National Geographic : 1953 Nov
° 696 National Geographic Photographers .. Baylor Roberts lan lDonald Mcltain A Bearded Ambassador of Cretan Good Will Greets Visitors to Washington's Zoo A wild goat (Capra aegagrus), Kri-Kri was born among the island's White Mountain crags, a last strong hold of his kind. He was sent to President Truman in thanks for aid to Crete (page 698). Too agile for a pet, he found a home at the National Zoological Park. Screening at top of the cage restrains 10-foot leaps. jars covered with graceful prehistoric designs. Standing on the site of Cnossus, one won ders how this tiny island town, which once numbered 12,000 masters and 70,000 artisans and slaves, could have extended its influence so far. For a modern comparison I turned to Rockefeller Center in New York. Here a mighty monument of modern civilization lifts its head high above its neighbors. From it communication lines run far across the world; its population of workers and visitors on a busy day is twice that of Cnossus when Minos ruled. The palace of the Sea Kings at Cnossus was no skyscraper, yet it too stood out impres sively. Covering almost twice as much acre age as the United States Capitol, it had no rival closer than Egypt or Babylonia.* One can judge how labyrinthine the palace was from the intricate ground plan. Because the rooms stood on many levels, each had to be removed when archeologists excavated the one below. Archeologist Sir Arthur Evans reconstructed some of the lavishly decorated halls and so enabled visitors to visualize the beauty of a long-forgotten age (page 703). Aphrodite, rising from the foam, enjoyed no such luxurious bath as did the Minoan queen in her charmingly embellished tub. It took the world thousands of years to catch up with conveniences and comforts with which the Sea Kings were familiar. As yet, mute Minoan monuments have not given up their secrets. The linear Cretan script has never been deciphered.t But Cre tans were great traders. International trade involves treaties. International treaties are often recorded in more than one language. If a treaty recorded in unknown Cretan and known Egyptian characters comes to light, the * See "Crete, Where Sea-Kings Reigned," by Agnes N. Stillwell, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, No vember, 1943. SWhile this article was on the presses, there came the important archeological news that the Minoan Linear B script has at last been deciphered by two scholars in England. They found the language to be an ancient form of Greek.