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The Cretans: Early Greek Civilization

Crete developed from about 2000 to 1400 BC one of the most brilliant civilizations of antiquity: the cretan civilization. This civilization had knowledge of writing, developed a rich craft production and a huge maritime trade.

The Cretans inhabited the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece, Asia Minor and Egypt. Its geographical position was almost a trace of union between Asia, Europe and Africa. It is in the south of the Aegean Sea and is the second largest island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the fifth largest of all that sea. According to one myth, it was on this island that the minotaur lived. The island's capital is the city of Heraklion.
Archaeological studies show that the first inhabitants arrived on the island around 3000 BC, probably from Asia Minor.
From 2000 BC they already stood out as lords of commerce in the Aegean Sea. The maritime expansion and the consequent contact with various developed civilizations of the time led the Cretans to build a grand civilization.

There is not much information about the history of Crete, as the Minoan script, which was used by the Cretan people, has not yet been completely deciphered. Minoan writing was similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics, made up of small figures and symbols. Only the accounts of the ancient Greeks, works of the sixth and fifth century BC, and especially the archaeological excavations, allow us to partly reconstruct the history of this people and learn a little of their culture.
It is also known that that civilization built palaces in Knossos, Festos, Malia, and Holy Trinity - palaces whose ruins are still seen.

Initially, the Cretans practiced specialized agriculture, growing cereals, olive trees and vineyards, and raising livestock, but in fact trade was the basis of the economy.

To increase commercial activities, the Cretans developed a diversified artisanal production, using metals (copper, bronze, gold and silver), and making ceramic objects. And so important were ceramics for commerce that artisans came to occupy a prominent position in the urban economy and in society.

Crete's trade area encompassed the neighboring islands of the Aegean Sea, the island of Cyprus, Syria, where they brought metals for their workshops, and Egypt, where they brought ivory and perfumes. They had a system of weights and measures similar to that of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. In Crete emerged, for the first time, a civilization that had much power to rule the seas, which was called the thalassocracy.

An important cultural feature of the Cretan civilization was religion, which was based above all on the worship of the Mother Goddess, a female deity who ruled the universe and represented fecundity. This belief contributed to the woman's access to the same male activities, without discrimination or restrictions.

Probably around the 14th century BC, Crete was dominated by the Achaeans, people who invaded the region of Greece and settled in the city of Mycenae. From the union of cultures of the two peoples came the Creto-Mycenaean civilization, the starting point for the brilliant Greek culture.

Mycenae became a major city and dominated the entire eastern Mediterranean region, including the city of Troy. This achievement is described in the Trojan War narratives that were reported to have occurred around 1200 BC.

Finally, around the 12th century BC, came the Dorians, the warrior people who dominated the region and razed the cities forcing the dispersal of the people who were there to isolated areas in the territory or flight to the Aegean islands or the coast of Asia. Smaller. The domination of the Dorians led to the destruction of Mycenaean civilization and gave rise to a new moment in the history of ancient Greece.

Crete became an autonomous state on March 20, 1898 and independent on October 6, 1908. On May 30, 1913, it came to belong definitively to Greece.

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