History, folklore, and mythology have always fascinated me. The way they overlap at unexpected junctures revealing real events from which mythology and folklore takes its seed of inspiration.
From the very first The Forgotten Palace featured the labyrinth. Ariadne and the Minotaur were there in the shadows. Yet, I knew there were other tales to be told. As my present-day characters appeared, it took me a while to understand why this story was so firmly rooted in Crete. Eventually though, I worked it out (sorry, spoilers, can’t say anymore!) and in doing so, my Victorian heroine Alice Webster arrived with all her determination and turn-of-the-century excitement.
The Forgotten Palace positions Alice at the real-life dig run by Arthur Evans in Knossos, Crete in 1900. For Evans, the dig at Knossos was the culminations of years of hard work. His dream was to find a Bronze Age site with examples of ancient writing. This inspiration came from the husband-and-wife archaeologists, Sophia and Heinrich Schliemann. In June 1873, they had discovered what they believed to be Troy (although this was later proved to be incorrect). Despite the gold they found, there was no evidence of writing, which Arthur found strange, and he began to search for this important link.
At Knossos, Arthur claimed, unlike the Schliemanns he was not trying to prove Ovid and Homer correct. As he uncovered the lost cities of the Bronze Age Minoans, he found two very different styles of writing. He named these Linear A and Linear B. The first was made up of lines, while Linear B was hieroglyphs. Sadly, he died before Linear B was deciphered in the 1950s, giving details of day-to-day life and a pantheon of forgotten gods and goddesses. Linear A continues to remain untranslated, its secrets a tantalising mystery.
Arthur found something else, too. As the Palace of Knossos emerged with its winding corridors and endless rooms even, he could not deny the grandeur of the unusual layout. Evans came to believe it was this complex that could have inspired the myth of King Minos, the Minotaur and the labyrinth. This belief was further enhanced by the discoveries of images of bulls throughout the palace. Arthur Evans may not have set out to prove Ovid and Homer correct but, perhaps, unwittingly, he did, showing that all myths have their basis in reality.