Ancient History Minoa

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Assessment Task 4
Ancient Societies - The bronze age – Minoans Crete
Hosing/ the role of towns/ furniture/Gournia and Zakro

Research Presentation

While sailing about, the Greeks stumbled across a tribe of people living on the island of Crete. These people, the Minoans, were a very advanced civilization for the times. They had a strong navy, which is probably why the Greeks never succeeded in colonizing the Minoan people.

Housing and furniture

Houses were rectangular in shape, enclosing a courtyard. These houses were planned asymmetrically, usually agglutinative (added rooms). In earlier times these houses were joined together sideways to give the town terrace style houses. Eventually Minoan houses became two- three stories decorated with timber beams, with plasters walls and painted interiors for added beauty. Most houses would have been made of mud bricks and still in situ at Gournia, have been preserved because they were turned to terracotta pottery by the fire that burned the palace. Most of the ordinary houses would have been made of mud brick with stone foundations, so the brick-makers would have been busy. Poorer people would probably have made their own bricks when they wanted to build their houses.

Houses were constructed around courtyards. Most houses were two stories high. The inside of these houses were decorated with frescoes. Each house had its own well and drains. Most early Minoan houses had no street entrances. A person entered and exited through the roof using a ladder. Later, wooden doors and parchment windows were added.

The numerous houses are small and tightly packed together. Many of the surviving rooms were most likely basements used for storage and entry to the houses would, in many cases, have been by steps leading up from the street Some of these steps can still be seen. Other houses were entered directly at street level and large threshold stones can still be seen at the entrance to many of these houses. Access to the basements would have been down wooden stairs, through a trapdoor from inside the houses.

An idea of what Minoan houses looked like can be gained from the ivory and faience plaques discovered in the East wing of Knossos. These plaques show what houses in the the town of Knossos looked like in the 17th century BCE.On the roof there was a small room. This may have been used for sleeping in during the hot summer months. The rooms on the first floor had windows, but those on the ground floor did not, although some of them had doors on the ground floor. It may be that windows on the ground floor were avoided for simple reasons of security -- to avoid burglary.

The houses were built around a wooden frame -- wooden beams ran horizontally and were linked to upright beams. he most likely reason for the use of these beams was as protection against earthquake damage. Among the finds on the site are potters' wheels, a carpenter's workshop complete with saws and other tools, a coppersmith's forge and an oil press. The estimated population of the town was 4,000.

While settlements around palaces always existed, full blown towns did not begin organizing until the Neopalatial period (1700-1400 BC).

Minoan Furniture in Crete:

Minoans were the people living in Crete and the surrounding area during the Neolithic and Bronze Age (3000-1050 BC.). In fact the Minoan name is an adaptation of their King Minos whose name appeared on his statues and some written tablets. During the middle-bronze age urbanism became apparent, towns appeared, and the great palaces were built. At this time the Minoan civilization can be characterized as a palace-based redistributive economy in which food products, raw materials, and manufactured goods were collected together and redistributed form the palaces. In the mid-15th century BC. Greek-speaking Mycenaeans took control of Crete and the Aegean area until their empire too collapsed around 1200 BC. A book about the The...
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