Peaceful Minoan Crete . . . Was Not

Boy boxers smack each other in a Minoan fresco. (Wiki Commons).

Bronze Age (Minoan) Crete is often portrayed as this peaceful place where people gathered flowers, danced, sang, and worshiped the Great Mother Goddess.

Um, no, says an archaeologist from the University of Sheffield:

“Their world was uncovered just over a century ago, and was deemed to be a largely peaceful society,” explained [Barry] Molloy. “In time, many took this to be a paradigm of a society that was devoid of war, where warriors and violence were shunned and played no significant role.

“That utopian view has not survived into modern scholarship, but it remains in the background unchallenged and still crops up in modern texts and popular culture with surprising frequency.

“Having worked on excavation and other projects in Crete for many years, it triggered my curiosity about how such a complex society, controlling resources and trading with mighty powers like Egypt, could evolve in an egalitarian or cooperative context. Can we really be that positive about human nature? As I looked for evidence for violence, warriors or war, it quickly became obvious that it could be found in a surprisingly wide range of places.”

Much like other people, in other words. Read the rest here.

4 thoughts on “Peaceful Minoan Crete . . . Was Not

  1. Evans’ dream of a peaceful Minoan ciclization were already beginning to crumble before his death in 1941. I recommend Cathy Gere’s “Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism.” It has issues, but does provide a lot of information on what was feeding that mythology and keeping it going for so long.

    1. Hi Michael, actually I recommend ‘Knossos and the Prophets of Modernisnm’ as well – just for general reading even. I love it and have read it twice, I’d read it a third time too.

  2. And, if you have access to it in a library, Aegaeum 19 (1999)

    Le contexte général
    Jan DRIESSEN – The Archaeology of Aegean Warfare
    Oliver DICKINSON – Robert Drews’s Theories about the Nature of Warfare in the Late Bronze Age
    Margalit FINKELBERG – Greek Epic Tradition on Population Movements in Bronze Age Greece
    La Crète minoenne
    Louis GODART – La fin des premiers palais crétois : lutte intestine ou tremblement de terre ?
    Anna-Lucia D’AGATA – Hidden Wars: Minoans and Mycenaeans at Haghia Triada in the LM III Period. The Evidence from Pottery
    Jeffrey S. SOLES – The Collapse of Minoan Civilization: the Evidence of the Broken Ashlar
    Alan D. PEATFIELD – The Paradox of Violence: Weaponry and Martial Art in Minoan Crete
    Stella CHRYSSOULAKI – Minoan Roads and Guard Houses – War Regained
    Keith BRANIGAN – The Nature of Warfare in the Southern Aegean during the Third Millennium B.C.
    La Grèce mycénienne
    Phoebe E. ACHESON – The Role of Force in the Development of Early Mycenaean Polities
    John BENNET and Jack L. DAVIS – Making Mycenaeans: Warfare, Territorial Expansion, and Representations of the other in the Pylian Kingdom
    Sigrid DEGER-JALKOTZY – Military Prowess and Social Status in Mycenaean Greece
    Robin L.N. BARBER – Hostile Mycenaeans in the Cyclades?
    Wolf-Dietrich NIEMEIER – Mycenaeans and Hittites in War in Western Asia Minor
    Gisela WALBERG – The End of the Late Bronze Age at Midea
    Les fortifications
    John K. PAPADOPOULOS, Guy M. CROSS, Richard E. JONES and Lorna SHARPE – The Prehistoric Fortifications of Torone
    Norbert SCHLAGER – “A Town of Castles:” an MM/LM Fortified Site at Aspro Nero in the Far East of Crete
    Metaxia TSIPOPOULOU – From Local Centre to Palace: the Role of Fortification in the Economic Transformation of the Siteia Bay Area, East Crete
    Krzysztof NOWICKI – The Historical Background of Defensible Sites on Crete: Late Minoan IIIC Versus Protopalatial
    Spyros IAKOVIDIS – Late Helladic Fortifications
    Katie DEMAKOPOULOU and Nicoletta DIVARI-VALAKOU – The Fortifications of the Mycenaean Acropolis of Midea
    Les aspects religieux
    Philip P. BETANCOURT – Discontinuity in the Minoan-Mycenaean Religions: Smooth Development or Disruptions and War?
    Paul REHAK – The Mycenaean ‘Warrior Goddess’ Revisited
    Vincenzo LA ROSA and Pietro MILITELLO – Caccia, guerra o rituale? Alcune considerazioni sulle armi minoiche da Festos e Haghia Triada
    Les aspects funéraires
    Thanasis J. PAPADOPOULOS – Warrior-Graves in Achaean Mycenaean Cemeteries
    Volume II

    ieharles GATES – Why are there no Scenes of Warfare in Minoan Art?
    Edmund F. BLOEDOW – ‘Hector is a lion’: New Light on Warfare in the Aegean Bronze Age from the Homeric Simile
    Nancy R. THOMAS – The War Animal: Three Days in the Life of the Mycenaean Lion
    Robert LAFFINEUR – De Mycènes à Homère. Réflexions sur l’iconographie guerrière mycénienne
    Stefan HILLER – Scenes of Warfare and Combat in the Arts of Aegean Late Bronze Age. Reflections on Typology and Development
    Litsa KONTORLI-PAPADOPOULOU – Fresco Fighting – Scenes as Evidence for Warlike Activities in the LBA Aegean
    Günter KOPCKE – Male Iconography on some Late Minoan Signets
    Judith WEINGARTEN – War Scenes and Ruler Iconography in a Golden Age: Some Lessons on Missing Minoan Themes from the United Provinces (17th c A.D.)
    Les sources écrites et l’administration
    Anna SACCONI – Les tablettes de Pylos et la guerre
    Thomas G. PALAIMA – Mycenaean Militarism from a Textual Perspective. Onomastics in Context: làwos, dàmos, klewos
    Massimo PERNA – Fiscalità ed emergenza a Pilo
    Jan DRIESSEN and Ilse SCHOEP – The Stylus and the Sword. The Role of Scribes and Warriors in the Conquest of Crete
    Cynthia W. SHELMERDINE – Pylian Polemics: the Latest Evidence on Military Matters
    Malcolm H. WIENER – Present Arms/Oars/Ingots: Searching for Evidence of Military or Maritime Administration in LM IB
    Les armes et l’armement
    Jean-Claude POURSAT – Les armes en Égée au Bronze moyen: quelques remarques
    Cheryl R. FLOYD – Observations on a Minoan Dagger from Chrysokamino
    Birgitta EDER – Late Bronze Age Swords from Ancient Elis
    Brigitta P. HALLAGER – A Warrior and an Unknown Chariot Type on a LM IIIB: 2 Krater in Khania
    Joost CROUWEL – Fighting on Land and Sea in Late Mycenaean Times
    Michael WEDDE – War at Sea: the Mycenaean and Early Iron Age Oared Galley
    La guerre
    Katherina KOPAKA – La guerre des femmes en Égée de l’âge du Bronze: lire entre “les lignes de combat”
    Olga KRZYSZKOWSKA – So where’s the Loot? The Spoils of War and the Archaeological Record
    Robert ARNOTT – War Wounds and their Treatment in the Aegean Bronze Age
    Thomas G. PALAIMA – A Linear B Inscribed Galet from Liège

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