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Minoan civilization

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Author Topic: Minoan civilization  (Read 5300 times)
Gwen Parker
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« on: March 24, 2008, 03:30:10 pm »

Arthur Evans began excavating on a hill called tou tseleve he kephala, "the headland of the chieftain", some three miles from the north coast of Crete, on March 23, 1900. Two of the palace storerooms had been uncovered by Minos Kalokairinos in 1878. He had been stopped by the then owners of the land.

Meanwhile the citizens of the area were turning up coins and seals inscribed with a mysterious script. These came to Evans' attention as the curator of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, which he was from 1884 to 1908. The place was rumored to have been the site of the ancient city of Knossos.

Evans examined the site on March 19, 1894. Nothing further could be done at that time, but in 1898 Crete became an independent republic. In 1899 Evans purchased the land with his own funds (his family had been factory owners in industrial Britain) and decided to set up an excavation. In the first two weeks he discovered the Linear A tablets, a streak of luck exceeded only by Carl Blegen's legendary first day's dig at Pylos, when he uncovered the Pylos tablets, written in Linear B, a script also found at Kephala and named by Evans.

Attacking the site with crews of hundreds of diggers, Evans uncovered most of the site's 6 acres within 6 seasons. By 1905 he had named the civilization whose traces he found there Minoan, after the legendary king Minos, and had created a detailed chronology of the serial phases of the pottery styles in Minoan Crete, based on what he found at Knossos. Subsequently he concerned himself mainly with restoration, an activity that is frowned upon by archaeologists of today. He continued to excavate there and elsewhere and to restore until 1935.

Evans was knighted in 1911 for his work, becoming "Sir", which previously he was not. In 1921 the first edition of his monumental work, Palace of Minos, came out, which is a sine qua non for any department of classical archaeology. On Evans' death in 1941, the British School of Archaeology assumed responsibility for the excavation, later turning the property over to the Greek government, while retaining excavation rights.

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