Let's start with geography. Like any island in the middle of the sea, Crete is surrounded by salty sea water. This picture was seen by its inhabitants both a thousand and five thousand years ago. There will be no us, and this picture will not change at all ...
Today, Crete looks mostly like this. That is, that's how people live there today.
This is a pleasant place where there is a place where you can swim and sunbathe, and where even now in October the water temperature is equal to 24 degrees Celsius. District of Matala. The photo clearly shows the ancient Neolithic grottoes.
Well, in my opinion, one should start with why, for example, no one doubts that in antiquity all the men of his tribe were warriors. So after all the funerals speak about it. For example, the burials of the culture of “battle axes” differ from all other themes, that a drilled stone ax was found in each of the graves of this culture. This culture, like many others, belongs to the civilizations of the Bronze Age, however, that besides axes and ceramics it remains? The culture of “log-burials” is well-known, there is a catacomb, there are those named after them at their locations - Andronovskaya and Fatyanovskaya, the culture of Seymin residents and Turbins, which gave the world many wonderful bronze items. In short, the cultures of the Bronze Age, well, just a great many, so that even a simple enumeration of them could take a whole page here. You can, of course, call the “river valleys” civilizations that arose on the banks of the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates, the Indus, the Ganges, the Yangtze and the Huang He, and then for many millennia existed due to specific river irrigation (i.e. through the regular flood of these great rivers).
However, the main thing is that there in the capital of the island Irikleone there is a most interesting archaeological museum, which presents the most valuable finds of archaeologists, starting with Arthur Evans. Knowing the interest of our readers to the military stories and the artifacts associated with it, we begin our acquaintance with its exposition from this photo, in which you see the golden handle of the Minoan dagger, which vividly confirms the skill of the ancient Cretans.
And here is this dagger itself, dubbed the “dagger from Malia” (1800 –1700 BC).
However, there was a civilization in Europe, which had no relation to rivers at all, and nevertheless it reached a very high level of development. And if on land known culture of the Bronze Age, whose representatives moved the steppes in chariots, in the Mediterranean basin there was a people of navigators, this civilization and created. However, these people were not only navigators. They also knew how to build palaces!
And here is the mock-up of the palace of Knossos, made of wood. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum).
... and the ruins of this palace, which became perhaps the most popular tourist attraction on the island.
We are talking about the so-called Aegean civilization, which in fact became the foundation of all subsequent European culture and its first empire. And we note that this is the general name of a number of civilizations of the Bronze Age of the 3000 period - 1000. BC e., which existed both on the islands in the Aegean Sea, on the island of Crete, and in mainland Greece and in the western regions of Asia Minor. It used to be very often called the Crete-Mycenaean civilization or culture, but this term does not quite accurately reflect the historical realities, since the Crete-Mycenaean culture itself is only a part of this large common culture or civilization.
The first centers of the Aegean culture were found by Heinrich Schliemann in Troy (1871 – 1873) and Mycenae (1876), and Arthur Evans in Crete (with 1899). Since the 19th century, many ancient monuments were found and studied, among which there are cemeteries, settlements and even large cities, for example, the town of Poliochni on the island of Lemnos, surrounded by a five-meter-high stone wall, Filakopi on the island of Milos; the royal palaces in Troy, in Crete (in Knossos, Mallia, and Fest) and the acropolis in Mycenae. And although there are several local cultures of this region, for example, Cycladic, that is, located on the Cyclades, perhaps the main culture of the island of Crete and the closely related culture of the city of Mycenae will be the main one for us. Even here they are called together - the Crete-Mycenaean culture. However, the Cretan civilization is still much older than mainland cultures.
Marble idols from Cyclades islands of Louros type. The height of their 17.4, 19.3, 22, 21.5, and 18, see (National Archaeological Museum, Athens)
Recall the legend of the abduction of the gods Zeus by the daughter of Agenor, the king of the city of Tire in Phenicia, and the beautiful daughter named Europe. Turning around a huge white bull, he kidnapped the princess and went with her to the island of Crete, where she had three sons: Minos, Sarpedon and Radamant. Minos, as a senior, became the first Cretan king, and his name eventually became the title of the ruler, who became known as Minos and means the Cretans the same thing as the Pharaoh of the Egyptians and the Basileus of the Greeks.
Having such an amazing legend at hand, many artists embodied it on their canvases. It was noted here and the great Rembrandt, and Francesco Albani, and Guido Renee, but simply do not list all. But for some reason I like the “Abduction” of our V. Serov most of all. Somehow it is closest to the picturesque style of the ancient Cretans.
Interestingly, the excavations on the island of Crete to a certain extent confirmed the authenticity of this myth. For example, the fact that the island was really inhabited by immigrants from Western Asia. It was the Phoenicians who sailed here about six thousand years BC and brought with them cattle - big bulls with lyre-like horns. Excavations have allowed us to find here the most ancient traces of agriculture in Europe, although, perhaps, the same ancient traces of it were found on the island of Cyprus in the area of the settlement of Hirokitiya. Well, the British archaeologist Arthur Evans began digging in Crete in 1900, and he made his most important discoveries here, and he also came up with the name of an open civilization - which he gave after his first king Minos.
By the way, the Minoans painted masterfully, as evidenced by the extant murals. Dolphins are good, aren't they? But the “three beauties” on the right is even better, isn't it?
"Three beauties" - and this is no exaggeration! Yes, they were such - these Minoan beauties, who considered it quite natural to wear clothes that expose the chest, but for some reason cover the stomach and back. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
The value of Evans' discoveries is difficult to overestimate. Thanks to them, we learned that over four millennia, it was representatives of the Aegean civilization who created the first flourishing empire in Europe on their island. Of particular interest are its centers, which were several large palace complexes, which later grew into cities. The palaces in Knossos, Gurnia, Kato Zakro, Agia Triade, Festa, Amnissa and Malliah were excavated. It is interesting that it was the Knossos palace that was built as the residence of the ruler from the very beginning and it was isolated from the rest of the city. Other palaces, discovered on Crete later, were built in such a way that they essentially fit into the city buildings. This was, for example, a palace in the city of Mallia.
Well, this fresco is known to everyone from the textbook for the 5 class - Parisian. That's what Arthur Evans himself called it, who discovered this mural during the excavations. At first this fresco was located in one of the rooms on the second floor of the Palace of Knossos. It depicted a scene of a ritual feast, the participants of which sat opposite each other with cups in their hands. Unfortunately, only a small fragment of the head of a girl with some large knot on her clothes behind has been preserved.
The Cretans considered themselves sea people, so their settlements were built mainly on the coast, by the sea, so that it was easy to get to it. On the frescoes in the rooms of the palace there are very frequent images of ships, fishermen and fish, dolphins and octopuses playing in the water. Thucydides - Greek historian V c. BC er wrote about the ancient Cretans that king Minos built a powerful fleet that dominated the entire Mediterranean. Archaeologists also drew attention to the fact that none of the palaces does not have fortress walls. Cities do not have them either! It could only mean that the inhabitants of the island were not at all afraid of their neighbors and considered their fleet the most reliable guarantee of security. Naturally, the skills of navigation allowed to provide the population of the island with fish, mollusks and sponges. That is, sea fishing played a very important role in the economy of ancient Crete.
However, the Minoans drew not only dolphins and their magnificent breasts. Surprisingly, they also painted monkeys ... Why is it amazing? Africa is near. Yes, of course, but why is it blue ?! Fresco from the island of Santorini.
The construction of the first palaces in Crete dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. Oe., but from them today, except perhaps fragments of their foundations. Crete is located in a seismic zone, earthquakes there are not uncommon, so studying them scientists have shown that the earliest buildings of the island stood on it only 300 years, and then collapsed. On the basis of these excavations, it is also customary to single out two “construction periods” - the period of the Old Palaces (II millennium - XVII century BC) and the period of New Palaces (XVII – XV centuries BC). And it is significant that as soon as the old buildings collapsed, as on their ruins, the inhabitants of the island immediately began to build new ones - and even more monumental and luxurious. Although the “very first” palaces were not built from scratch. Under the Palace of Knossos, for example, a cultural layer of ten meters thick was discovered, where objects were found for several thousand years.
The Minoan Cretans created a completely unusual type of column - for some reason it was expanding up and not down!
As for the palace in Knossos, it is considered to be the largest. According to scientists, it was precisely in it that King Minos, who is known to us according to legend, could live. And from here the legend of the Labyrinth was born, because this palace really is a labyrinth of rooms and courtyards, built over four and a half centuries - from 1900 to 1450 BC. er The total area of the palace is about 16 thousand square meters. m, and it consists of almost 300 different rooms. Up to 30 thousand people could live in this building itself and in the territories around it. So it is not surprising that the foreigners who saw this structure were simply shocked by it, because today even its ruins make an indelible impression.
So the myth of the Minotaur could be completely inspired by some real events. The huge palace, with many rooms where it was possible to get lost so easily, turned into a gloomy labyrinth in it. Well, the cult of the bull that existed in Crete became the basis of the story about the monster to which the aborigines offered human sacrifices. On one of the seals found, you can clearly see the image of the dancing Minotaur, from under the horns of which you can see human hair. That is, it is none other than the character of a ritual dance. It is possible that he symbolized the bull, which was then killed, so it is possible that the fate of the rulers of Crete at that time could be very tragic. That is, they received the throne for a while, enjoyed absolute power, and then were killed for the common good.
As for the general chronology of the history of ancient Crete, there are three periods in it:
Early Minnesday period (XXX – XXIII centuries BC): when tribal relations were still dominant, the development of metallurgy took place and the beginnings of handicraft appeared, navigation developed, and the level of agricultural development was already relatively high;
Middle Minor period (XXII – XVIII centuries BC.) - the time of the “old” or “early” palaces): the emergence of the first states in different parts of the island, monumental palace complexes, the appearance of the earliest forms of local writing;
Late Caribbean period (XVII – XII centuries. BC), at this time the flowering of the ancient Minoan civilization occurs, and Cretan maritime power is created, headed by King Minos, and there is extensive trade throughout the Aegean Sea basin. Monumental architecture flourishes (“new” palaces are being built in Knossos, Mallia, Fest), and active contacts are established with other ancient Eastern states.
A powerful natural disaster in the middle of the XVI century. BC er (it is also called the “Minoan eruption”) causes the decline of the Minoan civilization, due to which the island is conquered by the Achaeans. That is, this legendary Achaeans of Homer not only destroyed the equally legendary Troy, but also destroyed the entire Minoan civilization. What passed from her Mycenaean culture of mainland Greece, and this is undoubtedly. But in the XII century. BC er foreigners once again invade its lands - this time it is the Dorian tribes, which leads the Mycenaean state to death, the beginning of the dark ages in Greece and the whole subsequent historical period.
A leather helmet, trimmed with boarlike fangs, described in the Iliad, was found by archaeologists here in Crete in the tomb of Katzambas. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
When we talk about the development of the Aegean civilization, it should be noted that it occurred unevenly, and its centers knew both the epochs of the falls and the heyday. First of all, we note that civilizations in the regions of western Anatolia and Central Greece were based on the local Neolithic; but on the island cultures in the eastern Aegean Sea, the civilization of Troy had a very big impact. Here already in 3000 – 2000. BC er cities were built, fortified with walls and towers, with temples and public buildings. And in mainland Greece - at the end of 2300 – 2000. BC er But in Crete, no fortresses archaeologists have found.
Approximately about 2300 BC. er the region of the Peloponnese and the lands of northwestern Anatolia are experiencing a military invasion, evidenced by traces of fires and destruction in the respective cultural strata. It is believed that these invaders were of Indo-European origin. Moreover, the consequences of their invasion were such that in the period 2000 – 1800. BC er under their influence, the material culture of mainland Greece, Troy and some islands has changed markedly.
Bronze daggers found in Crete, approx. 2600 - 1900 BC. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum) As you can see, the metal at that time was in the price. Therefore, people came up with the idea of making the blade separately, and the handle - separately, and only then connecting them on rivets.
But the aliens did not make it to Crete, and at that time the ancient Minoan civilization continued to develop. In 2000 – 1800 BC er there appears hieroglyphic writing, and since 1600 BC er - linear letter A.
Sample linear letter A, XV century. BC. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
The Middle Bronze Age (2000 – 1500 BC) in this region is considered the period of the greatest cultural consolidation of the entire civilization of the Aegean region, as evidenced by a certain unity of its material culture - these are ceramic samples and, of course, metal products found by archaeologists.
Around 1600 BC er Greece is once again undergoing a military invasion. Perhaps it was the Achaeans - the people who used the war chariots. As a result, small states arise here with centers in the cities of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Orchomen. However, the Aegean civilization did not die. On the contrary, the indigenous Cretans continued to play an important role in Mycenaean Greece, where they acted as something like modern culture traders.
Part of the gold objects from finds in Mycenae. (National Archaeological Museum, Athens)
Around 1470 BC er Crete suffered greatly from a volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini, after which the Achaean (Mycenaean) population appeared on the island, bringing with it a new culture and using the linear letter B.
Sample linear letter B describing the administration of the palace at Knossos. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
From 1220 BC er the whole Aegean civilization is experiencing a serious internal crisis, aggravated by the invasion of Dorian tribes and the “sea peoples”, after which the Aegean civilization completely disappeared, the indigenous people of Crete were assimilated by the Greeks as early as the 4th – 3rd centuries. BC er
Crete evening ...
To be continued ...