The Knossos Urban Landscape Project, a collaboration between the Ephoreia (ΚΓ'ΕΠΚΑ) of the Hellenic Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, is an intensive surface survey of the ancient city of Knossos and its associated cemeteries. 

Over a century of research by both institutions has made Knossos one of the most thoroughly investigated sites in the Eastern Mediterranean.  This has produced a wealth of information, documenting nearly eight millennia of occupation.  Despite this intensive investigation, much of the site had never been tested, and there was a clear need for a systematic and intensive survey of the entire site, to put our understanding of its development on a more substantial and secure footing.  It was considered essential that it be conducted as a collaboration between the British School and the Herakleion Ephoreia, since the two institutions had shared responsibility for the archaeology of the Knossos valley during that first century of intensive investigation.

The objectives of the project are:

1.  To record the archaeological resources to aid their protection and to help manage development in the valley.
2.  To document systematically the surface archaeological record, allowing us to contextualise and re-assess a century of previous investigations.
3.  To integrate the new surface data with all existing data, to reconstruct the long-term urban development of the community at Knossos, which will also establish a broad base-line to facilitate the development of new research at this exceptional site.

Fieldwork began in 2005 on the city site, and moved outwards in later years into the cemeteries. 2006 was devoted to preliminary documentation of the 330,000 artefacts collected in 2005, with survey resuming in 2007 and 2008.  Through study seasons since 2009, we have now completed initial documentation of all recovered material, and specialist studies have begun.

Over three six-week field seasons, we surveyed all available fields in the study area, on a 20m grid, providing dense and high-resolution coverage. Collectors picked-up all surface materials in a 10 m2 area, to provide a tightly-defined standard sample. They then examined the full square for features, and collected any additional exceptional artefacts. Outside the city, to ensure that we would cover the entire study area, we searched faster transects (40m2), again within 20m grids.

Overall, we collected some 355,000 sherds, about 50,000 fragments of tile, and another 20,000 or so non-ceramic artefacts, in 21,000 squares, spread over 11km2.  As a result, we now have much more extensive and continuous documentation of the archaeological record of the valley. The good preservation of much of the recovered material was surprising, with some 22% of sherds preserving some trace of shape or decoration. Because the pottery of Knossos has been so well documented with well-preserved examples from excavations (e.g. Momigliano 2007; Coldstream et al. 2001), we can do a lot more with our material than most surveys - nearly all of even the plain body sherds can be assigned to at least broad periods on the basis of fabric alone.

Interim results have been presented in a series of short reports and public presentations (see publications).  In summary, through its first 5 millennia, Knossos was a nucleated village, growing gradually to 6.5 ha., with an estimated maximum population of 2,600.  Ca. 2000 BCE the community rapidly became urban, expanding to ca. 40 ha. and up to 11,000 inhabitants, in the century preceding the traditionally accepted foundation of the first Minoan palaces, ca. 1950 BCE, when Knossos became the centre of the first state in Europe.  Growth continued, reaching a maximum of one km2 ca. 1500 BCE, with some 25-30,000 occupants, making it one of the largest cities in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean.  It declined gradually during the later Bronze Age, rapidly after 1200 BCE, but remained one of the major communities in the Aegean through the so-called Dark Ages, re-developing rapidly in the Early Iron Age, attaining an extent of 0.4 km2, as one of the earliest emerging city-states in the Aegean.  Further expansion culminated in the first century BCE, in the late Hellenistic period, when the city covered some 1.3 km2, corresponding to its political dominance of north central Crete.  There was some contraction with loss of independent status in the Roman period, but extensive surface traces of mosaics and fine architectural embellishments indicate considerable prosperity.  The city declined from the fourth century CE, with abandonment early in the seventh century CE, its population probably relocating to coastal Herakleion.  A small village probably survived to the present day, modern Makryteichos.

General references:

Hood, S. and Smyth, D. 1981. Archaeological survey of the Knossos area (2nd ed.), (British School at Athens, Supplementary volume 14). London: British School at Athens.

Evely, D., Hughes-Brock, H. and Momigliano, N. (eds.) 1994. Knossos: a labyrinth of history. Papers presented in honour of Sinclair Hood. London: British School at Athens

Cadogan, G., Hatzaki, E. and Vasilakis, A. (eds.) 2004. Knossos: palace, city, state, (British School at Athens Studies 12). London: British School at Athens

Publications:

Kotsonas, A., Whitelaw, T. and Vasilakis, A. In press. Early Iron Age Knossos: new evidence from the Knossos Urban Landscape Project, in, M. Andrianakis and I. Tzachili (eds.), Archaiologiko Ergo Kritis 2. Rethymnon.

Kotsonas, A., Whitelaw, T., Vasilakis, A. and Bredaki, M. In press. Early Iron Age Knossos: an overview based on the surface investigations of the Knossos Urban Landscape Project (KULP). XI Cretological Congress, web publication.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M., Vasilakis, A. 2007. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: investigating the long-term dynamics of an urban landscape. Archaeology International 2006/7(10):28-31. 

Bredaki, M., Vasilakis, A. and Whitelaw, T. 2010. Πρόγραμμα Επιυανειακής Έρεσνας Περιοτής Κνωσού. Προκαταρκτική έκθεση για τη εργασία των ετών 2005-2007. In, M. Andrianakis and I. Tzachili (eds) Archaiologiko Ergo Kritis 1. Rethymnon:294-301.

Bennet, J., Whitelaw, T., Grammatikaki, E., Vasilakis, A. 2008. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project 2005. Preliminary results. in Goddart,L., Sacconi,A. (ed.), Pasiphae. Revista di Filologia e Antichita Egee. Volume I . Rome: Fabrizio Serra:103-109.

Preliminary reports:

Whitelaw, T. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2011. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika (the publication of the Greek Archaeological Service).

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2010. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2009 Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2008. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2007. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika.

Whitelaw, T. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2006. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika .

Whitelaw, T., Bennet, J., Grammatikaki, E. and Vasilakis, A. In press. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project: 2005. Archaiologikon Deltion: Chronika.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2011. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project. in Morgan, C., et al. (ed.) Archaeology in Greece On-line. Web publication.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2010. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project. in Morgan, C., Pitt, R., Mulliez, D. and Evely, D. (ed.) Archaeology in Greece. Archaeological Reports 56:183-4.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2009. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project. in Morgan, C. (ed.) Archaeology in Greece. Archaeological Reports 55:94-6.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2008. Crete: Knossos: Urban Landscape Project. The British School at Athens, an Institute for Advanced Research. Annual Report 2007-2008. London: British School at Athens:19.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2008. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project, in Morgan, C. (ed.), Archaeology in Greece. Archaeological Reports 54:100-102.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2007. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project, in Whitley, J. et al. (ed.), Archaeology in Greece. Archaeological Reports 53:108.

Whitelaw, T., Bredaki, M. and Vasilakis, A. 2007. Crete: Knossos Urban Landscape Project. Annual Report of Council, The British School at Athens, for the Session 2006-2007. London: British School at Athens:34-5.

Whitelaw, T., Bennet, J. Grammatikaki, E. and Vasilakis, A. 2006. Crete: Knossos Urban Landscape Project. Annual Report of Council, The British School at Athens, for the Session 2005-2006. London: British School at Athens:36.

Whitelaw, T., Bennet, J., Grammatikaki, E. and Vasilakis, A. 2006. The Knossos Urban Landscape Project, in Whitley, J. (ed.), Archaeology in Greece. Archaeological Reports 52:107-8.

Whitelaw, T. 2002. Crete: Knossos: Urban Survey. Annual Report of Council, The British School at Athens, for the Session 2001-2002. London: British School at Athens:31-2.

Related studies:

Whitelaw, T. In press. Recognising polities in prehistoric Crete, in M. Relaki and Y. Papadatos (eds.), From the Foundation to the legacy of Minoan Society, (Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Whitelaw, T. In press. Collecting cities: some problems and prospects, in M. Millett and P. Johnson (eds.), Archaeological Survey and the City. (Cambridge Monographs in Classical Archaeology). Cambridge. 

Whitelaw. T. 2012 The urbanisation of prehistoric Crete: settlement perspectives on Minoan state formation. In I. Schoep, P. Tomkins and J. Driessen (eds.), Back to the Beginning: Reassessing Social, Economic and Political Complexity in the Early and Middle Bronze Age on Crete. Oxford: Oxbow Books:114-76. 

Whitelaw, T, 2004. Estimating the population of Neopalatial Knossos. In: G. Cadogan and E. Hatzaki (eds.), Knossos: Palace, City, State. (BSA Studies 12). London: British School at Athens:147-58.

Whitelaw, T, 2001. From sites to communities: defining the human dimensions of Minoan urbanism, in K. Branigan (ed.), Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology. London: Sheffield Academic Press:15-37.

Whitelaw, T, 2000. Beyond the palace: a century of investigation at Europe's oldest city, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 44:223-226.