Intellectual and Artistic Activity
The Ottoman conquest brought an abrupt end to the dazzling intellectual and artistic activity of late Venetian times. As artists' workshops closed and intellectuals abandoned the island, the flowering of culture in the previous period gave way to an era of decline.

On the initiative of enlightened church leaders, a number of scriptoria operated on the island, most of which were housed in monasteries. Outside the larger monasteries, impressive libraries were also to be encountered in the houses of cultivated private individuals such as Georgios Nikoletakis, a doctor living in Chandax in the late 18th and early 19th century. In September 1863, a town library with a reading room for school pupils was established by the Heraklion Demogerontia (Council of Elders).

As part of this resurgence of culture, the same decade witnessed an intensification of interest in archaeological research, led by Minos Kalokairinos. In 1878-1879 he began the excavations at Knossos that were continued two decades later by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans.



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Arthur Evans examining finds
Arthur Evans (left) at the excavations in Knossos (N. Alikiotis Press, No 261, Vikelaia Municipal Library, Heraklion)
The dig at Knossos (photograph: G. Marayiannis)
Minos A. Kalokairinos (1843-1907), the first person to excavate Knossos, co-founder and treasurer of the Heraklion Educational Society (Natalia Mitsotaki Archive, Historical Museum of Crete, © S.C.H.S, Heraklion)
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