Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Dimitri

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Minoans; Architecture--Crete


The Neo-palatial period of Minoan civilization lasted from shortly after 1700 B.C. until about 1500- 1450 B.C. During that time the first palaces of Crete, which had been destroyed by a severe earthquake, were rebuilt. The Neo-palatial period, which was the final phase of the purely Minoan civilization, was the most flourishing and brilliant period on Crete. The high level of cultural achievement attained by the Minoans during the Neo-palatial period is revealed most clearly in their architecture. Such features as light-wells, pier-and-door partitions, Minoan Halls, porticoes, bathrooms and drainage systems that are characteristic of Minoan architecture reached their highest level of development during the Neo-palatial period. In addition, they are representative of the skill of the Minoan designers in creating functional yet aesthetically pleasing architecture. The fact that the Minoans were able to successfully balance the aesthetic with the functional demonstrates their cultural achievement. Since the Minoans apparently left no written history for the archaeologists to study, modern man must reconstruct the Minoan civilization from the artifacts and building remains which have survived. The Minoan culture appears to have been materially prosperous with commerce the main basis of the civilization The Minoan navy was able to control the seas, thus providing security for the inhabitants of Crete. The peaceful nature of the Minoans, one of their most enigmatic aspects, is transmitted to us through their beautiful, relaxed art that stressed life and nature. The flexibility, rhythm, dynamism and naturalism seen in all aspects of Minoan art reveal to the archaeologists much about the character of the ancient Cretans. The Minoans were undoubtedly most concerned with informality, movement, light, nature and beauty. Thus, the freedom and informality felt in Minoan art was reflected in their town planning, in the organic growth of their buildings from the center outward and in the use of asymmetrical balance. The Minoan concern for movement and rhythm was expressed not only through the articulation of rooms and use of columns and piers, but also through the dynamic interplay of light and shade and the creation of various spatial effects. The predilection for light was satisfied in Minoan architecture by means of such features as windows, verandas, light-wells, courts and pier-and-door partitions. The incorporation of frescoes within buildings, the articulation of rooms and the adaptation of the structures to the environment reflected the Minoan love and appreciation for nature and color, while various aesthetic and practical considerations within the dwellings expressed the Minoan concern with surrounding themselves with beauty and comfort. Thus, Minoan architectural concepts were as complex as were its forms. No one attitude subjugated the others. On the contrary, the Minoans were able to harmoniously balance the various concerns in order to create one of the most unique and inventive architectural styles ever conceived by man.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 169 pages




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