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Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Previous Exhibitions — more details
Arthur Evans and the Knossos frescoes
19th September to 5th November

Anyone who has holidayed on Crete should know about Knossos. Even those who haven't visited the palace may well have heard of the legendary King Minos and the mythical Minotaur.

Exactly 100 years ago the Palace of Minos was being excavated. It was a Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Arthur Evans, who led the excavations. This September, the museum is mounting an exhibition to mark the centenary.

Evans found two palaces in fact, dated c.2000 and 1400BC. Each belonged to the Cretan Bronze Age which Evans called the Minoan style, after King Minos. The exhibition's main theme is the reconstruction of the wonderful frescoes found in fragments throughout the site. These wall paintings depict vivid scenes describing Minoan palatial or religious life.

But the exhibition goes further than that. Theories of reconstruction are constantly debated amongst scholars. Evans himself employed skilled artists who used their artistic imagination in recreating the vivid scenes. They were influenced by Evans' particular ideas concerning the symbolic significance of scenes and figures. Subsequent scholars have disputed these reconstructions and proposed quite different theories.

This exhibition unashamedly portrays Evan's theories but throws open the debate of subsequent interpretations. Working drawings, replicas and other documentary material are all gathered. We chart the discovery of the frescoes and the fascinating process by which Evans and his assistants re-created them.

Priest-King relief at Knossos,
Watercolour restoration probably by E. Gillieron, fils.
Current Exhibitions

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Last updated: jcm/6-feb-2002
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