While occupied as a major centre for almost eight millennia, the phase most thoroughly investigated, and for which Knossos is best known, both academically and popularly, is the Late Bronze Age. The earlier phase, the Neopalatial period, includes also the final phase of the Middle Bronze Age, beginning to receive more attention but still not as well known as its LM I successor. For this period, the survey data now documents that the site extended over approximately a square km. expanding considerably on recent estimates. This is twice the extent of any other Aegean Bronze Age centre, and on a par with very large contemporary urban centres in the East Mediterranean and Middle East. At documented LM I occupation densities, this should represent a population of around 25,000 individuals, representing a unique and challenging social environment within the prehistoric and early historic Aegean region.
The later Bronze Age phases at the site are not documented in the same detail, and the study of the survey data is still at an early stage. But our preliminary analysis suggests a considerable reduction in the extent of the site in the LM II-IIIA Final Palatial period, contemporary with the development of the mainland Mycenaean centres, and probably a further significant reduction in the LM IIIB-IIIC Postpalatial period. Yet even in this late phase, with some evidence of occupation over a minimum of 20 ha., the site would still have been a major centre, roughly comparable to contemporary mainland palatial centres. This is the least well understood prehistoric phase in terms of our survey data, as well as existing excavation data, but our preliminary work is beginning to point toward a significantly different perspective on Postpalatial Crete and the transition to the Early Iron Age.