Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Palace of Knossus, Crete, Dec. 2012

The Minoans are the oldest western civilization dating back several thousand years BC. A neolithic settlement was there seven thousand years ago. The first palace on the hill beside the Krairatos River dates from 1900 when it was built on other ruins. Abraham was only about 1800 years so a sense of the antiquity of the place can be appreciated. The Hague had a copy of the Minoan throne made for their court, Minoans developing the first court thousands of years earlier. They were a ranching society and a sea faring society. The bull is their central symbol but the  dolphin mural dominated the Queen's chamber. Minos was the name of successful kings. The Minotaur was the King's prize bull. The labyrinth derives it's name from the double headed axe which adorned the palace. Myths arose from the tributes paid by surrounding countries. Cypress trees surrounded the palace a centre of trade and government. So far excavations, first recognized as a palace by Evans DSCN0326
in the 1800s, have uncovered store rooms, craft shops, meeting rooms and the private chambers. The government hopes to extend the excavation in the future. It's estimated tens of thousands of people lived in the vicinity. DSCN0390

What so impressed me as an undergraduate student at the University of Winnipeg,studying the books and slides of the  architecture of the palace, was the lighting by means of skylight and the use of gravity for a flush toilet in the queen's chamber. By use of aqueducts and narrowing piped water to maintain pressure water was brought from 10 km away from the springs of Archane on the Kephala hill.

Huge man sized jugs were used to store grain while smaller jugs served to store olive oil and wine. The sea once came near to the doorstep of the palace allowing boats to anchor in the greater harbour and smaller boats to come to and fro The women went topless (which explains all the genius and creativity). The palace of Knossos, the civilization and sophistication of the people were so far beyond that of medieval palaces of England and Europe where chamber pots were in use till as late as the 19th century, waste being thrown out on the streets. Here there was a sophisticated set of water pipes to bring clean fresh in and taken bracket off. Another system collected run off water. Amazing DSCN0368
The main local rodeo event for these earliest of cowboys was gymnastically hand springing off the back of a bull .
Boys will be boys, especially if the watching women are topless. The murals that were found carried so much detail that much can be learned of the lives of these gentle people. The Egyptians speak of them but due to catastrophes, the last of which might have been a Tsunami and fire, they literally and mysteriously disappeared. The Mycenaens followed them in history. DSCN0369


Because I had to catch a plane and wanted to take it all in as efficiently as could be I hired Mary as a guide. It was her idea and well worth the experience. Thanks to her I learned so much more that I might not have were I to just walk about with a book. I fear without her I'd have only got half the really good stuff so can truly recommend a guide for this, especially Mary, an island woman of Crete, born a just a few miles a way. The griffin was a central religious symbolic, the eagle head with the snake joining it to a lion's body. It adorned the walls of the throne room. DSCN0349

The site was a true joy to experience. Extraordinary. I later visited the archeological museum in the town and saw the original murals and frescoes, those at the site being imitations, being in the open and unprotected. The originals were even more moving. What a privilege and wonder it's been for me to go to Crete DSCN0324 and see this palace that so impressed me as a student. Of all the cultures I learned of this seemed to be the most remarkable yet existing so many thousands of years ago. DSCN0332 DSCN0336 DSCN0339 Thanks to Mary I learned that men were depicted in the murals with brown, women with white and animals and birds blue. Stairwell and skylight alongside it providing natural lighting several floors down into the interior. DSCN0364 The toilet was a small room of the the back of a larger room. The bath was separate.
DSCN0363  DSCN0367 DSCN0368 DSCN0369A special trap trap was used to let the silt from roof run off water to be filtered out. Ingenius engineering. DSCN0372  Pots 6

feet tall. DSCN0389

 Reconstruction of the wood pillars from the evidence of where they were place in the floor before they were destroyed by a fire.DSCN0381


DSCN0398 The Theatre. DSCN0401

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