Article

Ancient Crete

Angelos Chaniotis

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online February 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0071
Ancient Crete

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The island of Crete holds a special position in classical studies, primarily as the birthplace of the earliest “high culture” in Europe: the Minoan civilization of the Bronze Age. But in addition to the artistic and cultural achievements of the “Minoans,” Crete is the only Greek region whose history can be studied on the basis of written sources (Egyptian hieroglyphic documents, Linear B texts, Greek literary sources and inscriptions), almost continually from c. 1400 bce to Late Antiquity. It is the first Greek area where script was used (Cretan hieroglyphics, Linear A, and Linear B); and being an island with a diverse landscape, in relative proximity to mainland Greece but strategically located in the center of the eastern Mediterranean, it offers interesting paradigms for the study of ancient political organization, society, and culture in changing historical contexts. Understandably, Minoan Crete has been studied more intensely than later periods of Cretan history. This is not a bibliography of Minoan archaeology and art history. Although it attempts to cover Cretan history from the processes that led to the appearance of the palaces (c. 2000 bce) to Late Antiquity (c. 5th century ce), it places more emphasis on the periods of Cretan history for which written sources exist. This bibliography does not always follow the traditional periodization of Greek history and art history because it corresponds to the periods of Cretan history. The Cretan “Renaissance” (c. 900–630), roughly the Geometric, Orientalizing, and Early Archaic periods of art history, is taken here as a single period, in which Crete was a pioneer in art and culture. A major change occurred around 630 bce: trade and the arts did not disappear but lost their innovative power, and Cretan institutions seem to petrify; the Late Archaic and Classical periods are therefore taken as a single unit (c. 630–c. 336 bce). In the remaining centuries Crete kept pace with the rest of the Greek world, first integrated in the Hellenistic world (c. 336–67 bce) and then in the Roman Empire (67 bce–284 ce); finally, Late Antiquity (c. 284–mid-7th century CE) is clearly defined through Diocletian’s reforms and the advance of Christianity, and the beginning of the Arab raids.

Article.  28200 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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