Minoan Society: Archaeological and written evidence
The Minoans are one of the most interesting societies that one could ever study. Their archaeological remains are colourful and curious, their lives seemed to have been as sunny as their surrounding climate and as beautiful as their island—but was this really so? When we try to investigate Minoan society we encounter a number of problems regarding evidence. Because the climate is frequently wet, most of the perishable evidence has disappeared with the weather. This makes it hard to construct a picture of Minoan society. We have some knowledge about Minoan people, of course, but this is very fragmentary: only small aspects of the Minoan social life are ever revealed at one time, mainly because the written materials are so few, and because scholars can read only a very little of this written evidence. Although there was writing, the Minoan language has not been deciphered. Because of this, we try to understand some of Minoan society from Linear B tablets (which were written in early Greek) found at Knossos, Khania, and other places. One of the problems with the writing available both on Linear A (that is, the Minoan tablets) and Linear B (Greek tablets), is that most of the words are written on slabs of damp clay which were the tally cards for items that had been collected. These slabs or tablets were never meant to be kept; their contents are exactly the same as our own invoices. Thus, the contents of the tablets are only lists that deal with goods, rather than with the Minoan people and the way in which their society was structured. However, the tablets do give us clues that need to be taken into consideration. So, what can we find out from the tablets? Surprisingly, some unusual pieces of information. Some of the Linear B texts contain names that are not Greek. They could be Minoan, but as we know that there were foreigners living in Crete when these Linear B tablets were written. We are therefore not sure...
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