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Crete TOURnet: Home Crete Guide Minoan Palaces in Crete The New Palace Period

The New Palace Period

The Bull Relief at the North Entrance, Knossos
The Bull Relief at the North Entrance, Knossos
The Minoans built new palaces in Knossos, Festos and Malia immediately after the catastrophe of 1700 B.C. Many other smaller palaces appeared at the same time. The most important one was found in Zakros in the east side of Crete. The smaller palaces include the ones in Agia Triada, Arhanes, Amnisos, and the small palaces near Knossos and Malia.
The new palaces were simply glorious and mark the golden age of the Minoan civilization. The palace of Knossos is reputed to have 1,500 rooms. The most prominent features of the palaces include large central courts, large staircases connecting multiple storeys (up to five), numerous coloured wooden columns with capitals (forerunners of to the marble Greek columns with capitals of more than one thousand years later). The wooden columns were made of inverted tree trunks so that the wooden capital was placed on top of the wider portion of the tree. Cretan alabaster was extensively used for construction of benches, facades of buildings, and the throne. Many colourful, beautiful paintings on the walls gave a bright ambience. The light entering from the inner court, windows, and doors, combined with the bright colours of the paintings, made the palace a very attractive and lively centre.
All over the palace there were decorations of double axes (labrys) and bull horns. It is evident that the mystical labyrinth was the palace of Knossos itself where many double axes (labrys) existed, and where the large number of turns in the corridors of the palace confused the visitor, and caused him to lose his sense of direction.
The palaces of the New Period remained production centres of goods and of trade with the outside world. Workshops for stone carving, ceramics and seal-making were near the storage areas where large earthen jars (pithos) were filled with agricultural products. The road from the harbour to Knossos led to the north side of the palace which had an impressive entrance with double doors, temporary storage areas and grand rooms. A systematic check of products was done there, much as in a modern customs office.
A large part of the palaces was devoted to the royal apartments and to the worship of the gods or goddesses. The people gave offerings to them, which were listed and stored in various places within the palace. Special ceremonies and blood sacrifices (usually of a bull) took place in the presence of a few priests and the king as a high-priest. Other sacred ceremonies took place in the central courts, which were filled with people.
The new palaces were destroyed about 1450 B.C. Many associate the disaster with the explosion of the volcano of Thira. The palaces, with the exception of Knossos, were abandoned and were not reconstructed.
After 1450 B.C., Knossos shows signs of external influence which is manifested in a new writing script (Linear B) and a new pottery style found nowhere else (palatial style). Nevertheless, the final disaster for Knossos happened around 1400 B.C. Some smaller palaces in Agia Triada and Tilisos were built in the Postpalatial Period.

Photos of The New Palace Period:


The Minoan site of Tilisos
The Minoan site of Tilisos
The Grand Staircase, Malia
The Grand Staircase, Malia
The Minoan villa in Amnisos
The Minoan villa in Amnisos
The Minoan palace excavation in Arhanes
The Minoan palace excavation in Arhanes
The pithari in the storerooms, Knossos
The pithari in the storerooms, Knossos
The Malia Kernos, Malia
The Malia Kernos, Malia
The rooms in the East Wing, Agia Triada
The rooms in the East Wing, Agia Triada
The ancient Minoan road leading out of the palace towards the town, Knossos
The ancient Minoan road leading out of the palace towards the town, Knossos
The Bull Relief at the North Entrance, Knossos
The Bull Relief at the North Entrance, Knossos