Minoans Facts: Things To Know About This Bronze Age Civilization | Kidadl


Minoans Facts: Things To Know About This Bronze Age Civilization

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The Minoan civilization was an ancient Greek civilization set during the Bronze Age on the Greek island of Crete.

A British archaeologist named Sir Arthur Evans was the main person who discovered the Minoan civilization. He first hypothesized that there might be an ancient civilization in Crete by studying old artifacts.

He started an excavation at the city of Knossos and found the ruins of a civilization. Sir Evans named the civilization after the legendary character of King Minos who was the ruler of Crete in Greek mythology. King Minos had a half-human, half-beast creature named the Minotaur who he kept in a complex labyrinth in Crete. Every nine years, he would demand seven young men and women from Athens on the Greek mainland to feed the hunger of the beast. Due to the courage of Prince Theseus, the fearsome Minotaur was finally defeated and no more young people were sacrificed to the beast.

Keep scrolling to learn more interesting Minoans facts.

Chronology And History

Sir Arthus Evans categorized the Minoan period into three parts; the Early Minoan period, the Middle Minoan period, and the Late Minoan age. Since he found actual historical evidence of a mythological civilization from the ruins, he named the civilization after a legendary character. The Minoan civilization is a historically significant civilization in the development of Greece and Western ideas. The Minoans had actively passed on their own advancements and culture to the neighboring areas as well as mainland Greece while traveling there for trade.

The Early Minoan Age lasted from 3000-2100 BCE, and the Middle Minoan Age ran from 2100-1600 BCE. Historians have found several similarities between the Minoan culture and the Mycenean culture showing how the Minoan civilization may have influenced the other cultures that grew around it.

Some historians have argued that Minos was the title of a powerful line of rulers in this civilization which may have also affected the naming. Some records also show that Minos might have been a line of powerful priests or rulers who held social, political, and economic control in the region.

Major Settlements

In the Bronze Age, the Minoan people settled and established on the island of Crete was further divided into cities such as Knossos, Zakros, Malia, and Phaistos. The Mediterranean Sea beside the island made it easy for Minoan trade to flourish greatly.

Minoan palaces were not very fortified and this shows that the people lived peaceful lives and there was not much threat of war or conflict from neighboring regions. However, weapons like swords and daggers have also been found as a part of Minoan artifacts around the palace sites. This indicates that the people of Minoan Crete were still prepared for any external attack.

Minoan traders had access to a profitable trade route from the Mediterranean Sea to Southwest Asia, including the countries of Israel, Jordan, and Syria. The access to the sea made it easier for the merchants to travel and sell their goods. Many of the roads also had provisions of guards or watchtowers, which meant that guards were responsible for protecting travelers from bandits.

Agriculture And Cuisine

Not much is known about the lifestyle of the Minoans from the Minoan sites. Thus, historians have had to work hard to figure out what their daily life looked like. While this civilization is known for its stunning art, there were also agriculturers and traders amidst them. Fish and other kinds of seafood were a staple in their diet.

Most of the commoners were engaged in farming and they grew crops like wheat, olives grapes, and barley. They also raised livestock such as cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats.

They mostly ate fish, barnacles, sea snails, and cuttlefish that the fishermen caught from the sea. They also consumed the meat of goats, sheep, pigs, hare, and cattle that they reared.

Knossos palace at Crete. Heraklion

Women, Society, Culture, Art, And Architecture

The Minoan society, culture, art forms, and architecture were mainly inspired by the religion that they followed. Even the artifacts found in the archaeological sites contain images of religious ceremonies and sacred rituals. Most of the buildings that they built had beautiful frescos and they also created beautiful art pieces in the form of vases.

There is an emphasis on a mother-earth goddess figure whom the Minoans worshipped as their supreme deity. Other artworks also feature a male deity who posed with various animals. From the religious images, it was apparent that the Minoan religion worshipped nature and prayed to natural forces for blessings. Some prominent motifs in the religious art of the Minoans are snakes which referred to the snake goddess and the bull.

The language spoken by the Minoans has been named 'Linear A' by historians, however, they have not yet been able to decipher it. The people were quite religious in nature and often organized feasts, rituals, and ceremonies. They were also quite fond of sports with bull-leaping being one of the favorites among all.

The frescos on the external wall of their buildings are famous for being intricate, complex, and nuanced. The images on the fresco sometimes depicted religious imagery but were also secular in some cases.

Other important art pieces created during this period were seals and pottery. The Kamares type of vase is one of the most famous art forms created by the Minoan civilization. The Kamares vase is a type of vase that would have a black-colored outer coat. On top of that black surface, artists would draw intricate patterns in red, gold, or orange. The Minoans also crafted beautiful gold jewelry.

Decline Of Minoans Civilization

There is more than one reason behind the decline of the Minoan civilization. However, due to the lack of evidence, historians have not been able to determine a certain reason. While some think it may have been a result of natural disasters, others believe the civilization may have faced a downfall as a result of foreign invasion.

In the Late Minoan period, the civilization started to decline slowly; a process that was complete by 1100 BCE. Some historians think natural disasters like volcanic eruptions or tsunamis from the adjoining sea may have resulted in the island becoming uninhabitable. Others think that repeated earthquakes led to immense loss of life. However, a group of historians also think that attacks from the Mycenaean civilization from mainland Greece may have caused a downfall as well.


What were Minoans known for?

Minoans were known for their contributions to the advancement of technology and language as well as beautiful Minoan art.

What type of people were the Minoans?

Based on the limited information available about Minoan culture from artifacts, historians have concluded that Minoans were actually quite peaceful people who deeply believed in religion.

How did the Minoan civilization fall?

Historians argue that the Minoan settlements were destroyed due to volcanic eruptions or tsunamis. Some argue that the external attacks from the Mycenaean may have also had a hand in its downfall.

Where did the Minoans originally come from?

Recent studies and findings from DNA suggest that the Minoans were from an ancestral Neolithic population. This group had established the civilization on Crete island around 4000 years ago.

What was a popular Minoan sport?

A popular Minoan sport was bull-leaping.

What did the Minoans wear?

Poor Minoan men mostly wore loincloths and the richer men wore long robes and kilts. Minoan women wore long dresses with heavy skirts and short sleeves.

Who was the Minoan's most famous king?

The most famous king of the Minoans is the legendary, mythical character of King Minos.

Why was Minos ashamed of his son?

In the Greek legends, King Minos was ashamed of his son Minotaur since he was half-beast and half-human. Thus, he kept Minotaur hidden in a labyrinth created by Daedalus away from human sight.

<p>With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".</p>

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