The Palace at Knossos Crete

July 20, 2010

In today’s post I wish to share a few more photos and some info re: Knossos, Crete, specifically pertaining to the palace.  Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete, and had the largest and most sophisticated palace on the island.  The palace had more than 1,000 rooms.  The archaeologist and excavator Sir Arthur Evans determined that the palace was three to five stories high.

The Great Propylon (monumental gateway) is featured in our photo below:

South Propylon. Entrance to palace at Knossos Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Some of our group are among the people in this photo; it was a cool, brisk March morning as you can tell by the coats most are wearing.

This monumental pillared gateway was the entrance to the palace on the south side. It was decorated with the Cup-Bearer figured.  See photo below.

Cup-Bearer Figure decorating South Propylon. Knossos Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The throne room is thought to have been used as council and and law court for King Minos and the priesthood. See photo below.

Throne Room for King Minos. Knossos Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Note the griffins which “guarded” the throne.  These mythical beasts with eagle’s head and lion’s body are thought to have symbolized royal and divine power.  In the floor you see a basin, used for ritual cleansing.

At the north end of the palace, located at the end of the road for the harbor, was another entrance to to the palace. You will notice it is decorated with a “Bull” fresco.  See our photo:

North Entrance for the Palace. Knossos, Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

On the west side of the palace is the theater.  It was a stepped court located at the end of the Royal Road.  Some suggest its usage was for rituals associated with the reception of visitors.

Stepped Theater at Knossos, Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The theater steps would have seated about 400 people.

Remember to click on images for higher resolution.


Crete, cont’d.

July 16, 2010

After the Apostle Paul left the younger evangelist Titus at Crete, he wrote, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5). There were many cities (Greek polis) on the island of Crete, as can be seen from this map by bibleatlas.org:

Cities on the Island of Crete. ©bibleatlas.org

In each of these cities where congregations of Christians were established, qualified men were to be appointed to serve as elders (bishops, pastors are biblically interchangeable terms).  The list of qualifications was given in Titus 1:6-9:

if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,  but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

The island of Crete was not only populated, but highly developed, going back to the time of Abraham (ca. 2000 B.C.) and even beyond.  In the years 68-66 BC, Crete was conquered by the Romans, and became a Roman province.  Today it is one of the Greek islands.

In our previous post we mentioned the archaeological excavations of Arthur Evans, which got underway in 1900. He is credited with inventing the term “Minoan,” naming the civilization after King Minos, who ruled the island of Crete, according to legend.

Religion. A deity worshiped by the Minoans was the bull.  In the Biblical Archaeology Society publication (2008), Island Jewels: Understanding Ancient Cyprus and Crete, we read:

Again, we rely on the evidence of frescoes and gems that show how the Minoans practiced an astonishing ritual that consisted of grasping a bull by its horns and leaping over its back.  When we add this to the ubiquity of stylized bulls’ horns, so-called “horns of consecration,” as well as the bull’s head rhyta (drinking vessels; singular, rhyton) and vivid portraits of individual beasts, there can be no doubt that the Minoans treated the bull with deep reverence…The bull may well have represented the young male consort of the goddess of love, a pattern that recurs throughout the ancient near east from Tammuz and Ishtar to Venus and Adonis, although if this is the case we cannot even give names to the Cretan versions of the divine couple (pp. 49-59).

In keeping with this information, note our photo of the gigantic bull’s horns below:

Bull's horns at Knossos, Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

These restored horns symbolized the sacred bull.  They once adorned the top of the palace at Knossos, Crete.

The bull’s head rhyton (ceremonial drinking cup) in photo below is made of steatite (black metamorphic rock) and decorated rock crystal eyes and mother-of-pearl snout.

Bull's Head Rhyton. Knossos, Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This libation vase is displayed in the Irakleio Archaeological Museum, which is said to house the world’s most important collection of Minoan artifacts. This artifact is dated at 1600-1500 B.C.

Click on images for higher resolution.


“For this reason I left you in Crete…”

July 14, 2010

With our previous post on Laodicea we completed our look at the cities of the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3, sites which we visited in March of this year.  We were also able to see some of the biblical islands, including Crete.

Crete is mentioned on two occasions in the New Testament; in Acts 27:7ff., in connection with Paul’s journey (as a prisoner) to Rome, and then later in Titus 1:5. Additionally, Cretans are mentioned as being among those present on the Day on Pentecost (Acts 2:11). In the Titus text Paul wrote the evangelist, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.”

Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, following Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus.  Excavations at Knossos, Crete have  confirmed the existence of well established civilizations dating back to the time of Abraham (ca. 2000 B.C.), and beyond.

Palaces were located at such coastline cities as Knossos, which served as the heart of economic, political and religious life.

Palace of Knossos at Crete. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Sir Arthur Evans, British archaeologist, excavated this site beginning in 1900. He used what was then newly developed methods of stratigraphy, and kept accurate and careful records of his findings.  His many years of work were published in a four-volumes, The Palace of Minos (1921-1936), Minos being the ancient legendary king.

Large storage jars at Knossos, Crete. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

More to come on Knossos, Crete.  Remember to click on image for larger view.


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