Middle and Late Bronze Age settlement, 8 km/5 mi south of present-day Iraklion, Crete. Knossos is one of the main cities of what is known as the Minoan civilization (a modern name derived from the legend of King Minos). The archaeological site, excavated by Arthur Evans in 1899-1935, includes the palace throne room, the remains of frescoes, and construction on more than one level. The Greek myth of Theseus's encounter with the Minotaur in a labyrinth was possibly derived from the ritual ‘bull-leaping’ by young people depicted in the palace frescoes and from the mazelike layout of the palace.
Knossos rose to prominence between 2000 and 1700 BC - the Old Palace Period - with the construction of a huge palace, similar to the Cretan palaces at Phaistos and Mallia and the Arzawan palace at modern Beycesultan in southwest Turkey, indicative of the growth of a powerful nobility. At all these sites the megaron (hall) with a central hearth and four supporting pillars is a distinctive feature. During the Late Bronze Age, 1600 to 1180 BC - the New Palace Period - the palace was rebuilt and enlarged, constructed around a large court and covering an area of 2 ha/5 acres. It was surrounded by an inner city and a much larger outer city with a parameter of 4 km/2.5 mi. It was occupied by Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland around 1400 BC who have left written evidence in the Linear B tablets of a much more warlike and centrally controlled society, listing chariots, corselets, arrows, and slingshot.
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