First people from Anatolia (7000 B.C.) –First script pictorial –Second: Linear A –Later, the Mycenaeans adapted Linear A for use in their own language. This script called Linear B
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Minoan power ends in 1450 Cnossos rebuilt but now occupied by Mycenaeans Second destruction: 1400 B.C. Third and final: 1200 B.C.
Archaeology and Cretan Myth What can we know about the Minoans? Ancient Greeks wanted to know too and used their myths as guide to history –Thucydides Arthur Evans (1899) –Uncovered Minoan material culture at Cnossos
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Minoans were vigorous, pleasure-loving, seafaring, with a taste for vibrant, naturalistic art Palaces not fortified –A thalassocracy? Relationship with Athens perhaps a historical truth –Theseus and the Minotaur
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Minoan Religion –Worshipped a Great Mother goddess –The “Snake Goddess” –Ariadnê (“the very holy one”) –Ariadnê Aphrodite –Bull as the symbol of male fertility and Zeus? Bull jumping as human sacrifice to the god?
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Athenian youths given to the Minotaur perhaps an image of child-sacrifice Double axe –Used to sacrifice the bull? –Labys < Labyrinth “house of the double axe”? Pasiphaë and the bull a reflection of sacrifice of young women to the god? –modified to a sexual surrender
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Minoan myth preserved by the Greeks who emphasized the lurid and licentious about the Cretans –Pasiphaë –Phaedra –Megara
Archaeology and Cretan Myth The story of Theseus appears to be a folktale that resembles a male’s initiation into adulthood –In Athens, young men (18–20 ) who were ephebes alluded to the model of Theseus in their oath
Archaeology and Cretan Myth TheseusMale Initiation Journey to a far landDriven from native land Victory over death and a monster Mock death and demons Amorous adventureSexual experience Becomes kingReturn to society with full privileges
Archaeology and Cretan Myth Daedalus, the trickster, also underlines the folktale quality of Minoan myth Prototype of the passionate artist –Daedalic style of art