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by Archaeology Newsroom

Minoan Crete: A Paradise Lost

In revealing Crete to the West, Evans pictured an ideal land: nature was wonderful, with a rich vegetation and welcoming atmosphere, an entity inspiring the artistic creation, while Minoan society, affected by nature, was peaceful, harmonious and feministic in a way; as a result, civilization was splendid in every aspect, and art, luxury and joy governed the Minoan world. This idyllic description ascribed Crete to the series of lost paradises, where humanity experienced a kind of Gold Age, according to various myths, which have as a common motif the contrast to the present. As a matter of fact, Evans created this picture of Crete in order to contradict the Victorian industrial and bourgeois England. This model, which replaced the standard model of classic Greece, was fed by Evans’ sensitivity towards nature, landscape, flowers and birds, while at the same time it was supported by a sort of rejection of the pre¬sent: rich and idle, Evans never found his proper place in society, and the wars, which he witnessed, carried him further away from the present. Therefore, he turned to another world, exotic and fascinating, whom he formed as he desired, and who would be incarnated in the palace of Knossos. Evans’ vision was criticized, but it was finally imposed on Crete and on the occasion of Crete. The effect of the discovery, the composing ability of Evans, his knowledge of journalism, his dominating stature, the expectations of the public, all contributed to this success, where viewpoint was more important than science. From then on superlative was praised and anachronism marked more and more the picture of Minoan Crete, while a guided public kept asking reassurance for the very same issues. One hundred years later, however, this picture must be reevaluated, the history of the ideas must be restored and, most important, the radical differentiation between this picture and the historic reality must be achieved. The picture must be submitted to the trial of doubt and criticism and must leave space for new research, which will give new answers not to the same eternal questions, but to others, which have not been raised as yet. Let us wonder, if such a revision of the picture can possibly be attempted on Crete itself.