The Minoans came from somewhere, the question was where? In 2013, examination of the DNA of skeletal remains answered the puzzling enigma that surrounded the origins of the Minoans. Prior to this discovery, Sir Arthur Evans, opined the Minoans had to have come from Egypt and who were exiled from their homeland.
His theory was based on the technological advancements of this unknown Bronze Age civilisation, and the extraordinary architecture uncovered at the site of Knossos. The Ancient Egyptians, compared to the Minoans, were thousands of years into their civilisation and had established writing, engineering, architectural design, medicine, transport—land and sea, and so on. Yet the ancient cultures of the Middle East, such as Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylonia, Mittani, Levant and Canaan, were just as advanced. They could not be ruled out as the source for the possible origins of the Minoan society.
Since the discovery of the palace at Knossos and many other Minoan sites on Crete, historians have argued as to where the Minoan race came from. The regions of Anatolia, Africa and as mentioned, the Middle East, was favoured due to the findings of pottery, the wall friezes and the worship of goddesses and gods. It was surmised the Minoans must have come from one of these places as the artwork and worship resembled or at least was influenced by these people. Influenced yes; a number of the Minoan goddesses and gods have Middle Eastern characteristics, as does the bull, to which each played a central role in Minoan art and religion.
Though not quite indigenous to the island of Crete, like the Etruscans in Italy, there were settlements established around 7000 BCE, a Neolithic culture. It was the 5000 year old bones found on Crete where recent DNA findings link them to the Minoan race. From the mitochondrial markers in the DNA of the ancient skeletons, the scientists have concluded there are ties to Northern and Southern European peoples. I first read about this amazing discovery from Rita Robert’s blog, an archaeologist and linguist of Linear B, who lives on Crete. Also this article from Rensselaer on DNA analysis is also worth reading.
The moniker Sir Arthur Evans gave Minoans as the “start of western civilisation” is apt. There is proof indicating that the Minoans have genetic similarities to modern European populations. The birthplace of western civilisation can be attributed to the Minoans. (On a side note, after almost 10,000 years of inhabitation on Crete, I would say the Cretans can claim the title of being indigenous.)
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Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, likes to meander from contemporary life to the realms of mythology and history. Subscribe to her free short story at http://eepurl.com/bhESs1
Minoan Civilisation http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/History/Minoans.html