Kommos V
The Monumental Minoan Buildings at Kommos
Edited by Joseph W. & Maria C. Shaw


Kommos, an ancient site on the island of Crete, is known both for its important Greek sanctuary and for its earlier role as a major Minoan harbor town. This final book in the Princeton series focuses on the results of several decades of excavation at three of the site's monumental public buildings during the Minoan period. Of these, one has the characteristics of a "Minoan palace," a large central court surrounded by wings. Two stoas on either side of the court may have accommodated spectators watching formal events unfold within the court. Other rooms were used for storage. Vessels from the "palace," but also, and mainly, from two buildings that succeeded it in the fourteenth century BC, originate elsewhere in the Aegean and as far as Anatolia, Cyprus, Egypt, Syro-Palestine, and Sardinia, attesting to the site's major role in international trade. One of the later buildings is characterized by six huge rectangular spaces that were likely used to shelter ships during the nonsailing months. This kind of structure, from that period, has never before been found in Crete. Equally unique is the range of imported pottery.

The results of the excavation are recorded in detail in chapters commenting on the architecture, on the "palace's" painted mural decoration, and on other finds representing a wide range of activities, including the likely production of purple dye, valued for trade amongst the elite. Well-stratified deposits provide a unique opportunity to establish local ceramic developments and to use them to date events that are being considered in terms of sociopolitical and economic perspectives encompassing the Mediterranean and the Near East. This book, which completes a survey of more than six hundred years of history, will prove especially useful to specialists in the Minoan era and to all students of the ancient world.

Joseph W. and Maria C. Shaw, both professors emeriti at the University of Toronto, have worked at numerous ancient sites on Mainland Greece and elsewhere in the Aegean, especially at Kommos in Crete where excavation began in 1976. Joseph Shaw has specialized in aspects of Greek and prehistoric Aegean architecture, while Maria Shaw has focussed on iconography, especially that of prehistoric Minoan and Mycenaean frescoes.