A Minoan Civilization
Minoan settlements, tombs and cemeteries have been found all over Crete but the four principal palace sites (in order of size) were at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros. At each of these sites, large, complex palace structures of two or three stories and covering several thousand square meters seem to have acted as local administrative, trade, religious and possibly political centres. The relationship between the palaces and the power structure within them or over the island as a whole is not clear due to a lack of archaeological and literary evidence. It is clear, however, that the palaces exerted some kind of localized control, in particular, in the gathering and storage of materials - wine, oil, grain, precious metals and ceramics. The absence of fortifications in the settlements suggests a relatively peaceful co-existence between the different communities. However, the presence of weapons such as swords, daggers and arrow-heads and defensive equipment such as armor and helmets would also suggest that peace may not always have been enjoyed.
The sophistication of the Minoan culture and its trading capacity is evidenced by the presence of writing - firstly hieroglyphic and then Linear A scripts (both, as yet, undeciphered), predominantly found on various types of administrative clay tablets. A further example of the culture’s high degree of development is the variety and quality of the art forms practised by the Minoans. Pottery finds reveal a wide range of vessels from wafer-thin cups to large storage jars (pithoi). Ceramics were initially hand-turned but then increasingly made on the potter’s wheel. In decoration, there was a progression from flowing geometric designs in Kamares ware to vibrant naturalistic depictions of flowers, plants and sea life in the later Floral and Marine styles. Magnificent frescoes from the walls and floors of the palaces also reveal the Minoans’ love of the sea and nature and give insights into religious, communal and funeral practices. Metal, stone, ivory and faiencework also reveal a high degree of craftsmanship, examples range from fine alabaster jars to dynamic ivory sculpture in the round to minutely carved gold rings and seals. About 2,500 years ago, much of the island was destroyed by an earthquake, but the Minoans rebuilt. About 200 years later, much of the island was destroyed by tidal waves, triggered by an erupting volcano. After the volcano, there is no record of the Minoan civilization. Perhaps they moved to some other place. No one knows.