, numerous sun-dried brick-walled houses founded on large limestone blocks lie below the later Central Court. These structures are presumed to be "ben and but" style, like the extant late Neolithic specimen at Magasa in eastern Crete. Such homes range up to 40 sq meters for a largish home of four rooms with hearth, which heating fixture may be placed by a wall or in the middle of the room. High thresholds were in use as in modern times. Clay floors run under the walls suggesting a community plan level. The extensive maze-like arrangement of rooms is eerily suggestive of a labyrinth. (The word "Labyrinth" derives from the Minoan "labrys" meaning "double-axe", which axe symbol is also found widely at Knossos.) This communal array of houses with common walls is not unlike the Anasazi settlements of the American southwest (e.g. Chaco Canyon). Late Neolithic pottery educes new designs such as the chalice and carinated bridge spouted jar.

EARLY MINOAN. The Early Minoan period of Crete spans the era from 3400 to 2200 BC and is characterized by monumental building and by rough lime plaster over the earlier sun-dried brick and a fine surface wash of deep red which formed a cement hard stucco. (Pendlebury, 2003) Beginning in Early Minoan I, pottery evinces intricate incision designs. Influence of Anatolia and Cyclades (e.g. bottle-neck suspension pots similar to Antiparos) are seen; during the Neolithic period the only foreign influences found are Egyptian.

Notably in the Early Minoan II (EMII) period (2800 to 2400 BC) the Hypogaeum underground vault was created with an eight meter diameter and beehive dome extending 18 meters in height; this edifice was cut into the soft rock which would become the South Porch of the eventual Palace. Homes of this era were mostly razed to make way for the eventual Palace. Other Cretan cultures are now similar in pottery, designs, tools beginning in about 2500 BC. For example, a Knossos cup with high swung handle is similar to specimens from Vasilki and Trapeza. Dishes and bowls at Knossos show broad rim bands of colour and geometrics and in one instance over the rim to the inside of the vessel. Cycladic influence figurines begin appearance in Knossos in EMII. Copper daggers of Early Minoan III were recovered at the Tekke Tomb of Knossos and on the Candia road.

MIDDLE MINOAN. This era begins at 2200 BC with founding of the monumental Palace including: (a) insulae (with unusual rounded corners which may harken to an ancient a reed pallisade exterior); (b) magazines; (c) Throne Room; (d) Monolithic Pillar Basement; (e) raised causeways; (f) drainage and water supply systems of tapered clay pipes, with jointed sections 75 cm long. In Middle Minoan I (MMI), the great trackway appears from Komo via a guard fort at Anagyroi. Aqueducts brought water to Kephala Hill from springs at Archanes, which are the source of the Kairatos River. The Juktas Sanctuary, with a massive northern temenos wall where pithoi were recovered, is built on a hill a few kilometers from the Palace. Reconstruction of Knossos at Middle Minoan I is special, since other ruins on Crete such as Pseira are altered by later development.and are almost indecipherable.

Aiding the dating of Knossos MMI layers are a plethora of commingled Egyptian and Babylonian artifacts . Small jugs and handle-less cups appear in vast array in MMI Knossos with elaborate geometric designs and combinations of red, white, buff and black color; the earliest style of vase painting appears at Knossos, but nowhere else on Crete this early. Human figurines first appear at Knossos, males with only a codpiece and topless females with bell-shaped skirts. Pictographic linear writing first appears at Knossos and Phaistos in MMI, with one Knossos ivory cylinder seal manifesting intricate designs and proto-writing; a male figure on the cylinder seal resembles the Petsophas specimens. In the Vat Room a number of blue and green faience beads were found of spherical and disk shapes.

Middle Minoan II (MMII) begins about 1850 BC and lasts about 150 years until a great earthquake. Architecture, art and civil engineering attains great dimensions, paralleling Akrotiri in many ways. High column bases are made of breccia, porphyry, serpentine and conglomerate, while the columns themselves were milled tree trunks, inverted to prevent resprouting and also to minimize drip damage to the wood. To carry surface runoff elaborate stone lined drains were constructed large enough to crawl through. An intricate latrine system was devised including a candidate for the world's first flush toilet with incision in stone for a toilet seat and buckets nearby for flushing.

The adjunct Mavrospelio Cemetary was developed with chambered tombs, from which conical cups and burial pithoi have been retrieved. Two meter tall pithoi with rope designs appear at Knossos in MMII. The first expansive plaster murals turn up, notably the partially extant "Saffron Gatherer" illustrating the gathering of crocuses. Increasingly elaborate pottery designs appear such as rosettes, stylistic palms and scroll patterns.

By at least the latter part of MMI, a myriad of glyphs (read left to right) appear, some borrowed from Egypt. Glyphs depict the olive sprig, saffron, wheat, silphium, dog, ram, goat, snake, fish, short and long horned cattle, some appearing on three sided clay seals and some at Mavrospelio. (Whittaker, 2005) These glyphs blossomed into a full writing form at Knossos known as Linear A, likely the first complete writing system in Europe. Seals are made from carnelian, agate, rock crystal, chalcedony and jasper, with Knossos favorite shapes being signet, lentoid and circular. The first trials at portraiture manifest in MMI at Knossos, with subjects displaying both straight and aquiline noses. The first example of a Egyptian object in the Aegean that has a personal connection appears in Knossos MMII {a diorite statue of a man named "User" from the XII or XIII Egyptian Dynasty).

In Middle Minoan III (MMIII) the Grand Staircase is evident and the use of peristyle at Knossos and Phaistos. Inverted plastered timber columns are now numerous and have been imitated by Minorca and Malta. Lightwells are common in residences and other buildings. Architectural elements are decorated by stone carvings with human and animal motifs, such as a fisherman carrying an octopus; hunter lassoing a wild ewe; and scenes in the bull ring.

Magnificent paintings appear at Knossos in MMIII such as the "Blue Dolfins'', embellished by fish of all colors with bubbles flying off the fins, and edged with coral and sponges. The "Ladies in Blue" in the East Hall depicts women in elaborate garments toying with necklaces. A charging bull painting is reminiscent of an image in the tomb at Vapheio; morever, there is abundant evidence of a bull ring and other support for elaborate bull fighting events.

Some MMIII pottery continues to be barbotine, but polychrome and other finishes are present. Most curious is a round vase with suspension handle and curious side aperture; Evans suggests that this could be birdhouse for swallows. A lamp on pedestal design begins in this period, with an ivy motif purple gypsum spiral column specimen in the East-House. Bronze is now common, and at North-West House of Knossos were found double-axes, spearheads, socketed daggers, flared chisels, adzes and vessels. MMIII Sculpture is highly sophisticated as well as furniture, with a grand steatite libation table found at the Temple Repositories.

Literacy rates have been deduced to be very high, based upon ubiquitous writings found at all socioeconomic strata. Animal and human figures never face the beginning of text. Numerals are systemitized: 1 is a vertical stroke; 10 is dot; 100 is circle. Use of ink is widespread, found on pottery and many objects, and likely used on leather, papyrus or palm leaves. tablets are incised by bronze styli. Seals become elaborate such as an agate cylinder showing an ibex defending himself from a hunting dog.

LATE MINOAN. This period begins about 1580 BC with continuing advances in art and writing, but is generally an era of decline and conquest by Mycenaean Greeks. Architecturally there are certain room alterations and the introduction of the first clerestory windows. Environmental factors include manifestation of overpopulation and deforestation. (Pendlebury, 2003) Lack of trees is manifested by the unusual introduction of tall slabs of gypsum instead of wood for door jambs; vertical post timbers which tied in the masonry are missing in much of this era's construction; horizontal beams are notably smaller in diameter. Further evidence of reduction of carrying capacity is seen in the reduced size of Knossos compared to millennia earlier. Art continued to thrive in the earlier parts of Late Minoan, as exemplified by a finely carved sardonyx seal-stone showing the Mistress of Animals with a double-axe and griffins. The important Linear A Chariot Tablets derive from the Late Minoan, with Arthur Evans placing them just before the catastrophe.

Late Minoan II ends about 1425 BC with a catastrophic collapse of the Minoan culture. Mycenaean invasion commenced soon thereafter. While the Minoans never exhibited warfare, it is curious that the invasion came so close to the societal collapse. The syndrome seems mysteriously similar to the sudden demise of the Mayan civilization, where some postulate that carrying capacity was no longer able to serve an expanded population.

* Rodney Castleden (1990) ''The Knossos Labyrinth: A New View of the 'Palace of Minos' at Knosos'', Routledge ISBN 0415033152
* J.D.S. Pendlebury (2003) ''Handbook to the Palace of Minos at Knossos with Its Dependencies'', republication of earlier work with contributor Arthur Evans, Kessinger Publishing, 112 pages ISBN 0766139166
* Helène Whittaker (2005) ''Social and Symbolic Aspects of Minoan writing'', European Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 29-41
C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
22nd December 2007ce

Phaistos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images

<b>Phaistos</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan<b>Phaistos</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan<b>Phaistos</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
18th December 2007ce

Knossos (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images

<b>Knossos</b>Posted by C Michael Hogan C Michael Hogan Posted by C Michael Hogan
17th December 2007ce
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