Minoan & Mykenaean Cultures Bibliography

2000 BC to 1200 BC

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center


"These are the Greek legends which relate to Crete in her heyday, but what is one to make of them? It is not being irresponsible or unhelpful to say that almost anything can be made of them and that the mythologists and anthropologists in their time have done so. One needs discipline as well as imagination and erudition for the task." H.E.L. Mellersh

Most references on Minoans and Mykenaeans are re-hashings of the same dozen items: the costume, the dependence on the sea, the Goddess-worship, the bull-dancing, the earthquake problem, the Minos-Theseus legends, Thera = Atlantis, etc. There is a distinct limit to how much can be known about any non-historical people. If you get a good grounding in a dozen basic books, you can invent their culture as well as the next guy. See as many pictures of different artifacts as you can, and make your own learned interpretations.

Special note: most sources (including the museum displays on Santorini) date the Thera eruption to the end of the New Palace Period in the 1400's BC. Newest archeological evidence, however, shifts it back to about 1628 BC.


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Alexious, S, Nikolas Platon, & Hanni Guanella

Ancient Crete ****
1968; photos by Leonard von Matt
Text by experts, splendid illustrations. T1

Alsop, Joseph

From the Silent Earth
Secker and Warburg, 1965
Puts forward the proposition that the Mykenaeans made their wealth by hiring out as mercenaries, which can take your Mykenaean hero a lot of places. Considering that the Norse did the same thing, going down to Constantinople to make a fortune in the Varangian Guard, it's certainly not impossible. T2

Ayrton, Michael

The Maze Maker
Deals with possible Minoan theology. T2

Baikie, James

The Sea-Kings of Crete ***
London, 1926
Good early thalassocracy book, fine for a novelist, if a bit dated for a scholar. T2

Bibby, Geoffrey

The Testimony of the Spade ***
Good general introduction to the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. T1

Blegen, Carl W.

Guide to the Palace of Nestor ****
Detail study of the Mykenaean ruins at Pylos. T3

The Trojans

Boucher, Francois

Twenty Thousand Years of Fashion; the History of Costume and Personal Adornment ***
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Illustrated entirely with photos of period artwork. Has a lot of the statuettes and frescoes. T1

Bourliere, Francois

The Land and Wildlife of Eurasia YY
Time-Life Books, Inc., NY, 1964 2nd ed. 1974
History of domestication, extinction, and migrations tells you when fauna and flora are available to some degree. Only wish there were more. T3

Buehr, Walter

Warrior's Weapons ****
Crowell, NY, 1963; illustrated by author
Good on early and non-ferrous metallurgy, including the development of sickle-swords and early Mykenaean longswords with pointing rather than tight-fist grip. Simply, pleasantly written. T2

Carpenter, Rhys

Discontinuity in Greek Civilization ***
Scholarly exploration of the possible causes of the Dark Age, therefore of the preceding culture. T2

Carpenter, Rhys, Edith Hamilton, William Hayes, et al

Everyday Life in Ancient Times; Highlights of the Beginnings of Western Civilization in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome **
National Geographic Society, NY, 1964; 368 pg, index
Passable general reference from the late Stone Age through about 300 of the Current Era. Two illos from the Minoan/Mykenaean period, a bit wooden; see pgs 186, 189 (Santorin), 191, 202-205. T1

Chadwick, John

Linear B and Related Script ***
Reading the Past, University of California Press/British Museum, 1987; 64 pg, index
This is all there is on Minoan writing and literature: laundry lists. A morning spent reading this will let you refer to writing and the signs used properly and in their places. Ariadne is not going to sit in her window and WRITE poems to Theseus, though she may compose some. However, Theseus will probably get ticked off on a list of tribute when he is delivered. T1

Cottrell, Leonard

The Bull of Minos
Pan Books, London, 1955

The Lion Gate
Both recommended by Mellersh. The second deals with Minoan matriarchy. T2

Desborough, V. R. d'A.

The Last Mycenaeans and Their Successors
Recommended by Mellersh. T2

Durant, Will

The Life of Greece **
The Story of Civilization, 1934
Since Durant's emphasis is on philosophy, he is kind to cover the Cretans at all. This chapter is a good introduction if you are unfamiliar with the Minoans, and only so far investigating the possibility of a story. T1

Evans, Sir Arthur

The Palace of Minos ****
Macmillan, London, five volumes, 1921-1935
This is the full site report on the original Knossos excavations. You may argue with the interpretations, but this is where you get your raw data. Massively illustrated, with Gillerion's reconstructions. T3

Galanopoulos, A. G. & Edward Bacon

Atlantis ****
If you must believe Atlantis really existed as a mid-Atlantic island, don't read this! It argues thoroughly and cogently against it, saying Plato got both years and dimensions off by a factor of ten, and places Atlantis in the Eastern Mediterranean, at Thera/Santorin. T3

Graham, J. W.

The Palaces of Crete ***
You may need more than Knossos. This covers the others. T3

Hawkes, Jacquetta

The Dawn of the Gods
Hawkes generally pulls off the delicate balancing act of being both scholarly accurate and popularly accesible. Covers Crete as a possible matriarchy. T2

Hawes, Charles, & Harriet Boyd Hawes

Crete, the Forerunner of Greece ****
Particularly valuable, as their excavations at Gournia revealed the usual humble little huts of the peasant immemorial, rather than concentrating on sprawling palaces. T3

Heath, Ernest Gerald

The Grey Goose Wing ***
New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, CN, 1971
Excellent history of the bow, starting very early. The Minoans were supposed to be excellent archers, and so were many Mykenaean-derived heroes like Herkles of Tiryns and Odysseus. T2

Higgins, C. R.

Minoan and Mycenaean Art

Hogg, Ian V.

The History of Fortification ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1981
Clear, interesting and accurate overview from 7000 BC through the 1970's, well illustrated with photos and diagrams; bibliography and glossary. T1

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
The Historical half has the Hellenic names used by the Mykenaeans and the late period Greek-speaking Cretans. For your Minoans, you should make up a table and build a pick-list, using the rules for "shadow languages" in the last section, Names Without Languages. T1

Levi, Peter

The Greek World ****!
orig London, 1986; has been through several American publishers, but now from Rand McNally (quick, look, has it changed?)
Excellent first part on climate, language, and the development of Minoan and Mykenaean cultures. Very interesting artifact photos. T1

Macqueen, J. G.

The Hittites and Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor ***
Thames & Hudson
The Hittites were the eastern neighbors of the Trojans and Mykenaeans, with mercantile, political and social interactions. T2

Majno, Guido, MD

The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World *****!
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1975
Heavy research and testing, too, to see how well period practices actually worked. Fascinating reading. Among others, covers classic medicine of the Ancient Near East and Egypt, from which you can extrapolate. T1

Marinatos, Spyridon

Crete and Mycenae
Mellersh remarks on the "brilliant photographs by Max Hirmer." T2

"Thera, Key to the Riddle of Minos" ***
National Geographic, May 1972, pg 702-726
Opens with two glorious fold-out paintings, my all-time favorites depicting Minoans. Text details the theory of the explosion of the island volcano of Santorin/Thera as the downfall of Minoan civilization, or at least its fatal crippling. Interesting artifacts, notes on foods, art, beds, etc. T2

Matz, Friedrich

Crete and Early Greece
Mellersh calls this, "beautifully illustrated," and you need all the pictures you can get. T2

McEvedy, Colin

The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History ***
Penguin Books, 1967; 96 pg, index
A handy, small book, showing who rules what when, in the stretch from Persia to the Atlantic, from prehistory to about 300 CE. T1

Mellersh, H.E.L.

The Destruction of Knossus: the Rise and Fall of Minoan Crete *****!
Barnes and Noble Books, 1993, originally 1970; 205 pg, index, bibliography
Reprint of a classic work. Where other books lean on "look at the pretty wall pictures," Mellersh points out more fascinating evidence: the number of cooking tools, indicating a sophisticated cuisine; traces of purple dye in vats, so that you know the colour can be worn in the court of Minos, etc. Does not realise quite his own depth of anti-paganism, so you will have to allow for unconcious negativism about the religion. T1

Palmer, Leonard R.

Mycenaeans and Minoans
Includes his alternative view of the Linear B development, and the possible influx of Luvians to Crete before the Greeks in the 15th C. BC. T2

Pellegrino, Charles

Unearthing Atlantis ***
Covers the old sites of Thera. Pellegrino is a very approachable popular science writer.

Pendlebury, J. D. S.

The Archaeology of Crete ****
Methuen, 1939
Includes descriptions of mansions and just big houses, besides the palaces. T3

A Handbook of the Palace of Minos at Knossos
Pendlebury was Evan's successor at the Knossos excavations. These are more detail reports. T3

Platon, Nikolas

Crete ****
1966; Archaeologia Mundi series
Mellersh describes this as "highly illustrated and also with a good bibliography." T2

Reader's Digest

Everyday Life Through the Ages **
Reader's Digest, 1992
"Masters of the Aegean" pg 42-49 Includes a double-page on Mykenae. Nothing to get excited about. T1

Sakellarakis, Yannis, and Efi Sapouna-Sakellaraki

"Minoan Human Sacrifice" **
National Geographic, February 1981, pg 205-224
Sensational find, pumped up by the authors. Some interesting photos of jewelry and pottery. T3

Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
In this period, Salmonson offers the Amazons, assorted dangerous nymphs and Goddesses of warlike bent, not to mention the many martial ladies of Greece, like Herakles' last wife, Deianeira. T2

Stone, Merlin

When God Was a Woman ****
British title: The Paradise Papers
1976; 265 pgs, index, bibliography, date chart
While discussing the development of patriarchalism and patrilineal social control of women, by reconstructing the Goddess worship that went before and continued alongside these later religions, Stone gives a unique insight into life and thought of the people to whom the world had a female Creator, Lady of All, Queen of the Universe. T2

Time-Life Books, the editors of

TimeFrame 3000-1500 BC: The Age of God-kings ***
Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1987
Very pictorial, good text. The air-brushed reconstructions are sometimes too in love with vast plain surfaces rather than trying to give us maximum pictorial information, and the maps, while they cover the ground, are strictly minimal.

TimeFrame 1500-600 BC: Barbarian Tides
Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1987
Another wide-ranging introduction to all the world at the time, including the Americas. Same complaints. T1

Ventris, Michael, & John Chadwick

Documents in Mycenaean Greek ****
If Chadwick's handbook above is not enough, this is probably as much depth as most can stand. T3

Warry, John

Warfare in the Classical World ****
Salamander Books, London, 1980
Excellent coverage of naval as well as land forces, including very recent reconstructions of pentekonters, triremes, etc. Covers Heroic and Dark Ages troops of the Greeks. T1

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