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Historical Mysteries

Crete - 1927

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womeninworldhistory.com

The Tomb of Zeus

by Barbara Cleverly

Well-to-do Letty Talbot has arrived in Crete to sponsor a dig during the island’s golden age of archeology. She is assigned to work under self absorbed, haughty Theodore Russell, who sees himself as rival to the famous but aging Sir Arthur Evans. Russell takes an instant dislike to Letty, this “know-it-all miss,” and sends her off on what some see as a fruitless search for the Minoan tomb supposedly built for the Greek God Zeus. In deference to Cretan customs, Letty sets aside wearing trousers and appearing in public without a chaperone. But she does hold her own in the middle of this very masculine world of enmity toward women in her field. She says that she and others like her are “claiming for ourselves some of the freedoms men until now have kept for themselves.”

Of greater concern is the sudden death of her new friend, Russell’s young wife Phoebe, followed by the near fatal car accident of his son. Letty wonders, was Phoebe’s death a murder or suicide? And how deep are the tensions between the Cretans and the archaeologists, and the rivalries of digging teams of many nationalities, each trying to be the first to discover the next Knossos?

The story refers back to the bloody Turk versus Cretan turmoil of 1898, and the severe British intervention which ended 230 years of Turkish rule in Crete. The descriptions of Cretan culture, the Minoan past, and the Palace of Knossos are nice.

A short “Author’s Note” introduces the story

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