Ancient Greek City of Knossos Was Larger than Previously Thought

knossos-thumb-large-thumb-largeRecent fieldwork at the ancient city of Knossos in Crete, Greece, revealed that during the early Iron Age, the ancient Greek city was rich in imports and was nearly three times larger than what was believed from earlier excavations. The discovery suggests that not only did this spectacular site recover from the Bronze Age collapse, but also rapidly grew and thrived as a cosmopolitan hub of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions.

Antonis Kotsonas, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of classics, will highlight his research with the Knossos Urban Landscape Project at the 117th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and Society for Classical Studies. The meeting is scheduled to take place in San Francisco between January 7 and 10.

Knossos is thought to be Europe‘s oldest city. It was an epicenter of Aegean and Mediterranean trade and culture, however, archaeologists believed that the city had suffered a decline in the wake of a socio-political collapse around 1200 BC. The recent finding revealed that the city had instead prospered.

Over the past decade, the Knossos Urban Landscape Project has recovered a wide collection of ceramics and artifacts dating back to the Iron Age. The relics were spread over an extensive area that was previously unexplored. Kotsonas says that this exploration revealed considerable growth in the size of the settlement during the Iron Age as well as growth in the quantity and quality of its imports coming from Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Italy, Egypt, Sardinia and the western Mediterranean.

The antiquities were collected from dwellings and cemeteries. “Distinguishing between domestic and burial contexts is essential for determining the size of the settlement and understanding the demographic, socio-political and economic development of the local community,” explains Kotsonas. “Even at this early stage in detailed analysis, it appears that this was a nucleated, rather densely occupied settlement, extending from at least the east slopes of the acropolis hill to the Kairatos River, and from the Vlychia stream until roughly midway between the Minoan palace and the Kephala hill.”