The smaller of two Minoan snake goddess figurines The Minoans seem to have prominently worshiped a Great Goddess, which had previously led to the belief that their society was matriarchal.
It is only recently that some archaeologists have begun to believe the legend may have started on Crete. The sophisticated inhabitants, named after the legendary King Minos, were the first Europeans to use a written language, known as Linear A, and the first to construct paved roads.
They were an advanced society of highly-cultivated artisans and extremely skilled civic engineers. The Minoans were excellent ship builders and sailors, and their maritime empire was so vast, it rivaled that of the ancient Egyptians. They were an enigmatic people, worshiping snake priestesses and engaging in human sacrifice with origins not linked to Europe as expected, but to ancient Iran, which may explain why they were so different from the Greeks who rose to power after them.
Such practices gave rise to Greek myths about the Minotaur, a half-man half-bull that ate human flesh in his forbidding labyrinth. But inexplicably, at the height of their power, the Minoans were wiped from the pages of history. The reason for their disappearance has perplexed historians for generations — until now.
The island of Santorini, 70 miles north of Crete, was home 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.
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.
On Crete, strange and chaotic layers of soil, broken pottery, building materials, and even cattle bones can be found along the eroding coastline near the ancient town of Palaikastro. With the help of soil scientist Hendrik Bruins, archaeologist Sandy McGillivray discovers that the soil also contains micro-organisms that are normally found only on the ocean floor.
The only way they could have been deposited on land is by a powerful tsunami. The presence of Theran pumice that could only have been washed ashore on Crete by powerful waves seems to indicate that the volcano caused the tsunami, and carbon dating of a cow bone found in the chaotic layer of sediment confirms that it was deposited there around B.
Archaeologists are only now beginning to understand what happened in the decades that followed. One of the most remarkable clues is a small statue that was found in Palaikastro. It was discovered in an archaeological layer deposited a hundred years after the disaster. A statue made of ivory tusks, gold with a serpentinite head, a prime example of one of the great masterpieces of Minoan art, which has been vandalized, suggests ritualized violence against the Minoan culture.
Additional signs of such deliberate destruction have been found in other places on the island. Archaeologist Maria Vlasaki believes the answer lies in an unusual cemetery in Chanea.Minoan kings shared their wealth with the people in the form of art, surplus food, and architecture.
The Minoans had a written language. Scholars and archaeologists have discovered a great deal about their daily life from the records they left behind. The Minoans rebuilt again but their style had changed drastically. Crete had influenced (and continued to influence) the societies of Egypt and the rest of Greece, and in turn, they were themselves influenced by the world at large.
"Minos" is often interpreted as the Cretan word for "king", or, by a euhemerist interpretation, the name of a particular king that was subsequently used as a title. There is a name in Minoan Linear A mi-nu-te that may be related to Minos.
Jun 15, · The Minoan strata there replace a mainland-derived culture in the Early Bronze Age, the earliest Minoan settlement outside Crete.
The Cyclades were in the Minoan cultural orbit, and, closer to Crete, the islands of Karpathos, Saria and Kasos, also contained Minoan colonies, or settlements of Minoan traders, from the Middle Bronze Age (MMI-II). Five thousand years ago, the Minoans, Europe’s first great civilization, flourished on the island of Crete.
The sophisticated inhabitants, named after the legendary King Minos, were the first Europeans to use a written language, known as Linear A, and the first to construct paved roads. THE MINOANS OF ANCIENT CRETE.
By Tim Lambert. The Minoans - The First European Civilization. The Minoan civilization existed on Crete. It was the first European civilization. About 2, BC a sophisticated society grew up on the island of Crete. By about 1, BC the inhabitants had invented a form of writing using hieroglyphs.