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Rough Guide to Greek Islands

The Rough Guide to Greek Islands
  New full-colour features explore the Greek Islandís highlights, including the best Greek Island beaches and the Greek Islandís finest cuisine. Find detailed practical advice on local products, sections exploring history, music, archaeology and wildlife, combined with information on living in Greece, navigating your way around the Greek Islandís extensive ferry network and comprehensive coverage of the Greek Islandsí glittering festivals. Make the most of your holiday with The Rough Guide to Greek Islands. More information and prices from:
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Greek Islands

Greek Islands (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide)
by Marc Dubin
  The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to the Greek Islands will lead you straight to the best attractions the Greek islandsí have to offer. With over 1000 detailed maps, illustrations and colour photographs, this best-selling guidebook gives detailed background information on the best things to do, from magical island cruises and scenic walks and tours to the best beach resorts for a family holiday in the Greek Islands. More information and prices from:
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Knossos

Part of the Palace, Knossos

Part of the Palace, Knossos

In the Odysseus, Homer states:

"Out on the dark blue sea there lies a rich and lovely land called Crete that is densely populated and boasts ninety cities. One of the ninety cities is called Knosos and there for nine years King Minos ruled and enjoyed the friendship of the mighty Zeus."

Most of Homer's 90 Cretan cities remain undiscovered. The ancient Minoan palace at Knossos was only discovered at the beginning of the 20th century and has been (somewhat garishly) restored but is a definite must-see for anyone with an appreciation of the past. The palace is the largest of the Minoan sites, covering 22,000 square metres. Detorakis (1994:1) states that Knossos is the oldest known Cretan settlement with evidence from the pre-pottery period (6100-5700 BC) including bones of domestic animals such as sheep, goats, pigs and cattle as well as stone tools and seeds.

In the neolithic period (5700-2800 BC) there is evidence of cave habitation and houses made from rough clay bricks, wood and stone. Crude female figurines suggest a female deity or symbol of fertility found elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean - the 'Mother Goddess.' Detorakis (1994:2) says that we know little about the people and where they came from.

Palace Fresco, Knossos

Palace Fresco, Knossos

The Minoan Civilization

"The Minoan civilization is surely the greatest achievement of Crete, and the most important of the bronze age cultures with the Greek world as a whole." (Detorakis, 1994:5).

Knowledge of Minoan civilization was preserved in the Greek myths of Minos and the Minotaur and the story of Theseus. There had been some local small-scale excavations at Knossos towards the end of the 19th century. Knowledge advanced rapidly, however, after Arthur Evans, curator of the Ashmolean museum in Oxford was able to buy land on the hill of overlying the Knossos site and began digging. Evans' The Palace of Milos at Knossos (1921-1936) outlined his discoveries.

More controversially, he made a number of restorations of parts of the palace. Detorakis (Detorakis, 1994:6) comments:

"His methods of restoration do not find many sympathisers among modern archaeologists who criticise Evans for his arbitrariness in restoring much of the palace and for the weak basis of his artistic views." But he observes that "...so far there has not been a single theory that has overturned the basic conclusions of the first great archaeologist in Crete."

Other archaeologists, Greek and foreign, have made extensive investigations in Crete both before and after World War 2, revealing more Minoan palaces, cemeteries and other findings. They include Phaestos, Mallia and Zakros and smaller sites at Monastirki and Chania - all with palace complexes.

According to Platon's dating system (1958) the Knossos palace complex was built about 1950 BC and destroyed around 1700 BC. Rebuilt on a grander scale, the palace was essentially destroyed about 1400 BC. The volcanic eruption at Santorini (Thera) may have been the cause of the first destruction, accompanied by a severe earthquake as with the second destruction.


  • The Greek Islands
  • The Ionian Islands
  • Corfu
  • Kefalonia
  • Zakynthos (Zante)
  • Crete
  • Cretan History
  • Cyclades
  • Paros
  • Rhodes


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