A ancient Greek capital of the legendary king Minos. Is Knossos, it was the principal center of the Minoan culture. Established during the neolithic age. Is one of the earliest ancient neolithic civilizations of Greece. Its site stands on a knoll. Between two streams, and is located about 5 miles (8 km) below Crete’s northern coast.
Like many of the other Greek islands. Early neolithic settlers came over from mostly Anatolia in the 7th and 8th millennium BC. They firmly established an agricultural society based on wheat and livestock raising. In a span of just 6000 years, Knossos became a Greek administrative center, and the capital of Cretes regions within its jurisdiction.
Neolithic remains at Crete are prolific. They are found in caves, rock shelters, old houses, and settlements. Because of the thickness of layers below Knossoses main site. It is believed they probably started building in the area more than 9000 years ago. Earliest settlers attest to cloth-making, tool making, farming, fishing, hunting and more. Archaeologists have found fine ground axe and mace heads of colored stone: greenstone, serpentine, diorite even jadeite (jade). As well as local obsidian knives and arrowheads. Like other Greek establishments. Art was significant. Among the other small items were a large number of animal and human figurines, including nude sitting or standing women. Attributing to the neolithic mother goddess and figurines in general to religion.
Among the items found in Knossos is a depiction of a goddess flanked by two lions. It appears in many other images, and artistry around the site.
Early neolithic: families and homes
From scientific studies, we have take on 9000–8000 years ago. A hamlet of 25–50 persons begin at the location of the central court. They lived in wattle and daub huts, kept animals, and grew crops. Most of the huts, consisting of several families. They begin to practice exogamy (custom of marrying outside a community, tribe or clan). Lived in close quarters, and worked hard, with a high degree of intimacy. It was somewhat no-madic. They hiked around, hunted, fished, mined and traded when others. That may have became trapped on, or were traveling to or around the island. And, again building and techniques evolved. Towards the end of this period. They were in one or two room square houses of mud brick walls. Using the recycled, or nearby stone, clay and mud. The inner walls had early log and stone engineering with neolithic drywall. Many of the roofs were flat, composed of mud over branches. And, the residents dug hearths at various locations.
7000-6000 years ago: The settlement of the middle Neolithic
As families and populations increased. So begin what was presumably more family private homes. Around this period population reached 500-1000 people. Building remained constant, ever improving. Windows and doors were timbered, hearth designed improved, and there were even proper cabinets and beds. Under the palace the Knossos neolithic built a great house. A 1100 sq foot stone building with 5 rooms. Because of its thick 1 meter (3.28 feet) stone walls most believe a 2nd story was present. The presence of its age and size suggest it was not likely a private residence. But one for public or community use and sharing.
4500 years ago begins the late neolithic and/or early Minoan period
Implying greater wealth and social concentration of authority, politics and faith. It is believed that the first Cretan palaces were built soon after 2000 BC. Other than Knossos, neolithic palace sites included Malia, Phaestos and Zakro. It was a sharp break from the traditional neolithic village system. Professors have suggested the new period followed eastern models. Like those at Ugarit on the Syrian coast, and Mari on the upper Euphrates. All the palaces had large central courtyards. Living quarters, storage rooms and administrative centers were positioned around. They also had working quarters for skilled craftsmen: blacksmith, knappers, bakers, farmers; labourers; artists and more. Since metallurgy had begin, it allowed a more structured commercialization of barter and trade. Kind of like today. They made and traded for tin, copper and stone, created awesome glazed pottery, made gold jewelry and even engraved things. From this period. Hieroglyphic scripts were found, and trade with Egyptians was undertaken. Knossos produced and commercialized fine polychrome pottery during this period. It was around 1720 BC a destructive earthquake leveled parts of Knossos. Thereafter, it was rebuilt stronger with stairs, and greater safety elements.
Did you know? Greek mythology stated Knosso palace was designed with such complexity. That no one placed in it could ever find its exit. King Minos commissoned famed architect Dedalos. He arranged with Dedalos to never leave the site so he would not revealed its design and plans to anyone.
Metallurgy, completion of a palace and culture. Separated the end of Knossoses neolithic age
Covering three acres with its main building and five acres when separate out-buildings. The palace at Knossos was big. It had bathrooms, toilets and a drainage system.
Stores that occupied sixteen rooms. For barter and trade, they had large storage jars up to five feet tall. Oil, wool, wine, grain and other things were stored here. Holding about 400 spectators. A theatre was found. Women were also praised. They had style and fashion, and the wine flew abundantly. It was a neolithic age and Minoan period epicenter.
Building techniques at Knossos continued typical. The foundations and lower course were stonework with the whole built on a timber framework of beams and pillars. The main structure was built of large, unbaked bricks. The roof was flat with a thick layer of clay over brushwood.
Chambers and corridors were often decorated with frescoes showing scenes from everyday life. Possessions, relationships and wildlife. Outside of double headed axes (labrys); and bulls, warfare and violence was conspicuously absent here. In Knossos, during the neolithic age and Minoan period would have been a great time.
Unfortunately, some time after about 1400 BC, what researchers called the “Last Palace” of Knossos. Was destroyed by a fire of uncertain origin. Fires destroyed many other Cretan settlements at this time. Knossos was reduced henceforth to the status of a mere town. The political focus of the Aegean world shifted to Mycenaeans on the Greek mainland. Knossos continued to be inhabited through the subsequent centuries, though on a much-reduced scale. Be sure to check it out, and some more neolithic architecture today.
Bibliography: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), “Cnossus” , Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 6 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 573–574
Bury, J. B.; Meiggs, Russell (1975). A History of Greece (Fourth ed.). London: MacMillan Press. ISBN0-333-15492-4.
(1901). “Minoan Civilization at the Palace of Knosses” (PDF). Monthly Review.