Published on December 11, 2008
The Minoans The Minoans emerged from Cycladic and Pelasgian Culture around 2100 BCE, and established dominance not only over Crete but over most of the eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus. Their culture reached its height about 1500 BCE.
Aerial View of Knossos
The Minoan Palace at Knossos The remnants of the grand staircase of the palace at Knossos, Crete, built around 1700 BCE
Thoroughly Modern • The palace at Knossos • had running water; • multiple stories; • bathrooms; • elegant gardens; • and no walls!
Plan of Knossos
Sir Arthur Evans • an English aristocrat • began excavating Knossos in 1905. • Gave the culture its name, “Minoan”. • Died at Knossos.
Queen’s Megaron, Knossos Evans even rebuilt rooms
found the ‘oldest throne’
Palace Culture • Several palaces dot the island of Crete • Each palace ruled a district • Each collected raw materials and ﬁnished goods as tribute • Palaces traded goods with each other, and with foreign nations like Egypt.
Minoan Ceramics • Minoan trade based in part on the ceramics trade: pots & dishes. • Pharaoh Akhenaten sent gold for pottery. • Archaeologists call it “eggshell ware” because it’s so thin.
The Snake Goddess? • Images of this woman are found all over Crete, and at Minoan sites on all the islands. • Who is she? • A goddess? a queen? • We don’t know...
Linear A — Minoan Writing • Because the writing of the Minoans is not yet deciphered. • We don’t know how to read it. • Archaeologists call it “Linear A”
Minoan Writing II • There’s also a weird object called the Phaistos Disk. • How was it made? • Is it writing? • If it’s not, what is it?
The Minoans... • Lived in a very sophisticated society • Nearly urbanized, & loved painting • Enjoyed dancing and music • ruled the seas around Crete thoroughly • Practiced unusual sports.
Bull Leaping Fresco
Minoan Collapse • Around 1450 BCE, Minoan civilization began to fail. • We don’t know why. • There are several theories • The truth is probably a combination.
Minoan Collapse • One possibility is INVASION. • Mycenaean pirates from mainland Greece invaded Crete • They burned the palaces • and took over the land.
Minoan Collapse • Another possibility is VOLCANO followed by TIDAL WAVE. • The island of Thera (Santorini) erupted about 1500 BCE. • The resulting ash cloud and tidal wave buried or swamped Minoan civilization
Akrotiri, Thera • The ruins of Akrotiri, on Thera, support the Volcano & tidal wave assumption. • The ruins are clearly Minoan in origin; • The eruption buried & destroyed the town
The Eruption Crater • Most of Thera was blown away in the eruption in 1500 BCE. • The crater, now ﬁlled with sea water, still survives. • Thera is still an active volcano.
Village at Akrotiri, Thera
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