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Cnossus, Greek and Roman

A town on Crete. It flourished from the 9th to the 6th cent., to judge from the evidence of large numbers of tombs (protogeometric to orientalizing periods), but seems to have lost power in the 6th–5th cents. From the 4th cent. onwards it was again one of the principal cities of the island. Its main centre lay north-west of the Minoan palace, but its buildings are poorly known; a shrine to Demeter (protogeometric to 2nd cent. ce) lay just south of the palace. In the 4th–3rd cents. Cnossus frequently fought Lyttus, and then, after Lyttus’ destruction, Gortyn. Cnossus, which resisted the Roman invasion, lost out to Gortyn, and in 36 bce suffered the attribution to Capua of valuable territory (Vell. Pat. 2. 81. 2; Cass. Dio 49. 14. 5); after 27 bce it was turned into a colonia (Iulia Nobilis), perhaps receiving settlers from Capua. From the Roman period a basilica is known, and houses, including the ‘Villa Dionysus’. Despite a series of earthquakes, the city prospered until the 3rd cent. ce, extending by c.50–60 ha. (c.125–150 acres), but may have been largely abandoned after a major earthquake in mid-4th cent. Three basilica churches of the 5th–6th cent. were built outside the city. Perhaps from the 5th cent. the more easily defensible site of Heraklion became the dominant site of the region.


Margarita Guarducci, Inscriptiones Creticae 1. 45–82, with testimonia.Find this resource:

    R. Meiggs and D. Lewis, A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century bc, rev. edn. (1988), 42.Find this resource:

      Polybius, 4. 53–55.Find this resource:

        Strabo 10. 476–477.Find this resource:

          S. Hood and D. Smyth, Archaeological Survey of the Knossos Area, 2nd edn. (1981).Find this resource:

            I. F. Sanders, Roman Crete (1982).Find this resource:

              L. H. Sackett, Knossos from Greek City to Roman Colony (1992).Find this resource:

                D. Evely and others (eds.), Knossos: A Labyrinth of History (1994).Find this resource:

                  M. Baldwin Bowsky, in G. Salmeri and others (eds.), Colonie romane nel mondo greco (2004), 95–150.Find this resource:

                    M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis no. 967.Find this resource:

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