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The first advanced civilization in Europe was ancient Greece. It was founded by the Minoans, a prosperous and peaceful people who lived on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea from about 3000 to 1450 B.C. Although Crete occupied an area measuring only 3,235 square miles, during the height of Minoan civilization (c. 1600 B.C.) the island was the site of ninety independent cities. At the capital at Knossos King Minos built a palace that featured many aspects of Greek life that represented civilization. Arranged around a central courtyard, the palace was constructed of stone, plaster, and timbers and contained frescoes (paintings made with watercolor paints on wet plaster). The complex included basement storage areas, artists' work-rooms, dining halls, and living quarters with bathrooms for the rulers and their families. The Minoans built stone roads, bridges, drainage systems, and aqueducts (structures for carrying water long distances). They also cultivated crops, made and dyed cloth, and crafted pottery that depicted game-playing and music-making. Until they were conquered by the Mycenaeans (Greeks from the mainland) in about 1400 B.C., the Minoans controlled the area around the Aegean Sea and traded with the Egyptians.
Further Information: Halsall, Paul, ed. Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook.html, October 20, 2000; Moulton, Carroll. Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998; Nardo, Don. Ancient Greece. San Diego: Lucent, 1994; Simpson, Judith. Ancient Greece. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life, 1997; "Utopia Re-examined." The Economist (US). December 21, 1991, p. 59.
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