The Minoans were the first civilization

The Early Period of Greece: Minoans and Mycenaeans

What are the characteristics of early Greek history?

Two factors derived from geography shaped Greek history for a long time. existing connections between the Greek mainland, the island world of the Aegean Sea and Asia Minor the emergence of a relatively uniform culture. On the other hand, this did not lead to a political agreement, because the rugged landscape with mountain ranges made it difficult to control larger areas. This resulted in numerous small states, most of which only comprised a city and its surrounding area.

Where was the first great culture of Greece?

On the island of Crete. There developed in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC. the first significant civilization, the Minoan culture - named after the legendary King Minos. The island was equally easy to reach by sea from Greece, especially the Peloponnese peninsula, and from Asia Minor, and was also not far from the Syrian and North African coasts. Crete became an important trading center. The Bronze Age began earlier than in the rest of Europe on the island and the connected Greek mainland. Crete experienced its first heyday, from which the characteristic round graves (tholoi) originate, around 2200 BC. In Knossos, Phaistos and Mallia originated at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. the first palaces. They were made in the 17th century BC. Destroyed by an earthquake, then rebuilt and in the 16./15. Century B.C. expanded into great facilities.

What did the palace of Knossos look like?

Knossos was the most powerful city in Crete. She had in the middle of the 16th century BC. probably more than 50,000 inhabitants. The palace complex of Knossos extended over more than 2 hectares and was splendidly furnished. There was running water and heated bathrooms. But the Cretan palaces were not only a representative royal residence, but also an economic center. Large storage rooms for grain, oil and wine testified to wealth and an effective central administration. The numerous halls, atriums, workshops and storerooms of the Palace of Knossos were connected by a multitude of stairs and corridors. The labyrinth in which King Minos is said to have kept the Minotaur, a monster with a human body and a bull's head, is probably a description of this imposing complex.

What was the Mycenaean culture?

On the Greek mainland in the 16th century BC. the Mycenaean culture. It was based on the Helladic culture, which existed since the 3rd millennium, and is therefore also referred to as late Helladic. But it also took on important elements of the Minoan culture, e. B. the linear script. The Mycenaean culture was carried by the Indo-European Achaeans, who lived around 1900 BC. immigrated to Greece.

The conquest of Crete around 1400 BC, when the island was weakened by earthquakes or civil unrest, marked the height of Achaean power. During this time, palaces based on the Minoan model were built in Mycenae, Tiryns, Thebes, Pylos and other cities. From Crete, Mycenae took over the position as the ruling sea power of the eastern Mediterranean. The city, described by the poet Homer as "gold rich", accumulated riches, as evidenced by Egyptian works of art and royal tombs with valuable grave goods. Mycenae were surrounded by huge city walls; The main entrance was the famous Lion Gate. With Troy in Asia Minor, however, the city grew into a competitor, against which in the 13th and 12th centuries BC. Wars were waged - handed down by Homer as the "Trojan War".

How did Mycenae end?

In the 12th century BC. Mycenae was besieged by the also Indo-European Dorians. Their armies, armed with iron weapons, were superior to the Achaean chariots. When Mycenae finally fell despite its strong fortifications and around 1100 BC. was destroyed, many Achaeans fled to the north of the Peloponnese. With the Mycenaean culture (including writing), the first advanced civilization of mainland Europe disappeared and the "dark centuries" began, about which we know little.

What do linear A and B mean?

Linear A has been one since around 1900 BC. Typeface used mainly in administration in Crete. The characters in this syllabary were written horizontally ("linearly") from left to right, as in our current script. This Linear A script, which reproduces the non-Indo-European language of the Minoan culture, has not yet been deciphered.

A modification of the Linear A, called Linear B, was found in the Mycenaean culture between 1500 and 1100 BC. used. The British architect and font researcher Michael Ventris (1922-1956) deciphered this font in 1952. He realized that the Mycenaean language was an early form of Greek, which until then had been thought impossible. After the fall of Mykenes, Linear-B disappeared.

Did you know that …

Place names on -ssos and -nthos, such as Knossos, Corinth (os), Labyrinth (os), are linguistic remnants from pre-Indo-European times?