Geography and Economy the Crete

The island the Crete is situated in the facility of the east Mediterranean at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and also Europe. That measures around 200 km from east to west, and also between 12 come 58 kilometres from north to southern at the narrowest and widest distances, make it one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea.

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

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The warm climate of Crete v its short, mild winters and also its dry, warm summers, in addition to the fertility of the Cretan levels produces enough food provides to support an affluent regional population, and also for exports. The occupants of ancient Crete --whom we contact Minoans-- produced a decentralized culture based ~ above the variety of the land"s herbal resources, and also on intense commercial activity. While the island appears today completely deforested, in ancient times hardwood was one of the natural resources that was commercially exploited and exported to adjacent Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Aegean Islands and the Greek mainland.

Besides wood Crete exported food, cypress wood, wine, currants, olive oil, wool, cloth, herbs, and also purple dye. The imports included precious stones, copper (most likely from Cyprus), ivory, silver, gold, and also other life material. They also imported tin that was used in the production of bronze alloys. Interestingly, the nearest known tin mines appear as much as Spain, Britain, central Europe, and also Iran. Besides raw materials, the Minoans also adopted from the surrounding cultures imaginative ideas and techniques as noticeable in Egypt"s affect on the Minoan wall frescoes, and also on goldsmithing production knowledge imported through Syria.

The Minoans had actually developed far-reaching naval power and for countless centuries live in call with every the major civilizations of the moment without being significantly threatened by outside forces. Your commercial call with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia undeniably influenced their own culture, and also the Minoan human being in turn appeared as the forerunner that the Greek civilization. The Minoans are credited as the very first European civilization.

Habitation and Chronology the Crete

Archaeological evidence testifies to the island"s habitation because the 7th millennium BC ~ the fifth millennium BC we discover the an initial evidence the hand-made ceramic ceramic which point out the beginning of the civilization Evans, the famed excavator who excavated Knossos, named "Minoan" after ~ the legendary king Minos.

Evans separated the Minoan human being into three eras on the basis of the stylistic changes of the pottery. His comparative chronology included very early (3000-2100 BC), a middle (2100-1500 BC), and a so late Minoan duration (1500-1100 BC). Due to the fact that this chronology make several troubles in researching the culture, professor N. Platon has developed a chronology based upon 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 carry out not have actually much information around the very early Minoans prior to 2600 BC. We have seen the advance of numerous minor settlements near the coast, and also the start of burials in tholos tombs, and also in caves around the island.

Prepalatial Minoan Crete (2600-1900 BC)

Neolithic life in old Crete consisted of major settlements at Myrtos and also Mochlos. During this duration the Minoans had call with Egypt, Asia Minor, and Syria with whom lock traded for copper, tin, ivory, and also gold.

The archaeological evidence expose a decentralized culture with no an effective landlords and also no centralized authority. The palaces of this period are focused roughly communities, and also circular tholos tombs were the significant architectural frameworks of the time. The manner by which the dead were buried in this tombs indicate a society without ordered structure. The tholos tombs were offered for centuries by whole villages, or clans and older corpses and offerings were put aside to make room because that a brand-new burial. Older bones were gotten rid of from the tomb and placed in bone chambers external the tholos structure. Most of the tholos burial places were circular when in Palekastro and also Mochlos they to be of a rectangular in form with a level roof.

Protopalatial Minoan Crete (1900-1700 BC)

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

Around 2000 BC a new political mechanism was created with authority concentrated approximately a central figure - a king. The an initial large palaces to be founded and acted together centers for their respective communities, while at the very same time they occurred a bureaucratic management which permeated Minoan society. Distinctions in between the great forged a society hierarchy and also divided the people into nobles, peasants, and also perhaps slaves.

After its turoulend beginning, this was a peaceful and prosperous duration for the Minoans who continued to trade v Egypt and also the center East, while they constructed a paved road network to connect the major cultural centers. This period also point out the advancement of part settlements exterior the palaces, and the finish of the extensive use of tholos tombs.

The palaces of the period were ruined in 1700 BC by forces unknown to us . Speculation blames the devastation either ~ above a an effective earthquake, or on outside invaders.

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

Neopalatial Minoan Crete (1700-1400 BC)

The ruined palaces were easily rebuilt on the ruins to form even more spectacular structures. This is the time when Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, and also Zakros were built, along side countless smaller palaces which stretched along the Cretan landscape.

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

For the first time smaller residencies the we contact villas appeared in the countryside landscape, and also were modeled after the big palaces v storage facilities, worship, and also workshops. They show up to it is in lesser centers of power away from the palaces, and also homes for well-off landlords.

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

In the start of this era, Minoan culture dominates the Aegean islands and expands right into the Peloponnese. We watch its solid influence in the Argolis area during the Mycenaean time of tomb circles, and in the southern Peloponnese, especially around Pylos.

The Minoan culture"s fusion with the Helladic (mainland Greek) traditions of the time ultimately morphed into the Mycenaean civilization, which in turn tested the Minoan prominence in the Aegean.

For the an initial time, so late in the Neopalatial period, the an effective fleet that the Minoans encountered competition from an arising power indigenous mainland Greece: the Mycenaeans whose influence started permeating Minoan Crete itself. Life top top the island became more militaristic as evident by the huge number of weapons which we uncover for the very first time in imperial tombs.

The affluence the the society during this period is obvious in the frescoes found in the Cretan palaces and in Thera, Melos, Kea, and also Rodos.

The finish of this flourishing society came with the damage of most of the palaces and also villas the the country 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 tablets inscribed in direct B language the the Mycenaeans controlled the whole island, while many Minoan website were abandoned for a long time.

We can not be particular of the causes for this suddenly interruption the the Minoan civilization. However scholars have actually pointed to intrusion of exterior forces, or come the colossal eruption that the Thera volcano as most likely causes.

Postpalatial period (1400-1150 BC)

With the devastation of Knossos the power in the Aegean move to Mycenae. When both Knossos and Phaistos remain energetic centers that influence, they perform not act as the central authority the the island any kind of longer. Throughout the postpalatial period the western part of Crete flourishes. Several essential settlements developed approximately Kasteli and Chania, if Minoan religion starts to exhibit impacts from the Greek mainland.

An examination of the alters in Minoan society during this duration reveals the most likely Mycenae controlled Crete. During this period, Helladic god surname such as Zeus start to show up in tablets, new shapes develop in pottery, and also vaulted tholos tombs appear for the an initial time. The tablet computers of direct B which to be unearthed during excavations carry out the much more concrete evidence of this theory.

Sub-Minoan Crete (1150-1100 BC)

Around 1150 BC the Dorians ruined the Mycenaean civilization in the Peloponnese and by 1100 BC they reached Crete.

This period marks the assimilation of all remaining Minoan aspects of Crete right into the brand-new Hellenic culture. This new society eventually transformed right into the classical Greek world which had actually its facility in Athens.

Doric Crete

Under Doric dominance, Crete social framework shifted indigenous monarchy to aristocracy, and Archaic culture and arts permeates the island. The old Minoan traditions remain influential, and the Spartan legislator Lykourgos studied the Cretan legitimate system before he created the regulations that administer the Lakedemonian state.

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

The arts of Doric Crete exhibits orientalizing fads even throughout the "Geometric" period, possibly as result of the archipelago proximity and close advertisement ties through the East.

The archipelago isolation prevented the from being vital player in the occasions which forged background during the classical and hellenistic eras, and also eventually its society declined and also 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 damage of the Minoan Civilization. Evidence of a violent end through fire and demolition is clear, yet the ideas to what resulted in such destruction have been elusive.

Professor Marinatos was the an initial to suggest in 1939 the the eruption that Thera, in addition to the associated effects, to be the cause for the catastrophe. The theory argues that the earthquakes destroyed the palaces, tsunamis obliterated the fleet and peers that the Minoans, and the volcano ash that Thera spanned the whole island damaging crops and also suffocating animals.

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

The best blow to this concept came in 1987 from studies conducted at the Greenland ice cap. Scientists dated frozen ash indigenous the Thera eruption and concluded the it occurred in 1645 BC, some 150 years before the final devastation of the Minoan palaces.

Even so, the tsunamis and also earthquakes linked with the Thera eruption could have still led to much physical damages to the Minoan fleet and infrastructure, and it would have impacted the climate, the economy, and also the politics of the region. However, it is skeptical that it might have caused in chin the finish of the Minoan civilization. After all, the Minoan society had showed acute reflexes in that past history when it rebounded from other physical disasters to elevate its culture to even higher levels. So why did that not recoup after the destructions that 1450 BC?

Another variable that might have contributed to the end of Minoan civilization is the invasion and occupation that Crete by the Mycenaeans. Their recorded invasion took place around 1400, and also in mix with the impacts of the Thera eruption existing a most likely scenario because that the final destruction of the Minoan civilization. In this theory, the Minoan fleet and ports were ruined by the 50 foot waves and were never rebuilt. Possible climatic changes affected crops for many years, which in turn might have led to financial downfall and social upheaval. In this background, the international invaders native Mycenae noted the conclusion come a splendid culture which grew for 1600 years.

One concern still continues to be however. Just how did the residents of Mycenae escape the impacts of the volcanic eruption, once the Minoan people was brought to its knees by them? Considering the topography of the Aegean, and also accepting the enormity of the volcano eruption that Thera, it is difficult to understand how the Mycenaeans who were simply as breakable were able to overcome the destruction, while in ~ the very same time they to be able to preserve (or rebuilt) their fleet and to mount an ambitious expedition to dominate the vast island the Crete.

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The questions about the destruction of the Minoan human being linger precariously as the historical records do not administer a critical answer, and it is these persistent inquiries which have actually shrouded ancient Crete with an aura of seductive enchantment.