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Sir Arthur John Evans (1851-1941)

Arthur Evans, who discovered the Minoan civilisation of Bronze Age Crete, was born in Hertfordshire, England. The son of John Evans, a distinguished antiquary and collector, Arthur was educated at Harrow and Oxford, where he took a first-class honours degree in history. After spending time in the Balkans, he returned to Oxford and became Director of the Ashmolean Museum, a post he held from 1884-1908. During this time he effectively re-founded the museum, and added considerably to its collections.

Evans first visited Crete in 1894, but he could pursue its archaeology, and his conviction that it had been home to a civilisation even earlier than that of Mycenaean Greece, only after the island was liberated from the Turks in 1899. He began work at Knossos in 1900, and immediately began to reveal the large and complex building that he called the 'Palace of Minos' - 'Minoan' was his name for the Bronze Age culture of Crete, taken from the island's legendary king Minos.

Evans published his monumental four-volume work, The Palace of Minos, between 1921 and 1936. This wide-ranging study included, among much else, the tripartite chronological scheme still used for the whole of Aegean prehistory.

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British Museum collections, £12.99

British Museum collections, £12.99