The New Palace Period
The New Palace was built on a new pattern, since the top of the hill was razed again to the ground, and was rebuilt on the artificial banking up that was above the lower layers. Additionally, there was a deep section to the eastern side of the hill and on the level created, eight metres lower than the central court many multi-storeyed departments were built. The new palace had total area of 20.000 m². It experienced three destructions, defining the three architectural phases. The most ruins are dated in the second phase of the new palace (1650 – 1580 BC). In the third phase there were slight changes in some parts.
In neopalatial period Knossos experienced its greatest peak. Its extent was as in the preceding period and was spread out towards three directions, apart from the eastern bank of Kairatos river. Splendid mansions, fine in its building and decorated with beautiful frescoes which belonged to the priesthood, the officers and the medium class, were built west of the palace, the flat slope of Monasteriaka hill, where today the Villa Ariadne and the Bougada Metochi district are situated. The total extent of the town was estimated in 750.000 m², and its population in 12-15.000 inhabitants, who used to live in about 1500 houses. For comparison reasons, it is here mentioned that Chandakas (Herakleion) in its greatest peak in Venetian times had 15.000 inhabitants and an equal extent. The port of Knossos was east of modern Herakleion at Trypiti, on the seashore of Poros and Katsambas. The position today has completely been changed, due to the construction of the new harbour of Herakleion and the seaside road. On the same level of the debouchments of Kairatos there were the houses of rich merchants and shipmen and on the hills there were their tombs. The cemeteries of the town were spread out towards all the directions, on the slopes of hills and up to the district of Agios Ioannis, 2,5 km north of the palace. Most of the tombs were rock-cut vaulted, but there also were monumental built tombs: the south Royal Tomb-shrine at Gypsades, the royal tomb at Isopata in Agios Ioannis (destroyed under the German occupation) and the tholos tombs at Kephala and Gypsades.
The road network of the town is not well known. The royal road had been uncovered with an orientation to the northwest and one part of it was uncovered in the “Expansion of Stratigraphical Museum” excavation. At Knossos, and in opposition to other Minoan palaces, a large area of the town was not excavated, thus to know its town-planning. A lot of interest is presented by the water supply and drainage systems. The aquaduct, with the tubular water pipes, brought water from short-distant springs and was branched away to the town and the palace, as some of its remains had been found. Two drainage pipes crossed the palace and brought the water outside it.
The Knossians lived happily on this blessed land. They adorned the Mother Nature as a goddess at the shrines, houses and the countryside. The cars and the packs of animals carried products to the palace and the port. The ships crossed the seas, where they dominated, and sent the products of Crete to all the countries from which they imported raw materials and other goods. A natural phenomenon disturbed the calm life in the palace and the town, known by the past of this place. Around 1490/1450 BC, the palaces of Crete were destroyed by earthquake and fire, which was yielded to hostile actions, possibly from the Greek mainland. The knossian palace continued its existence with repairs and alterations for over a century, until 1370/50 BC.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis