Although we do not know exactly what Knossos was, it is traditionally called "the Palace". Excavations have showed that there was a settlement here in the 8th Millennium BC, perhaps even before that, and that a palace stood here as early as in the 4th Millennium BC.
The foundations of several palaces have been found here, and most of what we see today belongs to the time period 16th-14th century BC. It has later constructions as well, since the end of the Minoan civilization did not mean the end of inhabitants here. It was to become an important settlement during the Mycenaean period, as well as during Roman and Hellenistic times, and was not abandoned until the Middle Ages.
In 1878 the Greek merchant Minos Kalokairinos discovered the site of Knossos, and it was to be excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900.
The excavations went on for some thirty years and restoration work has been made many times since then. The site is huge: it covers more than 20 000 sq. meters.
Originally a female deity was worshipped here.
Figurines of a bare breasted woman holding snakes in her hands is believed to have been the goddess of the early Cretans. Another holy symbol was the double axe, and the bull was also worshipped. There were games where young men and women jumped on top of bulls, and several artworks of horns and heads of bulls have been found in Knossos.
It is not certain what people lived here at first, but there are many likenesses with Eastern cultures both in art and religion.
The Achaeans invaded in the 15th century BC and it was their culture that brought the Minoan civilization to its height. They spoke Greek, had Greek gods and used Knossos as their canter It was also they who used the so called Linear B script, which has been found on clay tablets.
The end of the Minoan civilization was
probably caused by natural disasters. The earthquake that sunk
half of Santorini in 1450BC seems to have destroyed most of
the buildings on Crete as well