The Minoans: An extroverted and cosmopolitan civilization

According to ancient Greek mythology, the parents of the legendary King Minos, whose name was given to one of the most important ancient Greek civilizations, were Zeus and Europa. The ruler of Mt Olympus, himself born on the island of Crete, took Europa there when he abducted her from the depths of the East after taking the form of a white bull. So that none of her brothers could reach the island and rescue her, Zeus ordered the construction of Talos, a bronze giant that guarded Crete and stopped any ship from approaching the island. These myths, like that of Icarus and Daedalus, the Minotaur and Theseus, take us thousands of years back in time. Myth and history comprise the image we have today about Minoan civilization which was at its peak from about 2600 to 1100 BC. Within that time, the Minoans developed into an extroverted and cosmopolitan nation. They traversed the Mediterranean, carrying on a lively trade with the Cycladic islands and at the same time developing a strong shipbuilding industry, effectively founding the first European civilization. The reconstruction of the Minoan ship is a tangible element of this history, a true voyage into the past and a revival of the Minoan shipbuilding art, using the same methods and materials. After the model was completed, the most impressive phase, that of constructing the actual boat, began in December 2002 at a traditional Venetian shipbuilding yard. Work is expected to be completed by December 1, the anniversary of Crete’s union with the modern State of Greece in 1913. The main timber construction is almost finished. Since 2000, when the idea of building the ship was first raised, work has proceeded according to schedule.

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