Sir Arthur Evans

Sir Arthur Evans is the archaeologist famous for the excavations he made at the royal palace of Knossos on Crete.

The English archaeologist Sir Arthur John Evans (1851-1941) is the man who put Knossos on the map. He was educated at the famous public school, Harrow, and then at Oxford University, before becoming curator of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford when he was 33‑years‑old: a job he held for the next 24 years. It was while here that he developed an interest in the coins and seals of Ancient Greece, and in particular those of Crete, which he first visited in 1894 in order to learn more.

Sir Arthur Evans' Excavations at Knossos

Sir Arthur EvansSir Arthur Evans

By 1899 he had begun excavations at Knossos, and quickly unearthed a Bronze Age city and a royal palace which he named Minos after the Cretan King and son of the Greek God Zeus. He called the civilisation Minoan, and while the bulk of the important excavations were done in the first few years of the 20th century, Evans continued work on the site until 1935 - by which time he was 84-years-old.

Controversial Reconstruction

The most controversial aspect of his work is that he began to try to reconstruct the royal palace, and to re-paint it, so as to give us some idea of what it would have looked like at the time. To some scholars this was sacrilege, while to others it was a bold attempt to bring the palace back to life, and to convey some of its grandeur to the general public. Anyone who has seen the museum at the Agora in Athens, splendidly reconstructed by the American School of Archaeology, will have some sympathy with this view.

Linear A and Linear B

Another important discovery Sir Arthur Evans made at the site were 3000 clay tablets covered with two distinct types of indecipherable writing. One of these was referred to as Linear A, which was the language of the Minoans and has still not been fully deciphered to this day. The other was called Linear B, and this was not understood until 1952 when it was shown to be the language of the Ancient Greeks dating back to about 1500-1400 BC. This was an important step in understanding the development of the Ancient Greeks, as it showed that they had a written script much earlier than had previously been thought.

Evans himself worked on books in which he attempted to decipher the two scripts, but he will be most remembered as the man who discovered the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Less well-known is the fact that he was also a journalist in his early days, was a war correspondent in the Balkans, and in the 1880s researched and wrote a book that would sadly have been just as relevant a century later: the plight of the Slavs and Albanians in the regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at that time struggling for their independence from Turkey. It was after this that Evans took up his job at the Ashmolean, which eventually led him to Knossos. He was created a Knight of the British Empire in 1911, and died in 1941 at the age of 90.

Read about Life as a Minoan

Sir Arthur EvansSir Arthur Evans

Evans himself worked on books in which he attempted to decipher the two scripts, but he will be most remembered as the man who discovered the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Less well-known is the fact that he was also a journalist in his early days, was a war correspondent in the Balkans, and in the 1880s researched and wrote a book that would sadly have been just as relevant a century later: the plight of the Slavs and Albanians in the regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at that time struggling for their independence from Turkey. It was after this that Evans took up his job at the Ashmolean, which eventually led him to Knossos. He was created a Knight of the British Empire in 1911, and died in 1941 at the age of 90.

Where to Stay on Crete




Other Crete pages

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    Phaistos Minoan Palace on Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets page on Phaistos or Faistos, the site of one of the finest Minoan palaces on Crete and is where the mysterious Phaistos Disc was found.

  • This Amari Valley drive in southern Crete starts and ends in Ayia Galini, takes four to five hours and cover 100 kilometres or 62 miles.

    Amari Valley Drive

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  • Cretan music is part of the island’s soul and visitors will hear live music wherever they go, with several distinctive Cretan musical instruments and songs.

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    Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

    Battle of Crete

    The Battle of Crete during World War 2 inspired several books and took place with an airborne invasion over Maleme on the north coast of the island.

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    Western Crete in Five Days

    Western Crete in five days allows time to visit Chania and Rethymnon, enjoy the beaches, hike the Samaria Gorge and see the monasteries at Arkadi and Preveli.

  • The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.

    Best Things to Do on Crete

    The best things to do on Crete and top things to see include the Samaria Gorge, the Minoan Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos, the towns of Chania and Rethymnon.

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    Lonely Planet Crete

    Lonely Planet Crete is an excellent and thorough guide of almost 300 pages to the largest of the Greek islands.

  • Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.

    Crete’s Wildlife and Landscape

    Crete’s wildlife and landscape are two of the island’s attractions, including gorges for hiking, rare raptors like the lammergeier, wildcats and ancient trees.

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    The Icon Painter

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  •  Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

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    Rethymnon is the third-largest city in Crete and has a Venetian fortress, Archaeological Museum, Old Town area and Venetian harbour,

  • The Snails House in Plouti near Phaistos in southern Crete serves the Cretan delicacy of snails, cooked in several different ways.

    The Snails House on Crete

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    Matala Beach

    Matala Beach on Crete is a guest blog for Greece Travel Secrets from the We Love Crete website, inviting you to Awaken Your Inner Hippy in Matala, Crete.

  • This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.

    West Coast of Crete Drive

    This drive along the west coast of Crete and inland from there will take a whole day and starts and ends in Kastélli Kissámou, west of Chania.

  • For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.

    Crete Olive Oil Tour

    For a Crete olive oil tour Greece Travel Secrets visits Biolea, one of the few olive oil factories on Crete that you can visit.

  • Keramos Studios in Zaros on Crete is an inexpensive two-star hotel/guesthouse with one of the best breakfasts on the island using food from the family’s farm.

    Keramos Studios in Zaros

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  • Greece Travel Secrets visits Crete and learns about making rakomelo from Jorgos Kourmoulis in Agouseliana.

    Making Rakomelo on Crete

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  • We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

    Manousakis Wine Tasting

    We visit and tour the Manousakis Winery on Crete with a wine-tasting and a chance to buy their tsikoudia, sea salt, olive oil and other goodies.

  • Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

    Ancient Gournia Minoan Site in Eastern Crete

    Ancient Gournia is a Minoan archaeological site between Agios Nikolaos and Sitia in Eastern Crete where the visitor can see evidence of a maze of back streets.

  • Where to Stay in Western Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in western Crete, including both luxury and inexpensive hotels in Chania, Rethymnon, and Paleochora.

  • The Goules Taverna in Goulediana, south of Rethymnon, has been called one of the best tavernas on Crete and Greece Travel Secrets recently visited them.

    Goules Taverna Crete

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  • How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

    How to Make Petimezi

    How to make Petimezi, the sweet Cretan syrup made from wine must, is explained to Greece Travel Secrets.

  • Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

    Knossos

    Visiting Knossos near Iraklion is one of the best things to do on Crete, and this page has a history of the site with visitor information.

  • Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

    Hiking in Southwest Crete

    Greece Travel Secrets goes hiking in southwest Crete with Ramblers Walking Holidays based in Paleohora and hiking the E4 footpath and to Anidri and Azogires.

  • What was daily life as a Minoan like on Crete, living in palaces like the ones at Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, and Zakros, and what were their religious beliefs?

    Life as a Minoan

    What was daily life as a Minoan like on Crete, living in palaces like the ones at Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, and Zakros, and what were their religious beliefs?

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