||War and the Culture of War at the Dawn of History:
|5,000 years of increasing monopolization of the culture of war by the state|
The History of the Culture of War
The Minoan civilization on Crete which lasted about 600 years following 2000 BC, took a course quite different from other civilizations, prompting speculations that their culture was more like a culture of peace than a culture of war. According to the section on The Aegean World in the UNESCO history, there were no fortifications and no glorification of war :
"In the second millennium BC there were no fortifications in Crete, and the Minoan iconography depicts neither scenes of war nor even warriors [Note added by editor: extensive fortifications have been found in more recent excavations.] What is more, neither the graves nor the other Cretan environments of the time have yielded any weapons. However, the recollection of a Minoan thalassocracy [empire of the sea] was perpetuated in the traditions handed down to the Greeks by the Cretans. It is consequently assumed that an understanding prevailed among the Minoan states and that they were afforded protection against any seaborne attack by their fleet or that of their allies. This situation has been termed the pax minoica."
As mentioned earlier, there is a strong causal relation between the culture of war and the status of women. In this regard, it seems appropriate that the status of women in ancient Crete was more equal than that of women in other ancient civilizations. For example, it is remarkable that it is a woman who is leaping over the bull in the wall painting illustrated in Plate 49 in the UNESCO volume. According to the preceding source, women played important social roles:
"Cretan women took part in social and religious events and, furthermore, played an important part in society. It would, however, be rash to conclude from this that Cretan society was matriarchal . . "
Similarly, the state appears to have been less authoritarian than in other ancient civilizations. The role of the king was unlike that on the Greek mainland where "the Mycenean king, or annex, was required to be a great warrior" . .
"The rich repertoire of the wall paintings is an inexhaustible source of information on the flora, the fauna and the environment of the period, the dress, hairstyles, and various - economic, social, religious - activities of the inhabitants of the Aegean. Through these wall paintings the different nature of the worlds, the Minoan and the Mycenaean, emerges: that of Crete and the islands is peaceful and happy, that of the Greek mainland martial and harsh."
The civilization of Ancient Crete did employ some slaves, although it appears that unlike in other empires, they were obtained through trade rather than military conquest. Slaves are not mentioned in the UNESCO history. However a search of literature on the subject reveals that slaves had more freedom than in other empires. The Gortyn Laws (about 450 BC) that have been preserved as stone inscriptions in Crete make reference to rights of marriage and property: "XI. If a slave going to a free woman shall wed her, the children shall be free; but if the free woman to a slave, the children shall be slaves; and if from the same mother free and slave children be born, if the mother die and there be property, the free children shall have it; otherwise her free relatives shall succeed to it."
The roles of master and slave were reversed during the Hermaia festival in Crete as inscribed on an ancient altar and described on the Kairatos Internet site (see references). "In the Hermaia festival the slaves were enjoying in the houses of their masters, and the masters had to serve them. At first, this was ritual procedure, but later it became custom and part of the tradition." And according to Versnel (1990), "Ephoros even knows of a festival in Kydonia on Crete where the serfs, the Klarotes, could lord it in the city while the citizens stayed outside. The slaves were also allowed to whip the citizens, probably those who had recklessly remained in the city or re-entered it."
|World Peace through the Town Hall|