1. Home
  2. History of Greece
  3. Early History
  4. The Minoan Civilization

The Minoan Civilization of Greece

As with the Cycladic, the Minoan Civilisation is also divided into three time periods, being the Early (3000–2100 B.C.), the Middle (2100–1500 B.C.) and the Late (1500-1100 B.C.).

Minoan Civilization

** Fresco of bull-leaping from Knossos
By unknown ancient artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Minoan Civilisation of Crete was the first advanced civilization in Europe. By 2500 B.C. most people had left the Neolithic way of life behind them, which they had endured in the Early period, and moved into the Minoan. The Minoan Civilisation was named after the mythical King Minos.

During the Middle Period, it is likely that the civilization reached its peak, where metalwork and pottery was produced to a very high level of both skill and imagination. Another similarity between the Minoan and Cycladic Civilisations was that the former were also developed a strong maritime trading capability, and its wares were exported throughout the Mediterranean.

The Cycladic Civilisation also created maritme trading with Asia Minor, Europe, North Africa and Crete, where they exported there wares and became quite prosperous in doing so. The Minoan and Mycenaean Civilisations both had a huge influence on the Cycladic Civilisation. However, the Late Period saw both the commercial and military decline of the civilization due to the Mycenaean competition from mainland Greece. A combination of natural disasters and the Dorian invasion brought this civilization to an abrupt end in 1100 B.C.

An enormous earthquake in around 1700 B.C. destroyed many palaces including Knossos, though these were all rebuilt by the Minoans. In fact these palaces were not only rebuilt but also became complex multi storey living quarters with facilities such as drainage. They were also beautifully decorated with Minoan fredcoes.

As well as excelling in design and arts, the Minoans were also literate and developed a syllable-based script which has been called Linear A. Although this script has yet to be deciphered, it is believed that it was used, among other things, to keep records of trade transactions.

It has also been put forward by some historians that the decline of the civilization was unfortunately helped by a huge volcanic explosion on the Cycladic island of Santorini. The results of this eruption and its consequencing ash fall out would have badly damaged crop growth, which may have led to a lot of social unrest among the people.


Please share this page ...