Minoa was one of the main contributors to what we think of as Classical Greece. An ancient civilization on the Island of Crete, Minoa played a large influence on the early culture of Ancient Greece, Egypt and in the Mediterranean. Most of their influence was spread through their vast trade routes that were protected by their navy. We do not know what their original name was but this Ancient Civilization was named the Minoan by archaeologist Arthur Evans. He chose the name in honor of the legendary King Minos who was believed to have ruled Crete when it was inhabited by the Minoans.
The Minoans reigned from 2900 BCE to 1200 BCE and it is believed they were eventually weakened by numerous natural disasters, and then invaded by the Mycenae who lived on mainland Greece. Near the end of the Minoan Civilization the Volcano Santorini erupted and the ash from it may have destroyed many of their farms. The earthquakes and tsunamis caused by the eruption may have toppled many of their palaces and weakened the society as a whole. Within a hundred years of the eruption that the Minoans were wiped out.
It is believed that the natural disasters caused by the eruption may have also damaged some of their navy vessels and workshops. It was during this time the Mycenae built up their navy in order to control trade routes in the Mediterranean. The Minoans had so much faith in their navy that they did not build defensive walls around their castles or villages nor is it believed that they had an army. After the destruction caused by the natural disasters they would have been so focused on surviving and rebuilding that they did not have extra resources to put into building their navy back up to its original strength. Unfortunately they had trusted their navy to protect them for centuries and with it weakened the Mycenae would have easily been able to invade their lands since their navy would now be stronger than the Minoans.
Ancient Minoa is mainly remembered for both its art and culture. It was their culture and the Mycenae’s power that would go on to shape Classical Greece. Many historians refer to Minoa as the original European Civilization because of its focus on culture and how far their culture spread. Not only were there strong trade networks between Minoa and other civilizations, but within the country itself travel was easy. All of the main cities were connected by paved roads and there were no foreign enemies to attack travelers or traders. It was due to this safety that they were able to put so much focus on creating art.
One of the most recognized pieces of art from Minoa is a small statuette of the snake goddess found at Knossos. The Minoans also created frescoes with figures in natural poses as well as nature scenes that were unique to their time. Unlike the Egyptians who painted on dried plaster the Minoan’s painted on wet plaster which led to the use of more fluid brush strokes and a less formalized appearance. Many of their scenes that depicted humans showed emotions on their faces and a more natural pose rather than the staged poses shown in other cultures of the time. The Minoan’s are also known for their pottery, many of the designs and raised figures seen on Classical Greece pottery were developed by the Minoans. Their pottery was so unique that the archaeologist Arthur Evans used overall stylistic changes within the pottery to divide the Minoan Civilization into three eras. However, it is more common today to see the civilization broken into eras through a series of large events, such as when Knossos was founded and when it fell and when the nearby volcano Santorini erupted.