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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Knossos ruin near Iraklio, Crete - a trip in the past

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I have been to the island of Crete several times, the first time it was a sightseeing trip - driving through the whole island in about 3-4 days, another year I was accompanying a relative from abroad, followed by a one-week summer vacation for the family because of an invitation from another family who knows a hotel manager (connection is important here, great discount!) in Elounda, another time we had to attend a wedding near Agios Nikolaos; the Greek tradition calls for the wedding ceremony to be held at the bride’s hometown.

In each of those trips, I missed the most important cultural site, the Knossos ruin.  Finally, in November 2008, we took a weekend get-away trip to stay only in the city of Iraklio and visit its surrounding area, so it gave me a chance to study the Minoan culture.

Like some people, I didn’t care much about pre-visit preparations and despite having a good camera my battery went dead right on the spot.  Nevertheless, here are the picture collections taken from a mobile phone.

Knossos palace was estimated to be built around 1900 BC (scroll down the linked page to read the subtitle events to have a general idea of the cultural events between the middle and the late bronze age), but was destroyed the first time around 1700 BC, then rebuilt soon, destroyed again possibly by the eruption of volcano in Thera (aka Santorini), which occurred between 1627 BC  and 1600 BC.  This range of years of eruption is being disputed by scholars.  Another theory believes that the destruction of Knossos is due to tsunami, or an earlier earthquake separate from the eruption in Thera. For details of the newer theories, read the immediate preceding linked page under the subtitle Historical impact, Minoan civilization.

In any case, a fire must have accompanied the disaster because some stones are left with black marks.

For some images of the artifacts from the Minoan culture go to this link

For a famous mythology and the origin of naming the Aegean Sea (愛琴), read Theseus and the Minotaur or the wiki Theseus under the subtitle Minotaur.
For a better image of the king’s throne as I could only view and took a picture from a distance

I invite you to decipher the Phaistos (another ancient site in Crete) disk with Hieroglyph signs, the actual disk size is about 10.5 cm to 10.8 cm, and here is a clear image.

I love how Cretans speak, it is slightly different from the Greek mainland people, I notice that they tend to pronounce some k sound like the ch sound, example: red wine (κόκκινο or ερυθρό κρασί), the Greek mainland sound is KO-ki-no, kra-SI, but many Cretans say KO-chi-no, kra-SI instead, very interesting!

A final word for international tourists:

If you are not interested in archeology or museum studies, some tourists revealed that the Knossos ruin was quite boring, but for Minos Kalokairinos (the first excavator in 1878, his last name sounds like related to the Greek word summer) or for Arthur Evans it was not boring at all since he spent some money (your task to find out how much) to buy up the land solely for the purpose of studying the ancient culture.  And for me it was not boring because I am a life-long student.

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