Art Deco fantasies - Sir Arthur Evans and the Palace of Knossos


"So Daedalus designed his winding maze / And as one entered it, only a wary mind / Could find an exit to the world again --- Such was the cleverness of that strange arbour." (Ovid, Metamorphoses)





23 March 1900: Today, 113 years ago, the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans began his excavation of the lost Minoan Palace of Knossos 5 miles south of Heraklion
on the island of Crete, allegedly on a flower-covered hill.

Evans was 49 years old when he started the excavation that occupied him for the next 35 years and earned him the knighthood in 1911 and even went one better than to settle for his undeniable merits as archaeologist and tried to reconstruct the ruins of the palace - in a quite controversial manner, a pure 1920s Art Deco fantasy, as some claim while others hold them to look quite true to the original.

The palace's hundreds of chambers might have inspired the legend that the mythical polymath Daedalus constructed the place as the labyrinth where King Minos, the namesake of the Minoan civilisation, kept the minotaur, half man, half bull, fathered upon Minos' queen Pasiphaë by a bull sacred to Poseidon she had fallen madly in love with.

The picture above shows a part of the reconstruction of the palace facade by Evans, together with a bull fresco. The bull was indeed a sacred animal in ancient Crete, featuring in sacred, but bloodless bull fights. Picture found on:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%9A%D0%BD%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%8127.jpg?uselang=en