‘Labyrinth: Knossos, Myth and Reality’ at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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According to legend, an elaborate labyrinth was built at Knossos on the island of Crete to hold a ferocious Minotaur. Discover the palace of Knossos, and the search for the labyrinth, in this major exhibition in Oxford.

Credit: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The palace of Knossos, discovered and excavated over 100 years ago, was the centre of a Bronze Age civilisation of people we now call the Minoans, named after the legendary King Minos.

Marble sculpture of the Minotaur, 1-300 CE, National Archaeological Museum, Athens [Credit: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development]
Coin minted at Knossos depicting the Cretan Labyrinth, silver, 300–270 BCE [Credit: Ashmolean Museum]
Attic black-figure amphora depicting Theseus and the Minotaur, attributed to The Painter of Berlin, c.550 BCE [Credit: Ashmolean Museum]

This will be the first UK exhibition to focus on Knossos. It will include over 100 objects which have never left Crete and Greece before, alongside discoveries from the Ashmolean’s Sir Arthur Evans Archive and an exclusive experience of Knossos Palace from the acclaimed video game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Replica bull’s head rhyton, 20th century in painted plaster, AN1896-1908. AE 2400 [Credit: Ashmolean Museum]
Watercolour restoration of Ladies in Blue Fresco, undated, by Émile Gilliéron père (1850–1924) [Credit: Ashmolean Museum]
Sir Arthur Evans at the Palace of Knossos, 1901. GB 1648 [Credit: Ashmolean Museum]

Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans led excavations at Knossos in the early 20th century, and would later re-imagine and partially restore the palace. His archive at the Ashmolean has been central to our understanding of the site of Knossos, and many of his excavation plans, artworks and records will be on display alongside objects from the site.

Credit: Ashmolean Museum

A RESTORATION (2016), an 18-minute, two-screen digital video and sound installation by Turner Prize winning artist Elizabeth Price, is shown in the third gallery.

The exhibition is open until 30 July 2023

Source: Ashmolean Museum [February 11, 2023]

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