Modern Greek History

The Minoans vs. The Mycenaeans

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Rise to Power

The Minoans

The Minoans built their empire on trade. They were experts at travel and made connections with many neighboring civilizations. They traded and sold goods including ceramics, gold and silver, wood and timber, and spices such as saffron. The Minoan civilization flourished for many years under their mercantile economy.

The Mycenaeans

While the Mycenaeans were no strangers to trade, they developed as a result of war and conquest. While the Minoans focused on building relationships with other cultures in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor, the Mycenaeans fought and battled their way across the area to overtake and build their own cities and outposts. A combination of events including the eruption of a volcano and subsequent seismic activity destroyed a lot of the Minoan kingdom, which opened the door for the Mycenaeans to come in and take over.


The Minoans

The Minoans spoke an ancient language that is unknown and unclassified. The only recordings we have of the language are from tablets. These tablets feature symbols and signs that made up the Minoan language. These symbols are considered Linear Script A. Because the language’s origins are unknown, most of the language is unable to be deciphered – meaning converted into a modern day language. Linear Script A was used as a foundation for Linear Script B, which is the language the Mycenaeans used.

The Mycenaeans

Among some of the cultural aspects of Minoan culture that the Mycenaeans incorporated into their own was language. The Mycenaeans didn’t copy their Minoan predecessor’s language, Linear Script A, but rather used it as a basis to form their own language – Linear Script B. Linear B was used to write and record Mycenaean Greek, which is the earliest known version of the Greek language. While it is considered a form of Ancient Greek, Linear B and Mycenae Greek actually pre-date the Greek Alphabet by several centuries. Unlike Linear A, Linear B (Mycenae Greek) has been successfully deciphered.


The Minoans

In contrast to many modern-day religions, the ancient Minoan religion was focused on female deities. The Minoans worshiped female figures that represented different aspects of life. For example, the Minoans worshipped a mother goddess (who they associated fertility) and other goddesses that were charged with specific duties such as protection of animals, households, and the harvest. They built sanctuaries to practice their religion in caves and on mountaintops.

The Mycenaeans

Unlike the Minoans, the Mycenaean religion was more aligned with what we know as the Ancient Greek religion. Although the Mycenaeans did borrow the concept of worshiping god-like figures, the Mycenaeans worshiped similar gods more closely related to those of the Ancient Greeks. Linear B script and pictures show that the Mycenaeans worshiped gods and goddesses who were predecessors to Poseidon, Demeter, and Persephone among others. They made burnt offerings to their gods, whereas the Minoans did not. The Mycenaean religion is considered the mother of the Ancient Greek religion.

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This post was written by Greek Boston