Creative Archaeology – Knossos

1st July 2006

I awoke early the next day, I only had two days to explore Crete the largest Island on my tour and one where I knew there was an awful lot to see. I had breakfast at the hotel and then headed down to Iraklio. I walked through the Venetian fortifications and right up the main street. I wished I had looked in my trusty guidebook first as I walked about a mile in the wrong direction assuming the main bus terminal would be in the middle of the city. I soon found out that it was in the middle of nowhere.

I finally got there and purchased a ticket from the booth. All buses are prepaid in Greece, which is a fairly good idea, except if you don’t know where to get the tickets, like I did. I boarded the bus to the site of Knossos, the so-called palace of Minos I had come to visit. This was the only place in Crete I expected to be able to get to as it was only a few miles out of the main city and everything else was miles away or on the other side of the island.

I arrived at Knossos and got off the bus in front of some souvenir shops that distinctly reminded me of the Egyptian bazaars, the shops looked makeshift and disorganised. I walked past them and paid to enter the site which as a student was quite cheap. I walked around the perimeter of the palace and took some photos including one with the huge horns of consecration in the background.

Knossos archaeological site
Exploring the archaeological site of Knossos

I looked at the storage magazines containing giant pithoi pots that I had once had to do a presentation on, again marvelling at the fact that I was standing in front of something that six months ago I had been doing an assignment on. Knossos was wonderful, but I do understand why some people criticise its discoverer, Sir Arthur Evans. He has restored beyond belief, in some cases trying to reconstruct a wall fresco of several square meters from only a few surviving fragments of painted plaster. He has put in rooves and erected columns and even painted on some of his own imaginative designs. I went and had a look at the throne room, where the king of this great palace had once sat and stood in the central court where the Minoans had performed their rituals and festivals.

After I had looked around for a few hours I headed back to the bus stop via the souvenir shops, which were really expensive. I resolved that I probably wasn’t going to get a piece of Creten Kamares pottery to add to my growing collection of replica ancient pots. I boarded the bus to Heraklion and to my delight it was only 12pm. I decided now that I had managed to get to Knossos anything else I got to see would be a bonus. So again, I got out my trusty guidebook and saw that the Minoan site of Malia was not too far away.

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