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Dolphin Fresco, Knossos, Crete

Dolphin Fresco, Knossos, Crete


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Tag: minoan architecture

A detail of the dolphin fresco, the Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete, (c. 1700-1450 BCE). Photograph taken by Mark Cartwright for Ancient History Encyclopedia. Uploaded by Mark Cartwright, published on 26 April 2012 under the following license: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

The Minoan civilization flourished on the Mediterranean island of Crete during the height of the Bronze Age (c. 2000-c. 1500 BCE). By virtue of their unique art and architecture, the ancient Minoans made significant contributions to the subsequent development of Western civilization. However, we still know less about the Minoans than the civilizations of Egypt or Mesopotamia. Professor Louise Hitchcock, an archaeologist specializing in Aegean archaeology at Melbourne University, introduces us to the world of the ancient Minoans and the importance of Aegean archaeology in this exclusive interview with James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE).


Inside the Magnificent Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete

The Minoan palace at Knossos. Credit: Gary Bembridge /Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

The Palace of Knossos, located about five kilometers (three miles) south of Heraklion on Kephala hill, was the largest of all the Minoan palaces in Crete.

It was also at the core of the highly sophisticated civilization that flourished on the island over 3,500 years ago.

The discovery of the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The discovery and subsequent excavation of the palace dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Before then, Knossos had only served as a place mentioned in Greek mythology.

The first modern scholar to take a serious interest in the area was the German Heinrich Schliemann, who in 1870 had excavated the site believed to be Troy.

Schliemann was certain that a major Minoan palace lay hidden near Heraklion, but the Ottoman authorities who still ruled the island at the time denied any permission to dig there.

Years afterward, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans, inspired by Schliemann’s ideas, reached Crete to negotiate the purchase of a portion of land in Knossos.

He began excavations in 1900 and in a matter of days, he found enough clear evidence to indicate the presence of a huge palatial complex.

Restoration of the site

Controversial restoration works took place thanks to Evans’ personal ownership of the site and its wealth.

He named the civilization “Minoan” after the legendary king Minos and he also took liberties rebuilding the site that have been debated by different archaeologists ever since.

He roofed the Throne Room, reconstructed the Grand Staircase, and replaced columns.

Evans also ordered the reconstruction of walls with frescoes and even added a conjectural Piano Nobile (upper story) using concrete.

Even though his works are largely based on personal ideas, it is also true that without his restoration it would have been impossible to deduce what the massive complex could have looked like in the past.

Therefore, if visitors want to see one of the most magnificent remnants of the Minoan civilization, they should put up with some controversy and visit the archaeological site of Knossos.

What to see at the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The West Court

This area believed to be the marketplace was certainly a place devoted to public meetings.

There, visitors can find three big circular pits, probably silos or depositories, which were also used as rubbish tips by the end of the Minoan era.

The Central Court

The central area of the palace presents a courtyard where modern paving covers the oldest remains found in the site, dating back to the Neolithic era.

Some speculate that this used to be the scenery of the well-known bull-leaping ceremony, while others say that the space would not have been enough for the acrobatic movements required for the performance.

The Piano Nobile

The Piano Nobile is a reconstruction completely made from scratch by Evans, and its main value lies in the sights it offers of the whole complex and the storerooms.

Many consider the disposition of the area rather confusing and out of place.

The Throne Room

The Throne Room at Knossos. Credit: Rolf Dietrich Brecher/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.0

Easy to spot due to the lines of tourists waiting to visit, the throne room hosts a worn seat made of stone while next to the walls there are lines with stone benches.

Archaeologists believe that the room was the seat of a priest or priestess rather than a ruler.

This idea is also backed up by the presence of a sunken bath which was probably used for ritual purification since it has no connection to the palace’s drain system.

The Royal Apartments

The Dolphin Mural in the Queen’s Suite at Knossos. Credit: Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Grand Staircase, a masterpiece which is an integral part of the architectural design of the spectacular Minoan Palace at Knossos, leads visitors to the royal apartments.

The most beautiful rooms in the palace are a clear example of the importance luxury and comfort had for the Minoans. The so-called Queen’s Suite has its main room decorated with the famous frescoes of the dolphins.

Some argue that these rooms would have been too small to fit the royalty, more likely located in the upper areas of the palace.

Therefore they are also identified as residencies for priests or important nobles.

The Queen’s Bathroom has a clay tub protected by a wall with a flushing lavatory with a drain system.

The King’s Room, located above the Queen’s Suite, has a stunning reception known as the Hall of the Royal Guard as well as the ruler’s personal chamber, or the Hall of the Double Axes.

The Workshops

This zone is thought to have been the area where smiths, potters and other craftsmen would manage their trade and skills.

In the workshops, it is also possible to see the characteristic huge terracotta vases.

This is also a good place to to admire the bull relief fresco located in the north entrance.

The Drainage System

Best seen from the back of the Queen’s Suite, the well-known complex drainage system of the palace consists of interconnecting terracotta pipes running underneath the complex. Whole sections of it are perfectly visible.


The Knossos Dolphin: Create Your Own Piece of Art Inspired by Antiquity with Dan Fenelon

In honor of AntiquityNOW Month, our Artist-in-Residence Dan Fenelon has created a paint by number activity using one of his paintings inspired by the Minoan “Fresco of the Dolphins” on the island of Knossos. The fresco is from the Palace of Knossos located just south of modern-day Heraklion near the north coast of Crete. The palace was built by the Minoans around 1950 BCE, but was damaged by an earthquake in 1700 BCE and had to be rebuilt.[1] Commissioned by King Minos, the palace was the creation of the ancient architect Dedalos and was said to have been so complex in its design that no one placed inside its walls could ever find its exit.[2] The second palace built on the remains of the first continued this labyrinthine structure, but included several changes. In his book “Architecture of Minoan Crete”, John McEnroe writes,

In the second Palace, much of the monumental bulk of the earlier building would be lightened through structural innovations and intricate details, and the taste for colored stone would be partly replaced by representational wall paintings.[3]

The “Fresco of the Dolphins” is one such wall painting. Were it not for the earthquake and subsequent rebuilding, perhaps this beautiful example of Minoan painting would never have been created. The fresco has been restored and can be found in the residential quarters in what is believed to be a bedroom.

Dan was inspired by this ancient art to paint his own “Knossos Dolphin.” He has put together an activity to create your own versions of this ancient inspired art. Click on the image to the right to download a pdf book that includes stunning images of the fresco as well as instructions and printable pages to complete the paint by number activity.

We would love to see how your paintings turn out. Send us pictures of your “Knossos Dolphin” and we’ll post them on our website!

[1] Jarus, O. (2013, March 15). Knossos: Palace of the Minoans. LiveScience. Retrieved May 17, 2014, from http://www.livescience.com/27955-knossos-palace-of-the-minoans.html

[3] McEnroe, J. C. (2010). Architecture of Minoan Crete constructing identity in the Aegean Bronze Age. Austin: University of Texas Press.


Geography

Map of major Minoan sites

Crete is a mountainous island with natural harbors. There are signs of earthquake damage at many Minoan sites, and clear signs of land uplifting and submersion of coastal sites due to tectonic processes along its coast. [30]

According to Homer, Crete had 90 cities. [31] Judging by the palace sites, the island was probably divided into at least eight political units at the height of the Minoan period. The vast majority of Minoan sites are found in central and eastern Crete, with few in the western part of the island. There are appear to be four major palaces on the island: Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and Kato Zakros. The north is thought to have been governed from Knossos, the south from Phaistos, the central-eastern region from Malia, the eastern tip from Kato Zakros. Smaller palaces have been found elsewhere on the island.

Major settlements

    – the largest [32] Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. Knossos had an estimated population of 1,300 to 2,000 in 2500 BC, 18,000 in 2000 BC, 20,000 to 100,000 in 1600 BC and 30,000 in 1360 BC. [33][34] – the second-largest [32] palatial building on the island, excavated by the Italian school shortly after Knossos – the subject of French excavations, a palatial center which provides a look into the proto-palatial period – sea-side palatial site excavated by Greek archaeologists in the far east of the island, also known as « Zakro » in archaeological literature – confirmed as a palatial site during the early 1990s – administrative center near Phaistos which has yielded the largest number of Linear A tablets. – town site excavated in the first quarter of the 20th century – early Minoan site in southern Crete – early eastern Minoan site which gives its name to distinctive ceramic ware – southern site – island town with ritual sites – the greatest Minoan peak sanctuary, associated with the palace of Knossos [35] – site of the Arkalochori Axe – refuge site, one of the last Minoan sites – settlement on the island of Santorini (Thera), near the site of the Thera Eruption – mountainous city in the northern foothills of Mount Ida

Giacobbe Giusti, Minoan civilization

Minoan fresco, showing a fleet and settlement

Beyond Crete

The Minoans were traders, and their cultural contacts reached the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-containing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia. In late 2009 Minoan-style frescoes and other artifacts were discovered during excavations of the Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri, Israel, leading archaeologists to conclude that the Minoan influence was the strongest on the Canaanite city-state. These are the only Minoan artifacts which have been found in Israel. [36]

Minoan techniques and ceramic styles had varying degrees of influence on Helladic Greece. Along with Santorini, Minoan settlements are found [37] at Kastri, Kythera, an island near the Greek mainland influenced by the Minoans from the mid-third millennium BC (EMII) to its Mycenaean occupation in the 13th century. [38] [39] [40] Minoan strata replaced a mainland-derived early Bronze Age culture, the earliest Minoan settlement outside Crete. [41]

The Cyclades were in the Minoan cultural orbit and, closer to Crete, the islands of Karpathos, Saria and Kasos also contained middle-Bronze Age (MMI-II) Minoan colonies or settlements of Minoan traders. Most were abandoned in LMI, but Karpathos recovered and continued its Minoan culture until the end of the Bronze Age. [42] Other supposed Minoan colonies, such as that hypothesized by Adolf Furtwängler on Aegina, were later dismissed by scholars. [43] However, there was a Minoan colony at Ialysos on Rhodes. [44]

Minoan cultural influence indicates an orbit extending through the Cyclades to Egypt and Cyprus. Fifteenth-century BC paintings in Thebes, Egypt depict Minoan-appearing individuals bearing gifts. Inscriptions describing them as coming from keftiu (« islands in the middle of the sea ») may refer to gift-bringing merchants or officials from Crete. [45]

Some locations on Crete indicate that the Minoans were an « outward-looking » society. [46] The neo-palatial site of Kato Zakros is located within 100 meters of the modern shoreline in a bay. Its large number of workshops and wealth of site materials indicate a possible entrepôt for trade. Such activities are seen in artistic representations of the sea, including the « Flotilla » fresco in room five of the West House at Akrotiri. [ citation needed ]


Conservation vs. restoration: the Palace at Knossos (Crete)

What happens to an archaeological site after the archaeologist’s work is completed? Should the site (or parts of it) be restored to what we believe (based on evidence) it once looked like? Or should the site be protected through conservation and left as is? A visit to an unrestored archaeological site can be uninspiring—even the most lavish ancient sites can appear to be piles of unorganized stones framed by broken columns and other fragments. And while modern conservation principles insist on the reversibility of any treatment (in case better treatments are discovered in the future), in the past, conservators didn’t have the resources or science that is available today.

Knossos

The archaeological site of Knossos (on the island of Crete) —traditionally called a palace—is the second most popular tourist attraction in all of Greece (after the Acropolis in Athens), hosting hundreds of thousands of tourists a year. But its primary attraction is not so much the authentic Bronze Age remains (which are more than three thousand years old) but rather the extensive early 20th century restorations installed by the site’s excavator, Sir Arthur Evans, in the early twentieth century.

Archaeological restorations offer important information about the history of a site and Knossos doesn’t disappoint—one can see the earliest throne room in Europe, walk through the monumental Northern entrance to the palace, marvel at colorful wall paintings and enjoy the elegance of a queen’s apartments. All these spaces, however, are the result of extensive, contentious and, in some cases, damaging restoration. Knossos asks us to consider how we can preserve an archaeological site, while at the same time providing a valuable, educational experience for visitors that nonetheless remains true to the remains.

Considering Evans’ reconstructions

The Evans restoration at Knossos are important for several reasons:

1. If Evans hadn’t worked to preserve and restore so much of Knossos beginning in 1901, it would have undoubtedly been largely lost.

2. The restoration of the site undertaken by Evans, with its elegantly painted Throne Room (below) makes very real our historical understanding, originally revealed by Homer, of the power and prestige of the kings of Crete.

3. The beautiful, although sometimes inaccurate, restorations of architecture and wall paintings by Evans evoke the elegance and skill of Minoan architects and painters.

These are the undeniable benefits of Evans’s restorations and among the aspects of a visit to Knossos that everyone values. It is the smooth corniced walls, bright paintings, and whole passages stepped with balustrades at Knossos that the post cards, camera snaps, and human memory preserve, and that has translated into important support for the site—intellectually, politically, and financially.

Throne Room, Knossos (photo: Olaf Bausch, CC BY 3.0)

At the same time, the Evans restorations are problematic. In some cases, what is restored does not accurately reflect what was found. Instead, a grander, and more complete, experience is presented. For example, when you visit Knossos, because of the way it is reconstructed, it is very easy to believe that all that was ever found there was a Late Bronze Age palace.

Throne Room excavations at Knossos, from the title page of a brochure appealing for support issued by the Cretan Exploration Fund (1900)

Evans’s restoration of the Throne Room (and much else at the site) privileges the Late Bronze Age period of its history. The typical visitor likely won’t grasp that the Throne Room dates to the latest phase of Knossos—the end of the 2nd millennium B.C.E., though the site was occupied nearly continuously from the Neolithic to the Roman era (from the 8th millennium B.C.E. to at least the 5th century C.E.).

The power of Evans’s interpretation and reconstruction of the site as purely Minoan—the product of the indigenous culture of that island—is very much still with us despite the fact that much has changed about how art historians and archaeologists understand the different periods of construction at Knossos. Today, much of its final plan and form, which Evans reconstructed (including the Throne Room and most of the frescos), are understood as being of Mycenaean construction (not Minoan). Although this information is noted in texts mounted at the site, it is too often overlooked by visitors.

Contemporary view of Knossos looking southwest from the Monumental North Entrance (photo: Theofanis Ampatzidis, CC BY-SA 4.0)

What is archaeological restoration?

When archaeological remains are revealed through excavation, they are often delicate and cannot survive long unprotected. Some archaeologists backfill their trenches (refill the excavated holes with the material that was removed) to help preserve remains. In other instances, architecture, graves, or the impressions left from ephemeral building materials (such as wood) are sometimes left exposed, and when this happens some sort of conservation should occur. By definition, any sort of conservation is restoration when the modern materials are layered on the ancient and made to look harmonious in form, color and/or texture. As a result, restorations are sometimes nearly indistinguishable from authentic materials, and this is where things get tricky—such as the situation at Knossos.

Before making an archaeological restoration, three essential issues must be examined:

  1. What specific point in a site or monument’s history will be the subject of the restoration? Many (most!) archaeological sites reflect a long occupation or use, and within that timeframe things change, are repaired, or rebuilt. What era of the site will be privileged by the restoration—and in turn, which eras of the site’s history will become harder to see and understand?
  2. How will future changes in the interpretation and knowledge about a site or monument be accommodated by restorations? Archaeological interpretations of sites evolve all the time, often through new discoveries elsewhere. Restorations, in order to remain accurate, need to take into account potential new scholarship that can change the history or meaning of a site or monument.
  3. Lastly and most importantly, restorations must be non-destructive and reversible. The first role of restoration is conservation. Therefore, the original remains must be entirely safe and not harmed in any way by restoration methods and materials. The reversibility of restorations not only has to do with the accommodation of changes in interpretation made above, but also with the need to leave the way open for less invasive, more gentle restoration methods in the future.

Restoration at Knossos

Aside from some gaps (for instance, during the First World War) Evans excavated at the site of Knossos each year from 1900 to 1930. Restoration of the architectural finds began almost immediately and can be divided into three phases, each characterized by the architect Evans hired to do the work. These three men, Theodore Fyfe, Christian Doll, and Piet De Jong, each had very different restoration philosophies.

Phase 1: Theodore Fyfe

From 1901 to 1904, a young architect by the name of Theodore Fyfe was charged with the restorations at Knossos. It is likely that Evans hired him because the winter of 1900/01 had damaged the newly exposed Throne Room—the most important space excavated during that first season at the site .

Fyfe’s work at Knossos can be characterized by two things. First of all, he was devoted to the concept of minimal intervention. Second, when intervention was necessary, he made great efforts to use materials authentic to the Bronze Age structure (wood, limestone, rubble masonry) and even to use Bronze Age construction techniques, which he was able to glean from his onsite work. Clearly Fyfe was highly concerned about the truthfulness of his interventions and reconstructions the only exception to this was his construction of modern-style pitched roofs to protect the Throne Room and the Shrine of the Double Axes.

Phase 2: Christian Doll

The second phase of restoration work at Knossos dates from 1905 to 1910, and was directed by Christian Doll. The first conservation work to which Doll had to attend to in 1905 was that of Fyfe’s. Essentially, Fyfe’s zeal to use authentic materials resulted in failure: he neglected in many cases to treat timbers before their use and he tended to use softwoods rather than hardwoods (all of which lead to rot). Also, rain was a destructive force in the winters, especially when it ran through newly exposed parts of the site. Doll’s first and most important project was to stabilize and reconstruct the Grand Staircase to its original four story height. This was an extremely difficult job as the exact nature of the ancient design eluded both him and Fyfe, so a certain amount of improvisation was needed. And, because the weight of the structure was so great, Doll used iron girders (imported from England at great expense) covered in cement to make them look like ancient wooden beams.

Doll’s approach to conservation was still anchored in preserving the excavated remains. However, Doll was no fan of the authentic materials used by Fyfe, as he saw how they had failed to preserve the many areas where they had been employed. Instead, Doll constructed structural systems based on techniques used in London at the time. Moreover, he employed contemporary architectural materials, such as the iron girders mentioned above, as well as concrete (the first use of this material at Knossos).

Phase 3: Piet De Jong

Piet de Jong, reconstruction of the “Dolphin Fresco,” Queen’s Megaron, Knossos (public domain)

The third phase of conservation work was executed over a longer period of time, from 1922 to 1952, by Piet De Jong. The vast majority of what Knossos looks like today, with large passages of reconstructed walls and rooms, is his work.

Three main elements characterize De Jong’s work at Knossos. The most prominent was his use of iron reinforced concrete. In the twelve years between Doll’s and De Jong’s work, the use of reinforced concrete had grown in popularity because of its speedy construction, its relative cheapness, and its ability to be molded into nearly any shape. It was also thought to be nearly indestructible.

Another essential characteristic of De Jong’s work at Knossos was his use of reinforced concrete to construct parts of the palace beyond what had been found—some passages were based on archaeological evidence, some were not (the bases of these reconstructions came from Evans himself).

De Jong often did not merely end walls at the height of their discovery but would either finish them off with a flat roof and cornice, often decorated with double white horns (what some contemporary wall paintings of Bronze Age houses looked like), or would leave the top edge of walls with irregular stones, evoking a picturesque, antique view. When a complete vision of ancient Knossos could not be reconstituted, a romantic one was built instead.

South Propylaeum, Knossos (photo: Stegop, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The reconstruction of the interior decoration of the throne room was executed during this period and similarly exhibits a combination of the truthful reflection of archaeological remains and Evans’s creativity.

Lastly, an important characteristic of De Jong’s restorations was the placement of reproductions of wall paintings around his newly built spaces. Some paintings were placed very close to their findspots and therefore aimed at a more authentic reconstruction, while other paintings were reconstructed at some distance from where they had been discovered.

The question remains: why did Evans encourage De Jong’s radical approach to conservation, especially after two more conservative predecessors? Several reasons are at play, no doubt. The first, and possibly the most important, is the condition of Knossos after almost eight years of abandonment during the First World War. Aside from the wild overgrowth of weeds, there was much weather-related and other damage. However, the parts of the site that had been roofed (such as the Throne Room and the Shrine of the Double Axes) and sections that were more intact (such as the Grand Staircase), were in excellent shape and this no doubt convinced Evans of the importance of aggressive conservation work. Second, the iron-reinforced concrete which De Jong proposed to use was inexpensive and could be employed quickly. Third, Evans, in a masterful anticipation of the desires of future tourism, aimed to make a site that would vividly conjure the culture he had discovered, as much evocative and picturesque as historically accurate.

Conservation at Knossos after Evans

It is only fair to reflect upon the restorations of Knossos within their historical framework. The aims, methods, and materials used in restoration at the site over a period of some sixty years changed, reflecting a long list of crises, constraints, theories, and desires. Perhaps most significant, however, was Evans’s overriding conviction that the conservation of Knossos was an obligation born out of its great antiquity and unique importance. He knew this from his own Edwardian education, British colonial outlook, and his twenty-four year directorship of the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford. Evans was keenly aware of how intimately connected the teaching of Knossos’s history was with how it was presented on site. He made Knossos into a museum and a showcase for the newly discovered Aegean Bronze Age chapter of ancient history and the earliest example of cultural tourism, today a mainstay of public historical education—not to mention local economies. Evans did it first at Knossos.

Conservation at Knossos has continued since De Jong’s work, although with new challenges. The most recent conservation work on the site has been focused largely on repairing Evans’s reconstructions. Despite a belief that reinforced concrete would last indefinitely, it has proven to be susceptible to the wet Cretan winters, crumbling and allowing for rust on the interior ironwork. In other areas the reinforced concrete proved to be structurally unsound.

Visitors to Knossos, 2016, photo: Neil Howard, CC BY-NC 2.0

In addition, the steady increase of tourist traffic since the 1950s has meant growing stress on both the original architecture of Knossos as well as its reconstructions. Sustained foot fall, increasing weight load as well as touching and sitting, is increasingly destructive. To combat this, the Greek Archaeological Service, under the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, has closed off large sections of Knossos and generally restricted circulation on the site. In the 1990s it conducted extensive conservation of both ancient and modern structures as well as building new corrugated plastic roofing. At present the Service is working on a visitor management plan for the site and the Greek government has applied to UNESCO for World Heritage Status for Knossos as well as four other Minoan palatial sites which would afford much needed support for ongoing conservation efforts.


Arte-Factual: Minoan Dolphin Fresco (Tomb Raider 1)

Time for another blast from the past as we return once again to the original 1996 Tomb Raider for this edition of Arte-Factual!

If you’ve ever played the original game, you may have noticed that the game developers drew inspiration from real-life artworks and artefacts, such as the Toltec pillars at Tula in Mexico, the Gayer-Anderson cat statue, and the Chimú bird motifs that adorn the adobe walls of buildings at Chan Chan in Peru. This time around, we’ll be looking at the walls of a pool seen at the start of the Palace Midas level, which appears to be modelled on the famous Minoan Dolphin Fresco found on the Greek island of Crete.

The dolphin pool seen in Tomb Raider (Image credit: Tombraiders.HU)

Crete was one of the major cultural centres of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Bronze Age and was home to Knossos, the political and ceremonial centre of the Minoan civilisation. The site, which covers an area of almost 20,000 square metres, was excavated by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans and his team in the early 20th century. The Minoans were a primarily mercantile and seafaring people who established trade links with mainland Greece, Anatolia, Cyprus, Canaan, and Egypt, and set up colonies on the nearby islands of Santorini (also known as Thera) and Rhodes. Their extensive trade network encouraged cultural exchange and this is evident in their art.

The Minoans adopted the colour conventions used in Ancient Egyptian art (e.g. men were painted in red, women in white) as well as certain Egyptian motifs (e.g. lotus flowers, papyrus reeds). Even human figures and animals were usually drawn in profile. However, in contrast to the Egyptians’ highly conventionalised art style, Minoan art is characterised by its vigorous naturalistic style and fluid, graceful forms.

A perfect example of this style is the “bull-leaping” fresco found at Knossos, with its athletic men and women performing somersaults over the back of a bull. The Minoans were also fond of depicting flora and fauna in their art and are thought to be one of the first cultures to portray natural landscapes without any accompanying human figures, suggesting that they may have placed a great deal of importance on nature and the environment.

But let’s turn our attention back to the dolphin fresco.

The dolphin fresco dates back to the period known as Late Minoan I (c.15th and 16th centuries BC) and is an example of “marine style” Minoan art. Octopi, dolphins, fish, crabs, rocks, and seaweed are common motifs seen on pottery and in frescoes dating to this period and some archaeologists believe that this may have been in response to a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or tsunami. This theory is corroborated by the fact that a number of temples and palaces, including the palace at Knossos, had to be rebuilt following an earthquake in 1570 BC. Could the sudden attention to marine life have been an attempt to appease Poseidon, the Earth-Shaker, and prevent further devastation?

The replica of the dolphin fresco found at Knossos (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Whether the dolphin fresco was designed to appease a temperamental god or was for purely decorative purposes, it’s hard to deny it’s one of the most stunning works of Minoan art found at Knossos. Visitors to Knossos will find a replica of the fresco displayed over a doorway in the east wing of the palace.

The original fresco, which is now housed in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, is actually a reconstruction. Piet de Jong, the artist and architect hired by Evans to assist in the recording and reconstruction of the palace at Knossos, was able to recreate the fresco based on a few fragments of painted plaster.

It’s quite possible that de Jong may have taken some artistic license when he reconstructed this and other frescos. There is also some debate as to where the original fresco would have been. Although de Jong and Evans believed it once adorned the wall of the Queen’s Megaron, it may actually have been part of a decorated floor in an upper level chamber and that it had fallen through the ceiling when the palace was destroyed after the Mycenaean takeover of the island.

One thing is for certain, though. If I were as rich as Ms Croft, I’d call in the painters and have my bathroom redecorated in Minoan marine style, dolphins and all…


The Dolphins fresco

The illustration below is inspired by a famous fresco from Knossos, Crete, the “Dolphins fresco”.

Extraordinary animals! Dolphins also appear in ancient Greek art and mythology, as having a close relationship with humans, and often helping them. Several stories of dolphins rescuing humans exist on newspapers too, and studies have been carried out to explore their behaviour. Examples of it are numerous – and this applies to rescuing individuals of their own species and other animals as well. From forming a life raft to help a dying friend to assisting a finless porpoise calf, dolphins provide several examples of care-giving (re)actions.

Without surprise, humankind is particularly interested in this kind of behaviour, often seen as curiously similar to our own peculiar way of feeling “human” by caring of each other.

Thiss means you are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material. As long as you: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Credit: Kayla D. Younkin & Open Past

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Inside the Magnificent Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete

The Minoan palace at Knossos. Credit: Gary Bembridge /Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

The Palace of Knossos, located about five kilometers (three miles) south of Heraklion on Kephala hill, was the largest of all the Minoan palaces in Crete.

It was also at the core of the highly sophisticated civilization that flourished on the island over 3,500 years ago.

The discovery of the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The discovery and subsequent excavation of the palace dates back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Before then, Knossos had only served as a place mentioned in Greek mythology.

The first modern scholar to take a serious interest in the area was the German Heinrich Schliemann, who in 1870 had excavated the site believed to be Troy.

Schliemann was certain that a major Minoan palace lay hidden near Heraklion, but the Ottoman authorities who still ruled the island at the time denied any permission to dig there.

Years afterward, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans, inspired by Schliemann’s ideas, reached Crete to negotiate the purchase of a portion of land in Knossos.

He began excavations in 1900 and in a matter of days, he found enough clear evidence to indicate the presence of a huge palatial complex.

Restoration of the site

Controversial restoration works took place thanks to Evans’ personal ownership of the site and its wealth.

He named the civilization “Minoan” after the legendary king Minos and he also took liberties rebuilding the site that have been debated by different archaeologists ever since.

He roofed the Throne Room, reconstructed the Grand Staircase, and replaced columns.

Evans also ordered the reconstruction of walls with frescoes and even added a conjectural Piano Nobile (upper story) using concrete.

Even though his works are largely based on personal ideas, it is also true that without his restoration it would have been impossible to deduce what the massive complex could have looked like in the past.

Therefore, if visitors want to see one of the most magnificent remnants of the Minoan civilization, they should put up with some controversy and visit the archaeological site of Knossos.

What to see at the Minoan Palace of Knossos

The West Court

This area believed to be the marketplace was certainly a place devoted to public meetings.

There, visitors can find three big circular pits, probably silos or depositories, which were also used as rubbish tips by the end of the Minoan era.

The Central Court

The central area of the palace presents a courtyard where modern paving covers the oldest remains found in the site, dating back to the Neolithic era.

Some speculate that this used to be the scenery of the well-known bull-leaping ceremony, while others say that the space would not have been enough for the acrobatic movements required for the performance.

The Piano Nobile

The Piano Nobile is a reconstruction completely made from scratch by Evans, and its main value lies in the sights it offers of the whole complex and the storerooms.

Many consider the disposition of the area rather confusing and out of place.

The Throne Room

The Throne Room at Knossos. Credit: Rolf Dietrich Brecher/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.0

Easy to spot due to the lines of tourists waiting to visit, the throne room hosts a worn seat made of stone while next to the walls there are lines with stone benches.

Archaeologists believe that the room was the seat of a priest or priestess rather than a ruler.

This idea is also backed up by the presence of a sunken bath which was probably used for ritual purification since it has no connection to the palace’s drain system.

The Royal Apartments

The Dolphin Mural in the Queen’s Suite at Knossos. Credit: Chris 73/Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Grand Staircase, a masterpiece which is an integral part of the architectural design of the spectacular Minoan Palace at Knossos, leads visitors to the royal apartments.

The most beautiful rooms in the palace are a clear example of the importance luxury and comfort had for the Minoans. The so-called Queen’s Suite has its main room decorated with the famous frescoes of the dolphins.

Some argue that these rooms would have been too small to fit the royalty, more likely located in the upper areas of the palace.

Therefore they are also identified as residencies for priests or important nobles.

The Queen’s Bathroom has a clay tub protected by a wall with a flushing lavatory with a drain system.

The King’s Room, located above the Queen’s Suite, has a stunning reception known as the Hall of the Royal Guard as well as the ruler’s personal chamber, or the Hall of the Double Axes.

The Workshops

This zone is thought to have been the area where smiths, potters and other craftsmen would manage their trade and skills.

In the workshops, it is also possible to see the characteristic huge terracotta vases.

This is also a good place to to admire the bull relief fresco located in the north entrance.

The Drainage System

Best seen from the back of the Queen’s Suite, the well-known complex drainage system of the palace consists of interconnecting terracotta pipes running underneath the complex. Whole sections of it are perfectly visible.


Мы не просто торговая площадка для необычных вещей, мы сообщество людей, которые заботятся о малом бизнесе, людях и нашей планете.

Мы не просто торговая площадка для необычных вещей, мы сообщество людей, которые заботятся о малом бизнесе, людях и нашей планете.

Материалы: Керамин, сделано в Греции, ручная роспись

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Минойские дельфины фреска картина из Knossos Крит , музей копию в подарок для нее

Фреска дельфина восходит к периоду, известному как поздний минойский I (ОК 15 и 16 веков до н.э.) и является примером "морского стиля" минойского искусства. Осьминоги, дельфины, рыбы, крабы, скалы и водоросли являются общими мотивами видели на керамике и на фресках, начиная с этого периода, и некоторые археологи считают, что это, возможно, было в ответ на стихийное бедствие, такие как землетрясение или цунами. Эта теория подтверждается тем фактом, что ряд храмов и дворцов, в том числе дворец в Кноссосе, пришлось восстановить после землетрясения в 1570 году до н.э.

Произведение искусства изготовлено из керамина, штукатурка - полимерное соединение. Также окрашены и нарисованы в руке. Плитка имеет поверхностный эффект craquelure. Его готовы повесить, с металлической полосой. Мы не используем алебастр (или мраморную пыль или магнезит или песок), которые являются очень дешевыми материалами с пористыми и низкого качества.

Все наши скульптуры являются высокими музейных копий, а не бесплатные проекты, поэтому мы упоминаем, откуда копии приходят.

Рост :12 см
Ширина : 24 см
Вес : 390 гр

Каждая часть уникальна, так что цвет статуи может иметь небольшие различия от пункта к пункту.

Наши произведения искусства могут быть отправлены по всему миру через греческое почтовое отделение и приоритет.
После доставки мы сообщим вам номер отслеживания.
B45


Watch the video: JMW Turners Painting and Knossos, Crete Dolphin Fresco. (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Samujind

    In my opinion, they are wrong.

  2. Wadley

    I used to think differently, thanks a lot for the help on this issue.

  3. Valdeze

    Thanks for the article, I'm always glad to read you!

  4. Mejar

    I can't do something like that

  5. Vudokus

    Thanks for the help in this question how I can thank you?

  6. Audwin

    Not so yourself !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Fele

    An excellent post, after reading several articles on this topic, I realized that I still did not look from the other side, but the post was somehow very interested.



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