MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE
By DONALD A. MACKENZIE
THE GRESHAM PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED
66 CHANDOS STREET COVENT GARDEN LONDON
Decline of Crete and Rise of Greece
Contemporary Rulers of Crete, Egypt, and Babylon--Crete in the Age of Abraham--Political Changes in Western Asia--Inter--state Struggles in Crete--Relations of Palace Kings with Small Towns--Egyptian Labyrinth and Cretan Palaces--The Rise of the Hittites--Their Raid on Babylon--Fall of Knossos--Lycian Tradition of Royal Rivals--Hyksos in Egypt--Hyksos Relic in Crete--Introduction of the Horse--Cretan Culture in the Cyclades and on Greek Mainland--The Golden Age of Minos--Eighteenth Dynasty Wars of Egypt--The Cause of Racial Movements--Overthrow of Minoan Power--Crete's Trade with Egypt and Western Europe--Egyptian Beads in English Bronze-age Grave--The Tin Trade of Cornwall--Pelasgian and Achæan Conquerors--Last Period of Cretan Civilization--Prehistoric Dynasties of Greece--The Northern Conquerors--Sea-raid on Egypt--The Homeric Siege of Troy--Dorian Anarchy--Ionia the Culture Cradle of Historic Greece.
CRETE'S Early Minoan Age embraces roughly about six hundred years, from 2800 B.C. till 2200 B.C. During its third period Troy II was destroyed by fire. In Egypt the Sixth Dynasty Kings, which included Pepi I and Pepi II, reigned over a powerful kingdom for a century and a half, and then followed an obscure period of three centuries, during which rival States struggled for supremacy. In the end the princely family of Thebes rose into prominence and established the Eleventh Dynasty. Babylonia was similarly divided into petty kingdoms. About 2650 B.C. the northern Semitic State of Akkad became powerful under Sargon 1, who was reputed to be of miraculous birth and to have been rescued as a babe from an ark which was set adrift on the River Euphrates. 1 His son, Naram Sin, erected the famous stele which depicts him winning a victory over a pigtailed people in a wooded and mountainous country. He flourished about the is beginning of Crete's Early Minoan II Period, and, like his father, proclaimed himself "King of the Four Quarters". It is possible that both these monarchs penetrated Syria and Palestine. They appear to have held sway over part of Elam and Sumeria. Towards the close of the Early Minoan II Period, Gudea was patesi of the Sumerian city of Lagash and traded with Syria. The power of Akkad appears to have been shattered by an invasion of the Gutium from the north. After these invaders were expelled, dynasties flourished in the Sumerian cities of Erech, Ur, and Isin. Thereafter the Amorite migration culminated in the rise of the Hammurabi Dynasty at Babylon.
Some authorities believe that the Herakleopolite Kings of Egypt of the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties were descendants of foreign conquerors who entered through the eastern Delta and destroyed the mummies of the great Pyramid Kings of the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties. This is possible, but the evidence is of so slight a character that any conclusions drawn from it cannot be regarded as definite.
When we reach Crete's Middle Minoan Period (2200-2 100 B.C.) a new Age begins to dawn over the ancient world. The Theban Kings of the Eleventh Dynasty establish their sway over the whole of Egypt. In Babylonia the Sumerian power suffers decline, and two sets of invaders, the Amorites in the north and the Elamites in the south, wage a determined struggle for supremacy. This is roughly the Age of Abraham, whose migration from Sumeria northward through Mesopotamia into Palestine appears to have been one of the results of the ethnic disturbances waged in his native land.
Troy has fallen, and invaders from Thrace have penetrated eastward through Anatolia to constitute an element in the Muski-Phrygian blend. The Hittites are powerful in Cappadocia, and are extending their sway into northern Syria.
Of special interest is the Biblical reference to the battle of four kings against five.
"And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel King of Shinar, Arioch King of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer King of Elam, and Tidal King of Nations; that these made war with Bera King of Sodom, and with Birsha King of Gomorrah, Shinab King of Admah, and Shemeber King of Zeboiim, and the King of Bela, which is Zoar." 2
Amraphel is believed to be Hammurabi of Sumer (Shinar), Arioch of Larsa, (Ellasar) a Sumerian city king who was a son of the Elamite monarch, and Tidal a Hittite ruler. This confederacy may have been formed against common enemies in the Western Land (Syria and Palestine) in the interests of trade. It could not have been of long endurance. After twelve years of subjection the western tribes rebelled, 3 and the four allies again "smote them". Thereafter Hammurabi threw off his allegiance to Elam and extended his sway over the greater part of Babylonia and Assyria, while he also included the Western Land in his sphere of influence. About the same period (2000 B.C.) the Twelfth Dynasty was established in Egypt, its first great king, being Amenemhet I.
During the Middle Minoan I Period, which is roughly contemporary with the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt, the earlier palaces of Knossos and Phæstos were erected. It is probable that they were occupied by independent rulers who occasionally came into conflict like the Babylonian city kings. Each may have had his sphere of influence on the island. At any rate it seems certain that such great buildings represented centralized power which drew into the service of the monarchs large masses of the population.
Both palaces were destroyed at a later period, but as they did not fall simultaneously they do not seem to have been attacked by a common enemy from across the sea. The fact that the first Phæstos palace endured longest suggests that its monarch was the conqueror of Knossos and the destroyer of the first palace there.
The fall of Knossos occurred in the Middle Minoan II Period (C. 2100-1900 B.C.). Evidences have been forthcoming both at Knossos and Phæstos of disturbances in the early part of this period. At its close the first Knossian palace was destroyed. The later palace must have been rebuilt soon afterwards, for portions of the earlier walls were utilized. Probably the stricken State made a speedy recovery. It may have, indeed, overthrown its rival in turn. When the first palace of Phæstos fell, its destruction was so complete that it lay in ruins for about a century. The second palace was not erected until the Late Minoan I Period, which began about 1700 B.C. No portion of the earlier buildings were then made use of. The whole site was completely levelled and covered with cement over the Middle Minoan remains, which were happily preserved in this way among its ruins. It is possible that this second Phæstian palace was erected by the ruler of Knossos. According to Strabo, Phæstos was a colony of the northern State.
Before the first palaces were erected at Knossos and Phæstos, small towns flourished in eastern Crete.
MINOAN POTTERY FROM ZAKRO
Including examples of "Kamares" ware. The central vessel in the lower row shows the use of the double-axe symbol.
One of these, as has been indicated, was situated near the island of Mochlos, where the tomb treasures give indications of commercial and industrial prosperity during the Early Minoan Age. Vasiliki was also, without doubt, an important trading and governing centre. Petras, on the shore of Sitia Bay, may have been the stronghold of one of the petty States then in existence.
When the first palaces of Knossos and Phæstos were erected the Cretans were trading with the Twelfth Dynasty merchants of Egypt. The spiral design had become popular among Nilotic seal engravers, who combined it with the lily flower, and the Cretan potters imitated them. Middle Minoan vases from Phæstos are decorated with the Egyptian lily spiral, which in one case is utilized in quite a new way. The papyrus designs were also taken over by the Cretan artists, and used with characteristic freedom. So greatly admired were the Kamares vases of Crete's Middle Minoan Period that they were freely purchased in Egypt. Professor Flinders Petrie found fragments of them in a tomb at Kahun of the Twelfth Dynasty, while a Cretan vessel was found by Professor Garstang in a grave of similar date at Abydos.
It was during the Twelfth Dynasty that the great Egyptian Labyrinth was erected. Its builder was Pharaoh Amenemhet III. According to Herodotus it had twelve covered courts and three thousand apartments, half of which were underground. "No stranger", says Strabo, "could find his way in or out of this building without a guide". It is possible that the Egyptian Labyrinth was an imitation of the mazy palaces of Crete.
Probably it was owing to its close commercial connections with Crete that Egypt received during the Twelfth Dynasty such liberal supplies of tin that bronze was freely manufactured.
Towards the close of Crete's Middle Minoan II Period the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty came to an end, and the Sebek-Ra rulers of the Thirteenth Dynasty established their sway, which became centralized in Upper Egypt. Foreign settlers were increasing in number in the Delta region. In Asia great ethnic disturbances, due to widespread migrations, were in progress. The Hittites had grown powerful and were known both in Egypt and Babylonia. Assyria was overrun by a non-Semitic people who ultimately established a military aristocracy in northern Mesopotamia and brought into existence the Kingdom of Mitanni. In time the Hammurabi Dynasty of Babylon was overthrown by Hittite raiders, who were followed by the Kassites.
It is possible that the fall of Knossos may have not been unconnected with the social and racial changes due to the settlement on the island of roving bands of pastoral fighting-folks. These may have been employed as mercenaries by rival Cretan kings. A memory of the ancient island conflicts appears to survive in the following reference by Herodotus to the Lycians: "The Lycians", he wrote, "are in good truth anciently from Crete, which island, in former days, was wholly peopled by barbarians. 4 A quarrel arising there between the two sons of Europa, Sarpedon and Minos, as to which of them should be king, Minos, whose party prevailed, drove Sarpedon and his followers into banishment. The exiles sailed to Asia, and landed on the Milyan territory. Milyas was the ancient name of the country now inhabited by the Lycians; the Milyæ of the present day were, in those times, called Solymi. So long as Sarpedon reigned, his followers kept the name which they brought with them from Crete, and were called Termilæ, as the Lycians still are by those who live in their neighbourhood. . . . Their customs are partly Cretan, partly Carian." 5 Herodotus also noted that the Lycians took "the mother's and not the father's name"--an interesting and perhaps significant fact when we consider the prominent part taken in social life by the Cretan women.
That the destruction of Knossos was due to internal revolt, which may or may not have received outside aid, is highly probable. It was rebuilt at the beginning of the Middle Minoan III Period, but before its rulers had attained to the full height of their power a long era of prosperity was in store for the smaller towns. Gournia, Zakro, Psyra, and Palaikastro began to be important trading centres before 1700 B.C., and ere the second palace of Phæstos was erected. It was after the Knossian palace was remodelled that these towns were destroyed.
Ere the Middle Minoan III Period had drawn to a close the Hyksos invaders had overrun Egypt, and the Hittites, Mitannians, and Kassites were in ascendancy in Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Commercial relations between Crete and Egypt were no doubt hampered for a time, but they appear to have been resumed again. Perhaps the island kingdom received refugees from the Delta region. These may have introduced the art of writing on papyrus with a pen, which came into practice before the beginning of the Late Minoan I Period.
The Late Minoan I Period endured for about two centuries (c. 1700-1500 B.C.). Trade became exceedingly brisk, and Gournia, Palaikastro, and eastern towns reached their highest development. The fact that Zakro became important suggests intimate relations with Egypt. Sir Arthur Evans has discovered at Knossos an alabastron lid bearing the personal name of one of the late Hyksos
Pharaohs, Khian, whose throne name, Seuserenra, appears on a figure of a lion found at Baghdad. A seal impression found by the same excavator in the royal villa near the palace belongs to the early part of Late Minoan I. It is of special interest because the subject is a horse which has been carried overseas in a one-masted vessel. This animal was introduced into Babylonia by the Kassites, and was called "the ass of the east". The Mitannians, who were probably allies of the Kassites, had horses and chariots, and the horse appeared in Egypt during the Hyksos era. Perhaps the successful invasion of the Hyksos was due to the use of cavalry.
Sir Arthur Evans is of opinion that his Knossian seal impression is a record of the introduction into Crete of the thoroughbred horse. Mr. and Mrs. Hawes state, however, that they possess an Early Minoan seal stone on which a horse figures. This fact is interesting. It may not indicate that the horse was a domesticated animal, although it may have been a sacred one. The Demeter of Phigalia, as has been stated, was horse-headed. In the Palæolithic Age there were wild horses in Europe, and in one of the cave-pictures of the Aurignacian Period a man is shown beside small horses with a stave on his shoulder, suggesting that he is herding them. At this remote period the animal was freely eaten. There is no evidence that the horse was used in warfare much earlier than the Kassite Period in Babylonia, and it was certainly quite unknown in Egypt before the Hyksos Age.
Cretan culture extended during the Late Minoan I times through the Cycladic islands. At Phylakopi, in Melos, a second city came into existence round its obsidian "factory". Cretan products were freely imported and Cretan script was in use. In one of its buildings, which may have been the palace, was found a well-preserved fresco showing flying fish skimming over transparent waters in which lie shells, sponges, and rocks. It was undoubtedly the work of a Cretan artist. In all probability there was a Minoan colony at Phylakopi.
But Cretan influence was not confined to the islands. Both Mycenæ and Tiryns on the Grecian mainland were stimulated by it as early as the Middle Minoan III Period. The contents of the shaft graves of Mycenæ, which Schliemann assigned to the Homeric Age, are of Late Minoan I antiquity (c. 1500 B.C.), as are also boar-hunt frescoes recently found at Tiryns, which are distinctively Cretan, and the famous Vaphio cups with the bull-snaring scenes. The Peloponnesian colonies of Crete appear to have been established in the Middle Minoan III Period (c. 1800-1700 B.C.). In Botia there were settlements in Late Minoan I times, if not earlier, and tombs have yielded Cretan, and imitations of Cretan products, which confirm the traditions of the source of early Grecian culture, the religious mysteries, and so forth. With Cretan modes of life came Cretan modes of thought to a people who were not much advanced from the Neolithic stage of culture. It is probable that the islanders formed a military aristocracy from which sprung the kings who ruled the various important city States in pre-Homeric times.
Pausanias 6 tells us that the lion gate of Mycenæ and the walls of Tiryns were the work of the Cyclopes who laboured for Proctus. He writes, too, with conviction of the men in ancient days who "were guests at the tables of the gods in consequence of their righteousness and piety", and adds that "those who were good clearly met with honour from the gods, and similarly those who were wicked, with wrath. The gods in those days were sometimes mortals who are still worshipped, like Aristæus, and Britomartis of Crete, and Hercules, the son of Alcmena, and Amphiarus, the son of cles, and beside them Castor and Pollux." 7 So were the ancients who believed in giants and gods identified with them.
During the last century of the Late Minoan I Period the Hyksos were overthrown in Egypt, and the Theban Eighteenth Dynasty was established. The Cretans were known then in the Nile valley as the Keftiu, and characteristic wasp-waisted figures carrying Minoan vases were depicted in the tombs. It was during this period that the later Phæstian palace was erected.
The Late Minoan II Period, also known as the "Palace" Period, began towards the close of the reign of Pharaoh Thothmes I, the father of Queen Hatshepsut. It lasted for about half a century, from c. 1500 till 1450 B.C. One by one the coast towns perished, the latest to survive being Palaikastro, which some identify as the ancient city port of Heleia. Some think that Palaikastro existed as late as the Late Minoan III Period, and was ruled by an independent prince.
It is uncertain whether the towns were plundered by piratical bands from the Cyclades and the Greek mainland, or were wiped out by the central Cretan power which was established at Knossos. The later Knossian palace was remodelled during Late Minoan II times, and did not therefore suffer from the depredations of invaders. It would seem that we now reach the age of the legendary Minos who struck down all rivals and became supreme ruler in Crete. "The first person known to us in history as having established a navy", writes Thucydides, "is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic Sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent his first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use. For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coast and islands, as communication by sea became more common, were tempted to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerful men; the motives being to serve their own cupidity and to support the needy. They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, and consisting of a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it; indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. An illustration of this is furnished by the honour with which some of the inhabitants of the continent still regard a successful marauder, and by the question we find the old poets everywhere representing the people as asking the voyagers--'Are they pirates?'--as if those who are asked the question would have no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogators of reproaching them for it. The same rapine prevailed also by land." 8
The Empire of Minos appears to have embraced part of the Greek mainland. Athens was compelled to send its annual tribute of youths and maidens to Knossos, and Tiryns, Mycenæ, Lakonia, Pylos, and Orchmenos became important centres of Ægean culture. The tradition that the Cyclopes who erected the walls of Tiryns came from Lycia may be due to the tendency to foreshorten historical events. It is possible, however, that Minoan traders had already settled on the Anatolian coast and maintained commercial relations with the Peloponnese and Crete.
Thothmes III of Egypt, the great conqueror, flourished during the later part of the Late Minoan II Period. In the hymn addressed to him as from the god Amon, the priestly poet declares:
I have come giving thee to smite the western land,
Keftyew (Crete) and Cyprus are in terror. 9
The activities of Thothmes did not extend to Crete, but there can be little doubt that his operations exercised a marked influence on the trade of the island kingdom. Probably it prospered greatly under the settled conditions which he brought about, as it had evidently prospered after the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt. A brisk demand for Cretan imports in the Nile valley may well have been one of the causes of the commercial "boom" which is suggested by the increasing wealth of Knossos during the Late Minoan II Period.
The great Egyptian wars, however, were bound in time to affect Crete in another direction. The expulsion of the Hyksos brought about a pressure of peoples in Syria, Anatolia, and south-eastern Europe, which was to test the stability of existing States. Semitic hordes poured towards Babylonia and hampered trade; at the same time they reinforced the growing power of Assyria. The Mitannian area of control was being circumscribed and Hittite prestige seriously affected in Cappadocia. Ere the Hittites were able to profit by the weakening of the Syrians and Mitannians, against whom Thothmes III was battling constantly, they must have been forced to direct their expansion westward. The plain of Troy was probably at this period the scene of many conflicts. In the Danubian area there appears to have been much ethnic friction. Invasions from Anatolia and the constant pressure exercised by northern tribes directed a steady stream of pastoral fighting-folks southward through the Balkans and into the northern States of Greece. The mainland capitals, including Mycenæ and Tiryns, which had become centres of Ægean culture and trade, must have offered strong temptations to the hardy mountaineers of Thessaly, whence the Achæans are supposed to have come. Probably the migrations of the pastoralists were propelled by migrations from the north. The ultimate result of these migratory "folk-waves", which increased in volume as time went on, was the destruction not only of the Minoan Empire, but the complete overthrow of Knossian power in Crete itself. The Palace Period was the Golden Age of Cretan culture, which suffered steady decline after 1450 B.C.
It was probably during this half-century of Minoan ascendancy that Crete's overseas commerce assumed its greatest dimensions. The organized navy ensured the safe passage in the Ægean Sea of ships which tapped the Danube valley trade, and penetrating the Dardanelles got into touch with caravans from the cast. It also helped to foster trade with western ports. The Rhone valley route running to Marseilles appears to have been, as has been indicated, one of the sources from which British tin was received.
At what period this traffic had origin is at present wrapped in obscurity. It seems probable, however, that it was carried on as early as 1500 B.C. One of the reasons for this belief is the discovery of Egyptian relics in southern England. Among the relics taken from Bronze Age graves are numerous Egyptian beads of blue-glazed faience. "They are beads, moreover, which", writes Professor Sayce, "belong to one particular period in Egyptian history, the latter part of the age of the Eighteenth Dynasty and the earlier of that of the Nineteenth Dynasty. . . . There is a large number of them in the Devizes Museum, as they are met with plentifully in the Early Bronze Age tumuli of Wiltshire in association with amber beads and barrel-shaped beads of jet and lignite. Three of them come from Stonehenge itself. Similar beads of 'ivory' have been found in a Bronze Age cist near Warminster: if the material is really ivory it must have been derived from the East. The cylindrical faience beads, it may be added, have been discovered in Dorsetshire as well as Wiltshire." Mr. H. R. Hall, dealing with the same Egyptian relics, says: "My own interest in the matter is due to the fact that in the course of the excavations of the [Egyptian] Fund at Deir el Bahari, we discovered thousands of blue glaze beads of the exact particular type (already well known from other Egyptian diggings) of these found in Britain. Ours are, in all probability, mostly of the time of Hatshepsut, and so date to about 1500 B.C." 10 Similar beads have also been discovered in Crete and Western Europe. The British finds help to fix the age of Stonehenge, the inner circle of which, according to Professor Boyd Dawkins, is formed of stones taken from Brittany.
By whom were these Egyptian beads carried to Britain between 1500 B.C. and 1400 B.C.? Certainly not the Phnicians. The sea-traders of the Mediterranean were at the time the Cretans. Whether or not their merchants visited England we have no means of knowing. It is possible that they did. It is also possible, and even highly probable, that during the early Bronze Age in England, which may have been of greater antiquity than has hitherto been supposed, there existed a comparatively high degree of civilization, and communities of traders.
According to Diodorus Siculus, tin was carried in wagons by the people of Belerium (Land's End) to the Island of Ictis, 11 which could be reached at low tide. The tin was purchased on Ictis by traders and then shipped to Gaul, being afterwards conveyed overland to the mouth of the Rhone on pack-horses. Ships crossed the English Channel as early as Neolithic times, when the earliest settlers of the Mediterranean race migrated from Gaul. The Veneti of Brittany in Cæsar's time had a navy, as well as trading-vessels, like the ancient Cretans. In the early Bronze Age amber was imported into England from the mouth of the Elbe, so that a connection was established between our shores and the Danubian trade route. Gold was carried from Ireland and Wales and Scotland to Scandinavia. It may have been due to the racial migrations which followed the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt that "the men of the round barrows" invaded these islands in the early British Bronze Age. Probably they followed in the tracks of the traders up the valleys of the Danube and the Elbe as well as from the Alpine districts towards Brittany. It need arouse no surprise that the effects of the distant Egyptian wars should have been felt in Europe. The building of the Chinese wall, which directed westward the drift of Asiatic nomads, was the indirect cause of the fall of Rome.
Crete's Late Minoan II Period of splendour and commercial prosperity was brought to an abrupt close by the sack of Knossos. This disaster must have fallen like "a bolt from the blue". It was evidently as unexpected as it was complete. Workmen were engaged in renovating the stately dwelling, new frescoes were being painted, and builders were erecting a new wing, when the invaders swept inland from the seashore, put to the sword soldier and artisan, and probably women and children, then plundered the palace and set it on fire. Phæstos palace and the villa of Aghia Triadha shared similar rates.
It may be that the invaders attacked Crete when its army and navy were engaged elsewhere. The tradition recorded by Herodotus, which is of special interest in this connection, sets forth that Minos went to Sicily in search of Dædalus, the great architect, and there was murdered. An expedition followed to avenge his death, and besieged Camicus for five years. Their efforts were, however, unsuccessful. On their way home their vessels were wrecked on the south coast of Italy, where they founded the town of Hyria. Thereafter, the Præsians informed Herodotus, "men of various nations flocked to Crete, which was stripped of its inhabitants". 12 Memories of Minoan colonies may have mingled with this tradition. One of the several cities called Minoa was situated in Sicily.
It is generally believed that the destroyers of Knossos were not Achæans alone, but the mixed peoples on the Greek coast who had come under the influence of Minoan civilization. Thucydides says that after Minos had formed his navy, and communication by sea became easier, "the coast populations began to apply themselves more closely to the acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled; some even began to build themselves walls on the strength of their newly acquired riches". These Cretanized mainlanders were subjected to the constant pressure of the northern tribes. "The country called Hellas", wrote Thucydides, "had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under pressure of superior numbers. . . .
RUINS OF THE "ROYAL VILLA", AGHIA TRIADHA.
The goodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particular individuals, and thus created faction, which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion." 13 It is possible, as some have urged, that Minos himself was a conqueror of Crete, and was supported by Pelasgians and Achæans who had acquired the elements of Minoan culture on the mainland.
The Late Minoan III Period begins with a partial revival of Minoan civilization. A portion of the Knossian palace was reoccupied, and new houses were erected at Gournia and Palaikastro beside the ruins of those which were destroyed in the early Palace Period. Trading relations with Egypt were resumed, and hundreds of Cretan vases of Bügelkannen type were imported into the Nile valley. These and others were imitated in faience and alabaster by Egyptian artisans. But Cretan culture was on the down grade. The island artisans of the Late Minoan III Period were imitators of their predecessors, and sometimes slovenly imitators; they invented nothing new. It was an age of decadence and transition. Ultimately Knossos and the small towns were entirely deserted, and the people retreated to the inner mountain valleys and plateaux. The Cretans ceased to be known in Egypt as the Keftiu during the reign of Amenhotep III, the father of Akhenaton. 14 The founders of Præsos, who claimed to be the "true Cretans", were no doubt descendants of the old Minoan peoples and the Achæo-Pelasgian elements from the Continent.
But although Late Minoan III culture perished by slow degrees in Crete, it flourished in Cyprus. Apparently large numbers of Cretans and Cretan colonists from the mainland settled on that island and achieved a political ascendancy over the natives. Others settled on Rhodes. About the same time the Minoan colonies in Lycia and Caria were strongly reinforced, and for a period, if Greek tradition is to be relied upon, the Carians monopolized the sea trade of the Ægean. It is believed that large numbers of Cretans also fled to Phnicia and stimulated maritime enterprise in that quarter. "In the Homeric poems", says Professor Myres, "more visits are paid by western seafarers to Phnicia and Sidon than 'Phnician' merchants pay to the west. . . . The wide Phnician trade of historic times had clearly begun to grow as the Minoan sea-power failed." 15
About a century after the fall of Knossos, Mycenæ, Tiryns, and other mainland towns had reached the height of their prosperity. It is possible that they owed their supremacy to Hittite influence. At any rate, persistent Greek legends associate their rulers with Anatolia. The walls of Tiryns were reputed to have been built by Cyclopes from Lycia, and Pelops, who gave his name to the Peloponnesus, was reputed to have come from Asia Minor. "The account given by those Peloponnesians", says Thucydides, "who have been the recipients of the most creditable traditions is this. First of all Pelops, arriving among a needy population from Asia with vast wealth, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the country was called after him; and this power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands of his descendants." 16 The complicated family history of Pelopidæ and Atridæ is of special interest in this connection.
Atreus, son of Pelops, married his son Plisthenes to Aerope, granddaughter of King Minos of Crete. Her father had given her and her sister to the King of Euba, because it had been foretold he would die by the hand of one of his children. The sons of Aerope were Agamemnon and Menelaus. Afterwards Atreus married Aerope, his daughter-in-law, and brought up her sons, who were consequently called the Atridæ. But this fickle lady deserted Atreus and became the wife of his brother Thyestes. Then Atreus took to wife Pelopea, whose descendants were called the Pelopidæ. He was not aware that this lady was his brother's daughter. Many crimes and calamities are associated with the traditions of these princes and princesses. The chief interest they have for us here is the wonderful relation the traditions regarding them bear to the history of the period. A Minoan king of Crete is to be slain by his own kin from the mainland, and invaders from Anatolia intermarry with Cretan stock in the Peloponnesus. This appears to be as good history as the reference in Ezekiel to the ethnics of Jerusalem: "Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite". 17 Mycenæ's mother was a Cretan and his father an Anatolian, perhaps of Indo-European speech like the military aristocracy of the Mitannian State, which appears to have for a period achieved political ascendancy over the Hittites.
In this connection special interest attaches to our own legends about the invading giants who gave their names to Alban (Albion) and Erin. It seems probable that these giants symbolized the folks who overran Great Britain and Ireland in the early Bronze Age. "Alban" (genitive of "Alba") or "Albion" and "Alps" are derived from a common root, signifying "white". Were the invaders of ancient Britain "Whitelanders", i.e. an Alpine folk?
The Mycenæan period of Greek civilization was remembered as that of the third or Bronze Race of Hesiod.
"Their gear was of bronze, they had bronze houses; they tilled the soil with bronze; black iron there was none." Nestor, in the Iliad, refers to the Bronze Age folk as the heroes of an earlier generation who were greater than Agamemnon and his host.
I lived with men, and they despised me not,
Abler in counsel, greater than yourselves.
Such men I never saw, and ne'er shall see,
As Pirithous and Dryas, wise and brave,
Cneus, Exadius, god-like Polypheme,
And Theseus, Ægeus' more than mortal son.
The mightiest they among the sons of men. . . . 18
Another element which entered into the ethnic fusion in Mycenæan Greece was the Danubian. The influence of Danubian culture extended as far south as Thessaly, where the Achæans were predominant. These Achæan pastoralists were drifting southward into the Peloponnesus as early as the Late Minoan I Period, and some of them may have reached Crete. But their greatest migration appears to have occurred at the close of the Pelopid Dynasty, and it is probable that they were the late conquerors of Mycenæ and Tiryns. After holding sway in the Peloponnesus for a period of uncertain duration, they were overthrown in turn by the Dorians.
About the time that the legendary Pelops secured the ascendancy of his stock on the Greek mainland, Crete was in a state of decay. In Egypt the brilliant reign of Amenhotep III marked the zenith of Egyptian power in the Nile valley and Syria. Mitanni, in northern Mesopotamia, which was ruled by kings with Indo-European names, was being threatened on one side by the growing power of Assyria, and on the other by that of the Hittites.
After Akhenaton, the dreamer king, ascended the Egyptian throne and inaugurated his religious revolution, the kingdom of Mitanni was overthrown, and the Egyptian Empire in northern Syria went to pieces. The Hittites had leagued themselves with the Amorites, and were pressing southward, gaining control of the trade routes from Babylonia and Egypt.
The eastward expansion of the Hittites was accompanied by a shrinkage of their power in the west. Reinforced by folk-waves from Thrace, the people of the Phrygian area then began to gather strength, and asserted themselves later as the Muski, 19 the forerunners of the historic Phrygians. The sixth city of Troy also came into prominence. It was contemporary with Mycenæ and Tiryns, and like these cities owed its rise to the fusion of Danubian and Ægean cultures, the latter predominating.
This was Homer's Troy, and so powerful did it become that when the Achæans entered into possession of the Peloponnesian centres of Mycenæan culture they found that it constituted a serious menace to their ascendancy.
As in Egypt, descent in Crete and its colonial settlements was by the female line. The Achæan chiefs therefore followed the example of Atreus by marrying a royal princess, so as to secure the succession of their descendants to the thrones of the various States which they overpowered. Menelaus had married Helen, Queen of Sparta, and departed overseas on an expedition. During his absence, Priam, King of Troy, abducted Helen, who became the wife of his son Paris. The Trojans were thus enabled to claim Sparta as part of their dominions. On his return, the Achæan monarch found it necessary to fit out a great expedition and inaugurate the famous siege of Troy, so as to recover the queen by whose right he held the Spartan throne. Such appears to be the historical germ of the Homeric narrative.
The Greeks dated the period of the Trojan war as from 1194 till 1184 B.C. This appears to be an accurate calculation. A few years previously, in 1200 B.C., the second great sea raid on Egypt took place during the reign of Rameses III of the Twentieth Dynasty. Perhaps the absence of Menelaus was not unconnected with this adventure.
The first sea raid occurred about a quarter of a century earlier, during the reign of Merne-ptah, son of Rameses II. It was conducted in conjunction with the Hittites, and taken part in by the Shardana, who may have given their name to Sardinia; the Akhaivasha, usually identified with the Achæans; the Shakalsha, who may have been Cretanized Sicilians; and the Tursha, perhaps the Turseni, who were represented in Etruria. The piratical peoples were probably remnants of the Cretans and their conquerors. They were defeated by Merne-ptah, but some settled in Libya and became mercenaries in the Egyptian army.
The second raid was of great dimensions. It included the Danauna, the Danaans, the Shakalsha, the Tursha, the Tikkarai, who may have come from Zakro in Crete, and the Pulesti, the Philistines. The sea force which sailed south by Cyprus was supported by land raiders from North Syria and Anatolia. Among the latter were the Philistines, who gave their name to Palestine. Rameses III won victories on sea and land, being assisted by the raiders' kinsmen, the Shardana mercenaries.
It is suggestive to find that the siege of Homer's Troy occurred a few years afterwards. The conquerors of pre-Mycenæan Greece, having been foiled in their attempt to overrun Egypt, sought expansion eastward, and had first to strike down the Phrygian city which threatened their supremacy.
Troy VI had been built about 1500 B.C., that is, about the beginning of Crete's Late Minoan II or Palace Period. It was surrounded by great stone walls 16 feet thick and 20 feet: high, which were surmounted by first a brick and then a stone parapet, which added another 6 feet to them. The walls were flanked by three great towers about 30 feet in height. As the stone-work has Egyptian characteristics, it is possible that the builders were imported from Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty. There were at least three city gates, and these were all on the southern side. Wells were sunk to the water-bearing strata of the hill.
When Troy VI was set on fire it did not suffer so greatly, being largely built of stone, as did the second city. The houses were, however, overthrown, and the upper portions of the walls demolished. Scarcely an object of any value survived the sack of the wealthy city. The ceramic remains are partly Mycenæan, or Late Minoan III, and partly Trojan.
After the fall of Troy the European elements in Anatolia were strengthened. Carian and Lycian pirates infested the seas. There were also settlements of Ægean stock in Cilicia. The Muski-Phrygians, pressing eastward from central Anatolia, appear to have contributed to the overthrow of the tottering empire of the Hittites. In Palestine the Philistines gradually extended their area of control, moving steadily southward, as the Empire of Egypt shrank by slow degrees.
The Achæans of Greece met in time the same fate as their predecessors of the Late Mycenæan Period, the Pelopid Dynasty. About two generations after the Trojan war the Dorians, who had been gradually filtering south ward through Thessaly, gradually achieved ascendancy. In time, assisted by Illyrian allies, they overran the Peloponnese. The dispossessed Achæan aristocracy and followers were forced into the land of the Ionians, which afterwards became known as Achaia. Dorians also found their way to Crete, which, like Rhodes, was eventually conquered.
For generations Greece was devastated by inter-tribal wars, and lapsed into a condition of decline. Periodic migrations took place of its merchants and traders and artisans, and these settled in Crete, Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy. Many found refuge in Anatolia, where grew up Ionian Greece along the coastland of Lycia and Caria.
"It was in Ægean Ionia", writes Mr. Hall, "that the torch of Greek civilization was kept alight, while the homeland was in a mediæval condition of comparative barbarism; Cyprus, too, helped though she was too far off for her purer Minoan culture to affect the Ægean peoples very greatly. It was in Ionia that the new Greek civilization arose: Ionia, in whom the old Ægean blood and spirit most survived, taught the new Greece, gave her coined money and letters, art and poesy, and her shipmen, forcing the Phnicians from before them, carried her new culture to what were then deemed the ends of the earth." 20
1 In this tradition two Semitic rulers, Sharrukin and the later Shargan-Sharri, were confused.
2 Genesis, xiv, 1-2.
3 Ibid., xiv, 4 et seq.
4 That is, non-Greeks.
5 Herodotus, I, 173.
6 III, 46.
7 VIII, 2.
8 History of the Peloponnesian War, I, 4, 5 (Richard Crawley's translation).
9 Breasted's History of Egypt. p. 319.
10 The Journal of Egyptian Archæology (January, 1914), pp. 18-19.
11 One theory is that Ictis is the Isle of Wight. Some geologists contend that at this period the island was not entirely cut off from the mainland. The Isle of Thanet has also been identified as Ictis. Another theory is that the reference is to St. Michael's Mount on the south coast of Cornwall, which is connected with the mainland at low water by a causeway.
12 Herodotus, VII, 170, 171.
13 The Peloponnesian War, I, 2-8.
14 Before 1375 B.C.
15 The Dawn of History, p. 215.
16 The Peloponnesian War, I, 6-9.
17 Ezekiel, xvi, 3.
18 Iliad, Book I, 309-15 (Derby's translation).
19 Pronounced Moosh'ke. In the Old Testament they are referred to as "the Meshech" (Ezekiel, xxxii).
20 The Ancient History of the Near East, p. 79.