Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Miletus Found to be Cretan Colony

"Europe's oldest civilization, the Minoans of ancient Crete, were also the continent's first colonialists, according to investigations in Turkey and elsewhere. While archaeologists have long been aware of Minoan trading activity along the Anatolian coast, excavations at Miletus in southwest Turkey are revealing how 3,700 years ago they expanded to the Asian mainland to set up at least one permanent colony. The discoveries lend credence to an ancient Greek myth of a Minoan colony there.

The excavations have been unearthing the central part of a Minoan settlement laid out around a Cretan-style cult area. At least three major storage and probable cult buildings were arranged around a courtyard complete with a sequence of four mud-brick altars. Hundreds of fresco fragments found so far suggest that the walls were covered with spectacular paintings of exotic landscapes featuring papyrus flowers, reeds, lilies, and mythical creatures such as griffins.

Further evidence that the Minoans were based there is that 95 percent of the thousands of pottery sherds from this period found at the site were either made nearby in the Minoan style or imported from Crete itself. Seven inscriptions in Linear A, the undeciphered language of the Minoans, have also been found, inscribed on locally made pottery.

It is possible the Minoans established their colony in Anatolia to help channel mineral wealth, mainly copper, gold, and silver, back to Crete. Miletus is located at the mouth of the Maeander River and was ideally situated for trade with the mineral-rich interior."