Greece: The Bronze Age – Society in Minoan Crete Everyday Life (1) By Emily Gold Entertainment and leisure activities: Acrobatics was used in most leisure activities that the Minoan people used to keep themselves entertained, as running and leaping supplied to success in warfare ad hunting. Bull-leaping was the most famed and controversial of all Minoan sports, this sport consists of an athlete who would sprint head-long at a charging bull, grab the bulls horns and jump onto its back, then the athlete would descend of the animal from its behind.
Many scholars argue whether bull-leaping was a true sport in the Minoan Society as some believe it would have been extremely dangerous to have participated in this sport, yet other scholars state that many frescoes and paintings have been found with the depiction of bull-leaping, so this must have been a popular and real sport in the Ancient Greek era. Boxing in the Minoan society was a sport that involved skill, force and strategy. The sport was that one man verses the other in a contest in which they fight.
There would have been an audience that would gather and watch the contestants box. The boxing matches were also used to show male dominance over the other male. Most of the boxers were depicted as young adolescents, and also the boys drinking out of a cup from Aghia Triada have been interpreted as ’bouts between young boys that were part of an initiation’ ritual that showed a stage on the path to manhood. The clothes for protection that these men or boys would wear were protective headgear and boxing gloves. They also wore necklaces and bracelets that suggest a high position.
Another leisure and activity was hunting, this was a sport that was exclusively male, hunting was depicted on daggers, seal-stones, cups and ivory objects that were found by archaeologists. The Minoans hunted animals such as lions, bulls, wild goats, wild boars and deer. This was a favourite pastime of the Minoan men who were members of the elite; it also provided the people with extra food. Hunting was not only entertainment it also tested their skills, courage and also required group co-ordination. It also contributed to the developing of military-related skills.
This activity bonded the males and linked to the ‘blooding’ of the young males, which gave them the ‘rite of passage’ to manhood. Board games was a popular entertainment to the Minoans, different games showed different social classes from the top to the bottom. When the board was made out of exotic and rich materials it suggests that members of the elite only played this game. Dancing was usually gay and exciting, and many times a feeling of ecstasy accompanied the rhythm of the dance. The Minoans played the lyre, the sistrum (to mark time with) as well as the flute.
This shows that in the Minoan society, the people had many ways to keep themselves entertained; they were not extremely serious people. They took their pleasure seriously. Evidence of entertainment in the Ancient Greek society was the fresco of the Adolescent boxers from Akrotiri on Thera, 1500 BC, this shows two young boys fighting for dominance. Food and Clothing: Archaeological evidence shows that many of the Minoans enjoyed a broad selection of seafood, young Squid was the most favoured of the Minoans.
Yet honey, goat cheese, barley bread and olives were of great importance. They had rich, fertile valleys where a large variety of crops could be grown, the vegetables that were grown include: olives, lemons, mulberries, pears, grapes and other fruits, peas, lentils, fava beans, broad beans, field beans, chick peas and wild vegetables such as wild artichoke, asparagus, chicories, endives, radish, wild leeks, wild mustard, saw thistles, purslane, vetches, okra and bulbs. The Minoans grew three kinds of wheat and barley and rye.
They ate meat from native sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, which were cultivated, deer, wild water and land birds, rabbits, boar and other wild game. They roasted meat and then stewed it with green vegetables afterwards. The Minoan people drank barley beer, mead and herb flavoured wines, they also consumed herb-flavoured milk and olive oil flavoured saffron and retsina. Honey was and is still the most famous in Crete as it was the only sweetener. The food in the Minoan Society shows that the people in Minoan Crete relied on their farming and crops for most of their resources in food.
Also that they had a extreme range of foods in their diet, which shows that this society was quite prosperous. Evidence of food in the Ancient Greek era were the Large Pithoi from a storage room in Knossos, these large containers or pots were used to store food. The Minoans wore artistically designed and competently made clothing, they wore an assortment of complex clothing, the garments were sewn together much like the way modern clothes are prepared. The Minoans sewed skirts and blouses that were shaped to the body of the wearer.
Minoan Crete had a hot climate, so layers of clothes were not needed. The men wore only loincloths, this was small pieces of fabric wrapped around the waist to cover the genitals which were made from a wide range of materials, such as, leather, wool, linen and decorated with bright colours and patterns. Many people had long aprons in the front and back with tassels or fringes and the Minoans also had a decorative pagne or sheath that covered and protected the penis.
Early Minoan men usually did not wear any garment that covered their chest, yet in later years of the Minoan civilization men frequently wore plain tunics and long robes. The Minoan women wore garments that resembled modern women’s clothing, they wore decorated skirts that flared out from the waist in a bell shape, also they were made from strips of fabric and sewn in ruffles from waist to ankle in later designs. Women wore extremely tight blouses that were cut low at the front to expose the breasts in full. Both men and women wore tight belts made of metal which held their waists in as a tiny waist was prized.
These must have been worn since an early age, forcing the waist to stop growing. In fact, so close were Minoan fashions to popular French fashions of the 1800s that one of the women in an ancient Minoan painting was nicknamed “La Parisienne” (the woman of Paris) by those who discovered her. This shows that the Minoan people took pride in what they wore as they wore pieces of clothing with lovely embellishments, and it showed that they liked to stand out. It shows what they weather was like as to how light the clothing was.
Also the clothing in the Minoan Society demonstrates how important women were in the Ancient Greek era as to how the women were in most of the frescoes in their grand outfits and how the women with the smallest waist was most treasured. Evidence of this clothing comes from artwork that has been found at the sites where the Minoans lived, thousands of years before most recorded history. Housing and Furniture: The Minoans lived in caves before they lived in houses; afterwards they built huts, then finally started to build the houses. The earliest houses were uilt in Knossos. The houses that still remain today are the ones of the early Bronze Age survive at Phaistos, Vasiliki and Fournou Korifi. The buildings had a lower row of undressed limestone pieces. Above the walls were made of mud, they used the branches off trees to strengthen it. The Phaistos houses were different to the normal houses, the outer face of the walls consisted of unevenly shaped stones of hefty size, while there were small stones which mixed with a mud motar which filled in the walls. Mud was used on the upper walls of the house.
In the Bronze Aged houses, they consisted of single rooms opening into a courtyard, but later on the houses featured the but-and-ben principle which is the large area inside a rectangle house was divided into two compartments. Yet most Bronze Aged houses were rectangular somewhere L-shaped. Later periods, houses began to become more intricate, they featured a maze of added rooms, which shows that many more people would have lived in these houses. Houses began to advance as houses became two to three storey’s, they were ornamented with round timber beams.
The houses were plastered and painted, and they also had a light well which would allow light to enter the lower rooms. The houses were relatively smaller than the houses that are in the modern era, and the staircases were frequently made of wood and stone. This shows that the Minoan society took the living in their houses very seriously, that they enjoyed how the house appeared, that they knew what resources to use to build a successful and stable house with good insulation. Evidence of the houses in Minoan Crete is the interior of a house in Gournia, it shows the small sized rooms and the staircase inside the house.
In the Minoan society, they had a small amount of furniture and none of the furniture survived as it was all ruined from occurrences such as fires. The only way furniture is seen, is through frescoes, such as the ‘Camp Stool’ fresco, it shows one form of a portable chair and there are suggestions of throne-like chairs from Knossos, which were assumed to show the rank and status of the people. Fragments of a wooden stool was found in Tholos Tomb A at Phourni, which was 35 cm long and it showed it was decorated with 87 pieces of ivory.
There is little traces of beds from Minoan tombs, as at the site of Akrotiri on Thera there was evidence of a bed that consisted of a wooden frame which was tied with a stretcher of cowhide. This shows that the Minoans did not rely on as much furniture as there is in the modern era. It shows that most of their furniture was made from wood even the beds, as it would have been the easiest to make, and the most reliable source of building furniture with. Evidence of the furniture in Minoan Crete is that ‘Camp Stool’ freco, which shows the portable chair.
The role and status of women in Minoan Society: Archaeological evidence suggests that’s women never ceased playing an important role in the Minoan society. Women served as priestesses, as functionaries and administrators, they also contributed to many dangerous sports. The women of Crete also contributed to every occupation and trade that was offered to men, such as skilled craftswomen and entrepreneurs, and the large, top-heavy bureaucracy and priesthood seems to have been equally staffed with women.
The women ran the textile industry in Crete, the specialized division of labour was used when manufacturing the textiles, which was when a group of women would work on one aspect of what they specialized in. Carders combed the fleece so it would be clean, and some women were labeled as spinners, spinning the flax or wool into thread, and other jobs included weaving, finishing and dyeing. Women appeared in many frescoes, seals and rings found in Crete, either wealthy or privileged.
In all the frescoes that still remain, only females are the larger, important figures, this shows that certain females held the highest rank in the Minoan Society. This shows that the women in the Minoan society were equal to the men, they performed the same tasks, and were able to do the same sports etc. The Minoans did not conform to men over powering the women like other cultures and countries did, and that people relied on women just as much as they did men.
Evidence of women being equal to the men is the fresco ‘Toreador Freco’ which was found in Knossos, it displays a young man, flanked by two women, who apparently leaps onto and over a charging bull’s back. Bibliography: Books: * The Minoans and the Mycenaeans – Aegean Society in the Bronze Age – Gae Callender Websites: * http://wsu. edu/~dee/MINOA/WOMEN. HTM * http://www. fjkluth. com/minoan. html * http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Minoan_civilization * http://www. explorecrete. com/cuisine/cora-honey-wine. htm *
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