Architectural genius

The Palace of Knossos would have to be one of the most amazing ancient sites I was fortunate to see. Built around 2000 BCE, and the largest of structures on Crete, it was the main power and pivotal centre of Minoan culture. The first palaces (Knossos, Mallia, Phaistos, Hagia Triada and Zakro) were destroyed by an earthquake circa 1730 BCE and rebuilt around 1650 BCE. The palaces withstood a series of earthquakes, and it wasn’t until the cataclysmic volcanic eruption at Thera and subsequent invasion of the Mycenaeans, that saw the demise of these extraordinary people and culture.

Map courtesy of: Go Greece Your Way
Map courtesy of: Go Greece Your Way

I will be focussing on the palace at Knossos and its features, though excavations of the other palaces have shown they were built in a similar fashion and on a smaller scale. What struck me first when I visited the site was the sheer size and the multi-levels on which it was built. As I walked around, the enormity and sophistication of the palace was awe inspiring.

The throne room with its stone regal chair, once considered to be the seat of the king with the famed griffins, is now thought to be the governing power of the Snake Goddess or her representative. However, it wasn’t the reconstruction of the throne room, the central court where the famed bull leaping may have occurred or the fresco with the charging bull that attracted my attention. I was fascinated by the clay metre long pipes that carried water to the palace, that is to the royal chambers and another set that took away sewerage waste. A concept and piece of engineering that wouldn’t be a common feature in households until the 20th century. It predated the tech savvy Romans, who were renowned for their aqueducts and sewerage systems.

Terracotta drain pipes From eBook THE SEA-KINGS OF CRETE BY REV. JAMES BAIKIE, F.R.A.S. Published 1913
Terracotta drain pipes
From eBook
Published 1913

I was also taken by the ‘bathtub’ and how it resembles what we have today. Plus, bathrooms with drainage systems! Another marvel was the staircases and the lightwells. The large wooden doors opened to allow light flood the rooms. Another piece of engineering genius was the use of stone blocks in conjunction with horizontal wooden beams. This strengthened the walls and remained intact during an earthquake.

As I wandered around the extensive site, the legend of the labyrinth came to mind. It is easy to imagine how the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur was created. The palace is a labyrinth of reception halls, rooms and apartments, paths, passages and storerooms. And I haven’t even mentioned the intricate, delicate and incredible friezes that adorned the rooms.

Theseus Slaying Minotaur (1843), bronze sculpture by Antoine-Louis Barye Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Theseus Slaying Minotaur (1843), bronze sculpture by Antoine-Louis Barye
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

I did visit the museum in Heraklion where most of the artefacts from the palace is on display. That was also quite an experience.

I haven’t gone into depth about the palace as there are numerous websites with detailed information such as Knossos: Palace of the Minoans and Minoan Crete.

As you may tell from my article, I was entranced and excited to see Knossos, it was a lifelong dream, so much so, it inspired me to write Servant of the Gods, of which book one, Search for the Golden Serpent is now published.

Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.

Boatswain, T., & Nicolson, C. (2003). Greece. London: Phoenix.
Farnoux, A. (1993). Knossos: unearthing a legend. New York: Gallimard.

Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet. Subscribe and receive a free PDF on how to survive 7th century BCE

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  1. Linnea Tanner

    Reblogged this on Apollo's Raven and commented:
    The following is a fascinating post on the ongoing series of the Minoans by Luciana Cavallaro from from website Eternal Atlantis. I was amazed to learn of the architectural advancement to rival modern times, including pipes to bring in water. I’ve also been fascinated by the mythology of the Minotaur that arose during this time.

    Please enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linnea Tanner

    Hi Luciana,

    This was an absolutely intriguing article on the engineering sophistication of the Minoans. I knew they were technically advanced, but had no idea that that had clay pipes similar to our modern times to carry water into the city and to dispose sewage. The Ancient Minoan civilizations continues to amaze me with their architecture and rich mythology. The statue of Theseus Slaying Minotaur was a stunning work of art.

    Thank you again for sharing your expertise in this period. I look forward to your e-mail.

    Best wishes for a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cav12

      Hi Linnea,
      I was astonished to learn about what the Minoans achieved and engineered. To see them in situ was incredible, especially as they are over 4000 years old.
      The ancient cultures of the West and East have so much to teach us. I just hope they remain long enough for future generations to appreciate them as we do.
      Thank you, and have a fab weekend my dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rosarymcquestion

    How very exciting it must have been to visit such an amazing ancient site. A few years back, I watched a show on the History Channel that focused on the clay pipes found on the islands of Crete and Thera. They also said three story houses had been found at the Thera site with cold and heated plumbing! Like you, I too was blown away by this.

    There are many astounding engineering feats that were accomplished during those ancient times, and it’s always been a mystery to me why civilizations did not continue to build on technology but instead regressed. Like you said, it wasn’t until modern times that sewerage systems were common.

    One can only wonder what other astounding things might one day be unearthed.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience of visiting a place that was your lifelong dream, and one that inspired you to write the Servant of the Gods series.

    Fascinating and amazing post. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • cav12

      Ciao Bella,
      You would love Knossos Palace. It is extraordinary and as you’ve mentioned, they were astounding.
      We must have watched the same History Channel doco, and like you was blown away by learning they had 2 & 3 storey houses.
      This is what I love about ancient history and cultures.
      Mille grazie, Bella xxx


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