Ancient tradition associated early Greek sculpture with the legendary master craftsman Daedalus, who was based at Knossos, Crete. This tradition inspired scholars of the early 20th century to believe that the beginnings of Greek monumental sculpture should be sought in Crete. The idea drew support from the then recent discovery of a 7th century BCE temple with rich sculptural decoration at the central Cretan site of Prinias, which is still considered widely as the earliest Greek temple with architectural sculpture. The travels of Daedalus and his pupils were taken to have disseminated the art across the Aegean and the Mediterranean. This interpretative model grew unpopular over time, but current discussions of Greek sculpture still highlight the early evidence from Crete. Both dated and current approaches to early Greek sculpture, however, typically overlook a set of important, yet little-known monuments from Knossos. Bringing together old but previously overlooked finds and new discoveries from the site, my lecture reveals an exceptionally rich tradition of early Greek sculpture. It also investigates the interaction of the Knossian workshop with sculptural traditions from elsewhere in Crete, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, and revisits the significance of the Knossian and other Cretan evidence for the beginnings of Greek sculpture.
Antonis Kotsonas is Associate Professor of Mediterranean History and Archaeology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. from the University of Crete.