Neopalatial Period in Crete

Neopalatial Period (1700-1450 BC)

Despite the destruction of the palaces were restored and rebuilt on a larger scale and, by the start of the Neopalatial period, the economy began to thrive and the population increased with new settlements becoming established all over Crete. This period signifies the height of the Minoan civilization. The palaces again became the centres of economic, social and religious life.

Around them were constructed a rich variety of other buildings including merchant"s villas, mansions for high officials and priests, workshops, storage rooms, shops, cafes and dwellings for more lowly citizens. Our evidence to show how people lived their daily lives comes from the large amount of archaeological finds that have been excavated. We can surmise that most people in the urban settlements were employed in trade and the import and export of wine, oil and perfumes.

A small minority of local people worked as potters, weavers or farmers. The biggest commercial centres were located at Phaestos, Agia Triada, Agioi Theodori, Malia and the Port of Amnissos. The society was strictly hierarchical with the King at the apex, who was worshipped as a High Priest and the merchant class, manufacturers and priests commanding respect after him. This rich and thriving Minoan civilization continued to impress and influence the colonies and mainland Greece.

The splendour of the palaces impresses visitors even today. And from these ruins we can garner a multitude of information about the lives of the ancient Minoans: their worshipping and burial customs, their artistic tastes and skills, how they spent their daily lives and how they structured their society with regards to class, religion and gender.

Around 1450 BC Minoan culture and civilization experienced a defining moment and the cities and palaces were once more destroyed. It is thought that this was due to a further eruption of the Thira volcano, consequent tsunami and extensive fires which demolished nearly everything. The palaces at Malia, Phaestos, Tylissos and Ayia Triade were destroyed together with the living quarters in Knossos. The palace at Knossos seems to have survived, remaining largely intact. This enabled the Knossos dynasty to recover slightly until it was finally overrun by Mycenaean Greeks. .