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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is […]
Joseph Alexander Macgillivray
J. A. Macgillivray
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When Evans went to Greece after a mediocre career as a journalist in the Balkans, Heinrich Schliemann had recently uncovered what he claimed were Troy and Mycenae, famed cities of Homer; Evans, too, wanted to verify the factual basis for the myths that meant most to him. He found what he was looking for in Crete: he believed he located the origin of "tree and pillar worship", at the heart of Teutonic mythology in Europe but somehow linked to an early cult of the Greek god Zeus.
Joseph Alexander MacGillivray shows that Evans in fact anticipated what he found. Evans's Minoans were perfect Victorians: a peaceful, literate, aesthetic, just society where wise men held political office and powerful women ruled the people's hearts. Yet Knossos was not simply a lucky find, and MacGillivray shows Evans was a heroic figure struggling with many central themes concerning the origins of civilization. He concludes with his own assessment of our current knowledge about ancient Crete.
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