Book Details

Publisher  PIMLICO
Publication Date   October 20, 2017
ISBN  0712673016
Pages  384


The intrepid Englishman who shaped the way we think about Europe and the Middle East.

Sir Arthur Evans was the diminutive, fiery archaeologist who, at an excavation in Knossos in 1900, discovered what he called the Palace of Minos and presented to the world his stunning re-creation of Minoan civilization. This is the first biography of a flamboyant and very influential man--written by a scholar with unparalleled expertise in the archaeology of Crete.

When Evans went to Greece after a mediocre career as a journalist in the Balkans, Heinrich Schliemann had recently uncovered what he claimed were Troy and Mycenae, famed cities of Homer; Evans, too, wanted to verify the factual basis for the myths that meant most to him. He found what he was looking for in Crete: he believed he located the origin of "tree and pillar worship," at the heart of Teutonic mythology in Europe but somehow linked to an early cult of the Greek god Zeus.

Joseph Alexander MacGillivray shows that Evans in fact anticipated what he found. Evans's Minoans were perfect Victorians: a peaceful, literate, aesthetic, just society where wise men held political office and powerful women ruled the people's hearts. Yet Knossos was not simply a lucky find, and MacGillivray shows Evans was a heroic figure struggling with many central themes concerning the origins of civilization. He concludes with his own assessment of our current knowledge about ancient Crete.

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