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The exhibit

Faience plaques, Palace of Knossos. 1700-1600 BC

The Town Mosaic, as the excavator Sir Arthur Evans named it, is a unique group of faience plaques discovered in the Palace of Knossos in 1902. Most of the plaques depict façades of two- or three-storey buildings, although there are also fragments with plant motifs, animals, water, male figures – perhaps warriors with bow and spear – and also heads and body parts. The plaques were found scattered in a layer of fill dated around 1700 BC, so we do not know their original location and purpose. They may have been decorative insets from a wooden object, perhaps a chest, like the faience plaques from the Temple Repositories, also from the Palace of Knossos. Although their original arrangement is unknown, it is reasonable to suppose that they depicted a Minoan city, perhaps on the sea, with some of its inhabitants and the surrounding landscape. The proposed reconstruction is mainly based on the iconographic depictions, the conventions of scale and perspective, and the architecture of the Neopalatial period. Arthur Evans proposed that the Town Mosaic might depict a siege scene, similar to that seen on a silver vase from Mycenae. Towns with buildings like those of the Town Mosaic are also found on a clay sealing from Chania and in the miniature frescoes from Akrotiri Thera on Santorini and Ayia Irini on the island of Kea. In spite of their small size, and regardless of their original arrangement, the plaques offer important information on the architecture of Minoan Crete. The structural elements of the multi-storey houses, the doors and windows, the rectangular ashlars and the wooden beams, are painted on the façades. Similarities to the architectural and structural elements of the buildings of the Town Mosaic are also found in three-dimensional clay model houses from Knossos and Archanes.
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1 January: closed

6 January: 08:30 – 15:00

Shrove Monday: 08:30 – 15:00

25 March: closed

Good Friday: 12:00 – 17:00

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Holy Spirit Day: 08:00 – 20:00

15 August: 08:00 – 20:00

28 October: 08:00 – 20:00

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26 December: closed