The Roman Labyrinth: Crete under the Emperors

Module code: AH3080

  • What was the place of myth and memory in Roman Crete?
  • How did cities interact during the Roman period?
  • What was the status of this province and why?
  • How has the legacy of Minoan Crete impacted the study of historic periods?

When most people think of Crete (if they do at all), they think of King Minos, the Minotaur, and the famous Palace of Knossos excavated by Sir Arthur Evans. Crete was famously home to a rich Bronze Age civilization – but its post-Minoan history has long been neglected. The island itself was a key stepping stone across the Eastern Mediterranean, connecting east and west, and north and south, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and the Levant.

Crete was conquered by the Romans in a vicious campaign that ended in 67 BC, yet both before and after that time Crete remained a keystone in the connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. In this module we will explore the Roman-period history of the island, with special emphasis on its place in the wider networks of communication, trade, and the transmission of memory. You will gain insight into the workings of a neglected Roman province, its main cities of Gortyn and Knossos, the privileging of particular textual and archaeological pasts, and its place in the broader Greek imagination.

Topics covered

  • Pre-Roman Crete
  • The Cretan economy
  • Connectivity
  • The Labyrinth of Memory
  • Knossos
  • Gortyn
  • The end of Roman Crete
  • Death and commemoration
  • The place of Crete in the Greek imagination
  • The discovery and exploration of Crete
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