Crete was a melting pot in more than one sense. Ores were smelted, alloys such as bronze were produced, metal and stone were turned into beautiful objects and jewellery. Crete was a mixture, a melting pot, of peoples and of cultures. Its geographical position helped it to be a link between Africa, Asia and Europe. We will glance briefly at the evidence of a variety of physical types.
At the start of the Early Bronze Age, most Cretans were of Mediterranean race, dolichocephalic, or long-headed.
There was an Anatoliian element from Neolithic times, and early in the Bronze Age Armenoids, tall and brachycephalic, entered Crete.
The skulls from the Cyclades are of varying types. In the Neolithic period and, in the Cyclades, in early Bronze age tombs, steatopygous statuettes are found. This may be due to influence from Asia Minor, where the Great Mother goddess was worshipped, but it may also indicate the influence of Africa. Hutchinson, in Prehistoric Crete, Penguin, 1963, gives fuller information on racial types.
Evidence of attitudes, rituals and religious beliefs from other parts of the Mediterranean world suggests that it was not only in matters of race and physical type that Crete was a mixture. For example, Crete had many mountain top shrines, such as are found elsewhere. At Chamaizi, in a hill-top shrine, there is a well, or bothros, rubbish pit, such as was found by Woolley at Alalakh on the Syrian coast. Lightning, with its important place in religious ritual, explains the presence of such mountain-top shrines. The study of lightning led to further studies of electricity such as were conducted not only on "high places" in Asia Minor but also in Egypt and elsewhere.
In Egypt, Anatolia, Palestine and farther east, electrical experiments were conducted by priests in the hope of capturing an electrical deity from the sky, or from the earth, and of achieving a degree of control of him or her. For example, what appear to be electrical storage cells have been found, the "Baghdad batteries". Kings, who had always performed some priestly duties, and who were expected to know the will of the gods and ensure divine protection for their tribe or country, hoped to acquire divine power and strength from contact with a divine force in shrines, caves, temples, and on mountain tops. Such, I suggest, was the case with Minos in Crete, whether Minos was the name of one king or that of a dynasty.
The name Chamaizi suggests the Greek word chamai, on the ground. If the letters de are added to a Greek place name, as with Athens, giving Athenaze (Athenas-de), the idea of movement towards the place is added. The Greek chamaze means "to the ground", earthwards. This suggests that the place was a shrine attracting the electrical god in the form of lightning.
Woolley, in his book A Forgotten Kingdom, Penguin 1953, writes that he found in a temple ".... something yet more mysterious....", a shaft filled with boulders brought from hills some miles away, with a packing of smaller stones. An 8ft. high mass of brickwork surmounted the filled shaft. At Chamaizi, the "well" filled with stones, as at Alalakh, would be intended to invite and help the deity to appear. Vide Hutchinson, Prehistoric Crete, p. 134 and 169. Homer, in Odyssey XIX: 175ff., has Odysseus describing Crete. There are many languages spoken; there are many peoples, e. g. Achaeans, great-hearted Eteocretans (genuine Cretans), Cydonians, divine (dioi) Pelasgians.
Minos was enneoros, and oaristes, an associate of Zeus. Enneoros may mean 'at the age of nine', 'associate of Zeus for nine years', or that he associated with Zeus every nine years.
There may be a parallel with the Egyptian heb-sed ceremony, in the course of which the king underwent a second coronation. The purpose of this ceremony may have been to rejuvenate the king. As part of the ceremony the king had to run, probably through a field, carrying a flail. The flail may represent forked lightning. He was accompanied by the souls of Nekhem. Edwards, in The Pyramids of Egypt, Penguin 1947, observes that the souls of Nekhem were the prehistoric kings of Upper Egypt whose capital was at Nekhem (Hierakonpolis}.
The Greek hierax is a hawk or falcon which, like most birds of prey in the ancient world, was seen as a lightning symbol. Probably the intention was that the lightning, heavenly fire, would give life to the crops. The Latin for to plough, aro, recalls the Latin ara, Etruscan ar, divine fire, which was attracted to the altar.
Minos himself was the son of Zeus and Europa. He married Pasiphae. The Roman poet Horace describes him as: "Jovis arcanis Minos admissus", Minos, privy to the secrets of Jupiter.
Minos and the nymph Paria had sons, who colonised the island of Paros.
According to Herodotus, Minos lived three generations before the Trojan war, and Thucydides refers to his suppression of piracy and expulsion of the Karians. There is, however, a chronological doubling of Minos, as there is of Daedalus, and this will be discussed later in the context of the Greek "dark ages", which were extended, one might almost say invented, at the end of the nineteenth century in an attempt to fit the history of the Mediterranean area into what was thought at the time to be a secure chronology of Egypt.
Minos was succeeded by Katreus, a monarch whose name
means "ka watcher", and this brings us to the subject of
Egyptian electrical theology, or science.