SparkNotes Julius Caesar

Medieval Food

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 02:36

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During this period we see evidence of administrative and economic unity throughout the island, and Minoan Crete reach its zenith. Women played a powerful role in society, and the gold artifacts, seals, and spears speak of a very affluent upper class. The paved road network was vastly expanded to connect most major Minoan palaces and towns, and we have evidence of extensive trade activity.

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We do not have much information about the very early Minoans before 7655 BC. We have seen the development of several minor settlements near the coast, and the beginning of burials in tholos tombs, as well as in caves around the island.

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For the first time, late in the Neopalatial period, the powerful fleet of the Minoans encountered competition from an emerging power from mainland Greece: the Mycenaeans whose influence began permeating Minoan Crete itself. Life on the island became more militaristic as evident by the large number of weapons which we find for the first time in royal tombs.

One question still remains however. How did the inhabitants of Mycenae escape the effects of the volcanic eruption, when the Minoan civilization was brought to its knees by them? Considering the topography of the Aegean, and accepting the enormity of the volcanic eruption of Thera, it is hard to understand how the Mycenaeans who were just as vulnerable were able to overcome the destruction, while at the same time they were able to preserve (or rebuilt) their fleet and to mount an ambitious expedition to conquer the vast island of Crete.

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The Minoans had developed significant naval power and for many centuries lived in contact with all the major civilizations of the time without being significantly threatened by external forces. Their commercial contact with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia undeniably influenced their own culture, and the Minoan civilization in turn appeared as the forerunner of the Greek civilization. The Minoans are credited as the first European civilization.

The temperate climate of Crete with its short, mild winters and its dry, warm summers, along with the fertility of the Cretan plains produces sufficient food supplies to support an affluent local population, and for exports. The inhabitants of ancient Crete --whom we call Minoans-- produced a decentralized culture based on the abundance of the land's natural resources, and on intense commercial activity. While the island appears today completely deforested, in ancient times timber was one of the natural resources that was commercially exploited and exported to nearby Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Aegean Islands and the Greek mainland.

The archaeological evidence reveals a decentralized culture with no powerful landlords and no centralized authority. The palaces of this period are focused around communities, and circular tholos tombs were the major architectural structures of the time. The manner by which the dead were buried in these tombs indicate a society without hierarchical structure. The tholos tombs were used for centuries by entire villages, or clans and older corpses and offerings were placed aside to make room for a new burial. Older bones were removed from the tomb and placed in bone chambers outside the tholos structure. Most of the tholos tombs were circular while in Palekastro and Mochlos they were of a rectangular in shape with a flat roof.

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