Greek: Αίθουσα του Θρόνου
|Formed||15th century BC/ 1899-1955|
|Built for||Ceremonial and religious purposes|
|Architect||Sir Arthur Evans ( reconstructor)|
The Throne Room was a chamber built for ceremonial purposes during the 15th century BC inside the palatial complex of Knossos, Crete, in Greece. It is found at the heart of the Bronze Age palace of Knossos, one of the main centers of the Minoan civilization and is considered the oldest throne room in Europe.
The throne room was unearthed in 1900 by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, during the first phase of his excavations in Knossos.It was found in the center of the palatial complex and west of the central court. This throne room is considered the oldest stone throne of the Aegean region, indeed the oldest in Europe. The chamber contains an alabaster seat on the north wall, identified by Evans as a "throne", while two Griffins rest on each side are staring at it. Moreover, on three sides it contains gypsum benches. It was part of a larger suite that also included an anteroom and an inner chamber with a ledge that was possibly a chapel. The throne room was accessed from the anteroom through two double doors. According to Evans's estimates, a total of thirty people could be accommodated both in the throne room and its anteroom. The room received its final form in Late Minoan IIIA period, since it was a latter addition to the palace that occurred during the last phase of occupation after 1450 BC.
Initially, Evans believed that this area was designed to serve a religious purpose,while he claimed that this was the priest-king's seat and that the presence of the griffins confirmed that this king was somehow beyond mortal realms. He also identified the stone throne as the seat of the mythical king of Crete, Minos, evidently applied Greek mythology. On the other hand, archaeologists Helga Reusch and Friedriech Matz suggested that the throne room was a sanctuary of a female divinity and that a priestess who sat there was her impersonator. The stone benches around the walls suggest a sitting council or perhaps a court, while a sunken area, called by Evans a "lustral basin", partially partitioned off at one side, was used for ritual bathing. In view of the civil and religious powers held by the king, there can be little argument against the notion that proceedings of an official character began with sacred ceremonials.
According to various views, the throne itself may have actually had more religious than political significance, functioning in the re-enactment of epiphany rituals involving a High Priestess, as suggested by the iconography of griffins, palms, and altars in the wall-paintings. More recently, it has been suggested that the room was only used at dawn at certain times of the year for specific ceremonies.
Various archaeologists claim that the room and its furniture most likely date to the time of the Mycenaean takeover circa after 1450 BC when political conditions in Crete were entirely different, as indicated by the concurrent appearance of elite tombs, individual burials and the presence of the Mycenaean Greek Linear B script.At that time, the palace at Knossos seems to have been modified in a minor way in order to include features such as the throne room. Especially, the stylized paintings of heraldically opposed griffins were popular in later era Mycenaean wall painting but not seen before in Crete. For instance, similar wall decoration was also found in the throne room of the Mycenaean palace of Pylos in the Peloponnese.
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. Linear B is the only one of the Bronze Age Aegean scripts to have been deciphered, by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris.
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age Aegean civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands, whose earliest beginnings were from c. 3500 BC, with the complex urban civilization beginning around 2000 BC, and then declining from c. 1450 BC until it ended around 1100 BC, during the early Greek Dark Ages. It represents the first advanced civilization in Europe, leaving behind a number of massive building complexes, sophisticated art, and writing systems. Its economy benefited from a network of trade around much of the Mediterranean.
Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city.
Phaistos, also transliterated as Phaestos, Festos and Latin Phaestus, is a Bronze Age archaeological site at modern Faistos, a municipality in south central Crete. Ancient Phaistos was located about 5.6 km (3.5 mi) east of the Mediterranean Sea and 62 km (39 mi) south of Heraklion, the second largest city of Minoan Crete. The name Phaistos survives from ancient Greek references to a city in Crete of that name at or near the current ruins.
Mycenaean Greece was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland Greece with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art, and writing system. The Mycenaeans were autochthonous Greeks who were likely stimulated by their contact with Minoan Crete and other Mediterranean cultures to develop a more sophisticated sociopolitical culture of their own. The most prominent site was Mycenae, in the Argolid, after which the culture of this era is named. Other centers of power that emerged included Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in the Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens in Central Greece and Iolcos in Thessaly. Mycenaean and Mycenaean-influenced settlements also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the south-west coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus, and Italy.
A palace economy or redistribution economy is a system of economic organization in which a substantial share of the wealth flows into the control of a centralized administration, the palace, and out from there to the general population. In turn the population may be allowed its own sources of income but relies heavily on the wealth distributed by the palace. It was traditionally justified on the principle that the palace was most capable of distributing wealth efficiently for the benefit of society. The temple economy or temple-state economy are similar concepts.
Minoan pottery has been used as a tool for dating the mute Minoan civilization. Its restless sequence of quirky maturing artistic styles reveals something of Minoan patrons' pleasure in novelty while they assist archaeologists in assigning relative dates to the strata of their sites. Pots that contained oils and ointments, exported from 18th century BC Crete, have been found at sites through the Aegean islands and mainland Greece, on Cyprus, along coastal Syria and in Egypt, showing the wide trading contacts of the Minoans.
Amnisos, also Amnissos and Amnisus, is a Bronze Age settlement on the north shore of Crete that was used as a port to the palace city of Knossos. It appears in Greek literature and mythology from the earliest times, but its origin is far earlier, in prehistory. The historic settlement belonged to a civilization now called Minoan. Excavations at Amnissos in 1932 uncovered a villa that included the "House of the Lilies", which was named for the lily theme that was depicted in a wall fresco.
The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is a museum located in Heraklion on Crete. It is one of the greatest museums in Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art, as it contains by far the most important and complete collection of artefacts of the Minoan civilization of Crete. It is normally referred to scholarship in English as "AMH", a form still sometimes used by the museum in itself.
The Minoan chronology dating system is a measure of the phases of the Minoan civilization. Initially established as a relative dating system by English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans between 1900 and 1903 based on his analysis of Minoan pottery during his excavations at Knossos on Crete, new technologies including carbon dating and DNA analysis have led to significant revisions to the date ranges.
Minoan religion was the religion of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization of Crete. In the absence of readable texts from most of the period, modern scholars have reconstructed it almost totally on the basis of archaeological evidence of such as Minoan paintings, statuettes, vessels for rituals and seals and rings. Minoan religion is considered to have been closely related to Near Eastern ancient religions, and its central deity is generally agreed to have been a goddess, although a number of deities are now generally thought to have been worshipped. Prominent Minoan sacred symbols include the bull and the horns of consecration, the labrys double-headed axe, and possibly the serpent.
Mycenaean pottery is the pottery tradition associated with the Mycenaean period in Ancient Greece. It encompassed a variety of styles and forms including the stirrup jar. The term "Mycenaean" comes from the site Mycenae, and was first applied by Heinrich Schliemann.
Minoan art is the art produced by the Bronze Age Aegean Minoan civilization from about 3000 to 1100 BC, though the most extensive and finest survivals come from approximately 2300 to 1400 BC. It forms part of the wider grouping of Aegean art, and in later periods came for a time to have a dominant influence over Cycladic art. Since wood and textiles have decomposed, the best-preserved surviving examples of Minoan art are its pottery, palace architecture, small sculptures in various materials, jewellery, metal vessels, and intricately-carved seals.
The Prince of the Lilies, or the Lily Prince or Priest-King Fresco, is a celebrated Minoan painting excavated in pieces from the palace of Knossos, capital of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization on the Greek island of Crete. The mostly reconstructed original is now in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum (AMH), with a replica version at the palace which includes flowers in the background.
La Parisienne also known as the Minoan Lady, is part of the Camp Stool Fresco, which was probably painted on the wall of the Sanctuary Hall on the Piano Nobile at the palace of Knossos. The sacral knot worn at the back of the neck seems to indicate that she is a priestess or even a goddess. The archaeological research in Minoan palaces, cemeteries and settlements has brought to light a multitude of objects related to beautification. Edmond Pottier gave her the name as he felt she resembled a contemporary woman from Paris.
The Bull-Leaping Fresco, as it has come to be called, is the most completely restored of several stucco panels originally sited on the upper-story portion of the east wall of the palace at Knossos in Crete. It shows a bull-leaping scene. Although they were frescos, they were painted on stucco relief scenes. They were difficult to produce. The artist had to manage not only the altitude of the panel but also the simultaneous molding and painting of fresh stucco. The panels, therefore, do not represent the formative stages of the technique. In Minoan chronology, their polychrome hues – white, pale red, dark red, blue, black – exclude them from the Early Minoan (EM) and early Middle Minoan (MM) Periods. They are, in other words, instances of the "mature art" created no earlier than MM III. The flakes of the destroyed panels fell to the ground from the upper story during the destruction of the palace, probably by earthquake, in Late Minoan (LM) II. By that time the east stairwell, near which they fell, was disused, being partly ruinous.
The Minoan wall paintings at Tell El-Dab'a are of particular interest to Egyptologists and archaeologists. They are of Minoan style, content, and technology, but there is uncertainty over the ethnic identity of the artists. The paintings depict images of bull-leaping, bull-grappling, griffins, and hunts. They were discovered by a team of archaeologists led by Manfred Bietak, in the palace district of the Thutmosid period at Tell el-Dab'a. The frescoes date to the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, most likely during the reigns of either the pharaohs Hatshepsut or Thutmose III, after being previously considered to belong to the late Second Intermediate Period. The paintings indicate an involvement of Egypt in international relations and cultural exchanges with the eastern Mediterranean either through marriage or exchange of gifts.
Eritha was a Mycenaean Greek priestess. She was one of the most significant priestesses in the Mycenaean state of Pylos, in southwestern Peloponnese. Eritha was in charge of a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Potnia. She was also involved in a dispute with the local authorities over the taxable assets of the sanctuary.
The Pylos Combat Agate is an Minoan sealstone of the Mycenaean era, likely manufactured in Late Minoan Crete. It depicts two warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat. It was discovered in the Griffin Warrior Tomb near the Palace of Nestor in Pylos and is dated to about 1450 BCE. The seal has come to be known as Pylos Combat Agate.
Nanno (Ourania) Marinatos is Professor Emerita of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago, whose research focuses on the Minoan civilisation, especially Minoan religion.
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