L ike at Knossos, the first (old) palace was built at the beginning of the 2nd millenium B.C. (MM I period) and remained in use for about three centuries (2000-1700 B.C.). It was destroyed by fire in ca. 1700 B.C. possibly because of the volcanic eruption of Santorini On its ruins a new palace was erected but was also destroyed in the mid-15th century B.C. (LM IB) along with the other Minoan palatial centres. The palace was abandoned thereafter and only some of its parts were occupied by individuals in the late Post-palatial period. In the Archaic period the temple of the Great Mother or Rhea was built on the remains of the Old Palace period, in the southern part of the palace.
T he archaeological investigation of the palace started in 1884 by the Italians F. Halbherr and A. Taramelli. After the declaration of the independent Cretan State in 1898, excavations were carried out by F. Halbherr and L. Pernier in 1900-1904 and later, in 1950-1971, by Doro Levi, under the auspices of the Italian Archaeological School at Athens.
Along with the excavations, small-scale restoration and consolidation work was carried out. Some of the monuments were protected under plastic sheds or concrete structures.
At the entrance of the archaeological site there is a bar and shops where post-cards, guide-books etc. are available.