Knossos, Cnossus , or Gnossus a city of ancient Crete. It is famous in Greek legend as the birthplace of Zeus, chief of the gods, and the home of Minos, Crete's mightiest king. The legends also tell of the minotaur, a monster that was slain by Theseus in a labyrinth at Knossos, and of King Minos' daughter Ariadne, who ran off with Theseus.
Knossos was the site of a Neolithic, or New Stone Age, settlement before 3000 B.C. The city became a center of the wealthy Minoan civilization, and its merchants traded throughout the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It was severely damaged by an earthquake about 1600 B.C., but was rebuilt. It was destroyed around 1400 B.C., probably by invading Achaean Greeks from the mainland. Its ruins were excavated by Sir Arthur Evans in the early 1900's. They lie about three miles (5 km) inland from the northern shore of Crete, near Iráklion.