Ancient civilization that developed on the island of Crete between 2600 and 1450 BC. C. Minoan civilization location
|Date||Since 2600 a. Until 1450 a. C.|
|Location||Island of Crete, Aegean Sea.|
|Form of government||Centralized monarchy.|
|Economy||Agriculture, livestock, artisanal production and maritime trade.|
The Minoan or Cretan was the first urban civilization that developed in the current Greek territory . This flourished from 2600 BC. C. and had its epicenter on the island of Crete , in the Aegean Sea.
From Minos, the legendary king of the Cretan city of Knossos, derives the term Minoan, the name given by archaeologists and historians to the civilization of the island of Crete.
The decline of the Minoan civilization began around 1450 BC. C. , when the aqueos invaded the island. Some authors relate this decline to the eruption of the Santorini volcano, which would have caused ash clouds and large waves that affected the Cretan economy and facilitated foreign conquest.
Location of the Minoan civilization
Crete happens to be the largest island in Greece. It is located in the center of the sea lanes that connect the Asian, European and African continent. It has a mountainous area, with a height above sea level of approximately 2,500 meters in the center. To the west, it limits with Léfka Óri or White Mountains, and to the east it communicates with Mount Dikti .
Its great mountains form a long range that crosses the island from west to east. Due to its geographical position, it is situated in a seismic zone , which has long been the victim of earthquakes. Today, it is under the same threat. Thanks to this, caves and cavities have been formed that were inhabited by the first human beings, with the aim of making different cults.
It also has about 1,500 meters of sectioned coasts and fragmented plains that have beautiful valleys and gorges. That is why it could be said that two thirds of the surface of the island of Crete is arid and rocky . Although the island does not have a navigable river, it is believed that during the Bronze Age it had more fresh water than it currently has.
Characteristics of the Minoan civilization
The main characteristics of the Minoan civilization were the following:
- It had a Mediterranean origin, since it arose from the integration of a local Neolithic population with immigrants arriving from the Anatolian peninsula, in Asia Minor.
- Its inhabitants spoke a non-Indo-European language, which was not related to that of the Achaean peoples who inhabited mainland Greece from 1800 BC. C. Minoan civilization location
- The Minoan civilization did not constitute a unified state. Several cities were the center of small kingdoms that divided the dominion of Crete and the surrounding islands.
- Each kingdom was made up of a city and the rural space that surrounded it, where agriculture and livestock were practiced. Each city had a palace that was the residence of the king and the center of political and economic administration.
- To record the tributes that were stored in the royal deposits, they developed 2 writing systems: one ideographic, with a hieroglyphic base, and another syllabic, Linear A, whose support was clay tablets.
- The Minoan armies consisted of archers and spearmen protected with conical helmets and 8-shaped shields, which were armed with lances, double-edged axes, and bronze swords.
- They were expert navigators who dominated the trade routes of the Eastern Mediterranean.
- They were polytheists , as they believed in various gods that they associated with natural forces. The cults to the Mother goddess and the bull’s horns were the most widespread.
- The Minoan civilization interacted with the Mycenaean civilization. Both created original cultural elements, the combined influences of which were the basis on which the culture of Ancient Greece developed .
Political and social organization of the Minoan civilization
The Minoan territory was divided into small kingdoms , organized around the cities of Knossos, Festos, Maliá, Zakros and Hagia Triada. It is assumed that at some point he managed to impose his domination over the entire island.
In the center of each of the cities there was a palace where the king , his court and a bureaucracy made up of various officials lived . These were in charge of planning economic activities and storing, in royal warehouses, the products delivered by the peasants of the surrounding villages.
Skillful craftsmen worked in the workshops of palaces and cities who made important technical innovations, such as welding, locks, keys, and the dyeing of fabrics with murix, a purple-colored substance extracted from a mollusk.
In Cretan society, women had a prominent place. They participated in palace activities and presided over religious ceremonies .
Economics of the Minoan civilization
In the rural areas around the cities, wheat, vines, and olive trees were grown, and goats and sheep were raised. The fishing was also important for the consumption of the population, whose diet was based on bread, goat cheese, fish, olives and wine diluted with water. Minoan civilization location
Despite the importance of primary activities, the Cretan economy was organized around artisanal production of textiles and ceramics, and maritime trade . Aboard ships with sails and oars, their merchants traded textiles, ceramic pots, wines, olive oil, and cereals for copper, gold, ivory, tin, and silver. They came to dominate the trade routes of the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, rivaling the Egyptians and the Phoenicians .
This “Minoan thalassocracy” (dominion of the seas) could be one of the reasons why the Minoan palaces had no walls: the Cretans hoped to defeat enemies who tried to invade them at sea.
The Cretans believed in various gods that they associated with the forces of nature . They also worshiped stones and trees, which they considered sacred, and the horns of the bull .
The cult of the bull, as a symbol of strength and virility, was widespread. The figure of the minotaur originates from him, a monster from Greek mythology with the body of a human being and the head of a bull.
Their main deity, however, was the Mother goddess , who symbolized fertility . She was represented with the figure of a woman with snakes that crawled up her arms and hair.
The Cretans did not build temples. The worship of their gods was presided over by priestesses and was carried out on altars built in courtyards, caves and on the tops of the mountains.
They buried their dead in large jars in which they also placed food, weapons, and toiletries, suggesting that they believed in some kind of life after death.
Minoan civilization art
The best expressions of Minoan art are found in the palaces . These limestone buildings had 2 to 4 stories and had pipes and drainage systems and openings for air and clarity to enter. The largest and most splendid was that of Knossos , which had 1,400 rooms.
The walls of the palaces were covered by large frescoes depicting flowers, bulls, sea animals, and party scenes featuring stylized figures of women with bare breasts. Minoan civilization location
Another of his productions was the Kamarés ceramics , polychrome and decorated with geometric figures of people or animals such as octopuses or dolphins. Minoan civilization with its characteristics