The Minoan palace of Knossos, Crete. With already a history of extensive human occupation, the first palace was built here approximately 2000 BC.

It is easy to forget that the ancients, not just us today, held great admiration and appreciation for ‘old’ history. For the Romans living around the time of Augustus Caesar, the palace of Knossos was some 2000 years old -a similar time distance that exists between us and the Romans of this era. Strabo (ca. 64 BC- 24 AD) was a Greek historian, traveller and geographer who moved to Rome. He wrote Geography, which is a bit like an ancient ‘Lonely Planet’ travel guide. Below is a segment from this, where he discusses Knossos (Book X, Chapter 4, translation via penelope.uchicago):

There are several cities in Crete, but the greatest and most famous are three: Cnossus [Knossos], Gortyna and Cydonia. The praises of Cnossus are hymned above the rest both by Homer, who calls it “great” and “the kingdom of Minos,” and by the later poets.

Cnossus is twenty-five stadia [an ancient Greek unit of measurement] from the northern sea […and] has Heracleium as its seaport. In earlier times Cnossus was called Caeratus, bearing the same name as the river which flows past it. According to history, Minos was an excellent law‑giver, and also the first to gain the mastery of the sea; and he divided the island into three parts and founded a city in each part, Cnossus in the [text missing]

Strabo was of course referencing Homer’s much earlier legendary work (written approx. 800 BC) the Odyssey: “One of the 90 towns is a great city called Knossos, an there, for 9 years, King Minos ruled, and enjoyed the friendship of almighty Zeus”.

The first photograph is taken by Steve Jurvetson, and the other three by Adam W.


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