HIST205- Ancient Mediterranean History-LECTURE 2- The Early Greeks

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HIST 205- Ancient Mediterranean History- Lecture 2: The Early Greeks
I. The Minoans 2700-1450 BC
Minos, according to tradition, was the first person to organize a navy/ He
controlled the greater part of what is called the Hellenic Sea. He ruled of the
Cyclades, in most of which he founded the first colonies, putting his sons in as
governors after having driven out the Carians. And it is reasonable to suppose
that he did his best to put down piracy in order to secure his own revenues.
Archaic Greece- Crete: cradle of civilizations (Sir Arthur Evans excavated it)
Minoan Society
-Named after mythical King Minos (minotaur myth)
-Palatial society based in Bronze- Age Crete
-Thalassocracy (Maritime gods) that spread throughout the Aegean
-Sea based supremacy
-Knossos has the biggest palace excavated by Sir Arthur Evans
-Trade creates leisure for the wealthy, games, athletics, art, feasts all work to
establish and cement power
Phaistoc Disc- discovered in 1908, mid- to- late Minoan
Linear A characters, still undeciphered
Resembles Anatolian and Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Society- First European Civilizations
Palaces culture not unlike the Near East
-Palaces as centres of political and economic power
-Palatial period from around 1900- 1450 BC
Leisured classes, gap between rich and poor
Structured and hierarchy (urban rich, rural poor)
Society built on trade, mostly peaceful
Quick Downfall- c. 1450: Destroyed by fire
Two theories, not necessarily exclusive:
-Volcano eruption c. 1450 causes great damage and social unrest, bringing down
-Purely social conflict caused by mobilization of wealth, led to unrest and brought
down palaces
II. Mycenaeans 1600- 1100 BC (1880’s Heinrich Schliemann discovered this site)
-Still a palace culture
-Large citadels
-Fortifications (walls)
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