9780809030354 / 0809030357

Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth


Publisher:Hill & Wang



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About the book:

Arthur Evans leapt into the public imagination with his discovery in 1900 of the Palace of Knossos on Crete, interpreted as the mythical lair of the Minotaur. Though a jewel in a golden age for archaeology, then, as now, questions have been asked about Evans's excavations and conclusions. In the richly detailed Minotaur, Professor MacGillivray, who has himself excavated Crete, suggests that the man who gave us the very term "Minoan" provides a prime example of "how archaeological discovery occurs first in the mind". By examining Evans's life and work through his actions and correspondence, MacGillivray shows that Evans's evidence was "fully, even exaggeratedly exploited" but rarely reviewed. Adventurous, energetic and highly observant, Evans also displayed "single-minded arrogance", "pomposity and manifest racism"--traits which MacGillivray feels, along with his independence of operation, resulted in misinterpretation. The book also incorporates an interesting potted history of war-torn Crete and the Balkans and Evans's involvement in the region's politics. It finally outlines modern theories on Minoan civilisation, though the "Palace and surrounding buildings are crumbling as fast as Evans's intellectual reconstruction", so that "solid proof" is increasingly problematic. Fascinating as a portrait of the man who "gave the world a new chapter in its ancient history" and for its portrayal of the developing discipline of archaeology, Minotaur also bubbles with an intriguing and highly important undercurrent which asks to what extent archaeologists are ever "impartial observers". --Karen Tiley

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