Some of the early influences upon the development of Cretan culture arise from the Cyclades and from Egypt; cultural records are written in the undeciphered script known as "Linear A". The archaeological record of Crete includes superb palaces, houses, roads, paintings and sculptures. Early Neolithic settlements in Crete include Knossos and Trapeza.

Cretan history is surrounded by myths (such as those of the king Minos; Theseus and the Minotaur; and Daedalus and Icarus) that have been passed to us via Greek historian/poets (such as Homer).

Because of a lack of written records, estimates of Cretan chronology are based on well-established Aegean and Ancient Near Eastern pottery styles, so that Cretan timelines have been made by seeking Cretan artifacts traded with other civilizations (such as the Egyptians) - a well established occurrence. For the earlier times, radiocarbon dating of organic remains and charcoal offers independent dates. Based on this, it is thought that Crete was inhabited from the 7th millennium BC onwards. The fall of Knossos took place circa 1400s BC. Subsequently Crete was controlled by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.

The first human settlement in Crete dates to the aceramic Neolithic. There have been some claims for Palaeolithic remains, none of them very convincing. The finds from Samaria-gorge, identified as Mesolithic by some scholars, seem to be the product of trampling. The native fauna of Crete included pygmy hippo, pygmy elephant, dwarf deer (Praemegaceros cretensis), giant rodents and insectivores as well as badger, beech marten and a kind of terrestrial otter. Large carnivores were lacking. Most of these animals died out at the end of the last ice-age. Humans played a part in this extinction, which occurred on other medium to large Mediterranean islands as well, for example on Cyprus, Sicily and Majorca. Crete's religious symbols included the dove, lily and double-headed ax.

Remains of a settlement found under the Bronze Age palace at Knossos (layer X) date to the 7th Millennium BC.

The first settlers introduced cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs, as well as domesticated cereals and legumes.

Up to now, Knossos remains the only aceramic site. The settlement covered approximately 350,000 square metres. The sparse animal bones contain the above-mentioned domestic species as well as deer, badger, marten and mouse: the extinction of the local megafauna had not left much game behind.

Neolithic pottery is known from Knossos, Lera Cave and Gerani Cave. The Late Neolithic sees a proliferation of sites, pointing to a population increase. In the late Neolithic, the donkey and the rabbit were introduced to the island, deer and agrimi hunted. The agrimi, a feral goat, preserves traits of the early domesticates. Horse, fallow deer and hedgehog are only attested from Minoan times onwards.

Cretan Pottery

In Creta pottery, observing the materials, the forms and the technique of the manufacture (specifically of big jars) but also the way of ceramics baking that our ancient ancestors used, you feel that this unique pottery art has passed through centuries without radical changes and is continued even today.

Creta Ceramics

The Cretan pottery makers were traveling, in well organized groups, around the island bringing together all required equipment and setting up hole new ceramics laboratories in the areas they visited. In this way they served the exact needs of remote areas while it had proved much easier to carry the pottery equipment than carry the bulky and heavy pots around the island with donkeys...

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creta ceramics