Further reading – Minoans

The Minoans – further reading


There are a number of books – and two websites — which I have found useful in studying the Minoans


Minoans by Leslie Fitton,  the keeper of the Greece and Rome Department at the British Museum, is a very sound and fundamental guide, particularly good, as one would expect, on the objects.

Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, by Cathy Gere is a witty and subversive deconstruction of Sir Arthur Evans and his work at Knossos. I found this book by an American hippie immensely valuable and stimulating even if I don’t quite follow her in all her interpretations.

Minotaur by Alexander MacGillivray is a similar earlier attempt at deconstructing Sir Arthur Evans and the archaeology of the Minoan myth.

The Palaces of Crete by James Graham (revised edition 1987) is a fundamental account of the palaces, primarily interested in the architecture and establishing that the palaces were all laid out to the Minoan foot.


The Architecture of Minoan Crete: constructing identity in the Aegean Bronze Age, by John C McEnroe is essentially updating of Walter Graeme’s classic work with many useful plans.

Minoan Architecture: A Contextual Analysis (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology and Literature Pocket-Book, 155) by Louise Hitchcock sorts out Lustre Basins and Minoan halls  and shows the ritual aspects of some of the central rooms of Minoan palaces

Palaces of Minoan Crete by Gerald Cadogan was published in 1976 but is still extremely useful.


Crete by Nicholas Platon, the discoverer of the Zakro Palace, is a magnificently illustrated account, though it is a pity that he spends too much time on the methodology of archaeology.


There is one very useful website for the Palaces,  www.MinoanCrete.com  which is put together by Ian Swindale, an English schoolteacher who has spent much of his career teaching in Rethymno. He has constructed a marvellous account of virtually all the archaeological sites in Crete,  very well illustrated.

Jan Driessen, Recent Developments in the archaeology of Minoan Crete: paper in Academia.edu, a magisterial survey of the recent work in the first decade of the 21st century.


Minoan and Mycenaean Art by Reynold Higgins is one of those very well illustrated handbooks by Thames and Hudson, written  by a former keeper in the British Museum

Reynold Higgins also wrote The Aegina treasure: an  archaeological mystery,  a splendid little pamphlet telling the story of one of the great treasures of the British Museum. This marvellous collection of jewellery was discovered on the island of Aegina just off Athens, but the author argues that it must be Minoan, –  indeed perhaps the finest single piece of Minoan jewellery. But how did it get to Aegina? In ancient times? Or is it an example of modern skulduggery?

The Minoans by Sinclair Hood is a classic account in the Ancient Peoples and Places series, is by one of the great sages of Minoan archaeology: it was published in 1971 and has many useful illustrations.

The Tombs of Mesara, and The Foundations of Palatial Crete; two books by Keith Branigan,  largely presenting the excavations of 15 pre-Minoan and Early Minoan tombs carried out by Stephanos Xanthoudides  between 1904 – 1918 and updating them with recent work. Both  books were published in 1970, before Keith was launched on his stellar career as University professor and administrator at Sheffield


Then there are two books on the dating problems caused by the volcano of Thera (Santorini).  A Test of Time: the volcano of Thera and the chronology and history of the Aegean and East Mediterranean in the mid second millennium BC, by the Australian Sturt Manning is an exhaustive (and at times exhausting) survey of the whole problem.  I found it particularly useful in its discussion of the key Egyptian site of Avaris or Tell el-Dab’a where Minoan material has been found in the palace. After some 400 densely packed pages he reaches some sort of compromise between the scientific dating of the eruption and the archaeological dating.

The answer to this book comes in Aegean Bronze Age Chronology, by Peter Warren and Vronwry Hankey.  The only trouble is that it was published in 1989, ten years before Sturt Manning’s book when the problems of the scientific dating of Thera were only a small cloud on the horizon.  Nevertheless it is a masterful assemblage of all what might be called traditional evidence of all the cross-dating between not only Crete and the Cyclades and mainland Greece, but how it all ties in with the evidence from Egypt, Palestine and Syria. It all ties together beautifully.  Little did the authors know that the gods were chuckling in the background and prepared to hurl a thunderbolt at the whole edifice in the form of the scientific dating of Thera.

The Aegean World, edited by Yanis Galanakis is a guide to the Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean antiquities in the Ashmolean Museum.  A collection of essays published to mark the rebuilding of the Ashmolean Museum and the new display of the Minoan material given to it by Sir Arthur Evans, its long-term Director.

Knossos: a labyrinth of history, is a festschrift, a collection of papers in honour of Sinclair Hood, edited by Don Evely, Helen Hughes-Brock and Nicoletta Monigliano.

Crete by S Logiadou-Platonos and Nanno Marinatos  is essentially a very well-illustrated tourist guide, but a scholarly text.

The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age, edited by Cynthia Shelmerdine is an academic synthesis by many of the leading authorities



23rd February 2017