Listed 7 sub titles with search on: Information about the place
for destination: "KNOSSOS
Information about the place (7)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
The site is best known
for its great Minoan palace and deep Neolithic deposits, but it was a flourishing
city in the Geometric and archaic periods and during the Classical and Hellenistic
eras it was again the principal city of the island. In the 4th and 3d c. it was
frequently at war with Lyttos, and after the destruction of Lyttos in the late
3d c. B.C., it was intermittently at war with Gortyn. The Roman invasion, which
Knossos resisted, resulted in the elevation of Gortyn to be capital of the island,
but Knossos was made a colony (Colonia Julia Nobilis) in 36 B.C., and was occupied
as a prosperous city continuously up to the early Byzantine period. There is some
evidence for a temporary decline in the early 3d c. A.D.
The Geometric and archaic cities were situated N of the Minoan palace
and settlement, and the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman cities remained in this
same area, eventually covering a little less than a square km. Little is known
of the Classical and Hellenistic towns, although temples on the old palace site,
on Lower Gypsades, and on or near the foot of the acropolis hill all seem to belong
to the 5th or 4th c. That by the acropolis hill is known mainly from a fine metope
relief showing Herakles and Eurystheus. The agora too, lying at the center of
the city, was probably already sited by the Classical period.
In the Roman period the agora was flanked on the W by a large basilica,
while to the S stood another public building often identified as a temple but
possibly the public baths. The basilica, like much else at Knossos, may not have
been built until the 2d c. A.D. Northwest of it, the remains of a small amphitheater
are known, now partially overlain by the modern road. To the W of this road, and
S of the amphitheater is the so-called Villa Dionysus. This is the best-known
and -preserved example of the wealthier Roman town houses at Knossos, most of
which are known only from fragmentary remains of walls and ill-recorded mosaics.
The villa is built around a peristyle courtyard, to the W of which is a large
square room with a mosaic showing the heads of Dionysus and maenads in medallions.
In the SW quarter of the building is a small household shrine. Recent excavations
suggest that the main period of occupation was in the 2d c. A.D. Contemporary
houses of a lower quality have recently been excavated immediately N of the Minoan
"Little Palace." Earlier Roman houses, built in the Neronian period,
were found beneath them, and around them were stretches of the narrow paved streets
which served them.
On the N edge of the city a Christian church with an E apse, nave,
and two aisles was built in the late 5th or early 6th c. It was erected over an
earlier cemetery which included tombs of the 2d to 4th c. A.D. Other cemeteries
were situated to the W and S of the city, and both dug and built tombs have been
discovered. In the S and SE slopes at the foot of the acropolis hill, rock-cut
Roman chamber tombs can still be entered.
Water was supplied to the city by an aqueduct coming from the S. Finds
from the site are found in the Herakleion Archaeological Museum and the Stratigraphical
K. Branigan, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains 65 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
Knosos, more correct than Cnossus, Knossos, if we follow the
language of coins; also Gnosus. The royal city of Crete, on the northern coast,
at a small distance from the sea. Its earlier name was Caeratus, which appellation
was given also to the inconsiderable stream that flowed beneath its walls. It
was indebted to Minos for all its importance and splendour. That monarch is said
to have divided the island into three portions, in each of which he founded a
large city; and fixing his residence at Cnosus, it became the capital of the kingdom.
It was here that Daedalus cultivated his art and planned the celebrated labyrinth.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Cnossus, Cnosus, Knosus, Knossos
- Cnossus: Perseus Lookup Tool
- Cnossus, Cnosus, Knosus, Knossos: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
- Knosos: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
Non-profit organizations WebPages
Main city of the Island of Crete,
south of the Aegean Sea.
Cnossus was the capital city of the kingdom of the legendary king
Minos, who gave his name to a highly developed civilization of the Bronze Age,
the Minoan civilization, that flourished from about 3000 to 1400 B. C. in the
island of Crete and was rediscovered
at the beginning of the century by the digs of Sir Arthur Evans (1900) who uncovered
the remnants of the palace of Cnossus. More archaeological work through this century
has allowed us to know a lot more about this civilization and the palaces that
were at the center of its organization.
If texts written in a system called Linear A used in Crete
from the XVIIIth to the XVth century B. C. have not yet been deciphered, those
more recent (XIVth to XIIth century B. C.) written in the syllabic script known
as Linear B have been deciphered in 1952 and give us a vivid picture of the life
in palaces such as that of Cnossus.
For the Greeks of classical times, Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa.
He was praised as a model lawgiver, the author of the most admired laws of Crete,
that he was said to owe Zeus himself, whom he kept visiting every nine years in
the cave of Mount Ida where
the god was born and had been raised. As a result of his justice as a king, Minos
was, along with his brother Rhadamanthus who had served as a judge in Crete,
one of the judges of the souls of the dead in Hades.
Another part of Minos' story that is worth mentioning is that of the
Minotaur. This creature, half man, half bull, was the product of the love of Minos'
wife, Pasiphae, for a bull that had been sent to Minos by Poseidon to show him
that he favored him as king of Crete
(this bull, that Minos, according to his pledge to Poseidon, should have offered
in sacrifice to the god, had been rendered furious by Poseidon after Minos broke
his vow at the sight of so beautiful an animal and decided to keep it in his flock
; known as the bull of Crete,
he was later captured by Heracles as part of his labors and brought back to Crete
where he was set free by Hera and was eventually killed by Theseus in the plain
of Marathon. When Minos saw
the result of his wife's unnatural love, he asked Daedalus to build a huge palace,
the Labyrinth, in which he locked the Minotaur up.
Later, Minos waged a war against Athens
to avenge his son Androgeus. In order to end the war, the Athenians, weakened
by famine and plague, had to accept Minos' conditions that every nine years (or
each year, according to other sources) they would send to Crete
seven youths and seven maidens as a tribute to be offered the Minotaur. It is
Theseus who put an end to this obligation: he volunteered to be part of one shipment
and, once in Crete, he killed
the Minotaur and managed to get out of the Labyrinth with the help of a thread
that Ariadne, the daughter of Minos who had fallen in love with him, had given
him before entering the maze to mark his way while proceeding. He was thus able
to bring back his companions alive to Athens.
Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Gnosus, subsequently Cnossus, or Gnossus (Knosos, Knossos, Gnossos:
Eth. and Adj. Knosios, Knossios, Gnosios, Gnossios, Gnosius, Gnosiacus, fem.
Gnosis, Gnosias: Makro-Teikho). The royal city of Crete, situated to the N. of
the island, SE. of Matium, and 23 M. P. from Gortyna (Peut. Tab.). It originally
was called Caeratus (Kairatos, Strab. x.) from the small river of that name which
flowed beneath its walls. (Callim. Hymn. Dian. v. 44.) Tritta (Hesych. s. v. Tritta),
was a name that had been some time applied to it. Pliny (iv. 20), who places Cnossus
among the inland cities, and Ptolemy (iii. 17. § 10), are quite wrong in the positions
they assign to it. Strabo's text is undoubtedly corrupt; and this may in part
serve to account for the difficulty that has been found in reconciling the statements
of this writer, who was so intimately connected with Cnossus, with the known position
of the city. Its foundation was attributed to the hero of Cretan romance, Minos,
who made it his chief residence. (Hom. Od. xix. 178). Cnossus and its neighbourhood
was the chosen seat of legend; and the whole district was peculiarly connected
with Zeus. At the river Tethris, or Theron, according to tradition, the marriage
of Zeus and Hera was celebrated. (Diod. v. 72.) The most received mythus assigned
the birth-place as well as the tombs of the Father of gods and men to this locality.
The well-known Cretan labyrinth is uniformly attached to Cnossus. It was described
as a building erected by Daedalus, and the abode of the Minotaur (Diod. i. 61;
Apollod. iii. 4). This monument could never have had any actual existence, but
must be considered simply as a work of the imagination of the later poets and
writers. The Homeric poems, Hesiod and Herodotus, are all equally silent on the
subject of this edifice. The labyrinthial. construction is essentially Aegyptian,
and it would seem probable that the natural caverns and excavated sepulchres still
to be seen near Cnossus, and which were originally used for religious worship,
suggested, after the introduction of Aegyptian mythology into Greece, the idea
of the labyrinth and its fabled occupant.
Cnossus was at an early time colonized by Dorians, and from it Dorian
institutions spread over the whole island. It preserved its rank among the chief
cities of Crete for some time, and by its alliance with Gortyna obtained the dominion
over nearly the whole island. Polybius (iv. 53) has given an account of the civil
wars which distracted Crete, and in which Cnossus took part. Afterwards it became
a Roman colony. (Strab. x.) All the now existing vestiges of the ancient metropolis
of Crete are some rude masses of Roman brick-work, parts of the so-called long
wall, from which the modern name of the site has been derived. Chersiphron, or
Ctesiphon, and his son Metagenes, the architects of the great temple of Artemis,
were natives of this city, as well as Aenesidemus the philosopher, and Ergoteles,
whose victories in the Olympian, Pythian, and Isthmian games, are celebrated by
Pindar (Olynmp. xii. 19). For coins of Cnossus, both autonomous and imperial.
The usual type is the labyrinth; the forms, since they represent only a poetical
creation, are naturally varied.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)