When Sir Arthur Evans recreated parts of the Palace at Knossos, his efforts subdivided archaeologists and historians on the study of the ancient Minoans. Some believed, and many still do, that his reconstructions defiled and polluted the most important remnant of Minoan Civilization. Others applauded his initiative and passion to piece back together what is still one of history’s great mysteries.
What you are about to read will shed new light on Knossos and those ancient inhabitants of Crete. The story is translated and edited by me, from the original excerpt from an upcoming book by author Ioannis Anastasakis.
At Knossos Palace, in what is generally referred to as the throne room, two cryptic symbols sit to either side of the ancient throne. They are mysterious symbols, two distinct sets of the symbol of the double or radial “R”. This is the letter preceded by the letter epsilon in the Greek alphabet, and to date, there is no globally well-documented and widely accepted decoding of their religious or ritual meaning.
It is widely believed that Minoan Civilization began initially in eastern Crete, and later spread to the west. The main center of power eventually rested at Knossos. The excavation of the early 1900s at Knossos revealed this fabulous throne room, which was at that time without a roof, with most of the famous frescoes damaged or missing. It was Sir Arthur Evans who commissioned two famous artists of the time, Emile Gillerons and Piet De Jong, to assist him in recreating them.
To accomplish the regeneration process at Knossos, the two artists, and Evans, sketched and photographed with professional diligence the remains of the frescoes and the reconstruction of the wall paintings. Their replenishment effort recreated a large proportion of the archaeological reality, with great attention paid to the symmetry and the convocation to the throne. Evans’ examination of the original colors pigments with modern methods, revealed that the frescoes at Knossos were created around 1690 BCE. This would have been about 60 years before the eruption of the Strongili, which is today’s island of Santorini.
The symbol of the double or radial “R” located on either side of the throne is seen in the majority of original photos and profiles of the excavation at Knossos, kept in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, from the time Elias Ashmole worked with Evans on site. The photos show that the symbols on either side of the throne, especially the ones on the right-hand side, had survived in relatively good condition. Therefore the symbol of the double or radial “E” is a true representation of the original Minoan, and not simply a later artistic depiction. This means an interpretation should explain the significance in relation to the ritual space of the throne room.
The layout of the space in the famous “throne room” of Knossos, indicates this was a space priestly or ritualistic functions and occult mysteries. In the area, there is a lustral basin, as well as a number of other encrypted mystical symbols. It is believed that the Minoans used to encode in sacred symbolism such important places. For example, the Potnia Goddess, very likely the Mother Earth of the seats is displayed, encoded with snakes in the hands, which symbolizes the protection she provided to the people.
According to the myth, Zeus crawled like a snake so that he was hidden upon Earth from his father Cronus. In addition, the bare breasts of the nature goddess is sometimes indicative of nursing, because breast milk refers to the authority and the preservation of life. So, the encrypted secret symbols contained in the paintings of this hall of the throne at Knossos, are directly linked to ritual.
Returning to the two identical symbols in the shape of two radial “E”, we find a direct relationship with the sacred ritual and legislative use of the space from the obviously prestigious and symbolic position at the side of the throne. This is not at random, but a coded holy symbol, which until today has not been explained. Furthermore, respectively coded shapes similar to the radial “E” have been identified and to other places in Crete, as in the palaces of Malia, Phaistos, Zakros.
The Birth of Zeus
According to myth, the Titan Cronus set out to eat all his children so as not to allow any of them to grow up and claim the power of the world. Many scholars argue that he did this in order to literally eat Time (Time = a corruption of Saturn). This decision deeply upset his wife and sister Rhea. So, she decided to take the advice of her mother Gaia, to have the baby in Lyktos, the oldest city of Crete. It was then that she hid the baby Zeus in a cave in a cave in what Hesiod referred to as the “mountain of the Aegean Sea,” as mentioned in his “Theogony.” In Hesiod’s time, the mountain was called Dicta from Jupiter+Whelp=Dikti.
This selection was not random. Zeus needed to be immortal and to be born in an environment of natural beauty, serenity, tranquility, and security. This was desired so that the king of the gods would develop a temperate character, a love of life, and a balance in nature. So, the ideal natural environment chosen was a place exactly in between heaven and Earth, a place now known as the Lassithi Plateau. Situated 850 meters above the sea, in the east of Crete, this was and is one of the most protected places anywhere in the world. The plateau literally looks like gigantic protected mountainous arms, inaccessible from the rest of the world. This mountainous region was selected to be a children’s paradise for a god.
The Aloades Giants
The mythological twins Otus and Ephialtes were sons of Poseidon from Ifimedia. According to the prevalent mythological tradition, as mentioned by Apollodorus, Ifimedia was marrie to King Aloeus, but was in love with the god Poseidon. So, the god and the mortal had the twin giants, who took the name Aloades. The myth goes on to tell of the twin giants in a cave at the famous Horn of Viannos, in the south of the “sacred mountain of the Aegean”. The French speleologist and professor Paul Faure, who for thirty-two years studied and wrote books on the Minoan history of the region. In his relevant works from his explorations of this cave back in 1955, came his assertion that: “there is indeed no doubt that from here starts the legend of the Nightmare of Otus”.
Following the myth, these two twin giants were disrespectful to the gods and nature and wanted to destroy the harmony in creation which has been imposed by Zeus. The giants desired to transfer the land to the sea, and the sea on dry land. They showed disrespect towards the gods, which manifested itself in many ways. According to Stephen of Byzantium back in the 5th century, even as children in the mountain Horn of Viannos “they fought with the god Ares and kept him in chains for thirteen months.”
The twins also wanted to enter into a love affair with the goddesses Artemis and Hera. And according to the tale, they even tried to enter the children’s paradise of Jupiter, which sealed their doom. The story tells of Zeus preventing the giants from entering the sacred Plateau by throwing thunderbolts against them. This episode happened when the twins stopped to drink water, where today are the sources of aloe from which the name is derived.
Zeus, wanting to avoid friction with his brother Poseidon, gave them a god-given plant to cure with the juices of the wounds and the burns. Since then this plant, which has leaves like swords, took its name from the Αλωιάδες and it’s called forever Cretan Aloe vera (Aloe).
The behavior of the twin giants was primarily because they considered themselves immortal. Because of their excessive physical power, they became disrespectful to the gods and nature. They knew the sacred oracle which said that “Zeus couldn’t kill neither god nor man”. But they forgot about divine justice.
So it was that the goddess Artemis, with the help of the god Apollo, offered their services to the father of the gods Zeus, who had repeatedly been insulted the giants. The gods lured the twins to the island of Naxos for a hunt, during which they showed each a deer. Ultimately each of the twins shot their arrows to kill the deer, but instead slew one another, each the apparition of the deer. In this way, the giants died before reaching adulthood, and without infringing on the sacred oracle.
Zeus, in order to mitigate the wrath of Poseidon, and in memory of the ephemeral immortality, turned the twin giants into aquatic plants in the lake, which was the nursery of heaven on the Plateau. So it was that the gods determined that in the centuries and around the world, that these plants would be called “Soldiers Aloe” (stratiotes aloides). The plants were destined to live permanently in the water, the kingdom of their father Poseidon. By tradition, the plants sink in the winter to the bottom of the lake, reminding us of death. Then, in the spring, the fill with CO2 and rise to the surface to bloom, reminding us of emerging life and rebirth. It is a divinely-inspired simulation of transient immortality.
The Codec for Good and Evil
The greatness of the ancient myth is that the “sacred mountain of the Aegean sea” as it is reported by Hesiod the current Dikti in Lassithi, Crete, gained a great deal of sacred importance. This is because: On the north side of the Dikteon andron facing the Plateau, the children’s paradise of Zeus, was born, the father of the gods to bring peace and harmony in nature. On the south side of the same massif of the Plateau, the cave Horn located near Viannos, witnessed the birth of the twin giants, sons of Poseidon, who tried to destroy the peace and harmony in nature that had been imposed by Zeus.
The coexistence of the two caves in the same mountain of Lasithi reveals the true face of the struggle between good and evil, order and disorder, and their coexistence in creation since their authors were born in the same holy mountain. The underground galleries and the underground rivers that connect the two caverns in the depths of mother Earth, they see to the mixing of the good with the bad.
So, the sacred mystical symbol that is in the throne room at Knossos, it represented for the Minoans priests, the mystical struggle of good and evil. It is the symbol that unites as a chain, the alabaster throne of the high priest or the high priestess with the built-in benches on either side, where sat the priests during religious and other important ceremonies.
The schematic representation of the two caves in plain view, as is the coded symbol in the throne room of Knossos, should not be considered novel. It should be noted that in Classical Antiquity, there are examples of aerial views of Earth from above, i.e. in plan view. For example, Socrates describes the Earth from high above, as do others.
Unraveling the Coded Sacred Symbol
The symbolism of good and evil, with the two radial “E” referring to the two caves of the sacred mountain of the Aegean Sea in the region of Lasithi, is imaginative and colorful. An important observation in the schematic representation of the sacred symbol is that the middle line of the two “E”, is different from the curved lines of the schema, which are in monochrome.
The reason for this is because the straight lines are designed by three ‘ x ‘ value that indicates a set or crowd, probable believers in every cave. It should be noted that in both caves there have been identified by archaeologists and researchers, traces of religious ceremonies from the early Minoan period and, therefore, an assembly of believers.
In the theocratic Minoan system of governance, with this symbol, are honored at the same time Zeus and Poseidon. With the display in the ceremonial hall of the throne of knossos, the high priest and the priesthood invoked the assistance of the two gods to be “enlightened” and to distinguish good from evil in their decisions.
They encoded this sacred symbol, which was adopted and used during the long history of the Greeks, and later Romans, with the same meaning, i.e., of the battle between good and evil. Also the Minoans sailors, the engraved on the parts that traveled and is likely to embrace other cultures who have used it, maybe with the same religious significance.