Chapter 2: Aegean Civilizations
The Minoans, the Mycenaeans, and the Greeks of the Archaic Age
I. Prelude: Minoan Civilization, 3000-1100 BCE
A. By 2000 BCE, a prosperous and stable mercantile civilization
B. Between 1700 and 1100 BCE, it reached it’s high point in wealth, power, and sophistication
C. Labeled the Minoan civilization after King Minos was apparently organized into a complex class system that
included nobles, merchants, artisans, bureaucrats and laborers.
D. No fortified walls protected the Minoan palaces, suggesting that the cities remained at peace with one another and
that the island itself afforded adequate protection against invading sea raiders.
E. Friezes: Bands of designs and figures
F. Frescoes: Paint applied directly on wet plaster
G. early Minoans developed a pictorial form of writing on clay tablets that was replaced in about 1800 BCE by a script
known as Linear A.
1. Linear B, which superseded Linear A, flourished from about 1400 to the decline of the Minoan civilization
in around 1300, though it remained in use in a few scattered places on the Greek mainland for about 200
2. Linear B writings revealed nothing of Minoan political, social or philosophical systems but were used to
record commercial transactions
H. Minoan religion appears to have been matriarchal, centering on the worship of a mother goddess, or great goddess,
creator of the universe and source of all life.
1. Minoans began to bury their dead in underground tombs and chambers, but neither the reason for the new
burial practice nor its ritualistic meaning has been discovered
I. Minoan trade dominated the eastern Mediterranean until about 1380 BCE, when the island was devastated by a
natural catastrophe – perhaps a volcano
J. Greeks of the later era had no direct knowledge of the Minoan civilization, but the Greek’s attitude toward the
Minoan culture was mythical.
K. Cretan influences on Greece may also be detected in language, social organization, and economic pursuits, although
the Archaic Greeks did not regard the Minoan Past as part of their Heritage
L. Geographically: Peloponnesius
II. Beginnings: Mycenaean Civilization, 1900 – 1100 BCE
A. Mycenaeans continued to live for the Greeks of the Archaic Age through the Iliad and the Odyessy.
B. Mycenaean civilization, named by archeologists for Mycenae, one of its most prominent fortress cities, developed
on the rugged lower Greek peninsula, known as the Peloponnesus.
C. An aggressive warrior people, perhaps from the plains of southern Russia or from the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the
Mycenaeans arrived on the peninsula in about 1900 BCE, and by about 1500 BCE, they ruled the entire Peloponnesus.
D. A fudal order similar to that found later in medieval Europe characterized the Mycenaean political system. Family