Aegean civilization

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Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are in fact three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization from the Early Bronze Age. The Cyclades converge with the mainland during the Early Helladic ("Minyan") period and with Crete in the Middle Minoan period. From ca. 1450 (Late Helladic, Late Minoan), the Greek Mycenaean civilization spreads to Crete.

Contents

Periodization

Mainland

  • Early Helladic EH 2800-2100 BCE
  • Middle Helladic MH 2100-1500 BCE
  • Late Helladic LH 1500-1100 BCE

Crete

  • Early Minoan EM 3650-2160 BCE
  • Middle Minoan MM 2160-1600 BCE
  • Late Minoan LM 1600-1170 BCE

Cyclades

  • Early Cycladic 3300-2000 BCE
  • Kastri = EH II-EH III (ca. 2500-2100) BCE
  • Convergence with MM from ca. 2000 BCE

Commerce

Commerce was practiced to some extent in very early times, as is proved by the distribution of Melian obsidian over all the Aegean area. We find Cretan vessels exported to Melos, Egypt and the Greek mainland. Melian vases came in their turn to Crete. After 1600 B.C. there is very close commerce with Egypt, and Aegean things find their way to all coasts of the Mediterranean. No traces of currency have come to light, unless certain axeheads, too slight for practical use, had that character. Standard weights have been found, as well as representations of ingots. The Aegean written documents have not yet proved (by being found outside the area) to be epistolary (letter writing) correspondence with other countries. Representations of ships are not common, but several have been observed on Aegean gems, gem-sealings, frying pans and vases. They are vessels of low free-board, with masts and oars. Familiarity with the sea is proved by the free use of marine motifs in decoration. The most detailed illustrations are to be found on the 'ship fresco' at Akrotiri on the island of Thera (Santorini) preserved by the ash fall from the volcanic eruption which destroyed the town there.

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