Minoans and Mycenaeans were inhabitants of the early European civilizations that emerged in Greece. Both of these civilizations played a crucial role in the appearance of trade and diplomacy in the world.
They built a culture that lasted for the generations to come. Minoans and Mycenaeans built palaces, created art, molded ceramics, and painted unique images and shapes masterfully.
To describe these historically important civilizations broadly, I have listed 35 facts about Minoans and Mycenaeans.
1. Minoan civilization from the island of Crete and the Mycenaean from the South of mainland Greece were two of the first European civilizations.
2. Minoan culture emerged in Crete around the middle of the fourth millennium BC. Archeologists believe that it was the first highly developed civilization in Europe. Minoan civilization flourished between 3000 B.C. and 1100 B.C.
3. Arthur Evans an archaeologist, discovered Cretan civilization, named it Minoan after its legendary King Minos.
4. Ancient Greek writer Homer mentioned the king Minos in his legendary work called Iliad. Homer describes him as a leader of Knossos who ruled several generations before the Trojan war.
5. According to the legends, Minos was the most powerful ruler of his time. He forced Athens to pay him a regular tribute, sending girls and boys who became food for the bull-headed monster called Minotaur.
6. Homer was not a historian, but a poet, and it was believed that wars, big cities, and heroes were entirely a figment of his imagination. Everything changed when Heinrich Schliemann discovered the ruins of Troy in Asia Minor in 1873. He discovered the city at the place where Homer placed Troy. Schliemann also discovered the Mycenaean site in 1876.
7. The Mycenaean civilization founded several cities that later became city-States. Those were Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. Unlike the Minoans, the Mycenaeans became the heroes of Homer’s poems-the the Achaeans who conquered Troy.
8. Minoans have created an original culture. The most notable ritual of that culture was bull leaping, which may have been the sacred religious practice for the inhabitants of that civilization. Interestingly, bull-leaping rituals came to our times too. For example, people of Southwestern France and northern Spain still practice Bull-leaping.
9. Minoan culture achieved great success, but by 1450 BC, the Mycenaeans, so-called after the city of Mycenae, where traces of their culture were first discovered, invaded Crete.
10. Mycenaeans lived in small towns in Greece and were very militant. Their civilization took much of the Minoan culture. Both Minoans and Mycenaeans used the ancient linear script and believed in female deities.
11. The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations worshiped female deities who represented the serpent goddess, the sea goddess and the cave goddess who assisted in childbirth. Male Gods played a secondary role.
12. The Minoans and Mycenaeans believed in supernatural powers. They respected their Gods, organized processions in their honor, accompanied by music, and humored them with animal sacrifices in the hope of God’s mercy. Palaces served as a center of religious activity.
13. Both the Cretan and Mycenaean civilizations were discovered and excavated by Western archaeologists.
14. Both the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations produced pottery and bronze objects. They painted the walls of their palaces with frescoes, examples of which have survived to our time.
15. Mycenaean statehood was based on war and conquest; on the other hand, the Minoans were a society based on trade and diplomacy.
16. The Minoans carried on an active trade. Their numerous merchant fleets went to trading voyages with valuable goods such as ceramics, metal products, wine, olive oil, and they exchanged them abroad for copper, tin, ivory, and gold.
17. Judging by the fine art of the Minoans, they were elegant and cheerful people. Both men and women wore long hair, but women decorated it in a particular way, styling it in curls.
18. The urban community consisted of the upper class (which included the Royal family, nobles, and priests), the middle class, and slaves. It can be assumed that women were equal to men in terms of their status in society, and they participated in all types of activities, including the most dangerous types of athletic activities.
19. The Mycenaeans spoke Greek and had a written language in a syllabary called linear language B. the Minoan language is unknown. Their hieroglyphic alphabet has been preserved on the Phaistos disk, but none of them has been deciphered.
20. Geneticists found that both the Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar to the Neolithic inhabitants of Anatolia and people from the East: the Caucasus and the territory of modern-day Iran.
21. Arthur Evans found luxurious structures that he called palaces. Palaces have been found in Knossos, Fez, Malia, and elsewhere in Crete.
22. Knossos is an ancient city on the island of Crete, located near modern Heraklion, on the northern shore, 2.5 miles (4 km) from the sea. It was the main city of the island during the Minoan civilization. Later, Knossos was under the rule of the Achaean Greeks during the Mycenaean civilization.
23. Knossos Palace is the largest of the palaces built by the Minoans. It covers about 150,000 square feet (14,000 square meters) area and has more than a thousand rooms and halls for various purposes.
24. There were legends of a labyrinth in a Knossos palace in which lived a monster Minotaur, who was eventually killed by the Greek hero Theseus, and the thread of his beloved Ariadne allowed him to leave the terrible labyrinth.
25. Around 1700 BC, the old palaces were destroyed by a series of earthquakes, and from 1650 BC to 1450 BC, the era of new palaces in Crete began. Cretan culture and art influenced mainland Greece.
26. The Minoans considered themselves a sea people. The frescoes in their palaces often contain images of ships, fish, playing Dolphin, and octopus.
27. Mycenaeans were the first people to speak Greek.
28. Evidence suggests that the Minoans disappeared so suddenly due to a powerful volcanic eruption on the Islands of Santorini.
29. After the Mycenaean army conquered Crete and colonized the nearby Islands, they became the main force in the region. However, about 1200-1100 BC the Mycenaean civilization went into decline. Researchers suggest such a decline took place either because of the conquest of Greece by Dorian tribes, or internal conflicts.
30. The ruins of Mycenae are located on the Peloponnese Peninsula, on the eastern side of a rocky ridge, 1.2 miles (2 km) from the small town of Mycenae, 56 miles (90 km) south-west of the Greek capital, Athens, 20 miles (32 km) north of the Argolikos Bay.
31. Lion Gate is the main attraction of the Greek Mycenae, which met all travelers who came to the city. The weight of the structure is 20 tons.
32. Like most ancient cities, Mycenae was a well-fortified fortress and was built on a rocky hill about 920 feet (280 meters) high.
33. Enemies often besieged the city of Mycenae, and an effective defense required a large supply of water. In the XIV century BC, for the first time in Europe, cisterns were erected here, the scale of which is striking: at a depth of 59 feet (18 meters), there were huge barrels 16 feet (5 meters) high.
34. In the city of Mycenae, several graves and a Golden funeral mask were discovered, which covered the face of king Agamemnon.
35. The Minoan and Mycenaean era was very rich in interesting inventions and riddles. The legacy left after it is extraordinary, all the works of art delight us to this day, and make us suffer in thinking how it was possible to create such a miracle at that time which is in our opinion, completely “uncivilized”.