Archaeology and Ancient History

Roman Knossos

A panorama of the landscape at Knossos

The British School at Athens (BSA) has been investigating Knossos intensively for over a century. The primary focus of that research has been the prehistoric Minoan culture, though major excavations and publications have also documented components of the long post-prehistoric occupation. Far less attention has been given to the not inconsiderable remains of Roman Knossos: Colonia Iulia Nobilis Cnossus.

The current project of geophysics aims to provide a spatial framework into which the current constellation of excavated but unstudied material from Roman Knossos can be placed. A working knowledge of the urban layout would also greatly aid the understanding of extant remains, and facilitate the study of the extensive collection of Roman material culture retained in the Stratigraphic Museum from BSA excavations.

Systematic geophysical survey will help integrate the disparate areas of knowledge adduced from previous keyhole excavations, and provide a topographical backdrop which will facilitate a more detailed archival study of the Roman occupation of the valley. The expectation is that the results will include evidence of occupation and use for the prehistoric and historic periods and will be of use to a range of scholars, though most information will relate to the later Hellenistic and Roman phases of occupation. Specifically, we hope to be able to define the extent and form of the Roman settlement, which is currently known only from the limited visible walls and abundant tombs, keyhole excavations and in general terms from KULP data.

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • provide a spatial framework for contextualizing historical excavation data
  • illuminate the topography of the Roman city, and its key features
  • determine the relationship between the core and periphery of the urban area
  • accurately record existing standing remains using modern GPS technology



Fieldwork participants

  • Dan Stewart
  • Ben Gourley
  • Gord Macdonald

Preliminary results

Preliminary results of the fieldwork (2014-2018) can be found online, via the British School at Athens’ Archaeology in Greece online.

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