Palace of Knossos
The Minoan Civilization is the culture that
flourished on the island of Crete, in the
Aegean Sea, during the III and II millennia
named after King Minos, who was recorded in
Greek tradition as a prehistoric king of
culture is divided into three
The Minoan civilization was first
as distinct from the Mycenaean civilization of mainland
Greece by Sir Arthur Evans, the British excavator of its largest site, the
palace of Knossos.
Other palaces have been
excavated at Phaistos, Mallia, and Kato Zakros, and new discoveries indicate
the likelihood of a palace at Khania in western Crete. Minoan settlements
have been found on other islands of the southern Aegean—notably Thera, Melos,
Kythera (Cythera), Keos (Kea), and Rhodes. Minoan exports are found
throughout the eastern half of the Mediterranean
Little was known of the prehistory of Crete
before 1900, when Evans began his excavations at Knossos in the central sector of
the island near the north coast.
the greater part of the huge palace between 1900 and 1905, but work by the British
School has continued up to the present, and it is now known that a substantial town
lay outside the limits of the palace area.
Near the south coast is the
almost equally large palace of Phaistos,
situated on an isolated hill in the great plain
of the Messara.
royal villa of Haghia Triadha (Hagia Triada),
about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) away, is now some
distance from the sea but in antiquity may have
been much nearer.
sites were excavated in the early years of the
20th century by the Italian
palace of Mallia, to the east of Knossos, is a little
smaller but was an equally important
This was excavated by the French School.
Still farther east, a whole small town was revealed at Gournia by an American