Minoan Civilization Overview
The island of Crete, which lies in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, has been heavily contested by differing civilizations over the past three-thousand years.But before first conquests for the island began, a civilization developed on the island to such an advanced degree that it would become Greek legend.These first civilized inhabitants of Crete have become known as the Minoans, named after King Minis.
In the two-thousand years of the Minoan people, they rose from simple farmers to a great civilization that came to a tragic end. The island of Crete provides a unique environment that is well suited for unman civilization.
Its location in the Mediterranean provides its inhabitants with a central location for trade and military operations between Greece, tally, Egypt, and the Middle East. The sea itself is rich in resources, the lands of the Cretan plains are fertile, and the southern coastal areas, with their massive cliffs, provided a natural barrier against invasion. The island’s climate is very mild, much like the coastal areas that surround the Mediterranean. Although the island has no major rivers and experiences long periods of dry weather, springs are overly abundant.
These springs, which have decreased in umber, were a reliable source of fresh water for inhabitants of Crete. Another major advantage of living on the island was the large forests that used to cover the landscape. The first people of Crete came to the island during Neolithic times. These settlers may have brought crops and domesticated animals with them to Crete. It is unknown where these settlers originated from but archeological evidence suggests areas near Turkey or Syria. The first inhabitants spread quickly across the island, living in natural caves carved from the limestone rock that made up the island or in villages atop small hills.
These Neolithic inhabitants developed many of the tools that other people living near the Mediterranean used, such as stone axes, obsidian and cheer blades, sickles, bows and arrows, and stone maces. They also developed techniques for weaving wool into cloth using looms. As the Neolithic people of Crete began to move into villages on the plains and coastal areas by the middle Neolithic era, caves took on the role of burial sites for everyone from village leaders, to children, to the common resident.
As the Neolithic age came to a close and the Bronze Age began, Crete experienced a period of turmoil that seems to indicate an invasion that triggered technological and cultural developments, such as bronze working, advancements in pottery and tombs. Evidence from Greek myths suggests that these invaders were refugees from lands in the north of the rising Egyptian Empire. It is possible that King Manner, the man who united Egypt, is the reason these people fled north into the sea. The period following invasion is thought of as the beginning of the Minoan Age, around BBC.
During this period, the Minoan people began to form large cities which typically acted as independent city-states. Competition and inflict between these cities is not heavily evidenced, but it is known that during this Early Minoan age many immigrants from the mainland areas surrounding the Mediterranean came to Crete to seek refuge, much like the original invaders. This period lasted until approximately 2200 BC, after which the culture of the people of Crete shifted away from the independent nature of the city states to a more centralized society with power collecting in a few major cities that were spread across the island.
During the Middle Minoan Age, kingdoms began to develop and the first Minoan palaces were constructed in cities such as Knossos and Patios. Minoans began to develop colonies on nearby islands, some of which are well recorded in Greek legends. These colonies may be a sign of over-population on the island of Crete, which was a consequence of the Minoan civilization’s rapid decent down the slippery slope of farming.
It is through these colonies that the Minoan culture would begin to show signs of influence as far away as mainland Greece and possibly Egypt In the later portions of the Middle Minoan Age, the Minoan civilization began to reach its peak. It is also at this point in time that seismic activity on and near Crete begins to show its tangentially dangerous nature to the Minoans. Several times during the Middle Minoan Age, palaces Were destroyed by the earthquakes or fire that may have been caused by earthquakes. It was around this period of destruction in BBC that the Greek’s began to settle on Crete, but their presence was minimal at best.
The Minoans would recover from these natural disasters and the civilization would continue to flourish until the Late Minoan Age, which began around 1550 BC. Around BBC, the volcanic island of There, only seventy miles north of Crete, exploded immediately following a series of earthquakes. The Minoan colonies on the island were buried under thick layers of volcanic rock and tsunamis caused major damage to coastal areas on the north of Crete and caused extensive crop damage on the eastern portion of the island due to ash. The inhabitants of Crete recovered, but the kingdoms were left in a weakened state.
More earthquakes would strike the island potentially changing the landscape of the coastal areas. Some Minoan coastal cities on the eastern and northern parts of Crete lie below several feet of water, and in the Western parts of the island the coastal landscape actually appears to be much higher than it was in early Minoan times. The earthquakes may have also disrupted the supply of fresh water to Minoan cities. Wells, springs, and underground clay pipes all suffered damage due to the severe seismic activity. Knossos would grow to become the only major power on the island while other cities fell into decline.
By BBC, the great city of Knossos, the last Minoan seat of power, was ravaged by war and conquered by the Greeks, ending the Minoan civilization. During the nearly 2000 years of the Minoan civilization, their culture grew to influence other people in Greece, Egypt, and the Near East. There are several aspects of this culture and the most influential and historically important Of these are Minoan religion, architecture, gender’s role in society, and crafts. The Minoan government was theocratic, with both the king and queen having prominent parts in religious and political affairs.
The gods of the Minoan people, the most important of which were solar gods, would only communicate their will through the royal couple, who acted as the high priests and carried out religious ceremonies and political events. The kings and queens were also rated as divine beings following their deaths since they were considered to be the adopted children of the gods. It was also common for commoner and lower priests to experience a euphoric event by coming into contact with a sacred object such as a tree or a rock.
Through these euphoric experiences, they would simply see the face of their gods or see messages that were delivered in natural form by animals or plants. The architecture of early Minoan cities consisted of simple earth, mud bricks, stone, clay, and wooden buildings, with religious, political, or elite building being of generally higher laity. The home of a commoner was usually a small, rectangular room with a fire-pit in the center and a raised stone platform for sleeping in a corner. As time passed, these homes became larger and some had multiple rooms that could have acted as storage or private quarters.
As for royal palaces, they Were typically constructed from stone and wood with the quality of workmanship varying from site to site. Whenever a palace was destroyed (typically by natural disaster) the new palace would be built directly atop the ruins of the destroyed structure. Dcord inside these complexes included culture of religious icons, murals, frescoes, and furniture that was designed to show the divine nature of royalty. These palaces also served as temples for the gods, which is evidenced by the close association between the king and queen and their patron gods.
Almost all building would be covered in a limestone-based plaster and some would then be painted with a red compound. An aspect of Minoan culture that breaks the norm for other civilizations at the time is the importance of women in society. In almost all of the Minoan art work recovered from the ruins, women are shown in important political and religious roles. Many other cultures from this time period simply depict women as being responsible for raising children. This difference in views can probably be attributed to the significance of the female solar gods in Minoan society.
It is also thought that the common Minoan woman shared equal social status as her male counterparts, which was quite different from other Mediterranean cultures, who placed most social importance on the men. When the Greeks wrote of the ancient civilization of Atlantis falling below the sea after a devastating earthquake, it is entirely possible that they were actually talking about the Minoans. The genealogy, complex social structure, and wondrous cities that the Minoans developed could easily be the source of inspiration for the tale of Atlantis, which was written 600 years after the collapse of the Minoan civilization on Crete.