The civilization of the Minoans

minoan palaceAt a time when the Cycladic civilization was in great growth, another Great civilization was born in Crete. It was named Minoan by the mythical king Minos, the son of Europe and Zeus. In fact, all the kings of Crete were called Minoans for many centuries.

Crete, located in the middle of the Mediterranean, due to its location, quickly became a large naval and commercial power. There were many ports on the island and countless Cretan ships crossed the Aegean. They traveled to all the Cyclades and reached as far as the East, Egypt, Troy and Cyprus. The Cretans or Minoans sold their products there, oil, honey and wine, pottery, jewelry and seals and brought to Crete copper, silver, gold, ivory and precious stones.

At that time, the “Minoan maritime rule ” was created and the Minoans became “sea emperors”. The cities of Crete had no walls. Its naval power was so great that no enemy dared to threaten it. There was peace on the island.
The English archaeologist Evans was the first to make excavations and discover Knossos.

The daily life of the Minoans

minoansThe Minoans were happy people. They enjoyed life and loved nature and fun. They lived in well-built stone houses, which had one or two floors, large windows and warehouses. Many of the men were merchants and sailors. Others were craftsmen or artists. Others were engaged in fishing, agriculture and animal husbandry.

The fertile land of Crete produced abundant wheat, barley, olives, and grapes. Beekeeping was also very developed. Some of their products were brought to the palace and stored in huge warehouses. This was a tax they had to pay to Minos.

All the men were dressed simply. They wore only a small piece of cloth wrapped around their waist On the contrary, the women’s clothes were elegant and luxurious. They wore fancy long skirts, short aprons, thin shirts, coats and scarves. They were dyed and combed with care, just like today’s women.

They wore hats, ribbons and jewelry on their heads. They were engaged in household chores and weaving. There were looms in almost every house. They wore other fabrics and linen, but also very fine and transparent fabrics with beautiful designs. They had the same freedoms and the same rights as men.

They also took part in festivals, competitions and hunting. The children of the Minoans were shot from Psikra. They played, like today’s children, hunting and wrestling, but also board games, such as zatrikio, which resembles today’s chess, poles and ankles.

The Minoan food

Scientists, after studying the remains of food they discovered in pottery and cooking utensils of the time, found what the Minoans ate and drank. Their diet, therefore, included oil, nuts, figs, pomegranates, spices, legumes, meat, fish, milk and wine and even retsina.

Archaeologists, in order to make known to the world the results of this research, organized exhibition entitled “Minoan and Mycenaean flavors”, which toured many cities abroad.

The religion of the Minoans

minoan-goddessIn Minoic Crete, people worshiped the Great Goddess. She was also called Psinoiki and was the goddess of nature. She made the earth sprout and give life to plants, animals and people. She was believed to bring rain, wind, light and darkness.

It was worshiped in small sanctuaries inside the palaces but also in caves and on the tops of mountains or hills. They offered her small statues of people or animals, double axes and fruits of the earth, to thank her for making the earth bear fruit. She was pretended to be a woman holding snakes in her hands, pigeons on her shoulders and sitting among animals.

For her sake they celebrated where they danced and did sports. In the spring they celebrated their biggest celebration, the bullfighting. On this holiday, young men and women did acrobatic exercises on wild bulls. The Minoans worshiped bulls because they symbolized the vision and power of life. Symbols of their religion were the sacred bull horns and the double ax.

The Minoan writing

minoan-writingThe Minoans were the first inhabitants of Greece to use writing. To write a word they drew images of animals, plants, ships, vessels, etc. This first writing is called hieroglyphics.

In Phaistos, archaeologists have discovered a disc written in hieroglyphic writing. No one has been able to read it so far. It is said that a religious song is written on it.

On the disk of Phaistos the shapes have been written with stamps. It is the oldest typographic sample.
Later the Minoans discovered a simpler script, called the Graphic A.

The art of the Minoans

minoan-artThe Minoans were great potters. With the help of the wheel they made clay pots in many shapes and sizes and decorated them with many designs and colors. They painted drawings taken from nature, such as: flowers, leaves, animals, fish, shells, starfish, etc.

The art of seals was also developed in Phoenician Crete. The Minoan merchants, when concluding an agreement, used stamps to sign. The craftsmen who made them polished precious stones and engraved various shapes on them. No seal was the same as the other. Many Minoans wore their seals like rings.

There were also goldsmiths, where goldsmiths made gold stamps and beautiful jewelry, such as bracelets, rings, earrings and more.
The Minoans, however, were also great painters. They painted magnificent murals on the walls of their houses. Archaeologists have discovered in the palace of Knossos, but also in other mansions, frescoes of great art. The subjects of the frescoes were taken by the Minoans from nature and from religious ceremonies.

They painted lilies, birds, animals, dolphins, princes and lords, but also priestesses, bulls, acrobats, etc. The happy culture of the Minoans lasted over 1,500 years.

The end of the Minoan civilization

However, the volcano of Thera erupted and the huge waves that rose reached the shores of Crete and destroyed the
rich palace. Thus, the power of Crete increased and it was occupied by the Mycenaeans.