Minoan Civilization

  • Based on the island of Crete
    The island of Crete
    The island of Crete
  • ~1800 – 1500 BC
    • The time in which the palace culture (now called Minoan) thrived
    • At around 1500 – 1450 BC, the whole culture collapses
      • There is a widespread evidence of destruction
      • We don’t know what happened, might have been a natural disaster
        Excavated Knossos
        Excavated Knossos
  • Lots of independent communities structured around the same lines in a relatively limited area
    • They were engaged in peer-polity interaction
      • Archeological concept developed by Colin Renfew to explain change in society and material structure
        • Applies to societies of relatively equal standing
      • Three main sorts of interaction
          1. Competition
          1. Symbolic entrainment
          • Communities borrow symbolic systems from their neighbours (such as religious beliefs, numerical systems, etc.)
          1. Transmission of innovation
          • Technology spreads by trade and other forms of exchange
  • Knossos
    • Massive palace complex excavated in the 20th century by British archeologist Arthur Evans
      • Big parts of the complex were restored by artists he commisioned
    • The legend of the labyrinth
      • “In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (Greek: Λαβύρινθος, Labýrinthos) was an elaborate, confusing structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus.”

    • Redistribution economy (palace economy)
      • Big jars in the palace for storing food that was later redistributed by the elites
        Jars in Knossos
        Jars in Knossos
        • Growers got protection by the elites in return
  • The people were literate
    • They had two kinds of scripts
      • Linear-A
        • Earlier script
        • Not much of it survives
        • Hasn’t been deciphered
      • Linear-B
        • Later script
        • The tablets were deciphered
          • They were storehouse reords
        • The language is syllabary
        • It’s a kind of proto-greek