Saturday 19 March 2005

Colin MacDonald
British School at Athens

Clearing away contemporary clutter and accidentla associations - An attempt to resurrect Evans's Old Palace at Knossos
Much of Evans’s Old Palace structure has been re-assigned to the New Palace period by a number of archaeologists over the last 20 years – myself included.  Although in some instances it was correct to do so, a re-examination of architecture and deposits has convinced me that a number of features should be returned to their rightful place in the 20th-19th centuries BC. The justification for this volte-face lies in a growing awareness of the chronological validity of the ‘mason’s mark’ series at Knossos as suggested by Evans and Hood, as well as in conclusions drawn from excavations in and next to the palace in 1987 and 1992-93.  The account of these Middle Minoan deposits has just been submitted to the British School to be published as a Supplementary Volume with Carl Knappett as co-author and a number of others as contributors.
Secure dating evidence for boldly cut mason’s marks on gypsum blocks comes from the Middle Minoan IB destruction deposit found by Sinclair Hood in ‘Early Magazine A’ in 1973; the mason’s marks were discovered on in situ gypsum blocks when the rest of the deposit was cleared by me (under Hood’s direction) in 1987. The elements that I would now date to the earlier Old Palace period (to MM IB and/or MM IIA, a matter to be discussed in the seminar) include the following: The West Facade gypsum orthostats; the old West facade of the Central Court including the rounded corner by the antechamber of the Room of the Throne; the gypsum piers of the West Magazines, the ‘Protopalatial magazines’ and the east wall of the Long Corridor; the north wall of the South Corridor; the ‘Great Cutting’ for the Domestic Quarter, the drainage system and perhaps the south terrace wall of the south lightwell of the Queen’s Megaron;  parts of the north wall on the south side of the NW Lustral Area; some of the terrace walls on the east slope and the massive foundations leading east from the North Pillar Hall which may well have been the foundations of a NE stepped approach to complement the Stepped Portico on the SW.
In addition, a range of deposits – apart from that in Early Magazine A – can now be assigned to MM IB, some of which include clay sealings: deposits at the W ends of West Magazines I and II; Vat Room deposit (already clear from the work of Momigliano 1991 and Panagiotaki 1999); deposit beneath the Olive Press (mostly MM IB as well as the MM IIA bridge-spouted jars mentioned by MacGillivray 1997); Room of the Jars (Momigliano 2000); Monolithic Pillar Basement.  There is now more evidence for administration in MM IB than was previously thought to be the case, coinciding with the foundation of the full palace structure.
Destruction deposits of the end of the Old Palace remain elusive. However, in contrast to recent suggestions by me that it should be contemporary with the destruction of Anemospelia in MM IIIA, I now think that a good case can be made for Middle Minoan IIB, broadly – if not precisely – contemporary with that at Phaistos.
In short, Evans’s views, while in need of modification and amplification, were largely correct and MacGillivray’s 1994 article (in Knossos, A Labyrinth of History) was closer to the truth than I had previously thought.


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...