Lesson 3: CIVILIZATIONS OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
ESSAY 1: MINOAN AND MYCENEAN INFLUENCE ON ANCIENT GREECE
While the masses of the ancient Near East endowed us with civilization, the Greeks supplied it with forms and meanings that compel us to look to them as the ancestors of our own culture, Western Civilization. Greek ability and vitality spread in diverse courses. Notable portions of our math and science bases plus the concept of scientific research and the procuring of knowledge separated from any religious or political jurisdiction goes back to the Greeks. The natural principles of such Greeks as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle devised the bases for the way we observe the world today. Our art, architecture, drama, literature, and poetry are all substantially based on Greek paragons. And possibly most significant, our concepts of democracy, the value of the individual in society, and toleration of nonconformity and unobstructed critique as a measure of ameliorating civilization were all outcomes of the Greek intellect. Even those captious of our personal culture and Western Civilization overall have the Greeks, originators of Western Civilization, to acknowledge for that very prerogative.
Greece's physical geography influentially impacted its past. Greece was a hilly and mountainous land, splitting it up into literally hundreds of self-governing city-states. These city-states consumed much of their continuance battling one another rather than copulating in a mutual motive. Greece was also by the sea with numerous inherent harbors. This and the fact that it had infertile soil and few natural resources impelled the Greeks to be tradesmen and mariners, following in the footfall of the Phoenicians and ultimately surpassing them.
The Minoans (circa 2000-1500 B.C.) were the earliest Greek civilization on the isle of Crete just south of Greece. (Chambers, 2010). Quite distinctly, the Minoans were densely influenced by two classical Near Eastern civilities, Mesopotamia and Egypt, by means of the Cycladic Islands, which acted as natural stepping stones across the sea, for the spread of masses from Greece and of refined concepts from the Middle East. (Culture, 2012). Egyptian influence on the Minoans is particularly obvious. Minoan architecture utilized pillars much as Egyptian architecture did. Minoan art further appears to follow the example of Egyptian art by only exhibiting subjects in profile, rarely frontally. Still, the Minoans appended their personal impressions, fashioning their figures as much more natural looking than the still figures we find in Egyptian art.
Since modern researchers have not been able to understand the scant examples of their hieroglyphic writing, identified as Linear A, there are some extremely large gaps in the delineation we have of these people. Even basic information is unknown such as what the common people on Crete called themselves. The term Minoans comes from Greek myths involving a legendary king of Crete, Minos, who supposedly governed a vast sea empire. As with most myths, there is a piece of truth in this myth, for the Minoans were seafaring people who depended on their fleet and trade for power and wealth. (Minoans, Mycenaeans, 2012).
Two things, both relating to Crete's maritime locality, chiefly defined the character of the Minoan's civilization. First, they had a vast naval force, which was valuable for both trade and protection. Second, Crete's secluded locality symbolized no significant threat to its safety at this time and therefore, little need for fortifications. These two factors helped create a peaceful and prosperous civilization reflected in three aspects of Minoan culture: its cities and architecture, the status of its women, and its art, especially its pottery. The expert naval force remained a feature throughout future civilizations in Greece.
The Minoans had various main cities that centralized around palace complexes which accumulated...
Bibliography: Culture. (n.d.). The Ancient Minoans and Mycenaeans . Untitled Document. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://www.historylink102.com/greece3/minoans-mycenaens.htm
Fitton, J. L. (2002). Minoans. London: British Museum Press.
Minoans, Mycenaeans. (n.d.). Ancient History. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://ancienthistory.pppst.com/greece/earlyhistory.html
Schofield, L. (2007). The Mycenaeans. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document