Civic duty done, I’m sharing the first photo from a visit to Knossos when I was in Heraklion late last year. Timing things right I had a couple hours or so to spend at the site, with the site closing earlier in the off-season. I took the bus down, and mistakenly missed the stop, so had to wait until the bus reached its final destination (a rather isolated village out in the Cretan countryside) and take it back again. Thankfully the driver was very helpful and understanding – I suppose I wasn’t the first tourist to do that.
Well, at the site I planned to do my usual thing and just roam around, absorbing the place. It’s a huge site by any standard, and frankly I was thankful it was November; one doesn’t want to walk around such places in (tourist) opening hours in summer. It’s not just the crowds, the sun is generally too much. There is a reason that archaeologists start their work at the crack of dawn. In any case, this was definitely a site worth visiting, its sprawling nature giving a real sense of the magnitude of the culture that produced it. One thing that really jarred with me, though, was how reconstructed it all felt. Reinforced concrete was everywhere, and many bits and pieces had works of art placed to mimic what should perhaps have been there. Sure, it looks pretty in a Victorian romantic sort of way, but to my sensibilities it just felt wrong.
Today’s photo is one such example. The so-called throne room, where I think the only authentic artifact is the chair itself. Probably not a throne, anyway. The frescoes were commissioned, and I don’t think were based on anything authentic. The whole structure of the room is fabricated – pillars, beams, roof, etc. Did I enjoy being there? Absolutely. Is this archaeological sacrilege? In my view, yes. Though of course one has to keep in mind the time this happened. Attitudes change, and today’s Crete left me with a definite impression that it takes care of its heritage.