The Greeks and the Eastern Mediterranean
DOI link for The Greeks and the Eastern Mediterranean
The Greeks and the Eastern Mediterranean book
The earliest written records in Europe come from Crete. This civilisation, flourishing without a break from about 2800 to the beginning of the 300-year-Iong Dark Age in about 1100 BeE, provides a unique link between archaeology and written history. From later Greek legend (written down after 800 BeE) we hear that Crete was well populated and prosperous, that its navy ruled the seas, and that one of its kings, Minos, exacted tribute of seven boys and seven girls every seven years from Athens. These victims were said to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, a monster half man, half bull, which lived at the centre of a labyrinth built by the great technician Daedalus.1 The Greeks spoke of the main deity of the island as Poseidon, their own god of the sea, earthquakes and storms, and of his cult animal as the bull. Archaeology shows evidence of high culture and prosperity, of a lack of fortifications indicating protection by the sea rather than by a garrison. It shows an extensive bull-cult, and in the deciphered Cretan writings (the socalled Linear B script, dating from around 1500 BeE) Poseidon himself is named. His name means simply 'Lord'.