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Start of Ancient Greek Civilization – the Minoans
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  2/14/12
By: Yona Williams

The Minoans were the catalyst that led to the establishment of the ancient Greek civilization. They were a peaceful people that were quite prosperous in their time – becoming known as the first advanced civilization in Europe. In this article, you will learn more about the Minoan civilization, including the different periods of time that are used to identify the rise and fall of the culture.

From about 3000 to 1450 BC, the Minoans called the Mediterranean island of Crete their home. They constructed buildings using plaster, stone and timbers. Elaborate frescoes were painted on the walls. They left behind intriguing pieces of pottery. They wove and dyed their own cloth. They cultivated the land and are thought to be the first people to produce a surplus of agriculture, which they exported to others.

Some of their construction projects included roads made out of stone and bridges. Other advanced projects that they undertook were to build a highly advanced system of drainage, as well as aqueducts. Researchers have learned that the royal family that lived in Knossos had a system of showers and used toilets that they could actually flush.

Researchers have referred to the Minoan civilization in three different periods: Early, Middle and Late.

The Early Minoan civilization is acknowledged as occurring between around 3000 BC and 2200 BC. As the early Minoans shifted from the culture related to Neolithic traditions to one that embraced metals and other materials, such as bronze. During this time, hieroglyphic writing started to make an appearance.

The Middle Minoan civilization is recognized as taking place from around 2200 BC to 1500 BC. During the Middle Minoan period, Knossos and Phaestus started to see an increase of impressive palaces. Writings started to use a pictographic script, which was called Linear A. There were great advancement in the making of ceramics, ivory carving, and metalworking.  Toward the end of this period, a devastating earthquake struck Knossos (as well as a possible invasion). More changes in writing and communication emerged and the palace was rebuilt.

Researchers typically associate the Late Minoan civilization with the time period from around 1500 BC to 1000 BC. Around 1500 BC, another earthquake and an invasion from the Mycenaean mainland became a threat. The palace at Knossos was completely destroyed around 1400 BC. The Late Minoan period is characterized by a fading of influence and power that the Minoans once enjoyed. The culture continued to fade into the background of history. When Knossos was no more, the cultural center of the Aegean fell on the shoulders of the people living on the Greek mainland – the Mycenaean civilization.

To learn more about the Minoan civilization, check out the article titled, "Highlights of the Minoan Civilization," which offers trivia and facts regarding their palaces, history and culture.


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