maandag 15 september 2014

A Wonderful Progressive Feminist Civilisation And Its Untimely Demise

                                      
                                             
                                                      

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

I have wanted to write this post for some time now, and as I still haven't found time to upload our mini vacation pictures, here it comes: the story of Cretan civilisation and what happened to it.

While doing research about spelt flour and the Bronze Age when it was widely used, I stumbled at a Wiki article describing the lost civilisation of Crete and decided to read more about the topic. The ancient civilisation of Crete (called Minoan civilisation) was apparently a sort of egalitarian paradise, where women occupied prominent positions, the attitudes to sex were "enlightened" to say the least, modesty was thrown out of the window and females had a custom of going around topless.  They were also technologically advanced, urbanised and sophisticated and worshipped the Great Goddess of which the Snake Goddess above is one of the incarnations.

 It's not possible to say if the inhabitants of the island had been like this from the very beginning, however, at the time of the peak of their power, Minoans certainly exhibited feminist egalitarian  attitudes.

Their religion was chiefly worshipping female deities with female priests (priestesses?) and the scientists describe their religion as matriarchal (and we all know that religion is often the reflection of society). Their women traditionally wore clothes showing their breasts. They were pacifist traders uninterested in warfare, had no standing army and apparently only had ritual violence (though they practised human sacrifice which was apparently O.K.)

Minoans enjoyed the high degree of urbanisation, with water and sewer facilities, had highly developed art and built beautiful palaces. They were engaged in highly organised trade, manufactured commercial goods, practised advanced agricultural methods and only ate organic healthy foods. Their whole society (apart from human sacrifice, of course), seems practically too good to be real and is every progressive's dream. So what happened to these wonderful advanced female-worshipping pacifists?

Well, it's the usual story. First, they had to deal with a natural disaster, and then with the invading armies of their less enlightened neighbours who didn't realise the value of being pacifist. They came with fire and sword and established their own, Micenaean civilisation. Their religion was more patriarchal, reflecting the values of the society which advanced by conquest as opposed to commerce and was ruled by a warrior aristocracy, but they incorporated the elements of Minoan worship into their rituals. They also seemed at least partly to have incorporated Minoan female fashions as shown by the Fresco featured in Wiki article (though I may be mistaken about it).

In the end, they succumbed to more patriarchal Dorian Greeks, who were even less enlightened where it concerned female deities, much to the dismay of Wikipedia writers. I will let everyone draw his own conclusions from this story, though personally I see it as a cautionary tale about what usually happens when a culture becomes too wealthy, pacifist and matriarchal.

5 opmerkingen:

  1. Dear Sanne

    The big problem with understanding Minoan Civilization is the same that beset understanding Mayan Civilization. The Civilizations writing was not understood. In the case of the Mayans all kinds of theories were put forward about how gentle they were and how they lived in peace and harmony. That was until their writing was understood and it turns out that the Mayans were pretty much like the Aztecs. They loved war and performed human sacrifice.

    The writing of the Minoans is still be be deciphered and when it is many of these fantasies will be exposed for what they really are. Far too many assumptions are made, such as female figures in art meaning women had a high status, for example. The other evidence to either back this up is or to refute it is absent.

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future

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  2. Sorry I don't know what happened in that last sentence!

    The evidence to either back this up or to refute it is absent.

    Mark

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  3. Hello Mark,
    yes, I know a lot of stories about Minoan civilisation seem to have been based on wishful thinking rather than on science and that the man who discovered it (I thought his name was Arthur Evans) mistakenly belived in nonsensical goddess theories which became popular among European intellectuals i the 19th century. There are actually no known matriarchal societies existing, however there are cultures which are more or less patriarchal (compare modern USA to Saudi Arabia, for instance.

    It's just that as the story about Crete is traditionally told, it brings to mind too many parallels with modern European culture...

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  4. I'd like to add that though their writing still hasn't been deciphered there are some things which we do know about Minoans. From their art we do know they were obsessed with females, and they had practically no fortifications (though it could be that they relied on their fleet which had been destroyed by the earthquake and resulting flood), they were more interested in commerce than warfare and they nearly certainly practised human sacrifices which proves they did use violence when it suited them.

    It's interesting that a Wiki page in German is different from an English version which doubts whether they actually did sacrifice humans, I attribute it to modern American style feminism (couldn't have an egalitarian society doing anything as wicked:)

    Personally I think that it could very well be true that Minoans got wealthy from commerce and living on an island saw little need in having a regular army or fortifications thus they gradually became more pacifist and feminist in their attitudes, only to be conquered by more warlike people. It happened then, it can happen now...

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  5. Rome was very feminist in the fourth century AD, and (according to John Glubb), so was Abbasid Baghdad in the ninth century. Each fell to barbarian invasion shortly thereafter. It seems that whenever any civilization achieves two or three generations of physical and nutritional security, male qualities become less esteemed, and power is transferred to women.

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