published on 02 September 2009
The island of Crete was the center of Minoan civilization in Bronze-Age Greece that flourished from approximately 2200 to 1450 BCE. With a total area of 8336 square-kilometers, it is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is mountainous and has natural harbors.
According to Homer, Crete had 90 cities, of which Knossos was the largest and most important. It is believed that the island was divided into at least 8 political units during the height of Minoan civilization. The north is thought to have been governed from Knossos, the south from Phaistos, the east from Zakro and Mallia, and the west from Chania.
There are signs of tectonic activity on the island of Crete, especially along the coasts. Around 1700 BCE, earthquakes destroyed many of the major Minoan palaces, including Phaistos, Mallia, and Zakro. They were later rebuilt and then destroyed again around 1450 BCE, when there was another large-scale disturbance on the island. All of the palaces except for Knossos were completely destroyed at this time. Shortly after, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece took over Knossos and became the dominant presence on Crete.
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