Before Evans began work in Crete, archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos unearthed two of the palace’s storerooms in 1878, but the Turkish government interrupted his work before he could complete excavations. Evans had been deciphering script on seal stones on Crete in 1894 and when the island was declared an independent state in 1900, he purchased the site and began his excavations of the palace ruins. Arthur Evans found 3,000 clay tablets during excavations and worked to transcribe them. From the transcriptions it was clear that the tablets bore traces of more than one script. Evans dated the Linear A Chariot Tablets at Knossos as immediately prior to the catastrophic Minoan civilisation collapse of the 15th century BC. (Hogan, 2007)
On the basis of the ceramic evidence and stratigraphy, Evans concluded that there was a civilization on Crete before the civilizations recently brought to light by the adventurer-archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae and Tiryns. The huge ruin of Knossos spanned five acres and had a maze-like quality to it that reminded Evans of the labyrinth described in Greek mythology as having been built by King Minos to hide his monstrous child. Thus, Evans dubbed the civilization once inhabiting this great palace the Minoans. By 1903, most of the palace was excavated, bringing to light an advanced city containing with artwork and many examples of writing. Painted on the walls of the palace were numerous scenes depicting bulls, leading Evans to conclude that the Minoans did indeed worship the bull.
The basic part of the discussion about Phoenician alphabet in Scripta Minoa-Vol.1 takes place in the section Cretan Philistines and the Phoenician Alphabet, pages 77-94. Modern scholars now see it as a continuation of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet from ca. 1400 BC, adapted to writing a Canaanite (Northwest Semitic) language. The Phoenician alphabet seamlessly continues the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, by convention called Phoenician from the mid 11th century, where it is first attested on incribed bronze arrowheads.
Evans was knighted in 1911 for his services to archaeology and is commemorated both at Knossos and at the Ashmolean Museum. In 1913 he paid out of his own pocket £100 to double the amount paid with the studentship established jointly by the University of London and the Society of Antiquaries in memory of Augustus Wollaston Franks, won that year by Mortimer Wheeler.
From 1894 until his death Evans lived on Boars Hill, near Oxford. His house, 'Youlbury', has since been demolished. He had Jarn Mound built (by hand), surrounded by a wild garden, to make work during the depression years. Evans left part of his estate to the Boy Scouts and Youlbury Camp is still available for their use.
Arthur Evans - Ancient Illyria: An Archaeological Exploration (Hardcover)
Making merry about modernity; Greek archaeology.(Sir Arthur Evans's romantic ideas about the Minoans)(Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism)(Book review)
May 16, 2009; ARCHAEOLOGY is an inexact science, as Sir Arthur Evans, a flamboyant early practitioner, knew. However painstaking the digging...