So far, we have had to rely on Greek and Roman stories about an early Athenian king, Theseus, with a certain amount of historical data in the way of texts, and to supplement this foundation we have touched on certain motifs in art and architecture.
A study of the evidence from art and monuments has pointed to the electrical basis of ancient Mediterranean religion, myth and magic. Another subject emerges, one closely involved with art, namely chronology.
Up to the final years of the nineteenth century [A. D.] it was taken for granted that the discoveries of Schliemann at Troy and Mycenae, which had caused such surprise, provided confirmation of the general picture of the Trojan affair and the Argive tyrants that emerges from a study of Homer and Thucydides. Only since the dating of Crete and Mycenae from Egypt has there been introduced such a long dark age between the end of Minoan and Mycenean civilisation and the start of Greek, as opposed to Mycenean, civilisation.
The interpretation of the data on which the astronomical dating from Egypt was based is increasingly under attack, and there are grave doubts about the value of radio-carbon dating in the period concerned. The general archaeological evidence does not support the conventional chronology.
One feature of the chaos resulting from the extension of the Greek 'Dark Ages' has been the doubling of historical characters and events. Minos is an example of such doubling. The "early Minos, pre-Hellenic and Middle Minoan", is the same as the Achaean Minos of Thucydides, with all that that implies for the date of the Trojan war or wars.
Doubling also occurs in the case of Daedalus, one living in Minoan times, the other the father of the artists called the Daedalidae, living in the eighth century B. C.. The second Daedalus was held to be the first artist to have created statues standing in natural poses instead of having arms close to the sides and one foot forward.
Dipoinis and Skylla were pupils and possibly sons of Daedalus. Hutchinson, in Prehistoric Crete, p. 126, refers to 'torsion' as a decorative device on vases from the Danube area and from S. E. Anatolia. It is common in Cretan pottery. The Pelasgians, "divine" according to Homer, were among the inhabitants of Crete, and had linguistic connections with the Danube area. Judging by their name, they had specialist knowledge of rocks and caves.
At this point, we may usefully review some of the archaeological and literary material concerning Crete and Minos. Readers who do not wish to spend time on details may safely skip to the chapter on interpretations.
There was trade between Egypt, Syria and Palestine in the early Minoan period, conventionally dated to about 2500 B. C onwards. A vase found at Byblos has a handle in the form of a bull. The name Byblos may have a connection with one of the names of Dionysus, the Etruscan Fufluns, or Bubluns, meaning the same as Bromios, the noisy one. This would refer to the drums that accompanied his revels, which in turn imitated the thunder which was caused by the lightning, of which Dionysus was a god.
Spiral decoration is typical of Minoan art. It is also typical of Neolithic cultures in the Danube area, in Thessaly in the Chalcolithic period, in Thrace, and in the Bronze Age Cyclades and Crete.
The meander and spiral pattern were popular in Egypt and Crete in the period when Amenemhet III built his palace or temple, sometimes referred to as a labyrinth, in the Fayum, and a Cretan king built a labyrinth at Knosos. The Egyptian palace has been described as a funerary temple, and both had enough rooms for them to be called stores, possibly for food.
Cretan hieroglyphic script A has some Egyptian signs, e. g. the ankh, sign of life.
Thucydides, Book I: 4, writes that Minos was the earliest to control a fleet: he drove out the Karians and put down piracy.
Diodorus Siculus and Herodotus relate that when Daedalus escaped from Crete, Minos, having pursued him to Sicily, was murdered there by king Kokalos. The description by Diodorus of his tomb, with its two stories, one below ground level, the other above, suggests a design similar to that of a temple tomb at Knosos.
The Greeks had their Bronze Age Daedalus, and a Daedalic school of sculptors, in the eighth and seventh centuries B. C.. Rhodians and Cretans colonised Gela in Sicily in 688 B. C. There was a city called Minoa in Sicily, and others of the same name elsewhere. There are tombs in Sicily of the tholos type, but it is thought that the architectural influence may have been from Greece rather than from Crete.
Europa, sister of Kadmos of Thebes and of Minos, was a
Phoenician princess. Zeus, in the form of a bull, carried her to