Archive for the ‘Knossos’ Category


Knossos Reconstruction

I did an excursion to Knossos on the last full day but one of the holiday. I think it cost me €18 or something like that, plus the entrance fee to the Knossos site which was another €10 or so for a ticket that covered the Knossos site plus the archeological museum in Heraklion.

It was an early start – 7:30 from outside the Alpha Bank in the new part of Chania – and seeing as breakfast didn’t start until 7am the timings were a bit tight. As it happened I was still feeling quite wobbly from my bout of tummy trouble 24 hours or so earlier so I didn’t want too much breakfast anyway, which meant that I was indeed waiting for the coach by about 7:20. It arrived promptly and picked up other participants in the excursion as we went along (or sometimes just off) the road towards Heraklion. After about an hour or so we stopped for 20 minutes or so at a small café so we could all visit toilets and perhaps get breakfast; I was feeling quite hungry by this time (for the first time for 24 hours) and got myself something to eat.

We arrived at Knossos at about 10:30 or so and had about just over an hour at the site. It’s hard to describe it. Like many archeological sites it’s difficult to understand, given that much of the site is just walls no more than a foot or so high. There are some places where buildings, or bits of buildings, have been reconstructed and they certainly seems impressive, but the fact is that the reconstructions (by Arthur Evans, the British archeologist who excavated the site) are very speculative and are themselves about 80 years old – by definition therefore they don’t incorporate any more recent understanding of the site. That said, I think it’s reasonable to view them as possible visions of how it could have been and appreciate them as such, while always remembering that they are speculative. For me the area I enjoyed most came at the end of the visit – the area around the Theatre and the steps around it. This isn’t a building, it’s an area of pavement and laid-out paths, and you can’t get them very wrong. It’s interesting looking down at a pavement that you know has been in position for about three and a half thousand years, maybe more.

Then we drove into Heraklion for a quick visit to the Archaeological Museum. All of the big finds from Knossos are there, along with artefacts from the other ‘Palace’ sites, e.g. Phaistos, plus later classical period artefacts. The scheduled visit was due to last for an hour after which there was about 90 minutes of free time, so I just dropped off the back of the group and took my time in the museum. The artefacts were impressive, especially the frescoes, but I found myself struck by simple objects – some pouring jugs, and above all, some small cups, painted and with handles, that wouldn’t look too much out of place on my kitchen table. Nearly four thousand years ago, a potter came up with a solution to the problem of how to bring a drink up to your lips that we haven’t really improved upon. There was also a café in the museum where i was able to get a tuna baguette which it turned was just what my stomach wanted.

Back on the coach at about 2:45 I discovered that the day included a short visit to Rethymno on the way back. Given that I’d spent a day at Rethymno previously on the holiday this wasn’t great news, but never mind. So we were dropped off by the harbour and looked at that, then crocodiled down to the Venetian fountain in Rethymno old town. It turned out that we then had about 30 minutes or so free time before the coach left so I dropped into Cul de Sac bar just by the fountain and spent the time there getting myself round a bottle of sparkling mineral water. Then it was back to the coach for the drive along the old coast road to Chania which we reached at about 6:15. All in all, a good day, and I was pleased that I actually felt better at the end of it than I had at the beginning.

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