Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A brief history of Crete

Greek history and Myths
Greek history can be traced back over 40,000 years . No one knows when myths were first invented. Many come before the time of writing and were passed on from word of mouth. It is probably the spoken tradition the helped them survive upheavals when writing was destroyed and forgotten.

The Changing Myths (Greek)
zeus and kouritesConquerors and peaceful settlers brought their own beliefs into Greece where they were adopted or combined with myths and god that already existed, so they changed and developed over the centuries. They probably chances less as they were written down, but different versions of many myths still survive.
At least two areas of the prefecture of Rethymno are directly connected to mythology:
The Idaison Andron Cave in the mountain range of Psiloritis and the Talarian Mountains (today called Kouloukounas in the Milopotamos Area: Rhea (the Greek goddess of the earth, mountains and forests) sought refuge from her furious husband (who was also her brother) Kronos who had swallowed his previous children. When her new son Zeus was born legendary demons of Crete danced wildly hitting their shields to hid the noise, then when Zeus was older, he tricked Kronos into regurgitating his brothers and sisters.
The second myth is that the Talean Mountains are connected with the legendary giant Talos. Talos protected Crete against its enemies, hindering them when they got close. It took the the beauty of Medea's arriving on the Argous to make him weak and by removing a nail from his foot, spilled his blood and made him fall into the Cretan soil dead.

20,000 to 8,300 BC (Palaeolithic)
Inhabiting caves from time to time the people of this period where probably seasonal hunter-gatherers. No certain gathering of plant foods is attested before ca. 11,000 BC First appearing at this time are lentils, vetch, pistachios, and almonds. Neither wild oats nor wild barley become at all common until ca. 7000 BC. Small end-scrapers for removing the flesh from hides are common. As far as archaeologists can tell there the inhabitants at that time did not produce any pottery or architecture.
8,300 - 6,000 BC (Mesolithic)
6,000-3,000 BC (Neolithic)
3,000-ca. 2,100 BC Early Bronze Age
2,100-ca. 1,600 BC Middle Bronze Age
1,600-ca. 1,200 BC Late Bronze Age

pre 6,000 BC – Hunter-gatherers
The area now know as Greece was inhabited at this time by wandering tribes, hunting and living solely off of the land. No religious artefacts have been found and very little in known of the peoples of this time.
When farming skills were developed, people started to settle in small communities and leaned how to make pots, weave and work metals. Clues to the religion of this early civilisation are found in fine object such as those made of marble, fertility symbols etc.
Greek society advanced and developed until about 2200 BC when invaders from the North disrupted the process. Fortunately the island of Crete escaped and a sophisticated civilization grew up, called Minoan after its kings, Minos. Many works of art survive, illustrating some aspects of religious life. Bulls often feature in Cretan myths and some of these were latter adopted by the mainlanders into Mycenaean mythology.

1600 BC to 12000 BC – The Mycenaean
Gradually the mainland recovered and started to develop again. It borrowed many ideas from Minos and finally became more powerful that Crete. The civilization is called Mycenaean after its major city called Mycenae. The historical event that inspired the legends about Jason and the Argonauts took place during this period. The truth was exaggerated and embroidered to form the legends, but there is archaeological evidence for some of these event.

1200 to 700 BC – The Greek dark ages
Between 1200 and 1050 BC the Mycenaean culture collapses due to civil wars and more invasions from the North. The myths survived, passed on orally through the generations.
The poet Homer lived at the end of the dark Ages. He is said to have composed two great works about the ancient legends, called the Ilaid and the Odyssey. They were not written down until much later, but the stories were already 500 years old when Homer was alive.
Homer probably spoke his poems while playing the lyre. Greek schoolboys in the later periods had to learn parts of its poetry by heart and every scholar could quote him.

700 to 500 BC – The Archaic period
Between 700 and 500 BC Greece one again became rich in art, literature and commerce. Trade was established with many Mediterranean counties and coins were introduced as money. They experimented with government and society organisations but there religion was still based on the ancient myths and legends, as can be seen by their art.

500 to 336 BC – The Classic Period
This is probably the best-known period of Ancient Greek history. We know a lot about how the people lived at this time and our image of ancient Greeks is most influenced by Classical art and literature. People lived in city-states, and much seafaring and trading went on. Optimally harmony was believed to be a sign of divinity.Links Therefore training the body and the spirit to pursuit harmony was a very important part in the education of the young Greek. In the Greek grammar schools the young ones were trained athletically. In the mean time scholar were present to teach them grammar, astrology, philosophy and other subjects. The people strove for spiritual as well as physical perfection.
Many plays based on the myths were written during this Classic Period, and it is these versions that come to us today.

336 to 31 BC – The Hellenistic Period
This era is called the Hellenistic Period, after Hellen, the legendary ancestor of the Greeks, the son of Deucalion and the grandson of Prometheus.
The empire of Alexandra the Great came within this period, the Greek culture spread across the near and middle east after his death in 323 BC

The decline of Greece.
In the last century before the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire expanded and become more powerful then Greece although the Romans were greatly influenced by the Greeks. They had their own gods but did not have such complexed mythology. Gradually they mixed the Greek mythologies with their own until both mythologies where almost the same. The Romans names for their gods and heroes adopted from Greece.