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Beginning with British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans's 1900-31 excavation and reconstruction of the Bronze Age Palace of Knossos on Crete, Gere (history, Univ. of California, San Diego; The Tomb of Agamemnon) develops a stunning study of the cultural impact of Evans's interpretation of Minoan society as a pacifist haven inhabited by immigrants from Anatolia, Egypt, and Libya. Explains Gere, "As the twentieth century launched conflicts of ever greater reach and ferocity, the Minoan epoch came increasingly to be celebrated as the pacifist precursor to Homer's militaristic age of heroes." Evans's use of reinforced concrete to strengthen the crumbling architecture of Knossos resulted in much-debated reconstructions, but Gere's aim is not to criticize or defend them. Instead, she attempts to understand the archaeologists, architects, artists, classicists, writers, and poets who reconstructed Minoan Crete in our time. And she does so brilliantly, showing the linkages modernist Knossos made with feminism and pacifism and its influence on the work of Freud, Nietzsche, James Joyce, H.D., Robert Graves, and others. Fascinating and engaging, this scholarly work should attract a wide range of readers in archaeology, as well as literary and cultural studies.
—Joan W. Gartland