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Similarities, Differences and Influences Between Thera and Minoan Crete

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Sophie Androulis

on 10 June 2013

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Transcript of Similarities, Differences and Influences Between Thera and Minoan Crete

Similarities, Differences and Influences Between Thera and Minoan Crete Architecture/Houses and Palaces Pottery However, despite the heavy influence of Minoan architecture on Thera, there are distinct differences, particularly in relation to the social hierarchy of both societies. Crete was clearly ruled by a royal family, which is suggested through the remains of prestigious palaces across the island. Therefore, the social hierarchy of this civilisation can potentially be established. On the other hand, Thera does not display such artefactual evidence of palaces, which further indicates that the social hierarchy of Minoan society had not created an influence upon the Therans, thus introducing an element of difference in the architecture of both civilisations. As no demonstration of royal power is evident on Thera, it thus develops difficulty in determining the social hierarchy of this society. Pottery is a significant aspect of both the Theran and Minoan societies, which is highlighted through the vast number of artefacts, either in the form of completely intact objects pottery, or shards of such, discovered through archaeological digs throughout both islands. The pots were evidently used for a variety of purposes within the community, which suggests their probable production on an industrial scale. The shapes, sizes and decoration of each item of pottery reflected its purpose.

Through such excavation, it is evident that the Minoans influenced the ancient Theran society in reference to pottery. This is suggested through the similar geometric and linear patterns illustrated upon Theran pottery to the designs utilised on Crete. This similarity between both societies may have been initiated through the importing of Minoan pots onto Thera. Despite this clear influence, the most popular pottery designs were indeed their own Cycladic pictorial motifs, such as the repetition of floral images, which highlights a substantial difference in the nature of pottery of both civilisations. The similarities between the Minoan and Theran societies in relation to architecture are evident as a result of the initial influence of Crete on the smaller island of Thera. This is displayed through the evidence of a 'lustral basin', which is of Minoan origin, discovered within the Theran mansion of Xeste 3. The West House also displays traits of Cretan architecture. The use of specialised pillared rooms with lustral basins, the interior fresco decoration and partitioning of rooms and the squared stone or ashlar masonry exteriors are aspects of Theran architecture which are similar to those Minoan buildings. Therefore, the influence of Crete on Theran society in terms of architecture is clearly apparent through their significant similarities. Writing The written language of the ancient Greeks is a significant aspect of their history, which, if completely deciphered in the future, could provide extensive information of this Mediterranean civilisation which remains unknown to today's society. Two languages are known to have existed during these historic times, which include Linear A and Linear B. Linear A was utilised throughout Crete between 1700 and 1500B.C., and is yet to be deciphered. This developed into Linear B script, used throughout the entirety of Greece, which, on the other hand, was translated in 1952, despite the minimal evidence from which to work in order to have done so. Even though Linear A script is recognised as a Minoan form of writing, archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence suggesting that Crete was not the only island on which the script was used. Pottery fragments discovered in Akrotiri, a town on the island of Thera, bear Linear A symbols. Also, a large ewer found in Room Delta 4 on Thera displays a Linear A inscription on the shoulder. Henceforth, this evidence suggests that Minoan society influenced Thera in reference to writing due to the similar use of the Linear A script within both ancient civilisations. Religion Religion acted as a crucial way of life throughout ancient Greek civilisation. Their faith was commonly displayed in everyday life through aspects such as dress and ritual activities. Significant evidence of such religious pursuits has been discovered on Crete via various archaeological finds on the island. Further, indications of similar ritualistic activity was uncovered on Thera, commonly through the frescoes of the island. For example, the dress of the Minoan 'priestess' is comparable to that displayed through frescoes of Theran priestesses, consisting of flounced skirts and tight-fitting, breast revealing bodices. Additionally, the 'Knot of Isis' worn by a priestess of this Cycladic society is similar to that of Minoan priestesses. This therefore suggests the significant impact that Minoan civilisation placed upon the island of Thera in terms of religion. The ancient Minoans worshiped the bull, which was a creature typically utilised for sacrifical purposes, and thus, recognised as a ritualistic symbol of this civilisation. This religious aspect of Crete is further suggested as a spiritual influence on various other Bronze Age Aegean islands, including Thera, through the discovery of artefacts originating from the society's sacrificial celebrations. The Minoan influence on Thera is displayed as a result of the 'horns of consecration', a Cretan religious symbol, found outside sector Delta of Thera's Akrotiri.

In addition, Crete's religious influence upon Theran civilisation is further suggested by another Minoan sacred object, in this case, a domestic structure and significant element of the island's architecture, the 'lustral basin'. It's existence within the Theran mansion of Xeste 3 further portrays the item's religious significance, as the mansions of the island were commonly utilised for religious ceremonial and celebratory pursuits. Therefore, it is evident that ancient Minoan society influenced Thera in relation to sacred worship and spiritual belief and value. Frescoes The ancient frescoes uncovered throughout Greece display numerous aspects of daily life within this ancient Mediterranean civilisation, such as work, religion and dress. The earliest and most significant forms of these wall paintings were evident throughout the island of Crete. Therefore, it is suggested that the elements of Minoan frescoes, comprising of the materials, subjects, motifs and styles utilised, developed the basis of wall painting techniques within ancient Greek society. The island of Thera was most significantly influenced by the Minoan frescoes, as the use of Minoan techniques, including lime plaster matter and geometric motif themes, were evidently utilised throughout a number of Theran frescoes.

However, despite this heavy influence, the naturalistic style evident within the Theran frescoes is considered as an inclination towards Cycladic technique rather than Minoan, hence depicting visible differences in the wall paintings of both the Cretan and Theran societies. Trade Trade was the most prominent method of communication throughout ancient Greece, as numerous items such as pottery, foods and domestic utensils were purchased, sold and exchanged amongst nearby islands. Trade also took place between an islands located at great distances from each other. Henceforth, it can be assumed that aspects of civilisation evident on more than one island may primarily be a result of trade, through which this characteristic of society was introduced. Such trade is evident to have occurred between Crete and Thera, which indicates the influence of Minoan society on the Therans. This is displayed through the discovery of artefacts of Minoan origin across the island of Thera. These objects of trade include small Kamares styles cups imported from c. 1700B.C., pottery, seal stones, fine stone bases, lead weights, and large jars containing white snail shells - a Minoan delicacy. These objects have thus contributed to the establishment of elements of Minoan tradition and lifestyle within Theran society. For example, the vast numbers of disc-shaped lead weights found on Thera which were imported from Crete suggests that the Minoan metric system was adapted to and utilised within ancient Theran society for trading and industrial purposes, for instance. Henceforth, it is clear that the trade which existed amongst Thera and the Minoans initiated influences on lifestyle and custom within Theran society. Remains of a Minoan palace Minoan pottery Theran pottery Linear A script Linear B script Minoan Priestesses 'Horns of consecration' Minoan fresco: 'Minoan Boxing Boys' Theran fresco: 'Fisherman Fresco' Kamares style cup Minoan lead weights References 'Antiquity 1: Past Perspectives' textbook

'Unlocking the Past' textbook 'Lustral basin'
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