Skip to comments.Fortifications on Gournia Debunk Myth of Peaceful Minoan Society
Posted on 05/04/2010 5:03:47 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A team of archaeologists, led by Professor Vance Watrous and Matt Buell of the University at Buffalo, have discovered a fortification system at the Minoan town of Gournia. The discovery rebukes the popular myth that the Minoans were a peaceful society with no need for defensive structures. That idea arose from work done in the early 20th century by Sir Arthur Evans... The town was originally excavated from 1901-1904 by Harriet Boyd Hawes, a pioneering women who was among the first to excavate a Minoan settlement. Located on the north coast, Gournia was in use during the "neo-palatial" period (ca. 1700-1450 BC), a time when Minoan civilization was thriving. It had about 60 houses with a small palace in the centre... archaeologists have uncovered evidence for wine making, bronze-working and stone-working at the site. The town also had a shipshed, used for vessels. It was at least 25 meters north-south and 10 meters east-west... The fortification system that the team uncovered was built to prevent people from attacking the town by landing on the beach... The eastern-most promontory had a heavy wall that was about 27 meters long. Beside it the team found a semi-circular platform of stone, almost nine meters in diameter -- this is likely the remains of a tower or bastion... In addition to the beach fortifications, it also appears that the Minoans built a second line of defence a little bit inland. Heading south, away from the beach, there were two walls, together running about 180 meters east to west... Tombs uncovered... have shown people buried with swords... Gournia fell around 1450 BC, the same time as other Minoan settlements. A new group called the Mycenaean[s] appeared on Crete at this time, taking over the island.
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No society has ever been peaceful.
(for any length of time).
If there are human beings, there will be strife.
For a long time, the “Minoans” probably didn’t need much in the way of defense. It wasn’t just a romantic myth of the archaeologists.
You can see trouble coming from a loooooong way off, on Crete. Invaders landing on the beach would not have had much of a chance, certainly no advantage (such as surprise).
Eventually though, it’s likely the culture went to seed. They usually do. And the Mycenaeans began to crop up like weeds. When the Cretans saw THEM coming, in the mind’s eye, they took prudent precautions.
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
An old, old story.
Peaceful has never meant "without defenses". It usually meant that you were the baddest dude on the block when you got riled.
Evans was a bit of a nut. And, he may have singlehandedly destroyed any chance of having an accepted translation of Linear A, but that’s another story. :’)
That “65” written on it is in modern characters, which proves that it’s a fake. ;’) ;’) ;’) The snake goddess has actually been condemned as a fake in recent years, by some deep thinker. :’)
How many historians actually believed the “myth”?
In Britain there’s only room for one at the top of any specialty, and Evans was at the top of his; the first batch of written tablets he excavated he had laid down on the hillside in the Sun, it rained in the night, and (as Wunderlich put it) “no more tablets”. After that fiasco Evans jealously guarded his archive, publishing very little, and (despite not being able to read the texts) fought to his dying day against the idea that Greek was hidden in Linear B. The B texts were much more numerous, and (as is still thought today) he thought the A texts would yield after the B writing were figured out.
As noted in “Lost Languages”, Evans even found what appeared to be a clear-as-day Greek word in Linear B (and as it turned out, he was correct), wrote about it, and rejected it as just a coincidence, the kind that is a peril to serious scholars. Wow.
But anyway, Evans’ better-known myth was the “thallosocracy”, the Minoan naval supremacy that turned the Aegean and the environs of Crete, and possibly points east (where Minoan stuff has been found under Mycenaean strata) into an empire not unlike Evans’ own Victorian Britain. Another weird coincidence.
That the Minoans had access to boats shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has noticed that they lived on an island. :’)
There really was zero evidence for his thallosocracy; the Minoans were somehow involved in seagoing trade, and since they weren’t confined to Crete, chances are good they were a maritime people (pretty much what Herodotus says). That they were peaceful was wishful thinking, but at least Evans could point to what he (and most people) consider Minoan palaces and note that there are no fortifications around them. There are ancient roadways and bridgets leading to them, but no fortifications.
Neither has there been much effort to look for any. :’)
(in part, MacGillivray contends that Evans's creative drive stemmed from his suppressed homosexuality)
Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans
and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth
by Joseph Alexander MacGillivray
Mysteries Of The Snake Goddess:
Art, Desire, And The
Forging Of History
by Kenneth Lapatin
The Secret of Crete
by Hans Georg Wunderlich
First Edition Hardcover
Mass Market Paperback
and now they found some.
Very interesting. A lot of fantasy novels revolve around stuff that are similar to this era of history.
That should be thalassocracy from the Greek thalassa (actually a loanword from the pre-Greek inhabitants of Greece).
I feel like reading up on stuff now. lol.
“No society has ever been peaceful”...that had mothers-in-law.
(There, I fixed it for ya.)
You’re right, Blegen’s find at Pylos — literally on the first day of his dig there — meant there was a large body of published (undeciphered) Linear B texts for the first time, and that is what Ventris used. By the time he had his breakthrough, Evans had been dead for years, so he never had to eat crow about it. And thanks for the etymology!
Thalassa is one of many words with -ss- or -s- (including common nouns like glossa and nesos and proper nouns like Knossos, Tylissos, Parnassos, etc.--in Attica they tend to be -tt- as in Hymettos, Lycabettos) that are all thought to come from the pre-Greek population. The placenames are on the mainland, on Crete, and on other islands. Also words in -nth- are thought to come from the same previous language (Corinth, plinth, etc.).
For place names to be taken over from earlier inhabitants is common--many examples in the US of Indian, Spanish, or French place names.
-nth suffix means “place of”, for example “Corinth” means “place of the Carians”. :’)
Another example of this element is the word "labyrinth" which is believed to mean "the house of the double axe."
Of course to get the latest theories you need to axe a Bronze Age specialist.