Monday, September 15, 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.