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Lecture 1: Minoan and Mycenaean

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Adriana Brook

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CLA160HLecture 1 JULY4/2011
BCE = before common era
oAlso, BC = before Christ
oCounts backwards (i.e. Persian Wars: 490 – 480 BCE)
CE = common era
oAlso, AD = anno domini = the year of our lord
oCounts forwards (i.e. Reign of Tiberius: 14 – 37 CE)
The name” of the century is always one higher than the actual date in both BCE and CE
oFor example: Rome was founded in 753 BCE in the 8
centur y BCE
There is no year “zero” it goes from 1BCE to 1 CE
(ii)Greek Civilization (ca. 6500 – 323 BCE)
Geography: mountains and oceans
1. Mountains: 75% of Greece; only 30% are arable/good for agriculture
oGrows grapes, grains, and olives
oLacking in timber; leads to import of timber from other places like Sicily
oThe mountains are also good for raising sheep and cattle, as well as horses possessing horses indicate
wealth and status, and allows one to join the cavalry (without a horse, you can only join the infantry)
oLots of mineral resources: tin, copper, and silver copper + tin = bronze; very useful in making weapons
and such
oMountains also create barriers between city-states; cities are isolated and leads to lack of communication
and disunity
oPeople tend to live on valleys
oREGIONS: Pelopponese, Isthmus (Sparta), Attica (Athens) and Boeotia (Thebes)
oGeography contributes to Greeces greekness people tend to identify themselves more with their city-
states (i.e. Athenian, Theban, Spartan); threats, like the Persians, united the city-states
2. Oceans: Greece has lots of coastline; easy travelling with ships Greeks become seafaring people
oDeveloped a navy in their military (except Sparta, whose not near a body of water) Athens is an example
of a city-state with a great naval power
oOceans are sources of fish, and other seafood
oAegean Sea (myth: Theseus father, Aegis jumped off a cliff because Theseus forgot to change his sails
when he was going back home – he thought Theseus was dead)
oLots of islands called Cyclades
oTurkey = Asia Minor Greeks living on the coastline
oIonian Sea, located on the other side of Greece
oSea of Crete, near the island of Crete
oGreece in the center of the Mediterr anean makes it easier to travel around locally and in the
Mediterr ane an
oEasy trading between colonies, Egypt, Phoenicia, etc
(iii) Minoan Civilization
Fl. 1700 – 1450 (note: fl., means flourished in”)
Minoans are not Greek; lived on Crete
Palace culture
1899: Sir Arthur Evans discovered a palace structure at Knossos
oNamed the people of Crete, Minoans because of King Minos and his son, the Minotaur
Palace built 2000 BCE but was destroyed by an earthquake, and was then rebuilt in the 1700 BCE (it is the rebuilt
palace that Evans discovered)
The palace is 180 acres in total, with a central courtyard; rooms added to the central courtyard haphazardly 
resembles a maze/labyrinth, which goes back to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
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