Ancient Crete Essay

1619 words - 6 pages

Ancient Crete

First Inhabitants

?Humans are believed to have arrived on the island now known as Crete sometime between 6500-6000 BCE, and the early Neolithic inhabitants may have arrived from Asia Minor.? While these early inhabitants were primitive, they had already adapted some stages of productivity such as possessing domestic animals (?Minoan,? Dilos).? Modern archeological findings date handmade ceramic pottery, which was frequently decorated with incised geometric motifs and made to imitate vessels made of straw, wood, or hide, to this early time period (Koutsoupakis).?

Minoan Civilization

?Around 3000 BCE, Crete became the home of the early Minoan civilization, a Bronze Age culture, named after the legendary ruler Minos.? It is uncertain whether the king was an actual person or not, but legends about him were grand and mythical.? Some tales included his pet Minotaur, a flesh-eating monster with the head of bull and the body of a man (?Minoan,? EB).? The arrival of the Minoans began a period of prosperity on the island, and during the subsequent centuries, Crete became the first center of high civilization in that area of the Mediterranean and fascinated the Greeks as a source of myths, legends, and laws.

Early Minoans built strong houses of stone and brick that often had a large number of rooms, red plaster walls, and paved courtyards, though evidence suggests the inhabitants may have continued to live in caves for some time as well (?Minoan,? Dilos).? People apparently lived in genos, or clans, and they developed consistent farming, stock raising, shipping, and commerce.? By this time, the Mother Goddess was worshiped as a form of a deity and a sort of cult symbol.? These early inhabitants are well known for their construction of a variety of tombs (large vaulted tombs at the Plain of Messara, cist tombs in Mohlos, chamber tombs in Agia Phota and Sitia, and grave compounds in other locations), which can still be observed today.? Pottery styles and decorations evolved during this time as Minoans used particular firing techniques and shaped pottery into designs such as ?teapot? shapes and tall, beaked pitchers.? Toward 1900 BCE, the end of this period, known as the Pre-Palace Period, the first polychrome pottery was made (?Minoan,? Dilos).

The First Palace Period: 1900-1700 BCE

?The next historical period, known as the First Palace Period, has been so named because the Minoans began to build large palaces.? Modern excavations indicate there were palaces in Knossos, Phaestos, Malia, and Zakros, though archeologists believe there must have been others (?Minoan,? Dilos).? Excavations of these palaces have revealed several common characteristics: each contained a large public courtyard and provisions for storing large quantities of grain.? The palaces were believed to be administrative centers for large local populations; for example, recent estimates suggest Knossos had between 15,000 and 50,000 people (?The Missing...

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