4,000 years ago, Knossos was the capital of Europe's oldest civilization, the Minoan. Not a civilization of rude thatched huts such a those existing in Europe thousands of years later but of a society boasting Europe's oldest paved road, running water, flush able toilets and some of the best wall murals and art ever produced.
Preliminary excavations of Knossos were undertaken in 1878 by island resident and archeologist Minos Kalokairinos and continued by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900 . Knossos ranks as one of Europe's most significant pre-historic attractions. Its ruins comprise the second most popular archeological site in Greece after the acropolis of Athens and receive over 1 million visitors a year. The palace of Knossos had over 1,500 rooms and the reconstruction undertaken by Evans, at his own initiative, exemplify his efforts to make what was at the time nothing more than a heap of rubble, come alive. To a great extent he did so and even the reconstructions he made became historic and what you see today are reconstructions of his reconstructions (plus more modern additions). This is what Delos needs and makes Knossos the more illuminating of the two. Read more about Knossos
Hippocrates, father of modern medicine was a son of Kos and during the 5th C BC dared to propose that illness was not punishment sent by the Gods but the result of natural causes. Hippocrates has a common sense view and felt that healers should attempt to learn as much as possible through observation of each patient's symptoms before diagnosis. His cures consisted of a wholesome regimen of pure and radioactive waters, relaxation, special diets and herbal remedies. He founded on Kos a medical school which became renowned throughout the ancient world. His Hippocratic oath set the standard of medical ethics and is, if not always adhered to, at least sworn to by doctors to the present day. After his death, and probably due to a Dorian influence, an Asklepion (clinic) was founded to which patients came from near and far seeking cures.
4 km from Kos town and originally sacred to Kyparissios Apollo the site of the Asklepion was latter taken over and enlarged during the Hellenistic period. It was one of the main centers of the Asklepiadai, supposed descendants of Asklepios & Hygieia but in actuality a hereditary guild of priests who closely held their secrets of medicine.
Unlike Epidavros and other centers where healing was accomplished, if at all, by the power of suggestion and visions, in Kos, the patients actually underwent a positive regimen of cure at the hands of physicians under the guidance of rules laid down by Hippocrates himself. The site was special in that under the Romans were constructed (well preserved) central baths which had pumped to them by a series of conduits and reservoirs waters fed by metals rich and sulfurous springs.
The Sanctuary was particularly popular under the Ptolemy heirs of Alexander and throve under the Romans as well. Xenophon who was a wealthy court physician in Rome returned to Kos and bestowed upon it the many statues he had gathered in Rome just for this purpose. The sanctuary also had the right of asylum and even greater Imperial baths were built in the later days of the Roman Empire. In the 6th C AD however the sanctuary was overwhelmed by an earthquake or possibly in 554 by invading hordes from Anatolia who despoiled the island. Read more about the Asklepion of Kos