Greek period

Greek period

GREEK PERIOD OF HISTORY IN CRETE. Achaean and Dorian tribes

The Greek period in the history of Crete can conditionally be divided into two stages: Achaean and Dorian. The Achaeans (another name - Mycenaeans) actively interacted with the Minoan civilization for many centuries, up to the middle of the 15th century BC. However, after the eruption of Santorin, the Achaeans took advantage of the plight of the Minoans and captured the island. They settled in the main cities and laid the foundation for a new period in the history of Crete - the Greek.


Despite the fact that the Achaean Greeks seized power in Crete, the conquerors absorbed the cultural heritage of their predecessors to a very large extent. This was reflected not only in their material culture, but also in the system of religious beliefs.


The type of statehood created by the Achaeans did not differ much from the Minoan. The main political, cultural, commercial and religious centers continued to be palaces, which under the Achaeans also acquired the features of citadels. With a sufficient degree of conventionality, we can say that the type of Achaean statehood was a transition from Eastern Minoan to Western Dorian.


It was under the Achaeans in Crete that a large number of various kinds of weapons appear. Many bronze and copper swords, shields, helmets were found in Achaean burials.


The Minoan belief system has also undergone a number of changes. Previously, the main places of worship were concentrated outside the settlements (on the tops of mountains and in caves) and only part of the cult was carried out in palaces, while with Achaeans, the vast majority of important religious events take place in palaces and strongholds. Moreover, while in the Minoan palaces it was extremely difficult to draw a line between the temple and the palace (in fact, the whole palace was one large temple), then under the Achaeans, clearly defined temples stand out in the general building.


The period of Achaean rule in Crete lasted until the 10th century BC. They were driven out of Crete by the next wave of Greek immigrants who came from the north - the Dorians. To this day, disputes about the collapse of the Achaean (or Mycenaean) culture and the significant rollback of the whole Aegean almost to the level of the Stone Age have not ceased in the historical environment. Even writing was lost, which is the rarest phenomenon in world history.


Half a century ago, the entire scientific historical community almost unanimously supported the theory of Dorian invasion. However, today this theory does not stand up to criticism. Most likely, Achaean society by the 11th century BC it was already in a state of deepest economic and cultural crisis, and the Dorians who replaced them, in fact, came to an “empty” place.


The Greek Dorians were at a lower stage of development in relation to their predecessors. However, in one they were superior. The Dorians owned iron technology. Actually, with their arrival to the territory of mainland and Greek islands, the Iron Age begins.


Dorians fundamentally change the system of political structure. In place of the palace civilization of the Minoans and Achaeans, comes the Greek polis - The Ancient Greek city-state. In contrast to the centralized political system of the Minoans, each Dorian polis was a completely independent state. Homer speaks of one hundred such cities in Crete.


It is in independent policies that democracy is born. The popular assembly (ecclesia) takes power into its own hands, pushing into the background the aristocratic elite.


However, the flip side of the existence of so many independent policies in Crete was the endless internecine wars that drained the island. The most powerful Dorian cities in Crete were Knossos, Festos, Goritna, Elefterna, Litos. In the 2nd century BC Gortyna conquers Festos and becomes the leading political and military force on the island.


Constant internal wars lead to the depletion of Crete and make it easy prey for a new force that appeared in the West - the Roman Republic. However, Rome was in no hurry to start a war with Crete. Having captured the mainland territory of Greece in 146 BC, the Romans suspended their expansion into Greek islands. In the first century BC Rome began a series of wars on the Black Sea coast, where he was opposed by the kingdom of Pontus led by Mithridates VI Eupator. These armed conflicts were called Mithridatic wars. At the same time, the Cretans actively supported Mithridates, which subsequently led to the Roman invasion of Crete.


From 67 BC Crete is captured by Rome. Moreover, the Romans used only three legions to take possession of a huge island.



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