The Minoan civilization is thought to have had its center on the island of Santorini in the Mediterranean Sea. But, the first archeological discoveries of the Minoan civilization were made on Crete. The city on Santorini is thought to have been constructed in concentric, connected circles of land and water-ways, allowing for easy sea trade. The island of Crete also had numerous ports, all with matching architecture to that of Santorini. This fascinating society, developed far ahead of its time, met with a extremely sudden and vague destruction. From what was left for archeologists to discover, their literature, art, and architecture give us what we know of this mighty society.
Knowledge of the written and spoken Minoan language is scarce. Approximately three thousand written tablets have been found in the Minoan context. But these texts are more of an economic record, containing more numbers than words. This makes translating difficult. Uncovered inscriptions on religious objects associated with cult practices lent little aid in translating. It is supposed that Cretan hieroglyphics are Minoan in origin. Still inconclusive, Minoan culture is known from its art.
Pottery and frescoes dominated Minoan art. On their pottery, the Minoans depicted nature scenes and geometric shapes. Because the Minoans used wet paint versus the Egyptians’ dry paint, their painting was known as “flowing art.” Encouraging improvisation, spontaneity, and the element of chance, “flowing art” developed master painters. Fluidly portrayed moments of nature scenes were the most common subjects on Minoan frescoes. One of the most illustrious and famous Minoan frescoes covers several acres and was created during the reign of King Minos. But, most impressive of all Minoan achievements was their architecture.
Minoan construction far exceeded its time. Because it was unparalleled for several hundred years, their ingeniously designed water management system is regarded as one of the Minoans’ greatest architectural accomplishments. Including flush toilets and running water, this system allowed its citizens to live in luxury. In the Minoan architecture is found another amazing accomplishment: wall structure. When building walls, the Minoans used stones supported by wooden frames. This gave the walls great strength and stability against dreaded earthquakes which were exceedingly common in that region of the Mediterranean. But these walls were not strong enough for the volcanic eruption of immense proportions that is thought to have caused the destruction of the Minoan Civilization through its resulting earthquakes and tsunamis.
The Minoan culture completed stunning achievements. Most important of these was their amazing advancements in architecture. But at the height of the Minoan culture, it was brought to its knees by volcanic eruptions (thought to be ten times greater than Krakatau) followed by earthquakes and tsunamis. Ironically, the fear and protection against these natural disasters which lead to such sophisticated buildings did nothing to save them from their final demise.
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