By Catherine Tsounis
Revisiting Knossos, Crete, reveals new discoveries uncovered by archaeologists. He/she never gets tired of learning about this cosmopolitan city. Last summer on a 6-day Crete excursion for 370 euros, including hotel, breakfast, guide, boat, and bus transportation with Tripolis’ Kapogiannis Travel, we revisited Knossos.
“Every truth has two sides; it is well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either”, Aesop, ancient Greek fable storyteller.1 This is the Greek viewpoint of Knossos and the Minoan civilization from the archaeologist guide of our Knossos tour. This viewpoint does not represent mine.
Our tourist guide Maria M. Kaplagkiozi, explained “80,000 inhabitants lived here. It was built 1500 years before the Parthenon. They came in waves from Lebanon 3000 B.C. Minoans brought metal works. Knossos was not built on the sea, but inland for protection from pirates. They exported farm products and built ships for trade. The Minoans were traders who exported timber, olive oil, wine, and dye to nearby Egypt, Syria, Cyprus and the Greek mainland. They imported metals and other raw materials, including copper, tin, ivory, and precious stones. They were the major power in Europe in 2000 B.C. The name of their king was Minos.”
She explained “their religion was like ours . Spring was celebrated like Easter as a rebirth. They gave donations at spring to Gods.” On my further research, evidence for Minoan religious rituals comes from frescos and reliefs. Formal Minoan worship was led by priests who carried out sacrifices and libations. They also prayed to the gods and carried out exorcisms.2
Who were the Minoans? Analysis of DNA from ancient remains on the Greek island of Crete suggests the Minoans were indigenous Europeans, shedding new light on a debate over the provenance of this ancient culture. The ancient Minoan DNA was most similar to populations from western and northern Europe. The population showed particular genetic affinities with Bronze Age populations from Sardinia and Iberia and Neolithic samples from Scandinavia and France.
They also resembled people who live on the Lasithi Plateau today, a population that has previously attracted attention from geneticists. The authors of the DNA study conclude that the Minoan civilization was a local development, originated by inhabitants who probably reached the island around 9,000 years ago, in Neolithic times. “There has been all this controversy over the years. We have shown how the analysis of DNA can help archaeologists and historians put things straight,” Prof Stamatoyannopoulos told BBC News, “The Minoans are Europeans and are also related to present-day Cretans – on the maternal side,”3
Guide Ms. Kaplagkiozi expressed the viewpoint of Minoan civilization that is being debated by archaeologists. “Stonehenge was built by the Minoans, finding the double axe, symbol of Minoan power. In England, Mexico Minoan metal instruments were found. In Mexico symbols of Minoan civilization are there. The Mexicans have customs and America. Stonehenge was built by the Minoans. Symbols of Minoan civilization reached Mexico and England. The Mexican diet has meats such as the Minoans. It is not politically correct to mention this.” On the History channel, they showed the uncovering of a Minoan axe. In 2019, new DNA testing shows Stonehenge was built by people of Aegean and coast of Anatolia, Turkey.4
She explained “Humans were not sacrificed. One grave of human sacrifice was uncovered. With one grave, we cannot say human sacrifice was prevalent. Italians have a great love for Crete. They are excavating Phaistos. Cretan merchant and antiquarian Minos Kalokairinos discovered Knossos. But his contribution has been largely ignored by Evans’ who had financial backing. Minoans started small as a seafaring power. Their strength was in their seafaring boats. They kept enlarging their fleets, until they controlled the seas. They travelled all over the known world. Their power was theirWas their sea fleet.
The eruption of 1600 B.C. Santorini was more powerful than Krakatoa. Their fleets were destroyed. No fleets, no power or defense! Crete was open for attack from the Greek mainland. The first invaders were the Myceneans and then Dorians. They had the first bathrooms, elaborate drains, conduits, and pipes for running water. They had the first civilization in the Aegean area. The culture was named after King Minos, the priest king. Snakes were honored and respected in every house. Snakes had a reaction to tremors in the earth. They alerted all to earthquakes. Snake is associated with the renewal of life. because it sheds its skin. Minoan civilization is famous for cities, palaces, paved roads, extensive trade contacts and written language known as Linear A & B.
What was a Minoan palace? It was not like palaces in England. They were practical and administrative centers for its people. Their buildings were graceful, beautiful, and colorful. Building materials were stone, clay with timber for reinforcement. UNFORTIFIED, without walls. The palaces were built around a central court, with storage areas and magazines to the west and northeast. The “lustral basin,” which consists of a square tank, sunk into the ground, with a staircase descending on two sides. It had a religious purpose, in connection with some ritual of anointing,
Knossos palace lines are coordinated close to their religious mountain sanctuary of Mount Juktas. “Peak Sanctuaries were a phenomenon dating from the Middle Minoan I period. The peak sanctuary on Juktas served the Minoan palace of Knossos. It was probably built in the MM IA period around 2100 BC and was first excavated by Arthur Evans in 1909.”5
Guide Ms. Kaplagkiozi explained “men are dark in the frescoes, because they worked out in the fields. Women were white because they worked indoors. They had bare breasts, tight bodice with long flowering skirts and an apron. Goddesses were reflective of matriarchal religion. Bull leaping was a nonviolent bull fighting, based on the Minoan ritual of acrobat leaping over a charging bull. It was a key to Minoan civilization and part of the worship vaulted over bulls. It was a ritual where female and male athletes participated. . No blood and not dangerous to athletes. The athletes did somersaults. The pottery had scenes of marine life.
Our Knossos tour guide was informative. The latest research shows the Minoan civilization recovered from its 1500B.C. collapse around 1200 B.C. Knossos was triple the size of previous estimates.7 Research and visit Knossos, where scientific and archaeological discoveries rewrites history.