Stand-Up Tragedy, 1851–1899

in Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226289533
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226289557 | DOI:
Stand-Up Tragedy, 1851–1899

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This chapter investigates the idiosyncratic mixture of political passions and psychological imperatives that shaped Knossos as the quintessential temple of Dionysian modernism, and also introduces Arthur Evans. Evans brought formidable powers of observation and intellectual synthesis to his archaeological work, but placed his brilliance at the service of a rampant interpretative overconfidence that stemmed from his ability single-handedly to finance the excavation. He transformed industrial archaeology into a vector for Dionysian reenchantment. Even at an early stage in Evans's career, archaeology and politics were inextricably intertwined. He paid his first visit to Knossos on March 19. By 1895, when Evans returned again to Crete, he was the proud owner of a quarter share of the site. Among the first laws passed by the assembly were a series of regulations governing the excavation and disposal of Cretan antiquities.

Keywords: Knossos; Dionysian modernism; Arthur Evans; industrial archaeology; politics; Crete

Chapter.  9796 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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