Ancient History, Mythology, Greece
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One of the great civilizations in the world during the 4th and 3d millennium BC was the Minoan culture of Crete. The Minoan culture is divided in three periods: old, middle and late. The old period was synchronized with the Old Kingdom of Egypt. There were connections between the two cultures through trade, and these influences can be found in the art in both Crete and Egypt.
During the middle period, about 1900 BC, the great palaces of Knossos and Phaestos were built. There are debates whether these buildings were housing kings or priests, but it is thought there was a religious association to them. The Great Goddess, perhaps called Rhea was worshipped, and her priests and priestesses had the highest position in the society.
During the second millennium BC a series of natural catastrophies plagued the Minoan civilization. At 1700 BC there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed the old palaces, and a second one occurred at about 1450 BC destroying most of the buildings of that time. The Volcano at Thera (Santorini) erupted at this time, causing half the island to sink.
The palace of Knossos was destroyed and rebuilt several times but the final catastrophy happened in 1200 BC when the temple of Rhea burnt. Ironically, this was what saved the claytables - in the fire they were burnt hard, and so saved to history. When the archaeo-logist Nicholas Evans found them in the beginning of the 20th century he did not know they were actually written in Greek.
At the same time of the Minoan civilization, especially the middle and late, the Mycenaean culture flourished on mainland Greece. It was also around the 13th and 12th century BC that the Dorians invaded the Peloponnese and took over as a leading tribe with Sparta and Corinth as their main cities.
The time between the end of the Mycenaean culture and the Classic times are sometimes called the Greek Middle Ages or Dark Ages. This is partly because we do not know much about this time. In general, the ancient world was going through a period with small states without major connections. The Doric invasion of Greece had left Mycenae in ruins, and there were limited resources to build anything.
Greece consisted of many small city-states, with kings as rulers. The people were only united at certain days of the year at various cultlocations. There they worshipped the Gods and organized athletic competitions. So called rhapsodists, bards, traveled around and recited epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey being the best known to the aftermath.