TK Waters has been an adjunct professor of religion at Western Kentucky University for six years. They have a master's degree in religious studies from Western Kentucky University and a bachelor's degree in English literature and religious studies from Western Kentucky University.
Minoan Homes and Furnishings
The ancient Minoans on the island of Crete lived about 4,000 years ago, but had similar amenities to many people in the twenty-first century! Most of the Minoans, regardless of occupation or class, lived in large houses with several rooms. In addition to bedrooms, dining areas, and so forth, the houses actually had bathrooms with running water and ''toilets.'' While they did not have pipes and faucets like we do today, they built channels for conveying fresh water to homes and sewage away from homes.
Unlike the homes of other contemporaneous civilizations which were typically made from mud bricks, the Minoans' houses were made from stone which was effective against the elements. Within the houses, many people had luxury items like jewelry and fine vessels made from gold and silver. They made and used pottery like most other civilizations, but decorated their pottery with unique designs. Unsurprisingly for an island nation, most of their decorations were focused on the sea and depicted sea life, waves, and other beach-like themes.
Minoan Food and Medicines
As you might expect for a civilization located on the beach, one of the primary food staples of the Minoans was fish. Although they ate fish, they probably did not eat much of other types of meat. They raised sheep, goats, and cattle primarily for the production of wool and milk, though they did sacrifice bulls occasionally. Grains, particularly barley and wheat, were also important staples for the Minoans.
In addition to the basic fish and grain diet, the Minoans also grew a variety of fruits. Tree fruits such as apples, figs, and pomegranates were the most common type. The Minoans also had some vineyards where they produced grapes which they made into wine. Olives were a particularly important product because the Minoans used them to make olive oil which was used in religious ceremonies.
The Minoans were active in growing and using herbs for health purposes as well. They produced an incredible variety of herbs - probably more than are in most people's kitchens today - and thought each had unique healing or restorative properties. Some herbs, such as lavender and sage, were made into oils, much like you can find essential oils in the store today. Anise, a plant similar to licorice, was probably used to soothe digestive problems. They also used herbs like coriander and saffron as well. The Minoans were also engaged in beekeeping and apparently produced large amounts of honey. Honey was used for religious ceremonies but was also believed to have restorative effects.
Minoan Clothing and Materials
The Minoans' clothing was standard for the time and location. Men typically wore loincloths which were essentially just pieces of cloth tied around the waist, though they also wore short skirts or kilts. Women usually wore long skirts along with an open-fronted shirt. In cold weather - which was rare in Crete since it is a Mediterranean island - both men and women would wear cloaks over their clothing and tunics around their torso.
Since the Minoans raised sheep, most of their clothing was made from wool and would have been fairly inexpensive to make. They probably also harvested some flax seed which they would process and make into linen for clothing.
Minoan Work and Play
The Minoans were obviously active artists since we know quite a bit from the society just from their artwork. Some Minoans were perhaps employed as artists and were the ones who created these works. In addition, in can be assumed that some Minoans were metalworkers since archaeologists have found fine vessels and other metal creations. Since the Minoans were an agricultural society, many citizens were farmers, shepherds, and fishermen and would have provided the food and products for the rest of the civilization. The Minoans' religion was very important to the civilization, so there were many priestesses (and some priests). There is no evidence that the Minoans had an army, but some Minoans - probably the men, since the women seemed to run the society - were probably naval soldiers.
Since the Minoans were one of the predecessors to the Ancient Greeks, who are famous for the Olympic Games, it makes sense that sports were an important part of their leisure activities. Both men and women engaged in wrestling and boxing, which seem to be popular sports in ancient Crete. Even more popular was bull-jumping, a sport where a bull would run at a person who would try to somersault over it. Again, both men and women participated in this dangerous sport. The Minoans even made and played board games.
For an ancient civilization, the Minoans had a fairly lavish way of life in Crete. They had large homes including bathrooms with running water and waste systems and their homes were typically filled with luxury items like jewelry and finely painted pottery. They mostly lived on fish and grains, but also produced a number of fruits as well as herbs, such as the licorice-like anise, and honey which were often used for medicinal purposes. Their clothing was sparse as men wore loincloths around their waist and women wore skirts, typically. The clothing was usually made of wool, though some were made from flax seed linen.
We do not know a lot about the occupations of the Minoans, but some were artists who painted frescoes, metalworkers who made fine vessels, priestesses who worked in the temples, and food producers. Leisure activities were common in Crete, especially the sport of bull-jumping in which people tried to somersault over a charging bull.
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