Home Seshat Region: Southeastern Europe (Europe)
Archaic Crete
D G SC WF HS
EQ 2020  gr_crete_archaic / GrCrArc

Crete is a large island in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Archaic Crete (7th-6th centuries) is divided in the following periods: Orientalizing or Daedalic or Early Archaic (710-600 BCE) and Archaic Archaic (600-500).
There was no capital city as Crete was divided into territorial entities, each one centered upon a city that served as the main political and economic centre of its well-defined region. Political, military and religious control was exercised by the Kosmoi, a board of 3 to 10 annually elected nobles. [1] [1]
No information could be found in the sources consulted regarding the polity’s overall population, however the largest settlement, Knossos, is estimated to have housed about 4,000 people.

Reference(s):

[1]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.

General Variables
Identity and Location
  Utm Zone:
35 S  
  Original Name:
Archaic Crete  
  Capital:
none  
  Alternative Name:
Doric Crete  
Temporal Bounds
  Peak Years:
650 BCE  
  Duration:
[710 BCE ➜ 500 BCE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
  Suprapolity Relations:
none  
  Supracultural Entity:
Archaic Greece  
  Succeeding Entity:
Classical Crete  
  Relationship to Preceding Entity:
continuity  
  Preceding Entity:
Geometric Crete  
  Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity  
Language
  Linguistic Family:
Indo-European  
  Language:
Doric Greek  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
4,000 people  
Polity Territory:
167 km2  
Polity Population:
-  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
[1 to 5]  
Religious Level:
5  
Military Level:
5  
Administrative Level:
5  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
present  
Professional Priesthood:
present  
Professional Military Officer:
present  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
present  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
present  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
present  
Formal Legal Code:
present  
Court:
present  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
present  
Irrigation System:
present  
Food Storage Site:
unknown  
Drinking Water Supply System:
present  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
present  
Port:
present  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
present  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
present  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
present  
Script:
present  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
present  
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
present  
Religious Literature:
absent  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
present  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
present  
Information / Money
Token:
present  
Precious Metal:
present  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
present  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
absent  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
unknown  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
present  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
present  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
present  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
absent  
  Earth Rampart:
unknown  
  Ditch:
unknown  
  Complex Fortification:
absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
present  
  Bronze:
present  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
absent  
  Self Bow:
present  
  Javelin:
present  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
absent  
  Composite Bow:
present  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
absent  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
absent  
  Dagger:
present  
  Battle Axe:
absent  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
present  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
present  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
absent  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
present  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
present  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
present  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
present  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
present  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
unknown  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Archaic Crete (gr_crete_archaic) was in:
 (710 BCE 501 BCE)   Crete
Home NGA: Crete

General Variables
Identity and Location
none

DESCRIPTION 1 Crete is divided into territorial entities each one centered upon a city that served as the main political and economic center of its region. The most important city-stateswere these of Knossos, probably the largest urban centre of the period, Axos, Krousonas, Phaistos, Gortys, Lyktos, Arkades, Prinias, and Eltyna in central Crete, Lato, Dreros and Praisos in east Crete, and Aptera and Kydonia in the west. None of these centers thought was seat of a political authority that controlled the island.


Temporal Bounds
650 BCE

DESCRIPTION 1 7th century BCE


[710 BCE ➜ 500 BCE]

DESCRIPTION 1 The Archaic Crete (7th-6th centuries) is divided in the following periods: Orientalizing or Daedalic or Early Archaic (710-600 BCE) and Archaic Archaic (600-500).


Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
4,000 people

DESCRIPTION Knossos was the largest urban center, with a population of roughly 4,000 in this period. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Whitelaw, T. 2004. "Estimating the population of Neopalatial Knossos," in Cadogan, G., Hatzaki, E. and Vasilakis, A. (eds), Knossos: Palace, City, State: Proceedings of the Conference in Herakleion organized by the British School at Athens and the 23rd Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Herakleion, in November 2000, for the Centenary of Sir Arthur Evans’s Excavations at Knossos (BSA Studies 12), London, 147-58.


167 km2

DESCRIPTION Km2. In this period Crete was divided into regional city-states that controlled well-defined regions. [1] [2] ’For Crete, [Hansen and Nielsen] make a quick calculation: having said that there were 49 contemporary cities in Crete, and the island having 8200 km2, the average territory of a Cretan city was of 167km2’. [3]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.

[3]: (Coutsinas 2013) Nadia Coutsinas. 2013. "The Establishment of the City-States of Eastern Crete from the Archaic to the Roman Period." CHS Research Bulletin 2 (1). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:CoutsinasN.The_Establishment_of_the_City-States_of_Eastern_Crete.2013. Coutsinas is citing An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis by Mogens Herman Hansen and Thomas Heine Nielsen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


-

DESCRIPTION People. In this period Crete was divided into regional city-states that controlled well-defined regions. [1] [2] ’For Crete, [Hansen and Nielsen] make a quick calculation: having said that there were 49 contemporary cities in Crete, and the island having 8200 km2, the average territory of a Cretan city was of 167km2’. [3] Expert input may be needed to suggest a population estimate for a typical Archaic Cretan city-state.

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.

[3]: (Coutsinas 2013) Nadia Coutsinas. 2013. "The Establishment of the City-States of Eastern Crete from the Archaic to the Roman Period." CHS Research Bulletin 2 (1). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:CoutsinasN.The_Establishment_of_the_City-States_of_Eastern_Crete.2013. Coutsinas is citing An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis by Mogens Herman Hansen and Thomas Heine Nielsen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Hierarchical Complexity
[1 to 5]

DESCRIPTION 1-2, 5 levels. Crete is divided into regional city-states which controlled a well defined region. The settlement hierarchy within these states is simple. It was centered upon the city where all the government, public and religious buildings were located and villages and hamlets scatted throughout its rural countryside. City-states were independent of their neighbors and there was a political unity among the urban centre and the rural settlements. [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.


5

DESCRIPTION levels. Religious control was exercised by the Kosmoi, a board of 3 to 10 annually elected nobles -their number varies from 3 to 10- elected by the Ecclesia, the body of free male citizens. [1] [2] Cult was performed by priests annually elected by the Ecclesia.

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.


5

DESCRIPTION levels. Military control was exercised by the Kosmoi, a board of 3 to 10 annually elected nobles -their number varies from 3 to 10- elected by the Ecclesia, the body of free male citizens. [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.


5

DESCRIPTION levels. Political, military and religious control was exercised by the Kosmoi, a board of 3 to 10 annually elected nobles -their number varies from 3 to 10- elected by the Ecclesia, the body of free male citizens. The council of elders, the Gerousia, whose members were chosen among the best Kosmoi, had legislative and juridical authority. The most senior member of the Kosmoi bore the title of "protokosmos". [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.


Professions
present

DESCRIPTION Cult was performed by priests annually elected by the Ecclesia. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75.


present

DESCRIPTION Μilitary control in city-states was exercised by the Kosmoi , a board of 3 to 10 nobles, annually elected by the Ecclesia, the body of free male citizens. One of them was the president of the board (he was called πρωτόκοσμος, στραταγέτας, κόσμος ο επί πόλεως). [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Toronto, 56-75

[2]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 166-72.


Bureaucracy Characteristics
present

DESCRIPTION Bureaucratic control was exercised by ippis, a board of free-citizens.


Law
present

DESCRIPTION The council of elders, the Gerousia, whose members were chosen among the best Kosmoi, had legislative and juridical authority. [1] [2] Officials appointed by the state, they are called dikastai (δικαστές), acted as judges; they deal mostly with cases involving inheritances and pledges. Special judges, the hetaireai, deal with matters of tribal law and custom, others, called orfanodikastes (ορφανοδικαστές) were appointed to supervise the affairs of orphans or minors, the ksenios Kosmos (ξένιος κόσμος) had important duties connected with the foreigners living in the city, and finally the cosmos hiarorgos (ιαροργός) was responsible for matters related to the religion.

Reference(s):

[1]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Torondo, 77

[2]: Chaniotis, A. 1897. "Κλασική και Ελληνιστική Κρήτη," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 203.


present

DESCRIPTION Codes of laws and regulations were recorded in inscriptions (commonly incised on stone). Legal inscriptions, the oldest are dated to the 7th century BCE, were found so far in the city-states of Gortyn, Axos, and Dreros. [1] [2] Many inscriptions were displayed on sanctuaries, a tangible expression of the intersection of law and religion. The texts are fragmentary and provide a very cloudy picture on the legal systems adopted by the Archaic city-states. [3] [4] The codes primarily deal with issues of ownership and pledges. The most important inscription, the longest inscription of the Greek world, is the famous Gortyn Code or the Great Code. [5] [6] [7] Although the inscription is dated to the first half of the 5th century BCE, it is argued that echoes Archaic legislative systems.

Reference(s):

[1]: Guarducci, M. 1950. Inscriptiones Creticae IV, Rome, 1-40

[2]: Perlman, P. J. 2004. “Writing on the walls. The architectural context of Archaic Cretan laws,” in Day, L. P., Mook, M. S., and Muhly, J. D. 2004. Crete Beyond the Palaces: Proceedings of the Crete 2000 Conference (Prehistory Monographs 10), Philadelphia,181-97.

[3]: Willetts, R. F. 1965. Ancient Crete. A Social History, London and Torondo, 76-84

[4]: Chaniotis, A. 1897. "Κλασική και Ελληνιστική Κρήτη," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 200-03.

[5]: Guarducci, M. 1950. Inscriptiones Creticae IV, Rome, n. 72

[6]: Willetts, R. F. 1967. The Law Code of Gortyn, Berlin

[7]: Di Vita, A. ed. 1984. Creta Antica. Cento anni di archaeologia italiana (1884-1984), Rome, 73-9


present

DESCRIPTION Legal disputes were tried in the agora (the central gathering place) of the city.


Special-purpose Sites
Information / Writing System
present

DESCRIPTION The oldest written record is an inscription incised on a large storage jar at Phaistos and dated to the end of 8th century BCE. [1] . All written records are inscriptions incised on stone and contain religious texts or cities laws. Others are votive and were incised on pieces of armor. They are dated to the mid 7th century and 6th century BCE.

Reference(s):

[1]: Bile, M. 1988. La dialect crétois ancient, Paris, 29


present

DESCRIPTION Phonetic alphabetic writing was introduced to the Greek World during the 10th or 9th century BCE when Greeks adopted the earlier Phoenician alphabet and used it to write the Greek language. [1] [2] Sound data indicates that the alphabet was first introduced and developed in Crete and not at Euboea, as some scholars had argued. [1] [3] This theory has fully confirmed by the recent find of a Cretan inscription at Eltyna (Central Crete). [4] The Doric Cretan alphabet was very close to its Phoenician model. The Doric Cretan alphabet was also used to express an unknown language that is believed to be the language of the Minoans that was preserved and spoken by some groups in the isolated mountainous regions of east Crete. [5] These inscriptions date from the late 7th or early 6th century down to the 3rd century BCE.

Reference(s):

[1]: Guarducci, M. 1953. "La culpa dell’alfabeto greco," in Γέρας Αντωνίου Κεραμοπούλλου, Athens, 342-54

[2]: Willi, A. 2005. "Κάδμος ανέθηκεν. Zur vermittlung der alphabetschrift nach Griechenland," Museum Helveticum 62, 162-71.

[3]: Guarducci, M. 1967. Epigrafia greca I, Rome, 189-81

[4]: Kritzas, X. 2010. " ΦΟΙΝΙΚΗΙΑ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ: Νέα αρχαϊκή επιγραφή από την Έλτυνα," in Rethemiotakis, G. and Egglezou, M. Το Γεωμετρικό Νεκροταφείο της Έλτυνας, Heraklion, 3-23.

[5]: Duhoux, Y. Les Étéocrétoise et l’origine de l’alphabet grec," Ant. Clas. 50, 287-94.


present

DESCRIPTION "Significantly, however, the oral transmission of the traditions of the past allowed Greek culture to survive this loss [the loss of writing] by continuing its stories and legends as valuable possesions passed down thought time. Storytelling, music, singing, and oral performances of poetry, which surely had been a part of Greek life for longer than we can trace, transmitted the most basic cultural ideas of the Greeks about themselves from generation to generation." [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Martin, T. R. 1996. Ancient Greece. From Prehistory to Hellenistic Times, New Haven and London, 37.


Information / Kinds of Written Documents Information / Money
present

DESCRIPTION Minting in Greece was introduced around 6th century BCE. Before that period economic transactions were based on a barter system of spits, precious artifacts and metals, animals, food, and services. [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: e.g. Seaford, R. 2004. Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy, Cambridge, 125-46

[2]: Tejado, R. and Guerra, G. 2012. "From barter to coins: shifting cognitive frames in Classical Greek economy," in Herrero-Soler, H. and White, A.(eds.), Metaphore and Milles. Figurative Language in Business and Economics, Berlin/Boston, 27-4.


present

DESCRIPTION Minting in Greece was introduced around 6th century BCE. Before that period economic transactions were based on a barter system of spits, precious artifacts and metals, animals, food, and services. [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: e.g. Seaford, R. 2004. Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy, Cambridge, 125-46

[2]: Tejado, R. and Guerra, G. 2012. "From barter to coins: shifting cognitive frames in Classical Greek economy," in Herrero-Soler, H. and White, A.(eds.), Metaphore and Milles. Figurative Language in Business and Economics, Berlin/Boston, 27-4.


absent

DESCRIPTION Cretans started minting around 470 BCE perhaps as a response to the reduced supple of new Aiginetan coinage. [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Stefanakis, M. I. 1999. "The introduction of coinage in Crete and the beginning of local minting," in Chaniotis, A. (ed.), From Minoan Farmers to Roman Traders. Sidelights on the Economy of Ancient Crete, Stuttgart, 247-68.


present

DESCRIPTION Epigraphic evidence from many regions of the island and archeological finds attest to the use of monetary values from at least the turn of the 6th century. The first coins to be used were the Aiginetans as result of the close relations between Aigina and the Cretan city of Kydonia (West Crete). [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Stefanakis, M. I. 1999. "The introduction of coinage in Crete and the beginning of local minting," in Chaniotis, A. (ed.), From Minoan Farmers to Roman Traders. Sidelights on the Economy of Ancient Crete, Stuttgart, 247-68.


present

DESCRIPTION Minting in Greece was introduced around 6th century BCE. Before that period economic transactions were based on a barter system of spits, precious artifacts and metals, animals, food, and services. [1] [2]

Reference(s):

[1]: e.g. Seaford, R. 2004. Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy, Cambridge, 125-46

[2]: Tejado, R. and Guerra, G. 2012. "From barter to coins: shifting cognitive frames in Classical Greek economy," in Herrero-Soler, H. and White, A.(eds.), Metaphore and Milles. Figurative Language in Business and Economics, Berlin/Boston, 27-4.


Information / Postal System Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Settlements in a Defensive Position:
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Lembesi, A. 1987. "Η Κρητών Πολιτεία," in Panagiotakis, N. (ed.), Κρήτη: Ιστορία και Πολιτισμός, Heraklion, 136-44.


Military use of Metals
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Projectiles
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Handheld weapons
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Animals used in warfare
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Armor
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Naval technology
present

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
unknown

DESCRIPTION [1]

Reference(s):

[1]: Everson, T. 2004. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Arms and Armour from the Heroes of Homer to Alexander the Great, Sutton.


Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.