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Minoan Culture

Archaeologists seek for Minoan fate


They created extraordinary artifacts for hundreds of years, revealing an aesthetic sensibility that influences Western civilization to this day. Then they simply disappeared.


Scholars are seeking answers to one of the great mysteries of the ancient world: What happened to the Minoans of Crete, who controlled a thriving Mediterranean trade network from around 2,200-1,450 BC? Now NOVA senior science editor Evan Hadingham reports on new evidence that a massive tsunami struck the Bronze Age society 3,500 years ago, destabilizing the culture to such a degree that social chaos brought about its ultimate destruction.


As part of Massachusetts Archaeology Month, Mr. Hadingham spoke on the topic at Shrewsbury Public Library. Named after Minos, the mythical king of Crete, the Minoan people were part of a prosperous culture known for its successful sea trade, intricate palaces and fine art.


Mr. Hadingham said the palace ruins of Knossos, first excavated by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans in March 1900, provide the most stunning example of Minoan handiwork.


“It was an enormous structure, five stories high, decorated with frescoes, ancient statuettes, a throne room, a central courtyard where ceremonies probably took place, and even flushing toilets,” he explained.


At the time of its discovery, he said, the palace created a sensation, revealing an entire lost civilization that existed before the classical Greeks. While archaeologists have theorized that a volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, 70 miles north of Crete, was responsible for the Minoan downfall, it wasn’t until recently that evidence of a massive tsunami, brought on by the eruption, was linked to the mystery.

Mr. Hadingham described scientific findings at Palaikastro, on the northeast tip of Crete, as instrumental to this discovery. During a recent dig, a team working under Montreal-born scientist Sandy MacGillivray found volcanic ash and strange gravel deposits that looked as if they had been washed into the site by a violent flood…

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)

Tags: archeology
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