The Late Bronze Age–Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece

The Minoans emerged around 2600 BCE. Small urban communities traded with Egypt and imported copper from the Eastern Mediterranean.

1700 A palace-centred culture had developed on Crete. They were so sprawling and unsymmetrical (unlike Egyptian architecture) that they seemed labyrinthian to later Greek civilizations. Notice the lack of military fortifications. Some historians have argued that the Minoans were matriarchal and peace-loving.

Knossos was one one palace-centred community that was more like a small city. It housed 25,000 people. They were prosperous enough to be able to develop their own artworks and luxury goods such as “jewelry, painted vases, and delicate figures carved in the deep blue gemstone called lapis lazuli.

Here is a work of art from the Knossos palace:

Other historians have argued that the evidence of bull-worship must prove that the society was patriarchal.

In terms of language, it was Indo-European, but their pictographic script had come from the Egyptians. It is called “Linear A” and has yet to be fully deciphered.

The disk below was recovered from the sprawling, labyrinthian palace above, Phaistos.

But what happened to the Minoans? Their decline and disappearance was so sudden and so mysterious that explanatory theories range from the natural (a tidal wave, an earthquake) to the man-made (a catastrophic invasion). All we know for certain is that they collapsed around 1400 bce.

Economic power in the region shifted from Crete to the Mainland.

The Mycanaeans

The Mycenae dominated the Peloponnese, the southern peninsula of Greece. Evidence of the overlap of the Mycenaens with the Minoans can be found in cultural practices such as the importance of the palace and a similar script, called Linear B. The only surviving fragments of Linear B involve economic matters –landholding records, broken equipment, inventories. What’s missing? Hymns, battle chronicals, religious hymns. What, then, did the Mycaneans believe?

Burial sites reveal a prosperous and militaristic culture.

Merchants and traders in other lands recorded that the Mycaneans were pirates.

The end of the Bronze Age

Connections between Egypt, Southwest Asia, Anatolia, and Greece broke between 1200 and 1100 bce.

The Dark Age — 1100- 750

The population declined on the Greek penninsula by 75%; crafts, language, artistic styles and architectural traditions were lost

Sealand shall not spare Sealand..nor Assyrian Assirian.

Nor shall Elamite spare Elamite, nor Kassite Kassite..

Nor country country, nor city city,

Nor shall tribe spare tribe, nor man man,  nor brother brother, and they shall all slay one another.

(excerpt from The Epic of Erra)

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