National Geographic : 1912 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE by a stop-ridge that ran round the out side of each narrow end a few inches from the mouth, while the inside of the butt, or broader end, was provided with a raised collar that enabled it to bear the pressure of the next pipe's stop-ridge, and gave an extra hold for the cement that bound the two pipes together." Dr. A. J. Evans. Indeed, the hydraulic science of the Minoan architects is altogether wonder ful in the completeness with which it provided for even the smallest details. On a staircase near the east bastion, on the lower part of the slope, a stone run nel for carrying off the surface water follows the line of the steps. Lest the steepness of the gradient should allow the water to descend too rapidly and flood the pavement below, the runnel is so constructed that the water follows a series of parabolic curves, and the rapidity of its fall is thus checked by friction. The main drains are duly provided with manholes for inspection, and "are so roomy," says Dr. Evans, "that two of my Cretan workmen spent days within them clearing out the accumulated earth and rubble without physical inconven ience." Those who remember the many extant descriptions of the sanitary ar rangements, or rather the want of sani tary arrangements, in such a town as the Edinburgh of the eighteenth century will best appreciate the care and fore thought with which the Minoan archi tects, more than 3,000 years earlier, had provided for the sanitation of the great Palace of Minos. We are, unfortunately, without any evidence as to the appearance of the great palaces in their finished state. The inner plan can be traced, but it is diffi cult to arrive at any idea of what these huge buildings must have looked like from the outside. It is fairly evident, however, that there cannot have been any symmetrical balancing of the differ ent architectural features. The palaces were more like small towns than simple residences, and the impression made upon the eye must have been due more to the great mass and extent of the building than to any sym- metry of plan. Probably we must con ceive of them as great complex blocks of solid building, rising in terrace above terrace, the flat roofs giving the appear ance of squareness and solidity to the whole. On a closer approach the eye would be impressed by the wide and spacious courts, the stately porticoes, the noble stairways, and the wealth of color everywhere displayed; but, on the whole, so far as can be judged, it was only from within that the splendor of the Minoan palaces could be fairly estimated. A palace such as that of Knossos sheltered an extraordinary variety and complexity of life. An abundance of humbler rooms served for the accommo dation of the artists and artisans who were needed for the service and adorn ment of the palace, and of whom whole companies must have lived within the walls, "dwelling with the king for his work," like the potters and foresters mentioned in Scripture. Several shrines and altars provided for the religious needs of the community. Rooms of state were set apart for public audi ences and for council meetings. In fact, the building was not only a king's dwell ing place, but the administrative center of a whole empire, and within its walls there was room for the housing of their records. THE THRONE OF MINOS The discovery of the very throne of Minos-for such we may fairly term it-was surely the most dramatic and fitting recompense for Dr. Evans' pa tience and persistence. No more ancient throne exists in Europe, or probably in the world, and none whose associations are anything like so full of interest. The throne-room still preserved among its debris many relics of former splen dor. Fragments of blue and green porce lain, of gold-foil, and lapis lazuli and crystal were scattered on the floor, and several crystal plaques with painting on the back, among them an exceedingly fine miniature of a galloping bull on an azure ground, while an agate plaque bearing a relief of a dagger laid upon a folded belt almost equalled cameo-work in the style and delicacy of its execution.