Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2015

1 October 2015

Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete: Creating the Vision of Knossos

Nanno Marinatos

City: London/New York

Year: 2015

Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

Series: Library of Classical Studies

Description: Hardback, 224p., 47 figures, 22,3x14,2 cm


Before Sir Arthur Evans, the principal object of Greek prehistoric archaeology was the reconstruction of history in relation to myth. European travellers to Greece viewed its picturesque ruins as the gateway to mythical times, while Heinrich Schliemann, at the end of the nineteenth century, allegedly uncovered at Troy and Mycenae the legendary cities of the Homeric epics. It was Evans who, in his controversial excavations at Knossos, steered Aegean archaeology away from Homer towards the broader Mediterranean world. Yet in so doing he is thought to have done his own inventing, recreating the Cretan Labyrinth via the Bronze Age myth of the Minotaur. Nanno Marinatos challenges the entrenched idea that Evans was nothing more than a flamboyant researcher who turned speculation into history. She argues that Evans was a proper archaeologist who used scientific observation and classification. Evans’ combination of anthropology, comparative religion and analysis of cultic artefacts enabled him to develop a bold new method which the author calls ‘mental anthropology’.

It was this approach that led him to propose remarkable ideas about Minoan religion, theories that are now being vindicated as startling new evidence comes to light. Examining the frescoes from Akrotiri, on Santorini, that are gradually being restored, the author suggests that Evans’s hypothesis of one unified goddess of nature is the best explanation of what they signify. Evans was in 1901 ahead of his time in viewing comparable Minoan scenes as a blend of ritual action and mythic imagination. Nanno Marinatos is a leading authority on Minoan religion. In this latest book she combines history, archaeology and myth to bold and original effect, offering a wholly new appraisal of Evans and the significance of his work. Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete will be essential reading for all students of Minoan civilization, as well as an irresistible companion for travellers to Crete.


List of Illustrations [ix]
Foreword [xiv]
Preface [xix]
Introduction [1]

1. Tree and Pillar Cult [10]

2. Mourning Kybele: Arthur Evans and James Frazer [26]

3. The Whirligig of Time: The Narrative of the Palace of Minos [42]

4. Monotheism [58]

5. The Ring of Nestor [74]

6. The Ring of Minos [90]

7. The Final Years: Evans’s Restorations and his Vision of Knossos [107]

8. Sir Arthur Evans and Spyridon Marinatos [127]

9. The Last Visit of Evans to Crete [153]

10. Sunt Lacrimae Rerum: The War and the Death of Evans [174]

Appendix 1: Letters between Sir Arthur Evans and Spyridon Marinatos [189]

Appendix 2: Letters between Edith Eccles and Spyridon Marinatis [201]

Appendix 3: The Relationship of John Pendlebury and Spyridon Marinatos [216]

Appendix 4: Letter of Spyridon Marinatos to Humphry Payne [224]

Appendix 5: Letter of Priest Nikolaos Pollakes to Spyridon and his wife Maria Evangelidou [231]

Notes [234]
Bibliography [263]
Index [272]


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