The Times Literary Supplement has an utterly fascinating essay on Minoan civilization, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Arthur Evans’ reconstruction of Knossos, and the role of ancient Crete in European modernism.
“Arthur Evans, the eccentric Englishman who led the excavations, was, if anything, even more creative in his reconstruction of the Bronze Age than Schliemann had earlier been. The fabulously ancient palace of Knossos enjoys, as Gere points out in her arresting first sentence, “the dubious distinction of being one of the first reinforced concrete buildings ever erected on the island”. The complex of buildings gawped at by thousands upon thousands of tourists every year owes less to the masons of the Minoan age than it does to the example of modernist architecture. On Crete, the archaic and the contemporary, both of them recreated in the image of the other, would end up generating a cultural Möbius Strip. “Not only did the Minoan past provide inspiration to the modern movement, it was itself a modernist structure, enfolding past and present into a closed loop of aesthetic self-referentiality.”