By Ewen Callaway When the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans discovered the 4,000-year-old Palace of Minos on Crete in 1900, he saw the vestiges of a long-lost civilization whose artefacts set it apart from later Bronze-Age Greeks. The Minoans, as Evans named them, were refugees from Northern Egypt who had been expelled by invaders from the South about 5,000 years ago, he claimed. Modern archaeologists have questioned that version of events, and now ancient DNA recovered from Cretan caves suggests that the Minoan civilization emerged from the early farmers who settled the island thousands of years earlier. The Minoans flourished on Crete for as many as 12 centuries until about 1,500 bc, when it is thought to have been devastated by a catastrophic eruption of the Mediterranean island volcano Santorini, and a subsequent tsunami.
They are widely recognized as one of Europe's first 'high cultures', renowned for their pottery, metal-work and colourful frescoes. Their civilization fuelled Greek myths such as the story of the Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull creature who lived in a labyrinth. Evans was among the first to explore Crete after it gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1898. His team discovered the 4,000-year-old Palace of Minos, and uncovered artefacts very different from those of Bronze Age Greece, including thick-walled circular tombs that bore a resemblance to those of ancient North Africans, and still-undeciphered scripts dubbed Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphs. Others have suggested that the Minoans originated in the Middle East, modern-day Turkey or the Mediterranean. Genetic studies of modern Cretans have come to little consensus.
By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer Published: 01/15/2013 01:33 PM EST on LiveScience
The civilization made famous by the myth of the Minotaur was as warlike as their bull-headed mascot, new research suggests. The ancient people of Crete, also known as Minoan, were once thought to be a bunch of peaceniks. That view has become more complex in recent years, but now University of Sheffield archaeologist Barry Molloy says that war wasn't just a part of Minoan society — it was a defining part. "Ideologies of war are shown to have permeated religion, art, industry, politics and trade, and the social practices surrounding martial traditions were demonstrably a structural part of how this society evolved and how they saw themselves," Molloy said in a statement.
The ancient Minoans Crete is the largest Greek isle and the site of thousands of years of civilization, including the Minoans, who dominated during the Bronze Age, between about 2700 B.C. and 1420 B.C. They may have met their downfall with a powerful explosion of the Thera volcano, which based on geological evidence seems to have occurred around this time. The Minoans are perhaps most famous for the myth of the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull that lived in the center of a labyrinth on the island.
Originally posted by Kantzveldt
Well i'm just about to put together a thread on what i find intriguing about the Minoans, no conflict of interests so watch out for that.
It should perhaps be pointed out here though that in coming from the core Neolithic region, that is to say Anatolia and Northern Syria the Minoans were from Asia Minor, not Europe
As for a Minoan Golden Age, i'd go along with that, perhaps even the idealized society of Atlantean lore as in the Thera hypothesis, needs to be understood why this was.edit on 20-5-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by PsykoOps
Aren't hittites from europe as well? So it's not unusual for european people to settle further south and build an empire. Also hittites disappeared without a trace taking their treasures with them. I'm wondering could they have been the minoans? Not sure of the time frames thought.
The science of Dna the great equalizer, this controversy like the article states was an ongoing debate going back over a century now it has been settled,cultural links instead of biological links.
Originally posted by skalla
Very interesting and thanks for posting you do realize though that some folk here are going to be unable to process the fact you are supporting the Minoans being "Europeans" rather than "Africans" and be all like "but.. but..but"?
The Greek geneticist and his colleagues at the American University analyzed 37 samples of mitochondrial DNA, which date back 3,700 years and were extracted from the teeth of the skeletons excavated from a tomb near the city of Lassithi. The scientists compared the samples with those of 135 other populations from ancient Europe and Anatolia as well as modern time populations. The analysis showed more similarities in the genetic material of the Minoans with European tribes rather than with Libyans, Egyptians, Sudanese and Arabs from the Middle East.
DNA from teeth now that is interesting, teeth are much harder then bone so would seem like a good source to extract DNA from,they never said what haplogroup though. Scythians can be found practically all over the planet, those "mummies" in china are Scythians, also they were in Ireland, Russia, Anatolia, India blah blah...they must have liked traveling. Wouldn't surprise me if these Minoans were in some way related to Scythians.
Originally posted by kimish
reply to post by Sinter Klaas
The early Europeans had to change the landscape in order to live. Ie. cutting down trees to grow crops and for pastures for their domesticated animals. All of which were crucial to their lively hoods considering that Europe isn't tropical so they didn't have the luxury to go hunt or find food whenever they wanted. Food is scarce during the winter months. Hence, growing as much and harvesting as much as possible to be able to sustain themselves during the tough seasons. If you ask me, the early Europeans were very ingenious. The same could be said about the ancient Indians with their working "toilet" systems.edit on 20-5-2013 by kimish because: (no reason given)
The Minoan samples possessed 21 different mitochondrial DNA markers, including 6 unique to Minoans and 15 common in modern, Bronze Age and Neolithic European populations. None of the Minoans possessed mitochondrial markers similar to those of present-day African populations.