Friday 14 April 2023

In the Labyrinth: Who Sat on the Knossos 'Throne'?

The chair pictured here is a wooden copy of the stone "throne" discovered by archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos in 1900. It's on display at the Labyrinth: Knossos, Myth and Reality exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford. 

As with many of Evans' finds, there's controversy over his intepretation. He believed it was the throne of King Minos of the Greek myth. Other seats - wider and without backs - were also discovered. According to the audio guide I listened to while I was at the museum, Evans said these must have been for women because woman have larger buttocks than men. I will admit I burst into giggles when I heard that. I mean, fat-bottomed girls might make some people's world go round, but few of us need particularly wide chairs!

Later archaeologists think the stone "throne" might more likely have been used by a priestess rather than a male king. It also probably dates from a period of time much later than any in which the tale of King Minos could have been based. The exhibition explains the problematic nature of Evans' interpretations and his reconstructions at Knossos, in which he used a lot of imagination to try to make the rooms he discovered fit with mythology. 

Yesterday I blogged about the Labyrinth and the art and objects in the first room at the exhibition. I'll be sharing some more of my photos and thoughts on it in the future.

Labyrinth - Knossos, Myth and Reality is on at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until 30 July. Full price tickets are £15.30. There's also a book accompanying the exhibition.  

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