The Minoan World. Journey to the origins of Europe
Edited by Stella Mandalaki & Giorgos Rethemiotakis
Publisher: Ministry of Culture and sports, Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Description: Ministry of Culture and sports, Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Τhe Minoan civilisation, one of the greatest achievements of human endeavour in the world, was the first civilisation to arise on European soil. Recognising its uniqueness, Arthur Evans, the excavator of Knossos, the metropolitan centre of the Minoan world, named the civilisation he brought to light “Minoan”, inspired by the legendary King Minos of Knossos. Ruler of the sea, founder and guarantor of law and order, the demigod Minos was the fruit of the union of Zeus and Europa, the Phoenician princess whom the Father of the Gods, in the form of a bull, carried to Gortyn. The divine origin of the mythical ruler interprets, to a certain extent, the powerful nature of the Minoan central administration, which is reflected in the birth and establishment of the palatial system, and in the formation of an organised bureaucratic control at a peripheral level. The invention of writing contributed to the functioning of the palaces and facilitated transactions both within and without the Minoan centres, particularly at the trading stations established throughout the East Mediterranean and along the coasts of Asia Minor to secure the supply of raw materials. These were destined to meet the sophisticated requirements of the Minoan ruling class, exemplified by the masterpieces of Minoan art. At the same time, the special relationship of the Minoans with nature was a source of inspiration for the aesthetic choises of their artistic creations and determined the evolution of the Minoan worldview. The rugged Cretan landscape, dominated by rocky massifs, gorges, caves and mostly small plains with the exception of the extensive Mesara Plain, influenced not only the organisation of human communities but also their attitude to divinity and death, shaping their religious thought, which is of a particularly high intellectual level.
The following chapters will take us on a journey through the fascinating world of the Minoan civilisation. Many facets are highlighted, mainly through the exhibits of the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which reopened its doors to the public in May 2014, following extensive renovation work and the redisplay of the Museum collections. This publication is not an exhaustive presentation of scientific archaeological information. Its purpose is to provide an overview of characteristic expressions of the Minoan world, addressed to the general public and guided by the archaeological finds.
The creation and establishment of the palatial system [13-61]
The invention of writing and sealing [63-93]
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In search of the transcendental [95-135]
The bull as symbol of power [137-149]
The arts [151-195]
Minoan sports [199-213]
The Minoan thalassocracy: reality and myth [215-239]