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The 'Palace of Minos' at Knossos

The largest of the Minoan palaces, the so-called 'Palace of Minos' stands in a fertile valley close to the north coast of Crete, where there were supplies of fresh water, wood and stone for building, and good communications both by sea and inland across the island to the south.

Like all the known Minoan palaces, Knossos has a large central court. Many rooms on several levels are arranged around the central court and seem to have served various functions. Store rooms, workshops and archives are readily identifiable: more difficult to label are large, distinguished rooms, which may have been state rooms, or smaller, sometimes elaborately decorated rooms, which were perhaps residential. The contents of yet other rooms seem to indicate shrines, though it is generally difficult to distinguish sacred and secular areas in the palace, perhaps because the Minoans themselves scarcely made this distinction.

Whether it was ruled by kings, priests or some combination of the two, it is clear that the word 'palace' is barely adequate to describe a building on such a large, almost town-like scale. This complex saw a great range of activities including the storage and distribution of vast quantities of agricultural produce, craft production and recording-keeping and was centrally important throughout Minoan history, from about 1950 to 1375 BC.

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