Minoan civilizationThe first great civilization of the Aegean world flourished on the island of Crete. The early inhabitants settled as early as 6000 B.C., but the island reached the height of its power between 2200 b.c . and 1450 B.C. Its wealth was due to its thriving trade with other Bronze Age towns in Greece, the Mediterranean, and in Egypt and Syria. Prosperity also came from the rich Cretan soil which produced oil, grain, and wine in abundance. The economy was based around rich palaces, the remains of which have been found in different parts of the island. This peaceful Cretan civilization is known as Minoan after a legendary king of Crete called Minos. Knossos and the other palaces were all destroyed by fire in about 1700 b.c ., but after that they were rebuilt even more luxuriously. From then until about 1500 B.C., Minoan civilization was at its height.
The Mycenaean civilizations(before iron tools and weapons cam e into use), had several important centres, including Mycenae. Mycenae, city of Agamemnon, was one of several heavily fortified strongholds. The lorn, or chief, lived in a palace with many rooms which served as a military headquarters and a centre of administration for the surrounding mountainside. Tne Mvcenaeans were warriors, and weapons and armor have been found in their graves. Thev were also great traders and sailed far and wide. Their civilization reached the height of its power in about 1600 bc . and eclipsed the Minoan civilization of Crete. All seemed secure and prosperous, but around 1250 b.c . the Mvoenaeans started to build huge defensive walls around all the major towns. The Mycenaean world was under threat from foreign invaders. By about 1200 tx. the dties began to be abandoned or destroyed. Within 100 years the Mycenaean strongholds had fallen and a period often called the Dark Ages had begun.
To Troy and backIn Troy today, there is a modem replica of the Trojan horse. It is very large and, like the ancient one, is made of wood. Children can dimb a ladder into its stomach and pretend to be Creek soldiers.
Troy withstood the Greeks' siege for ten long years. In the end, the Greeks triumphed by a trick. They constructed a huge wooden horse which they left just outside the city. The Trojans then watched the Greek army sail away, and overcome with curiosity, dragged the horse inside the city walls. Late that night, Greek soldiers, hidden inside the horse, crept out and opened the city gates. The Greek army, which had silently returned, entered and destroyed the city. This picture of the horse comes from a pot of about 650-600 b.c .
The story of Troy and the wooden horse has been a favourite with artists through the centuries. Italian artist Giovanni Tiepolo (1696-1770), painted more than one version of the subject.
German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1S22-ISB0). discovered the site of ancient Troy near tte Mediterranean coast in modem Turkey. He had bees ioofciag for it for many years. His excavations revealed not jocundity.
Rich Mycenaean towns and palaces fell into a decline or were destroyed, trade with the east decreased, and Greece entered a dark age. During the next few centuries, stories of the great Mycenaean civilization which had gone I before were handed down from one generation to the next in the form of poems. Two of them, The Iliad and The Odyssey, have survived. They reached their final form in the eighth century b.c. at the .hands of the poet Homer, whose poetry was admired throughout the Greek world. The Iliad describes how a city called Troy, on the west coast of modem Turkey, was besieged by a Greek army led by King Agamemnon of Mycenae. It describes the heroic deeds of Greek and Trojan soldiers like Achilles and Hektor. The Odyssey tells the story of the return home from the Trojan War of one Greek hero, Odysseus. It took him ten years and he had many dangerous adventures. The Homeric stories reflect real incidents of wars, battles, and sieges from an earlier age. It is probable that war was waged between the Greeks and the Trojans, possibly over the ownership of lands and crops at a time when the Mycenaean world was falling apart, and not over the recapture of Helen.