Knossos, also named Cnossus, Gnossus, and Knossus, is the main Bronze Age archaeological site at Heraklion, a modern port city on the north central coast of Crete. The site was excavated and the palace complex found there partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. The palace complex is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. It was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture.

Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The palace of Knossos eventually became the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1,380–1,100 BC. The reason why is unknown, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward. In the First Palace Period (around 2,000 BC), the urban area reached a size of as many as 18,000 people. In its peak, the palace and surrounding city boasted a population of 100,000 people shortly after 1,700 BC.

Quite apart from its value as the center of the ancient Minoan civilization, Knossos has a place in modern history as well. It witnessed the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the enosis, or "unification," of Crete with Greece. It has been a center of Aegean art and archaeology even before its initial excavation. Currently a branch of the British School at Athens is located on its grounds. The mansion Evans had built on its grounds, Villa Ariadne, for the use of the archaeologists, was briefly the home of the Greek government in exile during the Battle of Crete in World War II. Subsequently, it was the headquarters for three years of the Nazi Germany's military governorship of Crete. Turned over to the Greek government in the 1950s, it has been maintained and improved as a major site of antiquities.

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