Knossos is widely considered one of the most prosperous Aegean communities in the Early Iron Age, particularly on the basis of finds from its cemeteries. Because of later disturbance, it has not been possible to document the accompanying settlement very clearly. This paper revisits the evidence for the nature and extent of the settlement, integrating recent fieldwork with evidence from earlier excavations in the settlement and cemeteries.
The Knossos Urban Landscape Project (KULP) recovered an unusually rich assemblage of ceramics from the Early Iron Age, a period that is typically under-represented in Aegean surveys. The abundance of data provides a relatively strong basis for a detailed understanding of the size and organization of the community and its development for nearly half a millennium. The surface exploration documented a wide scatter of ceramics, including in areas not previously intensively investigated. The site is shown to have been considerably larger than previously assumed already in the Protogeometric period (10th-9th centuries BCE). The continuous distribution of material also demonstrates the expansion of a large nucleated community from a smaller core, which almost certainly survived from the Late Bronze Age. Survey in the areas of some of the dispersed cemeteries revealed no evidence for dispersed villages associated with each cemetery, refuting the model of polis formation through synoecism for Knossos. This new understanding of the settlement corresponds much better with the significance given to the site through its burial evidence, and challenges previous interpretations of the nature and extent of the settlement during the Early Iron Age.