Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece

The Minoan Civilization existed for many years, but we don’t know very much about it. In fact, we didn’t even know that it existed until Arthur Evans came around in 1899 and found that there once was an island wide civilization on the island of Crete. He called it the Minoan Civilization after the legendary King Minos, who the Greeks said lived on Crete.

The history of the Minoan Civilization is split into four different periods: Prepalatial, Protopalatial, Neopalatial, and Postpalatial. In the Prepalatial period the Minoans traded with many other countries by sea and craftsmen made objects with precious metals. It seems like they had a lack of centralized authority as well. In the Protopalatial period, the Minoans built the first palaces. They were all built at the same time and were close to the sea. A hierarchy emerged with nobles, peasants, and slaves. They developed their written script, known to historians as Linear A, at this time as well.

The Neopalatial period came after a time of great destruction in Crete. We don’t know what it was, although it could have been an earthquake or an invasion from Anatolia. The Minoans began rebuilding the palaces, and the Minoan civilization transitioned into its golden age. Their trade spread to many of the surrounding countries, and many great buildings were built. Civilization and technology advanced as well. Eventually the Minoan civilization crumbled and was forgotten for thousands of years.

For a long time scholars said that Greek civilization began around 800 BC, but Heinrich Schliemann proved them wrong. Before 800 BC,there were several city-states around, collectively known as Mycenaean Greece. They made many innovations in military strategy, architecture, and engineering. Their economy was reliant on trade throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Their culture was impacted by the Minoans, but later the Greeks became the dominant people, as is inferred by Linear B (Greek language) tablets on Crete. They too, like the Minoans, built palaces on mainland Greece. They had a hierarchy with the king on top, a second in command official, governors, common people, and slaves. Mycenaean Greece eventually crumbled, but, like the Minoan civilization, we do not know the cause.

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