My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Notes on Observations and Conversations Overheard at Ancient Knossos: part 1

Visit to Knossos, most popular archaeological site in Crete: ancient Minoan palace (AKA Minos) settlement built around 2000BC. Neolithic remains suggest area settled as far back as 6000BC! Accommodated 100,000 people at height of Minoan civilization!! After paying for tickets, ticket guy tells me ruins close in 1 hour. Closing time. Tick. “Be quick,” he says, closes eyes, returns to sleep. “I’m a writer, updating a guidebook,” I tell him. “I need to check the phone number and summer opening hours.” (It’s winter. I already know price.) Ticket guy looks bored. Disinterested. Woman hovering behind me, shoves me aside aggressively, sticking her head near window. She must know closing time, I think. Eager to see ruins. Still, she’s rude.“Do you mind?” I ask her, irritated. “I’m helping you with translation,” she says. The ticket seller speaks English. “Do you need a guide?” she asks. “No, we’ve been here before,” I lie. (It’s easier this way.) She goes away. (If I simply said 'no' she would keep following us, firing trivial titbits and random dates at us. That’s what they do, hoping we’ll say: “Oh, come on then, we’ve changed our minds, you’ve impressed us so much with your incredible knowledge of useless facts and dull trivia, we'd love you to chatter away at us endlessly for hours, spoiling our pleasure of the ruins!”) Knossos – controversial - in 1900 English archaeologist Arthur Evans hastily reconstructed much of palace – Evans said original wooden pillars and beams would have collapsed otherwise. Result splendid – vividly painted walls, red pillars, vibrant mosaics and frescoes. Flamboyant. Did it really look like this?? Two Japanese travellers race around – one eye on guidebooks, other on sights. (Is that possible?) They look at watches more than ruins. Two female Greek guards check out Japanese girls. Look them up and down. Speak to each other in Greek. Commenting on clothes? Greek guards could take inspiration from murals – Minoans really knew how to dress! Elderly French couple spend inordinate amount of time admiring enormous pottery urns. Surely they know they only have an hour?! It’s a massive site! (Okay, this happened at Phaistos, but it seems appropriate to place it here.) Phaistos Palace dates to 1900 BC. Beautifully sprawled down a hillside overlooking a fertile valley. I spend more time watching old French couple than I do enjoying ruins. What if couple wander to far end of site, guard (eager to get home) doesn’t see them and locks them in?! Staff start to leave 15 minutes before closing time – they appear irritated that we take our time. Don’t they know how far we have all come to see these ruins?!

No comments: