Geography and Economy that Crete

The island the Crete is located in the center of the eastern Mediterranean in ~ the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and also Europe. That measures around 200 kilometres from eastern to west, and between 12 to 58 kilometres from phibìc to southern at that narrowest and widest distances, make it one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea.

Crete"s largest modern town is Heraklion (35° 20" latitude, 25° 08" longitude) and also its see oscillates in between tall, rugged mountains, gentle slopes, and also plateaus, which room framed by the Aegean shore line come the North, and also the Lybian Sea to the south.

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The pleasant climate of Crete through its short, mild winters and also its dry, warmth summers, along with the fertility the the Cretan levels produces sufficient food gives to support an affluent local population, and also for exports. The inhabitants of ancient Crete --whom we call Minoans-- developed a decentralized society based on the diversity of the land"s organic resources, and on extreme commercial activity. While the island appears today fully deforested, in ancient times timber was among the herbal resources that was commercially exploited and exported to surrounding Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Aegean Islands and also the Greek mainland.

Besides lumber Crete exported food, cypress wood, wine, currants, olive oil, wool, cloth, herbs, and purple dye. That is imports consisted of precious stones, copper (most most likely from Cyprus), ivory, silver, gold, and also other raw material. They additionally imported tin the was used in the production of bronze alloys. Interestingly, the nearest recognized tin mines appear as far as Spain, Britain, central Europe, and Iran. Besides raw materials, the Minoans also embraced from the surrounding cultures imaginative ideas and techniques as noticeable in Egypt"s influence on the Minoan wall frescoes, and on goldsmithing production understanding imported by Syria.

The Minoans had developed far-ranging naval power and also for numerous centuries lived in call with all the significant civilizations of the time without being substantially threatened by external forces. Your commercial call with old Egypt and Mesopotamia undeniably influenced their very own culture, and the Minoan civilization in turn showed up as the forerunner of the Greek civilization. The Minoans are credited as the an initial European civilization.

Habitation and Chronology the Crete

Archaeological proof testifies come the island"s habitation because the 7th millennium BC ~ the 5th millennium BC we uncover the first evidence that hand-made ceramic ceramic which point out the beginning of the civilization Evans, the famed excavator who excavated Knossos, called "Minoan" ~ the legend king Minos.

Evans divided the Minoan civilization into three periods on the communication of the stylistic alters of the pottery. His comparative chronology included an early (3000-2100 BC), a center (2100-1500 BC), and a late Minoan period (1500-1100 BC). Due to the fact that this chronology make several troubles in studying the culture, professor N. Platon has arisen a chronology based on the palaces" destruction and reconstruction. He split Minoan Crete into Prepalatial (2600-1900 BC), Protopalatial (1900-1700 BC), Neopalatial (1700-1400 BC), and also Postpalatial (1400-1150 BC).

We perform not have much information about the very early Minoans before 2600 BC. We have actually seen the development of numerous minor settlements close to the coast, and the start of burials in tholos tombs, as well as in caves approximately the island.

Prepalatial Minoan Crete (2600-1900 BC)

Neolithic life in old Crete consists of significant settlements in ~ Myrtos and Mochlos. Throughout this period the Minoans had contact with Egypt, Asia Minor, and Syria with whom castle traded because that copper, tin, ivory, and gold.

The historical evidence expose a decentralized culture with no an effective landlords and also no centralized authority. The palaces the this period are focused roughly communities, and also circular tholos burial places were the significant architectural frameworks of the time. The manner whereby the dead were buried in these tombs suggest a society without hierarchical structure. The tholos tombs were offered for century by whole villages, or clans and also older corpses and also offerings were put aside to make room because that a brand-new burial. Older skeleton were removed from the tomb and placed in bone chambers external the tholos structure. Most of the tholos burial places were circular while in Palekastro and Mochlos they to be of a rectangle-shaped in form with a level roof.

Protopalatial Minoan Crete (1900-1700 BC)

The protopalatial era started with society upheaval, external dangers, and migrations from mainland Greece and Asia Minor. During this time the Minoans began establishing colonies at Thera, Rodos, Melos, and also Kithira.

Around 2000 BC a brand-new political device was developed with government concentrated roughly a main figure - a king. The very first large palaces to be founded and also acted together centers because that their particular communities, while in ~ the exact same time they occurred a bureaucratic management which permeated Minoan society. Distinctions between the class forged a social hierarchy and also divided the human being into nobles, peasants, and also perhaps slaves.

After its tumultuous beginning, this was a peaceful and prosperous duration for the Minoans who ongoing to trade through Egypt and the center East, while they built a led road network to affix the major social centers. This duration also point out the breakthrough of part settlements external the palaces, and the end of the substantial use of tholos tombs.

The palaces the the period were ruined in 1700 BC by forces unknown to us . Speculation blames the damage either on a powerful earthquake, or on external invaders.

Despite the abrupt devastation of the palaces however, Minoan civilization continued to flourish.

Neopalatial Minoan Crete (1700-1400 BC)

The ruined palaces were easily rebuilt top top the damages to type even much more spectacular structures. This is the time once Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and also Zakros to be built, along side countless smaller palaces which stretched along the Cretan landscape.

Small towns arisen near the palaces and also the dead were hidden in pithoi and larnakes, follow me rock-cut chambers and above-ground tholos tombs.

For the first time smaller residencies that we contact villas showed up in the countryside landscape, and also were modeled ~ the huge palaces v storage facilities, worship, and also workshops. They show up to be lesser centers of strength away from the palaces, and also homes for well-off landlords.

During this period we see evidence of administrative and economic unity transparent the island, and Minoan Crete reach its zenith. Females played a powerful role in society, and also the gold artifacts, seals, and also spears speak of a very affluent top class. The paved road network to be vastly broadened to attach most major Minoan palaces and also towns, and also we have proof of comprehensive trade activity.

In the beginning of this era, Minoan society dominates the Aegean islands and also expands right into the Peloponnese. We view its solid influence in the Argolis area during the Mycenaean time of dig circles, and in the southern Peloponnese, especially about Pylos.

The Minoan culture"s fusion with the Helladic (mainland Greek) heritages of the time eventually morphed into the Mycenaean civilization, i m sorry in turn challenged the Minoan supremacy in the Aegean.

For the very first time, late in the Neopalatial period, the an effective fleet the the Minoans encountered competition native an arising power native mainland Greece: the Mycenaeans whose influence began permeating Minoan Crete itself. Life on the island became more militaristic as noticeable by the large number of tools which we discover for the first time in imperial tombs.

The affluence the the society during this duration is noticeable in the frescoes uncovered in the Cretan palaces and in Thera, Melos, Kea, and also Rodos.

The end of this flourishing society came with the damage of most of the palaces and villas that the nation side in the center of the 15 century, and also with the damage of Knossos in 1375. Throughout this late period there is evidence in tablet computers inscribed in direct B language that the Mycenaeans managed the entire island, while numerous Minoan sites were abandoned for a long time.

We can not be certain of the reasons for this sudden interruption that the Minoan civilization. But scholars have pointed to invasion of exterior forces, or to the colossal eruption the the Thera volcano as most likely causes.

Postpalatial duration (1400-1150 BC)

With the devastation of Knossos the power in the Aegean shifts to Mycenae. If both Knossos and also Phaistos remain energetic centers of influence, they carry out not act together the main authority of the island any longer. Throughout the postpalatial period the western part of Crete flourishes. Several vital settlements developed around Kasteli and Chania, while Minoan religion starts to exhibit influences from the Greek mainland.

An examination of the alters in Minoan culture during this duration reveals that most most likely Mycenae regulated Crete. During this period, Helladic god surname such as Zeus begin to appear in tablets, new shapes build in pottery, and vaulted tholos tombs show up for the first time. The tablets of direct B which were unearthed during excavations provide the much more concrete proof of this theory.

Sub-Minoan Crete (1150-1100 BC)

Around 1150 BC the Dorians damaged the Mycenaean civilization in the Peloponnese and by 1100 BC they got to Crete.

This period marks the assimilation of all continuing to be Minoan facets of Crete into the brand-new Hellenic culture. This new society eventually transformed into the timeless Greek civilization which had its facility in Athens.

Doric Crete

Under Doric dominance, Crete social structure shifted indigenous monarchy to aristocracy, and Archaic society and arts permeates the island. The old Minoan legacies remain influential, and the Spartan legislator Lykourgos learned the Cretan legitimate system before he created the legislations that administer the Lakedemonian state.

Knossos, Arkades, Dreros, Cortyn, Lato, and also Lyktos end up being the most crucial centers the the island which continues to trade through Cyprus, Syria, and the Aegean.

The arts of Doric Crete exhibits orientalizing fads even during the "Geometric" period, possibly because of the islands proximity and close advertisement ties v the East.

The islands isolation prevented the from being an essential player in the events which forged background during the classical and hellenistic eras, and also eventually its society declined and became a Roman district in 67 BC.

Some thoughts on the death of Minoan Civilization

One that the favorite themes for discussion among scholars is the possible causes for the destruction of the Minoan Civilization. Proof of a violent end through fire and demolition is clear, however the clues to what brought about such devastation have to be elusive.

Professor Marinatos was the an initial to suggest in 1939 that the eruption of Thera, in addition to the connected effects, to be the cause for the catastrophe. The theory says that the earthquakes damaged the palaces, tsunamis obliterated the fleet and peers that the Minoans, and the volcanic ash the Thera extended the entirety island destroying crops and suffocating animals.

Many geologists have suggested that the Thera eruption was of a colossal scale, and the effects described by Marinatos to be possible. Others have actually disagreed. Recent data places the bulk of the ash store of the volcano to the east caried by the easterly jet streems of the area, with small effect upon the island of Crete (D.M. Pyle, "New approximates for the volume of the Minoan Eruption". Thera and the Aegean world III, check out bibliography)

The biggest blow to this theory came in 1987 native studies performed at the Greenland ice cream cap. Scientists dated frozen ash from the Thera eruption and concluded that it developed in 1645 BC, part 150 years prior to the final destruction of the Minoan palaces.

Even so, the tsunamis and earthquakes linked with the Thera eruption might have still brought about much physical damages to the Minoan fleet and also infrastructure, and it would have impacted the climate, the economy, and also the politics of the region. However, the is doubtful that it could have resulted in in itself the end of the Minoan civilization. After ~ all, the Minoan society had showed acute reflexes in its past history when it rebounded from other physical calamities to elevate its society to even higher levels. Therefore why did the not recoup after the destructions that 1450 BC?

Another factor that can have added to the end of Minoan human being is the invasion and occupation the Crete by the Mycenaeans. Their recorded invasion took place approximately 1400, and in combination with the results of the Thera eruption existing a most likely scenario for the final destruction of the Minoan civilization. In this theory, the Minoan fleet and ports were destroyed by the 50 foot waves and were never ever rebuilt. Possible climatic changes affected crops for many years, i beg your pardon in turn might have led to economic downfall and social upheaval. In this background, the international invaders from Mycenae listed the conclusion come a splendid society which thrived for 1600 years.

One concern still stays however. Exactly how did the inhabitants of Mycenae escape the results of the volcanic eruption, as soon as the Minoan human being was carried to its knees by them? Considering the topography the the Aegean, and also accepting the enormity that the volcano eruption that Thera, that is tough to understand how the Mycenaeans who were simply as delicate were may be to get rid of the destruction, while at the very same time they to be able to keep (or rebuilt) their fleet and to mount an ambitious exploration to overcome the large island that Crete.

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The questions concerning the destruction of the Minoan civilization linger precariously as the historic records carry out not carry out a critical answer, and also it is these persistent concerns which have actually shrouded primitive Crete v an aura of seductive enchantment.