Restoration – promotion of the Minoan Viaduct

In the area of the “Caravanserai”, south of the Palace of Knossos, Arthur Evans identified the end of the great paved road believed to have crossed Crete from south to north from as early as the Prepalatial period, connecting the harbour of Kommos on the south coast to the Palace and the main harbour of Knossos on the north coast.

As Evans and later scholars have argued, at the end of this main road artery, people arriving from the interior of the island rested at the “Caravanserai” before continuing north across a viaduct consisting of one large or two smaller bridges which linked the two banks of the Vlychia stream.

The “Minoan Viaduct” is one of the most monumental structures of the Knossos archaeological site, and the most massive engineering work of Minoan Crete discovered to date. It is a monumental, megalithic structure of which four large pillar bases forming three stepped openings survive, oriented east to west.

The excavator, Arthur Evans, believed that these openings allowed the free passage of water flowing down the neighbouring hillside into the stream, and supported the road across the stream. According to the reconstruction drawing by T. Fyfe, they were originally arched. The viaduct is preserved to a length of 20.5m., a height of approximately 2.60m. and a width of 4.5m. However, Evans thought that it would originally have been 10 m. high and the road across it over 5m. wide.

The viaduct is dated to the Neopalatial period but there was probably an older bridge on the same site, its remains identifiable in the lowest courses of the surviving structure. The viaduct fell out of use in the LM III period.

In the context of the NSRF project, the masonry of the “Minoan Viaduct” was conserved consolidated and restored (removal of the cement plaster of previous interventions, repointing with new mortar compatible with the ancient materials, cleaning and restoration of the stones, mortar injections and sealing of cracks), while the layout of the wider area was also improved.

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