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by Archaeology Newsroom

The boxer with the lily necklace from Knossos

The reconstruction of the so-called “Priest – king” from Knossos is one of the most popular figures of Minoan art. It is made up of three ancient fragments of painted plaster (the crown, the torso, the left leg); the other parts are modern, painted by inference. When A. Evans uncovered the plaster fragments in 1901, he wrote that they belonged to different personages and “the torso may suggest a boxer”. This theory seems to make sense. Anatomical observation of this torso shows a contracted powerful musculature and the left arm that has ceased to exist is definitely in a lifted position as the pectoral muscle is raised. These observations allow us to conclude the torso was one of a boxer resembling the many athletic representations engraved on the Boxer Vase from Agia Triada. The lily crown belongs to another personage, perhaps a priestess (like the one on the Agia Triada sarcophagus). The painted reliefs of two athletes boxing in the Palace of Knossos were surely the model for the “boxing children” fresco in Akrotiri at Thera.