Minoan Crete c. 1500-1250 BCE


Map Code: Ax00466

The island of Crete was first settled, probably from Asia Minor, in about 3000 BCE. The distinctive and highly advanced civilization that evolved there by the end of the third millennium, was palace-based, with each palace administering a substantial farming hinterland and trading network. Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who excavated the palace of Knossos, named the civilization after Minos, a legendary king. The palaces of Knossos and Phaistos were destroyed by earthquakes in about 1700 but were soon reconstructed; at this point Crete became a powerful sea empire, with bases on surrounding islands and wide-ranging trade network. Cretan art reached its apogee, adorned with naturalistic frescoes, dancers and acrobats. The first Greek writing system Linear A, appeared in Crete. This thriving civilization disappeared suddenly, around 1500 BCE, probably because of the massive eruption of the volcano on the island of Santorini. From that point on Crete was dominated by Mycenaean Greece.

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