Image credit: iStock. Researchers from the Knossos Urban Landscape Project have made a sizable discovery: During the early Iron Age, the ancient city of Knossos was around three times larger than researchers had originally believed. Recent fieldwork uncovered a wealth of artifacts from the Iron Age in a previously unexplored part of Knossos, which is located on the Greek island of Crete, implying that the ancient city was both significantly larger and more involved in international trade than experts imagined.
Once home to majestic palaces, famed philosophers like Epimenides and Aenesidemus, and—according to Greek mythology—the minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull, the ruins at Knossos have long been recognized as a particularly rich archaeological site.
But the latest discoveries imply that during the Iron Age, the city was a very important cosmopolitan hub. After recovering from a major socio-political collapse around 1200 BCE, researchers now believe Knossos developed into a densely populated, wealthy city, importing goods in unprecedented quantities—not only from the Greek mainland, but from Italy, Egypt, the Near East, and the western Mediterranean.
“Even at this early stage in detailed analysis, it appears that this was a nucleated, rather densely occupied settlement extending over the core of the Knossos valley,” researcher Antonis Kotsonas explains. “No other site in the Aegean period has such a range of imports.”
Kotsonas is a collaborator in the Knossos Urban Landscape Project, a large-scale archaeology project that seeks to learn about the city not only during ancient times, but to trace its development up through the early 20th century.