The Minoans

Topics: Minoan civilization, Knossos, Crete Pages: 24 (7176 words) Published: November 18, 2006
Minoan Study
The Minoans
The Minoans are regarded as standing at the very beginning of European civilisation. They were regarded as being a people of magnificent social organization, culture, art and commerce. They thrived on their mercantile abilities and favoured "intense commercial activity". Their society was based on sea power and seaborne trade with evidence of links to Egypt, Syria, Sicily and Spain.

Evidence suggests they were orientated toward trade and bureaucracy rather than military forces or the structure of a military state. This came later with the Mycenaeans, whose society was oriented around a war chief and focused on a culture of battle and conquest. This may have had something to do with the eventual downfall of the Minoan civilisation. Bureaucracy – over 200 records have been found written in Linear A script on clay tablets. This information seems to be relating to accounts

Societal Structure
It appears during the Prepalatial period that there was little or no hierarchy in society and that it was largely decentralized. (Not having a central figure, i.e. a King). The theory regarding hierarchy has largely been placed on the burial practices of the period. Tombs (Tholos tombs) were used for whole villages, with old bones being moved out of the way for more recent burials. There do not appear to be powerful landlords or a centralized authority.

Around 2000BC, the first or Protopalatial period, a new political system was established with authority concentrated around a central figure or king. External influence was also established at this time with evidence of Minoan influence on Thera. The first palaces were founded which acted as centres for their respective communities. They developed a bureaucratic administrative system which permeated society. Distinctions between the classes led then to a social hierarchy. The palaces were destroyed by Earthquakes in 1700BC and grander palaces replaced them. Knossos, Phaestos, Malia and Zakros were built as well as many smaller palaces. Villas appeared in more rural areas, and were similar in design to the palaces. These served as lesser centres of power and homes for affluent landlords.

Administrative and economic unity appears to have existed during this time period. Women appear to have played an important role during the second palatial or neopalatial period. Evidence of an affluent upper class includes gold artefacts, seals and spears.

Daedalus and Icarus
Daedalus built the Labyrinth for King Minos, but afterwards lost the favour of the king, and was shut up in a tower. He managed to make his escape from the prison, but could not leave the island by sea, as the king kept strict watch on all vessels. "Minos may control the land and sea", said Daedalus, "but not the regions of the air. I will try that way." So he made wings for himself and his son Icarus. He made the wings with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird. When all was prepared for flight he said, "Icarus, my son, I charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you fly too low the damp will clog your wings, and if too high the heat will melt them. Keep near me and you will be safe". Icarus then began to leave the guidance of his father and soured upward. The nearness of the blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers together, and they came off. He fluttered with his arms, but no feathers remained to hold the air. While his mouth uttered cries to his father it was submerged in the blue waters of the sea which thenceforth called by his name. He buried the body and called the land Icaria in memory of his child. Daedalus arrived safe in Sicily, where he built a temple to Apollo, and hung up his wings, an offering to the god.

The Minotaur
Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa
He neglected the right to offer the finest bull in the royal herd to Zeus A white bull appeared in the herd, from Zeus and Minos sacrificed...
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