The greatness of Knossos grows as new evidence suggests that an ancient Aegean city not only recovered but also flourished following the collapse of the Bronze Age.
Scientists already knew that Knossos was Europe’s oldest city and ruled over the massive trade empire during the Bronze Age, nevertheless, new evidence shows that the Minoans may have actually survived into the Iron Age.
Europe’s oldest city, the majestic site of the Bronze Age, was the seat of power of the mythological King Minos as attested by the Linear B tablets discovered by Sir Arthur Evans while excavating the site in 1900. The Minoan civilization is widely acclaimed as the birthplace for all western civilization and, when the mainland Greeks came out of the Stone Age, the Minoans managed a maritime empire across the entire Mediterranean basin and beyond.
Even though the ancient city was previously thought to have perished around 1200 B.C. after the volcanic eruption of Thera on Santorini , new artifacts discovered by a team led by a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of classics, Antonis Kotsonas suggest that it was much larger and richer than was previously thought. Professor Kotsonas recent fieldwork at the ancient city of Knossos finds that during the early Iron Age (ll00-600 B.C.) the city was rich in imports and was nearly three times larger than was believed from earlier excavations
The discovery suggests that not only did this spectacular site in the Greek Bronze Age (between 3500 and 1100 B.C. recover from the collapse of the social-political system around 1200 B.C., but also rapidly grew and thrived as a cosmopolitan hub of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. Antonis Kotsonas,a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of classics, will highlight his field research with the Knossos Urban Landscape Project at the 117th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and Society for Classical Studies. The meeting takes place Jan 7-10 in San Francisco.
The Knossos Urban Landscape Project over the past decade has recovered a large collection of ceramics and artifacts dating back to the Iron Age. The relics were spread over an extensive area that was previously unexplored. Professor Kotsonas says that this exploration revealed considerable growth in the size of the settlement during the early Iron Age and also growth in the quantity and quality of its imports coming from mainland Greece, Cyprus, the Near East, Egypt, Italy, Sardinia and the western Mediterranean.” No other site in the Aegean period has such a range of imports,” Kotsonas says. The imports include bronze and other metals-jewelry and adornments, as well as pottery. He adds that the majority of the materials, recovered from tombs, provide a glimpse of the wealth in the community, because status symbols were buried with the dead during this period.
BELOW are some images of beautiful Minoan jewelry.
Minoan gold ring from Isopata tomb Nr Knossos.
Minoan gold necklaces from Mochlos Crete
Minoan bee jewelry from cemetery Chrysolakkos outside Malia Palace.
Minoan gold openwork earring ll00 B.C.
Minoan gold ring showing worshippers. This is my favourite.Such intricate work.
Although not jewelry I could not resist this complete set of gold pieces that covered a child’s body found at Mycenae.
The antiquities were collected from fields covering the remains of dwellings and cemeteries. ” Distinguishing between domestic and burial contexts is essential for determining the size of the settlement and understanding the demographic, social-political and economic development of the local community,” explains professor Kotsonas. ” Even at the early stage in detailed analysis, it appears that this was a nucleated, rather densely occupied settlement extending over the core of the Knossos valley, from at least the east slopes of the acropolis hill on the west to the Kairatos River, and from the Vlychia stream on the south until roughly midway between the Minoan palace and the Kephala hill”.
Kotsonas’ Jan 9th presentation is part of a colloquium themed,’Long – Term Urban Dynamics at Knossos: The Knossos Urban Landscape Project 2005-2015,” Professor Kotsonas serves as a consultant on the project which is dedicated to intensively surveying the Knossos valley and documenting the development of the site from7000 B.C, to the early 20th century. The project is a research partnership between the Greek Archaeological Service.