Minoan Civilization

Minoan civilization (mĬnō´ən), ancient Cretan culture representing a stage in the development of the Aegean civilization. It was named for the legendary King Minos of Crete by Sir Arthur Evans, the English archaeologist who conducted excavations there in the early 20th cent. Evans divided the culture into three periods that include the whole of the Bronze Age: Early Minoan (c.3000 BC–2200 BC), Middle Minoan (c.2200 BC–1500 BC), and Late Minoan (c.1500 BC–1000 BC). Early Minoan saw the slow rise of the culture from a Neolithic state with the importation of metals, the tentative use of bronze, and the appearance of a hieroglyphic writing. In the Middle Minoan period the great palaces appeared at Knossos and Phaistos; a pictographic script (known as Linear A; see Linear Scripts) was used; ceramics, ivory carving, and metalworking reached their peak; and Minoan maritime power extended across the Mediterranean. Toward the end of the period an earthquake, and possibly an invasion, destroyed Knossos, but the palace was rebuilt. During this period there is evidence of a new script (Linear B), at Knossos, an early form of the Greek language that argues the presence of Mycenaean Greeks. Other luxurious palaces existed at this time at Gournia, Cydonia (now Khaniá), and elsewhere. Knossos was again destroyed c.1500 BC, probably as a result of an earthquake and subsequent invasion from the Mycenaean mainland. The palace at Knossos was finally destroyed c.1400 BC, and the Late Minoan period faded out in poverty and obscurity. After the final destruction of Knossos, the cultural center of the Aegean passed to the Greek mainland (see Mycenaean civilization).

See Sir Arthur J. Evans, Palace of Minos (4 vol., 1921–25, repr. 1964); J. D. S. Pendlebury, Archaeology of Crete (1939, repr. 1963); S. Hood, The Minoans (1971); R. H. Simpson, Mycenaean Greece (1982); A. Harding, The Mycenaens and Europe (1984); Y. Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited: Rethinking Minoan Archaeology (2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Minoan Civilization: Selected full-text books and articles

Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History By Sarah B. Pomeroy; Stanley M. Burstein; Walter Donlan; Jennifer Tolbert Roberts Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: "Minoan Society and Culture, (1700-1500 B. C.)" begins on p. 12
Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology By William H. Stiebing Jr Oxford University Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: "Arthur Evans Reveals the Minoan Civilization" begins on p. 134
History of the Ancient and Medieval World By Henk Dijkstra Marshall Cavendish, vol.2, 1996
Librarian's tip: "The Minoan Civilization: The Rise and Flowering of a Bronze Age Civilization on Crete" begins on p. 193
Minoan Culture Survived Volcanic Eruption By Bower, B Science News, Vol. 137, No. 2, January 13, 1990
The Palace of Minos at Knossos By Chris Scarre; Rebecca Stefoff Oxford University Press, 2003
Ancient Religions By Sarah Iles Johnston Belknap Press, 2007
Librarian's tip: "Minoan and Mycenaean Civilizations" begins on p. 206
The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Modern Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Cultures By C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky; Jeremy A. Sabloff Cummings Publishing, 1974
Librarian's tip: "The Decadence of Minoan Crete: The Mycenaean Empire" begins on p. 412
Natural Disasters and Cultural Change By Robin Torrence; John Grattan Routledge, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 14 "Towards an Archaeology of Crisis: Defining the Long-term Impact of the Bronze Age Santorini Eruption," Chap. 16 "Volcanoes and History: A Significant Relationship? The Case of Santorini"
The Civilization of Greece in the Bronze Age By H. R. Hall Methuen, 1928
Librarian's tip: Lecture II "The Early Bronze Age (To Early Minoan II: Before 2500 B.C.)" and, Lecture III "From the Early to the Middle Bronze Age (Early Minoan III to Middle Minoan II, c. 2400-1800 B. C.)"
Magic and Rationality in Ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman Medicine By H.F.J. Horstmanshoff; M. Stol Brill, 2004
Librarian's tip: "Minoan and Mycenaean Medicine and Its Near Eastern Contacts" begins on p. 153
Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece By Susan E. Alcock; Robin Osborne Clarendon Press, 1994
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "After the 'Big Bang'--What? or Minoan Symbols and Shrines beyond Palatial Collapse"
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