PREHISHTORIC PERIOD 6000BC-2600 BCThe earliest traces of human habitation in Crete go back to the Neolithic age. Thefirst inhabitants of the island lived in caves, which later became places of worshipand in houses with stone foundations and brick walls. These people were farmersand shepherds. They used simple tools and utensils made of animal bones andstone, many of which have been turned up during archaeological excavations.We know very little about their religious beliefs. It is hypothesized that theyworshipped Goea, the goddess of fertility. Many figurines showing this femaleform have been found in Crete and throughout the eastern Mediterranean basin.For many centuries afterwards Mother was the most important symbol for thecultures of the Mediterranean lands.
Minoan Civilization Around 1700 BC, a highly sophisticatedculture grew up on Crete: the Minoans.What they thought, what stories they told,how they narrated their history, are all lostto us. All we have left are their palaces,their incredibly developed visual art, andtheir recordsThe Minoan civilization was a BronzeAge civilization that arose on the islandof Crete.It was rediscovered at the beginning ofthe 20th century through the work of
GEOGRAPHY Crete is a mountainous island withnatural harbors located midwaybetween Turkey, Egypt and Greece.On the island, the climate iscomfortable and the soil fertile; asan island, it was isolated from themainland of Asia Minor, the MiddleEast, and Egypt . There are signs ofearthquake damage at manyMinoan sites and clear signs ofboth uplifting of land andsubmersion of coastal sites dueto tectonic processes all along thecoasts .
CHRONOLOGY AND HISTORY• Rather than associate absolute calendar dates for the Minoan period, archaeologists use two systems of relative chronology. The first, created by Evans•Early Minoan period(EM) 2,600 B.C.- 2,000 B.C.•Middle Minoan period(MM) 2,000 B.C. - 1,580 B.C.•Late Minoan period (LM) 1,580 B.C. - 1,100 B.C.Another proposed by the Greek archaeologist Nicolas Platon, is based on thedevelopment of the architectural complexes known as "palaces" Minoanperiod into Prepalatial, Protopalatial, Neopalatial, and Post-palatial periods.
TRADE• None of the earliest great cultures of the ancient world were seafaring cultures, so Crete was spared the great power struggles that troubled other ancient cultures.• However, as an island, resources were limited. As the population began to thrive, it also began to increase, and it is evident that the resources of the island became increasingly insufficient to handle the increased population. So the Cretans improvised.• Some migrated, populating other islands in the Aegean Sea. In doing so, they took their growing civilization with them and spread Minoan culture, religion, and government all over the Aegean Sea. For this reason, the Minoan culture is also called the "Aegean Palace civilization."• The Cretans who remained on Crete turned to other economic pursuits in particular, they turned to trade. Crete became the central exporter of wine, oil, jewelry, and highly crafted works; in turn, they became importers of raw materials and food. In the process they built the first major navy in the world; its primary purpose, however, was trade, not war or conquest.
The "saffron-gatherers, saffron crocus flowers, represented as small red tufts, are gathered by two womenMinoans in Egypt
CLOTHING• Minoan men wore loincloths and kilts.• Women wore robes that had short sleeves and layered flounced skirts. These were open to the navel allowing their breasts to be left exposed, perhaps during ceremonial occasions. Women also had the option of wearing a strapless fitted bodice.• The patterns emphasized symmetrical geometric design.
RELIGION• Minoan sacred symbols include the Bull, Bulls Horns of Consecration, Double Axe, Pillar, Snakes, Sun, and Tree.• There are numerous representations of goddesses, which leads to the conclusion that the Cretans were polytheistic, while others argue that these represent manifestations of the one goddess.• The most popular goddess seems to be SNAKE GODDESS the "Snake Goddess," who has snakes entwined on her body or in her hands. Since the figurine is only found in houses and in small shrines in the palaces, it is believed that she is some sort of domestic goddess or goddess of the house. DEITY-MOTHER GODDESS
MINOAN SACRIFICE with a slaughtered bull in the middle, two terrifiedanimals below him and a woman offering on the right. Notice the doubleaxe and horns of consecration next to the altar.
• It seems to be the first "leisure" society in existence, in which a large part of human activity focused on leisure activities, such as sports. In fact, the Cretans seem to have been as sports addicted as modern people; the most popular sports were boxing and bull-jumping. Women actively participated in both of these sports. BULL JUMPING BOXING
• Concentration of wealth played a large role in the structure of society. Multiroom constructions were discovered in even the ‘poor’ areas of town, revealing a social equality and even distribution of wealth.• Cretan states of the first half of the second millennium BC were bureaucratic monarchies.• While the government was dominated by priests and the monarch seemed to have some religious functions, the principle role of the KNOSSOS MURAL, THE SO CALLED monarch seemed to be that of PRINCE WITH THE LILIES OR PRIEST "chief entrepreneur," or better yet. KING FRESCO (KNOSSOS, C. 1500 BC)• Minoans had a written language known as Linear A.• The famous Phaistos disc, a fired clay tablet discovered at the Minoan palace of Phaistos by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in 1908, is believed to be an early form of pictograms reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphics. PHAISTOS DISC
MINOAN ART• The immense concentration of wealth in such a small population led to an explosion of visual arts, as well. Unlike the bulk of the ancient world, the Minoans developed a visual art culture that seems to have been solely oriented around visual pleasure.• The Minoans seem to have been the first ancient culture to produce art for its beauty rather than its function• The Minoans, however, not only decorated their palaces, they decorated them with art. To walk through a Minoan palace was to walk through room after room of splendid, wall-sized paintings. Minoan art frequently involves unimportant, trivial details of everyday life, such as a cat hunting a bird, or an octopus, or representations of sports events (rather than battles, or political events).• The Minoan art is generally in the form of frescoes and ceramics. Ceramics were characterized by linear patterns of spirals, triangles, curved lines, crosses, fishbone motifs, and like. In the Middle Minoan period naturalistic designs such as fish, squid, birds, and lilies were common.
ARCHITECTURE• The Minoan cities were connected with stone-paved roads, formed from blocks cut with bronze saws. Streets were drained and water and sewer facilities were available to the upper class, through claypipes.• Minoan buildings often had flat tiled roofs; plaster, wood, or flagstone floors, and stood two to three stories high. Typically the lower walls were constructed of stone and rubble, and the upper walls of mudbrick. Ceiling timbers held up the roofs.• The materials used in construction varied; could include sandstone, gypsum, or limestone. Equally, building techniques could also vary between different constructions; some palaces used ashlar masonry while others used roughly hewn megalithic blocks.• The palaces and towns of the Cretans seem to have only minor defensive structures or forts. The presence of only a small amount of defensive works in the archaeological record leads us to a tentative conclusion: the Minoans throughout much of their history were relatively secure from attack. This conclusion helps to explain every other aspect of Minoan history: their concentration of economic resources on mercantilism, their generous distribution of wealth among their people, and, unfortunately, their downfall.
THOLOS TOMBS For centuries the Minoans used Tholos Tombs and sacred caves, along with pithoi(storage jars) and larnakes(ash-chest) for burial of their dead.MINOAN VILLAS The Late Minoan I villa at Ayia Triada in Crete functioned as part of a largeradministrative system. It was the center of an estate. Produce and other itemsfrom this estate were collected and dispersed as rations and wages to localworkers and as tax payments to the palace of Phaistos. Neopalatial Crete wasorganized into an extensive system of such manorial estates which contributedto the palatial centers.
MINOAN PALACES• They provided a forum for gathering and celebrations, while at the same time they offered storage for the crops, and workshops for the artists.• They were built over time to occupy low hills at strategic places around the island in a manner so complex that they resembled THE PALACE AT KNOSSOS U SHAPE PLAN WITH A CENTRAL COURTYARD labyrinths to outside visitors.• There were expanded drainage systems, irrigation, aqueducts, and deep wells that provided fresh water to the inhabitants.• They were laced with impressive interior and exterior staircases, light wells, massive columns, storage magazines, and gathering outdoor places -- the precursor to ancient RUINS theaters.
THE PALACE AT KNOSSOS Construction on the palace at Knossos, according to legend the palace of King Minos, was begun perhaps as early as 2000 B.C., and by 1900 BC, it was fairly close to its final form--a large single building with a central courtyard.
During the Second Palaceperiod, 1700-1450 BC, the Palace ofMinos covered nearly 22,000 squaremeters (about 5.4 acres) andcontained storage rooms, livingquarters, religious areas, and banquetrooms. What appears to be a jumbleof rooms connected by narrowpassageways probably gave rise tothe myth of the Labyrinth; thestructure itself was built of a complexof dressed masonry and clay-packedrubble, and then half-timbered.
Cyprus treesAerial view of the palace at knossosTHE CITY OF KNOSSOS Columns wider at the top Timber framing Rubble masonry
DOWNFALL• The island of Santorin, 70 miles north of Crete to the wealthy Minoan seaport of Akrotiri, a place where the wall paintings discovered portray their landscape with happy animals and farmers harvesting saffron. But the Minoans had built their prosperous city on one of the most dangerous islands on earth, next to the volcano Thera. Around 1600, B.C., Akrotiri was shaken by a violent earthquake. Some time later, an eruption occurred. The Theran eruption was one of largest in human history — blasting more than 10 million tons of ash, gas, and rock 25 miles into the atmosphere. Incredibly, despite Crete’s close proximity to the volcano, the debris from Thera largely missed the major Minoan towns.50 years later the civilzation was wiped out.• Earthquakes and fires destroyed Knossos and the other palaces and the towns were deserted. http://alternativearchaeology.jigsy.com/minoan http://tokushinancienthistory.blogspot.com/