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Period: Prehistoric exhibits

Clay bowl with incised decoration

Knossos. 4th millennium BC On the hill of Knossos, under the ruins of the Minoan palace, was excavated the longest-lived Neolithic installation in Crete. Knossos was the first permanent settlement established in Crete at the beginning of the 7th millennium BC, and remained the largest settlement on the island up to the end of the …

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Dolphin Fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1600 – 1450 BC The Dolphin Fresco is a magnificent seascape as well as a decorative masterpiece. Two dolphins are shown swimming among small blue, yellow and pink fish. The light blue background with a darker blue net pattern represents the iridescent surface of the sea. The fragments of the fresco were found …

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Part of a relief bull fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1650 – 1550 BC Despite its fragmentary state of preservation, this impressive depiction of a charging bull is a crowning example of Minoan naturalistic art. The relief technique is used to render the bull’s head and the dramatic tension of the scene with extraordinary realism. The lowered head, pricked-forward ears and half-open mouth …

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“La Parisienne” Fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1400 – 1350/1300 BC Evans named this young woman depicted in profile on a fresco fragment “La Parisienne”. She is probably a priestess, as she is wearing a “sacral knot” on her back. The “sacral knot”, a long strip of cloth tied in a noose, appears in various religious scenes, often attached to …

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Tripartite Shrine Fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1600 – 1450 BC The Tripartite Shrine (or Grandstand) Fresco is an exceptional example of the so-called “miniature” frescoes that developed as a technique alongside the large-scale frescoes during the Neopalatial period, and were used to depict multi-figured scenes. Together with the miniature Sacred Grove and Dance Fresco, it adorned wide bands of …

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The Prince of the Lilies Fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1600 – 1450 BC The Prince of the Lilies is perhaps the most famous of all the Minoan frescoes. It depicts a young man in high plaster relief against a red ground. The life-size male figure, comprised of three non-joining pieces, is wearing a colourful loincloth and belt, and a majestic crown of …

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The Cup-Bearer Fresco

Knossos, Palace. 1450 – 1400 BC The Cup-bearer fresco is part of the Procession Fresco, which adorned the walls of the corridor leading from the West Entrance of the Palace to the official chambers on the upper storey of the West Wing via the South Propylaeum. This particular wall painting adorned the west wall of …

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The Blue Bird Fresco

Knossos, House of the Frescoes. 1600 – 1500 BC The Blue Bird is part of the “Monkeys and Birds Fresco” that decorated the walls of a room in the House of the Frescoes, on the west side of the Palace of Knossos. It is one of the three framed scenes which were originally restored from …

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Lily Fresco

Amnisos. 1600-1500 BC The Lily Fresco forms part of a larger fresco composition that decorated a room on the upper floor of the villa at Amnisos. It depicts an array of white lilies springing from within or in front of a stepped structure. This structure indicates an architectural arrangement of the space, probably a formal …

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Bathtub larnax

Alatsomouri, Pacheia Ammos. 1370-1300 BC This larnax in the shape of a bathtub, or an asaminthos as Homer calls it, was found at Alatsomouri in Pacheia Ammos, in a rock-cut chamber tomb containing three larnakes of the same type. The outside is richly decorated with painted themes such as the octopus, papyrus flowers and geometric …

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