From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present


35° 17′ 52.66″ N, 25° 9′ 47.36″ E
1700 BC

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Knossos, Κνωσός, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site located close to the city of Heraklion, Crete. Is is believed to be Europe's oldest city.

The Palace of Knossos was built over a Neolithic town, during the bronze age between 1700 and 1400 BC. The visible structures date mostly from the later Minoan period, which were built over earlier building destroyed by earth quakes. It is a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and storerooms close to a central square and had about 1300 rooms, with various connecting corridors spread over six acres. These rooms consisted of a theater, throne room, grain mills and oil presses, breweries and extensive storerooms called magazines. The storerooms held large clay pots holding oil, grain, dried fish, beans and olives.

The palace was abandoned in the late Bronze age. Other cities sprang up in the surrounding areas, including a Roman settlement.

The palace was excavated by Arthur Evans in 1900 - 1905. The size of the palace exceeded his original expectations. He worked out that the palace was the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. Although called a palace, it was a storage area, a religious and administrative center as well as a factory.

The Minoans were very advanced for the time, they developed a complex water management process, with at least three systems, supply, drainage and waste. Aqueducts brought fresh water from the springs at Archances, which is about 10 km away. Water was distributed at the palace by gravity feed through terracotta pipes to fountains and spigots. The pipes were tapered at one end to make a pressure fit, with rope for sealing. Waste drainage was through a closed system leading to a sewer. The queen's megaron contained an example of the first water-flushing system toilet adjoining the bathroom. This toilet was a seat over a drain that was flushed by pouring water from a jug. As the hill was periodically drenched by torrential rains, a runoff system was a necessity. It began with channels in the flat surfaces, which were zigzag and contained catchment basins to control the water.