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Minoan civilization


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Author Topic: Minoan civilization  (Read 5245 times)
Gwen Parker
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« on: March 24, 2008, 03:27:08 pm »

Little is known about the rise of ancient Cretan society, because very few written records remain, and many of them are written in the undeciphered script known as "Linear A". This contrasts with the superb palaces, houses, roads, paintings and sculptures that do remain.

Cretan history is surrounded by myths (such as those of the king Minos; Theseus and the Minotaur; and Daedalus and Icarus) that have been passed to us via Greek historian/poets (such as Homer).

Because of a lack of written records, estimates of Cretan chronology are based on well-established Aegean and Ancient Near Eastern pottery styles, so that Cretan timelines have been made by seeking Cretan artifacts traded with other civilizations (such as the Egyptians) - a well established occurrence. For the earlier times, radiocarbon dating of organic remains and charcoal offers independent dates. Based on this, it is thought that Crete was inhabited from the 7th millennium BC onwards. The fall of Knossos took place circa 1400s BC. Subsequently Crete was controlled by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.

The first human settlement in Crete dates to the aceramic Neolithic. There have been some claims for Palaeolithic remains, none of them very convincing. The finds from Samaria-gorge, identified as Mesolithic by some scholars, seem to be the product of trampling. The native fauna of Crete included pygmy hippo, pygmy elephant, dwarf deer (Praemegaceros cretensis), giant rodents and insectivores as well as badger, beech marten and a kind of terrestrial otter. Large carnivores were lacking. Most of these animals died out at the end of the last ice-age. It is still not sure if humans played a part in this extinction, which is found on other big and medium size Mediterranean islands as well, for example on Cyprus, Sicily and Majorca. Up to now, no bones of the endemic fauna have been identified in Neolithic settlements. Crete's religious symbols consisted of a dove, a lily and a double-headed ax.

Remains of a settlement found under the Bronze Age palace at Knossos (layer X) date to the 7th Millennium BC.
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