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Crete: History

Europe's first literate civilization

Minoan fresco commonly known as the "Prince of the Lilies"

Crete is a cradle, an instrument, a vibrating test tube in which a volcanic experiment has been performed Henry Miller

The result of the greatest of these volcanic experiments was ancient Greek culture. Many of its gods and oldest myths were born here with the Minoans, the first literate civilization on European soil, which burst into bloom like the first rapture of spring and created art shot through with an ecstatic beauty that still thrills even after 3,500 years. Minoan Crete ruled the Aegean while the rest of Greece was just learning to speak Greek, yet up until Arthur Evans’ excavations of Knossos in 1900 the sea-girt kingdom of Minos was considered only a myth, first mentioned in Homer (translated by Robert Fitzgerald):

One of the great islands of the world in midsea, in the winedark sea, is Krete: spacious and rich and populous, with 90 cities and a mingling of tongues. Akhaians there are found, along with Kretan hillmen of the old stock, and Kydonians, Dorians [...], Pelasgians – and one among their 90 towns is Knossos. Here lived King Minos whom great Zeus received every 9th year in private council.

Early Days: the rise of the Bronze Age Minoans

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Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Arthur Conry, GNU Free Documentation License, Belli değil, Dan Diffendale, Gabriella Bullock, Guillaume Lejean , Moonik, Neil Howard, Nina M. Davies, PD Art, Photo prise par Harrieta171, The Shaun Woods, Tony Hammond, Unknown, 13th-century author, Unknown authorUnknown author, Wolfgang Sauber, Zde