Outline of Minoan Civilization

This post is in a series of outlines about Western civilization, as Minoan culture contributed to ancient Greece. The post covers the historical and economic aspects only and goes from 3000 to 1380 BCE.

Let’s get started on this short outline.

I.  Introduction

A.  Minoan comes from King Minos of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa;

1.. When he died he was made one of three judges of the dead;

2. Son was Minos II; died ca. 45 years before Trojan War;

3. for him Daedalus built labyrinth to hold the Minotaur; father of Ariadne

B.  Geography

1.  Island in Mediterranean

2.  Fertile lowlands, timber

3.  Natural harbors make trade easy

C.  Population was made of three groups

1.  Eteocretans: emerged from Asia Minor, spoke Luvian;

2.  Kydonians: in Asia Minor

3.  Pelasgians: prob. fr. North, but eventually in throughout Aegean

II.  Early Minoan (3000-2280)

A.  Politics or Class

1.  Larger agglomerations of populations, villages (of 100-120) instead of rural settlements (big farm-house complexes)

2.  Time of peace and prosperity; no evidence of major destruction or warfare

3.  Burial tombs suggest a clan or tribe living communally with chiefs or chieftains; no separate burials suggest comparative equality

B.  Economy

1.  Cultivation of cereals, olives, fruits, vines

2.  Breeding of cattle, goats, hogs

3.  Metal working was introduced:  jewelers, coppersmiths, lapidaries; most artisans worked part-time and were farmers

III.  Middle Minoan (2280-1700)

A.  Politics or Class

1.  Still a time of comparative peace and prosperity; art lacking in war scenes

2.  Religious King, centered in palace

3.  Merchants

4.  Artisans who live in palace

5.  Peasants

6.  Slavery played minor roles, in palace

B.  Economy

1.  Influx of people (256k on island)

2.  Bronze-making develops more highly

3.  Increase in agriculture, which will support the palaces

4.  Rudimentary form of money; implies growing non-agriculturalists (craftsmen and traders) who did not barter locally using produce and animals

5.  Writing developed to record transactions; Linear A & B Tablets (in 1450)

IV.  High Minoan (1700-1380)

A.  Politics or Class

1.  The same as III.A

2.  Minos rules in this era

3.  Earthquake in 1700 destroyed palaces, and new building programs begin

4.  Mycenae on Peloponnesus emerges (1600-1500’s), and interpenetration of cultures of Crete and Mycenae

5.  Mycenaeans take over between 1500-1450

B.  Economy:  the same as III.B

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