The New York Book Review
Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery
August 13, 2009 Issue
Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism
by Cathy Gere
University of Chicago Press, 277 pp., $27.50
The masterpieces of Minoan art are not what they seem. The vivid frescoes that once decorated the walls of the prehistoric palace at Knossos in Crete are now the main attraction of the Archaeological Museum in the modern city of Heraklion, a few miles from the site of Knossos. Dating from the early or mid-second millennium BC, they are some of the most famous icons of ancient European culture, reproduced on countless postcards and posters, T-shirts and refrigerator magnets: the magnificent young “prince” with his floral crown, walking through a field of lilies; the five blue dolphins patrolling their underwater world between minnows and sea urchins; the three “ladies in blue” (a favorite Minoan color) with their curling black hair, low-cut dresses, and gesticulating hands, as if they have been caught in mid-conversation. The prehistoric world they evoke seems in some ways distant and strange—yet, at the same time, reassuringly recognizable and almost modern.
The truth is that these famous icons are largely modern. As any sharp-eyed visitor to the Heraklion museum can spot, what survives of the original paintings amounts in most cases to no more than a few square inches. The rest is more or less imaginative reconstruction, commissioned in the first half of the twentieth century by Sir Arthur Evans, the British excavator of the palace of Knossos (and the man who coined the term “Minoan” for this prehistoric Cretan civilization, after the mythical King Minos who is said to have held the throne there). As a general rule of thumb, the more famous the image now is, the less of it is actually ancient.
Most of the dolphin fresco was painted by the Dutch artist, architect, and restorer Piet de Jong, who was employed by Evans in the 1920s (and whose watercolors and drawings of archaeological finds in Athens, Knossos, and elsewhere were featured in a 2006 exhibition at the Benaki Museum in Athens, curated by John Papadopoulos). The “Prince of the Lilies” is an earlier restoration, from 1905, by the Swiss artist Émile Gilliéron (see illustration on page 60). In this case it is far from certain that the original fragments—a small piece of the head and crown (but not the face), part of the torso, and a piece of thigh—ever belonged to the same painting.
The records of the original excavation suggest that they were found in the same general area of the ancient palace, but not particularly close together. And despite Gilliéron’s best efforts, the resulting “prince” (there is, of course, no evidence beyond the so-called “crown” for his royal status) is anatomically very awkward; his torso and head apparently face in different directions. The history of the “ladies in blue” is even more complicated. This painting was first recreated by Gilliéron after the discovery of a few fragments in the early years of the twentieth century, but that restoration was itself badly damaged in an earthquake in 1926 and re-restored by Gilliéron’s son (also Émile).
The Fake “Ladies in Blue”
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York
Quote: This group of three women was originally restored by E. Gillieron, pere on the basis of other fragments of frescos from Knossos, mostly of a much smaller scale. It has been shown that details of the facial outline of the “Cup-bearer” fresco, a reproduction of which is displayed in the exhibition, supplied the model for the faces of the “Ladies in Blue”, which are not preserved at all.
This copy reproduces the few fragments of burnt and abraded original fresco, represented as slightly offset from the restoration, and shows the extent to which the Gillierons recreated the scene. Extensive restorations like this one led the writer Evelyn Waugh after a visit to the Archaeological Museum in Herakleion in 1929 to state it is not easy to judge the merits of Minoan painting “since only a few square inches of the vast area exposed to our consideration are earlier than the last twenty years, and it is impossible to disregard the suspicion that their painters have tempered their zeal for accurate reconstruction with a somewhat inappropriate predilection for the covers of Vogue.” The original is in the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete.
NOTE THAT ON THE COPY BELOW – THE FRAGMENTS ARE “BROWN” AS IS THE SKIN COLOR.
This from: Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume 1 By Fred Kleiner
Note how the Albinos create false background facts to support a new lie: (see underlined text below).
No ancient people used White and Black/Brown to differentiate between Male and Female.
This is a lie the Albinos created to explain why they were painting Egyptian/Minoan
Females to resemble Albino females during their “Supposed” Restorations.
As a follow-up to that lie: The Albinos also came up with this really stupid explanation for why the females were White:
“The females were White because they stayed indoors while the Brown/Black men worked outdoors.”
This is two close-ups of the Hagia Triada Sarcophagus mentioned in Gardner’s Art through the Ages above:
Clearly there were no Albino/White people in Minoan society,
that is all a lie, created by the Albino people, to insert themselves into Black history.
Attached are bull jumping videos done in Africa today like Ancient Dark skinned Mediterranean. And Feathered headwear like wall depiction of Ancient Sea peoples who migrated back into Africa.