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Ancient royal city, Crete. It was King Minos's capital and the centre of the Minoan civilization. Settled by migrants from Asia Minor in the 7th millennium BC, it gave rise to a sophisticated Bronze Age culture. Two great palaces were built in the Middle Minoan period, the second c. 1720 BC after an earthquake leveled the city. About 1580 BC Minoan culture began to extend to mainland Greece, where it greatly influenced the Mycenaean culture. After its palace was destroyed by fire c. 1400 BC, it was reduced to town status, and Aegean political focus shifted to Mycenae. Knossos was the site of the legendary labyrinth of Daedalus.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Knossos, visit Britannica.com.