It has been long believed that the ancient Minoan civilization was killed off due to a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, tsunami, or volcano. However, new evidence found on ancient tablets suggests that they weren’t wiped out at all.
Named the “first advanced civilization in Europe”, Minoans thrived between 2700 B.C. and 1450 B.C., and scientists had not found any evidence of their existence after 1100 B.C. The ancient civilization built large palaces on the island of Crete – some as tall as four stories high with plumbing and extensive decorations and artwork. Several pictures of the Minoan culture (pottery, palace, etc...) can be seen here.
They used ancient hieroglyphic writing systems from the Bronze Age. Later, they wrote in Linear A which is one of the oldest syllabic writing systems in the world and is still undeciphered to this day. They did, however, use another writing system called Linear B which they shared with the Greeks and Mycenaeans. Thankfully for researchers, the tablets discovered in the Minoan city of Knossos were written in Linear B and date back to around 1450 B.C.
So what exactly does this all mean? Although there is evidence that a large volcanic eruption by Thera occurred around 1600 B.C., the Minoans wouldn’t have been wiped out by it. Colin MacDonald, an archaeologist at the British School in Athens, told Haaretz, “Thera’s eruption did not directly affect Knossos. No volcanic-induced earthquake or tsunami struck the palace which, in any case, is 100 meters above sea level.”
Evidence was found that in 1450 B.C. there was quite a bit of destruction on the island of Crete which could have been the result of an earthquake, although it wasn’t enough to destroy the civilization. There is the possibility that there was a collapse of religious authority after the earthquake. “This could well have manifested itself in local uprisings and the burning of administrative elite buildings,” MacDonald explained.
He went on to say, “Earthquakes were not ‘game changers’, but often spurred the authorities to try something new,” adding, “The earthquakes were important in terms of architectural change, but not of cultural discontinuity.” That could explain why the Minoan civilization changed their writing systems and conducted new burial rituals.
New research suggests it’s very possible the Minoans were taken over by another civilization. In fact, they could have been attacked by the Mycenaeans, the first people to speak the Greek language who flourished between 1650 B.C. and 1200 B.C.