Minoan Pants:
A fashion item from a very unusual source

David Noel
Ben Franklin Centre for Theoretical Research
PO Box 27, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia.

Ancient civilizations
Anyone interested in world history will know about many of the great civilizations of the past, including the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Chinese.

Those with special interests in this area may also know about the Assyrian and Indus civilizations, and those of South and Central America. But knowledge of another great civilization of the past, the Minoans, is less common. Why is this so, and where did the Minoans flourish?

The Minoan empire
The Minoans were a Mediterranean civilization, centered on the island of Crete, now the southernmost major island of modern-day Greece.

Minoan civilization. From [7].

As well as Crete, the Minoans occupied some of the other islands, especially the one known as Santorini (in Italian) or Thera (in Greek), and also settled in southern parts of the Greek mainland.

The Minoans were master seamen, with ships capable of sailing long distance, certainly to Spain, Portugal, and up into the Black Sea. According to all the evidence compiled by Gavin Menzies, in his book The Lost Empire Of Atlantis: History's greatest mystery revealed [3], the Minoans went much further -- up to Scandinavia and across the Atlantic, reaching the Great Lakes of North America.

These folk had advanced metal-working skills, and many of their voyages were to bring metals and metallic ores back to their home area for processing and sale. They were the major shipping agents of their time, supplying their neighbours, such as the ancient Egyptians, with materials. They were also master craftsmen.

In [4] it notes "The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands such as Santorini and flourished from approximately 3650 to 1400 BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Will Durant referred to it as "the first link in the European chain."

Minoan culture
For much of their age, the Minoans were the leaders and trend-setters of their known world. They had both advanced skills and facilities at home, and outposts and contacts and trading partners all over their world.

They also had well-developed access to the arts and cultural issues. From frescoes found and art objects recovered from their palace and ceremonial sites, Minoan women were clearly followers of fashion, with elaborate jewellery and hair styles.

Three Minoan ladies. From [5].

The Minoans also had a well-developed religion, interestingly enough apparently under female supervision. Priestesses were responsible for communicating with the gods, both female and male.

Three priestesses. From [2].

The Minoans were skilled workers in gold. It notes in [1] that "The ritual double or quadruple-axe symbol is also present in the Mycenaean iconography, like this gold ring from Mycenae dated 15th Century BC. According to Robert Graves, in the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures the ritual double-axe was forbidden to males. The double-axe was the symbol of a powerful priestess or female deity."

Image on gold ring. From [3].

Because gold is not liable to tarnishing or decay, images such as this are wonderfully preserved, even after 3500 years. However, the drawing made from this ring brings out details better.

Minoan Pants
In this, and many other Minoan images, women are shown wearing elaborate multi-layer trouser pants, "Minoan Pants". This a fashion concept which does not appear to have been used for the last 3500 years. It could be a good concept for a modern fashion revival.

Minoan Pants. From [2].

What happened to the Minoans?
So, why don't we know more about the Minoans, a thriving, adventurous, and fashion-conscious civilization, the leaders of the ancient world of their times? It is because they were the victims of a natural disaster of unparalleled scope, perhaps the greatest in the history of civilization.

Still today, the islands of Crete and its neighbours are subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but nothing of the scale of the disasters which struck the area in about 1500 BC.

The centre of these disasters was the island of Santorini, immediately north of the home island of Crete. Most of Santorini was destroyed in a truly immense volcanic eruption, which blew most of the island into the sky.

Nothing of this size has been observed since, for example the Santorini explosion is estimated to have been four times the size of the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa in modern Indonesia [6]. Up to 100 cubic kilometres of rock was vaporized and sent up into the atmosphere.

This event was accompanied by truly immense tsunamis ("tidal waves"), which would have swept over much of Crete, the Aegean Islands, north Africa, and beyond. Because the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa occurred in modern times, we have a direct record of the effects of such an event.

What happened with Krakatoa
There is a good account of the Krakatoa event and its consequences in Wikipedia [8]. It was not a sudden, isolated eruption, but the culmination of activity over previous months.

Here are just a few of the devastations and happenings noted for Krakatoa [8]. The pressure wave generated by the colossal fourth and final explosion radiated out from Krakatoa at 1,086 km/h. It was so powerful that it ruptured the eardrums of sailors 64 km away on ships in the Sunda Strait.

The pressure wave radiated across the globe and was recorded on barographs all over the world. Several barographs recorded the wave seven times over the course of five days: four times with the wave travelling away from the volcano to its antipodal point, and three times travelling back to the volcano. Hence, the wave rounded the globe three and a half times. Ash was propelled to an estimated height of 80 km.

The combination of pyroclastic flows, volcanic ash, and tsunamis had disastrous results in the region. There were no survivors from the 3,000 people located on the island of Sebesi, about 13 km from Krakatoa. Pyroclastic flows killed around 1,000 people at Ketimbang on the coast of Sumatra, some 48 km north from Krakatoa.

The official death toll recorded by the Dutch authorities was 36,417, although some sources put the estimate at 120,000 or more. Many settlements were destroyed, including Teluk Betung (Bandar Lampung), and Sirik and Serang in Java. The areas of Banten on Java and Lampung on Sumatra were devastated.

There are numerous documented reports of groups of human skeletons floating across the Indian Ocean on rafts of volcanic pumice and washing up on the east coast of Africa, up to a year after the eruption. Some land on Java was never repopulated; it reverted to jungle, and is now the Ujung Kulon National Park.

Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for months after the event. The tsunamis which accompanied the eruption are believed to have been caused by gigantic pyroclastic flows entering the sea; each of the four great explosions was accompanied by massive pyroclastic flows resulting from the gravitational collapse of the eruption columns. This caused several cubic kilometers of material to enter the sea, displacing an equally huge volume of seawater.

The town of Merak was destroyed by a tsunami 46 m high. Some of the pyroclastic flows reached the Sumatran coast as much as 40 km away, having apparently moved across the water on a cushion of superheated steam. There are also indications of submarine pyroclastic flows reaching 15 km from the volcano.

In the year following the eruption, average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 deg C. Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The record rainfall that hit Southern California during the "water year" from July 1883 to June 1884 (Los Angeles received 969.8 mm and San Diego 659.6 mm) has been attributed to the Krakatoa eruption.

Back to the Santorini eruption
The Krakatoa explosion had devastating effects and visible consequences all around the world. When it is remembered that the Santorini eruption was perhaps four times the size of Krakatoa, it is clear that it was able to destroy the Minoan Civilization, leaving only a tiny amount of surviving relics and people.

Moreover, the Minoans, as an essentially sea-faring race, would have been particularly at risk. All their harbours, docks, and port installations would have been swept clean, and their extensive fleet of ships, both in port and out at sea, would have gone down.

In [6] it says "The Minoan eruption of Thera, also referred to as the Thera eruption or Santorini eruption, was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6 or 7. The eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The eruption devastated the island of Thera (also called Santorini), including the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri, as well as devastating communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and on the coast of Crete due to a related earthquake or tsunami."

Santorini today. From Google Earth.

The Thera volcanic events and subsequent ashfall probably sterilized the island, as occurred on Krakatoa. Before the explosion, Santorini was an almost complete circle of land, with only one narrow passage into the central caldera. Now only parts of the rim are left.

Here then is the reason that Minoan fashions and culture are little recognized for what they were. The Minoans were victims of a natural disaster on a scale almost beyond our comprehension. According to evidence presented by Gavin Menzies [3], this disaster has come down to us in legend, the origin of the drowned civilization of Atlantis.

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References and Links
[1]. The Greek Age of Bronze. http://www.salimbeti.com/micenei/weapons4.htm .
[2]. Stylianos Alexiou. Minoan Civilization. Fourth revised ed. V. Kouvidis - Manouras, Heraclion.
[3]. Gavin Menzies. The Lost Empire Of Atlantis: History's greatest mystery revealed. Morrow, 2011.
[4]. Minoan civilization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_civilization .
[5]. The Rough Guide To Greece. http://www.roughguides.com/tasters/9780241216798_EPUB/images/rg_greece01225thi_012.jpg.
[6]. Minoan eruption. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_eruption .
[7]. Map of Minoan civilization. http://images.slideplayer.com/28/9337712/slides/slide_32.jpg .
[8]. 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1883_eruption_of_Krakatoa .

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Draft version 1.0, 2016 Mar 7-16.
First version 1.1 on Web, 2016 Mar 17.