Category: minoan civilization

Archaeologists worked with primatologists to re-examine wall-paintings of monkeys in a Minoan building buried in volcanic ash around 1600 BCE. at the site of Akrotiri, which is located on the Greek island of Thera in the Aegean Sea. No monkeys are known to have lived in Greece at the time. Most of the monkeys in the painting have been identified as olive baboons, which are native to Egypt, but one monkey, with distinctive fur and an S-shaped tail, was identified as a grey langur, a species that lives in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indus Valley of India.

It was already known that the Minoans had contact with Egypt. And this wall mosaic hints at contacts with the Indus River Valley civilization, as well. Or perhaps it demonstrates the far-reaching and interconnected nature of the trade networks even in the Bronze Age.

A 110-foot-long courtyard surrounded by a majestic Minoan building have been found at Sissi on Crete’s northern coast. It was built around 1700 BCE and with its fine plastered floors, the site is similar in size and opulence to other palaces on the island from the same period. But Sissi lacks many typical palace features. It has no storage rooms, no administrative materials, and no industrial areas. A variety of ritual objects have been found, suggesting that it was used for religious purposes more than governmental ones.

Nearby, a tomb of a woman dating to about 1400 BCE has also been found.  The lady was buried with an ivory-handled bronze mirror, a necklace of gold beads, and bone and bronze pins which held her clothing. The tomb is typical Mycenaean, making it the first such grave found so far east on Crete. Her grave is contemporary with a Mycenaean-era complex constructed around 1400 BCE and abandoned around 1200 BCE.

Crete started to become a trading power around 3000 BCE. By the middle of the 2000s BCE, it was the heart of a large trading network, with connections to Syria, Egypt, the many Aegean islands, and mainland Greece.

The Minoan people followed their ships, and established settlements throughout the Mediterranean world. When the Greeks did the same in the 700s and 500s BCE, their settlements were called “colonies.” And just like the later Greek colonies, these Minoan settlements spread Minoan language, arts, and textiles. Even urban planning: far-flung Minoan settlements were laid out just like Minoan towns back home.

Unmentionables, From Figleaves to Scanties, Robert Cortes Holliday, 1933