At the end of the third millennium, around the XX century BC, on the Mediterranean island of Crete suddenly blossomed amazing civilization, traces of which were revealed only at the beginning of XX century AD
In Crete, first appeared in Europe cities, palaces were built, there was a written language, the Cretan State maintain its own standing army (in the palace of Knossos was found fresco, which depicts a band of soldiers, headed by blacks with a white commander (negros has long been inhabited Crete).
Knossos, located on the northern coast of the island, was the most powerful city, where they laid the first stones of the legendary Labyrinth. The entire island was covered with a network of roads converged to the labyrinth. Lords of Crete had a huge powerful fleet, reliably protects the approaches to the island, only this can explain the lack of fortifications around the Cretan palaces and cities and forts on the coast guard. Cretan fleet reigned supreme in the Mediterranean, subject to the power of the kings of Knossos many lands.
The Greek historian Thucydides wrote of Minos: "The rulers of the lands conquered by them, on demand it delivered galernikov for Cretan fleet." Cretan power has risen almost to the level of such a colossus of the ancient world, such as Egypt. Products Cretan artists, archeologists have found in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Pyrenees, in the north of the Balkan Peninsula, in Egypt. The fresco of the tomb of one of the close of Thutmose III shows the grand arrival of ambassadors of Crete and the ancient name of Crete — Keftiu — often found in the business of Egyptian papyri.
It would seem that nothing could shake the power of Crete. But at the end of the second millennium BC is a disaster — a mysterious, still not fully explained. In the ruins of Knossos turn, Festus, Agna Triada, Palekastro, Gurney. At the same time, as if in one day, in one moment. Kopivsheysya relics from thousands of years there was nothing left. Empire Minos died.
In 1900, at Crete, Sir Arthur Evans arrived to find one of insignificance problem associated with reading some characters. One of the greatest archaeologists, the world-renowned scientist, honored and active member of various academies and societies, then it was almost forty years old, but he was already a venerable scholar, a graduate of Oxford and an expert on ancient Egyptian writing.
On the first day of your stay on the island Evans visited the ruins of Knossos. Not far from the ruins belonging to the ancient time, he saw earthen mounds, which are prompted him to intuition, the dormant remains of some ancient buildings. Evans picked up a shovel.
Just a few hours in the excavation of the ancient building outlines seemed … and from that moment on for more than a quarter of a century he was almost continuously excavated Knossos, because believe it — and said so publicly, that the building is open to them — this is the ruins of the legendary Labyrinth! The one in which dwelt a monster — polubyk, poluchelovek — Minotaur, which resulted hero Theseus, Ariadne daughter of King Minos.
Now in any work devoted to the history of Crete, you can see a detailed plan "Palace of Minos", drawn up by the excavations of Evans, his students and colleagues. From the unfathomable depths of the great civilization of thousands of rose — so old that the contemporaries of Homer for she was already thousands of years of legend. Evans called it Minoan.
The palace of Knossos was recognized by all archaeologists outstanding monument of highly Minoan culture, the seat of the legendary King Minos. The magnificent frescoes on the walls of the palace, comfortable facilities for swimming, sewerage system and numerous storage allowed to claim that the palace belongs to the "golden Minoan era" that here, as in some kind of ancient Paris, once reigned unchallenged joy and lightheartedness.
With these ideas have nearly all become accustomed, when a German professor of geology at the University of Stuttgart, Hans Georg Wunderlich, made a statement that the Palace of Knossos knew holidays that he was in front of the place of mourning and grief. He claims that the palace was the site of the cult of death. '' It houses the remains of the deceased and prepared mummies.
He believes that the so-called bath queen was indeed her sarcophagus that large painted clay vessels were not designed for grain and oil, as hitherto assumed, but were kept in urns and currently remains of the deceased that the indentations like bath that can be found in the so-called "closets", were actually cuvettes, which were dissected corpses, preparing them for mummification.
The stumbling block that caused Wunderlich so strongly to reconsider notions of Knossos palace was plaster, many of the details of Knossos construction made from gypsum. Wunderlich geologist found in the palace stairs as well as all the floors of bathrooms Improvement made of gypsum.
Deeply puzzled by this circumstance, he could not immediately understand why the Minoans, the people, according to archaeologists, highly civilized, used in the construction of the palace plaster — the material is soft and easily breakable water? Why they did not use it instead of marble or limestone?
Wunderlich was further explore the palace and found a lot of strange things. Why, for example, in the palace of Knossos was not a single food? Why is it called the home of King Minos and his queen are in a dark basement, instead of being on the top floor, full of light and air? If there is no palace stables and there are no buildings, where they were to stand chariot.
Finally, why did these huge clay vessels, ostensibly intended for grain and oil, so walled in, that are almost impossible to get anything?
Wunderlich conjectured stairs are constructed of soft pliable plaster because the builders did not expect a busy traffic on them. Huge amphorae not serve as a repository of stocks, and the premises were in the basement, no one has ever lived. Kitchen, stables and yards for his chariots were not needed here, because the palace is not intended for the living.
Knossos palace was death, his room is a crypt where preserved corpses Minoans. The palace was destroyed by tomb robbers.
Of course, the findings of Wunderlich raised objections in the majority of archaeologists and art historians, although some of them before and thought that some of the premises of the "Palace of Minos" were dungeons, and some served as a place of sacrificing the sacred bull, personifying a … Zeus himself. Only in the writings of prominent religious studies, Mircea Eliade can find instructions on the correctness of Wunderlich.
Eliade find much evidence that in Crete, in addition to the cult of the bull cult flourished death and beliefs associated with the life of the soul after death. In Crete, Zeus was born and died, in connection with which the Cretans annually become parties to the mysterious mystery of "revival" of God.
From all corners of the island, where they live, people went on the road to the "Palace of Minos" at Knossos, to make the necessary sacrifice and take part in a secret and bloody rituals.
See also: What is plastination?, Oldest archaeological finds.