Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy" - "Minos" by William Blake.

In Search of the Mythical King Minos, Did the Legendary Ruler Really Exist?

(Read the article on one page)

Egyptian texts during the New Kingdom Period (1550 - 1070 BC) often referred to the island of Crete as Kaftu or Keftiu (Akkadian kaptaru and Biblical Caphtor). But in some cases, it is paired with the name Menus, a possible rendering of Minos. During the reign of Ramesses III (1186 -1155 BC), there are times when Menus is written without the other. Was this the Egyptian way of identifying the island and its people under the name Minos? Does this also imply the existence of a historical Minos or a title inherited by the later Cretan kings?

Judge Minos in ’The Last Judgement’ by Michelangelo.

Judge Minos in ’The Last Judgement’ by Michelangelo. ( Public Domain )

Top Image: Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy" - "Minos" by William Blake . Source: Public Domain

By Petros Koutoupis


Minos may have been a position in society as lawgiver (perhaps war chief), but it may be a fixed term in office. There a quite a few references that suggest a 8.5 year term. There is an artefact in the British Museum that shows the period, when Minoans split things with a common icon they are normally referring to a fraction, e.g. 1/2 + 8 full years between leaders. Also note that the last to leave the bull leaping arena was minos, that could imply this is part of the selection process.
In this context, the Athenian sent seven boys and girls to the labyrinth may just mean to the palace or the arena (like later games) and for training. The one that graduates Minos. If this is correct there is high mobility in the society, and they select their ruler to defend their trade monopoly by ability. Once indoctrinated recruits may not have wanted to return, the palace life was so advanced compared to their home or may have to become a merchant at port. Some of the Greek references refer to ten years others seven, it is as if, they don't know which it is and may not have been able to place this in a long year which flop flops between opposite seasons with 8 years between,
There is a seal which shows how their society is organised, on a tree all the way back to ancestors and the caves wence from humble origin to the ruler -Minos (top left branch) - the four deities (top right branch): anticlockwise: mother earth (north -midnight), twins Potnia Theron (west - sunset-moonlight), Kuros (Apollo) - Sun at midday, his escort (venus, sunrise). The priestesses - probably civil servants (bottom right branch), each probably have a corresponding duties to the deities and Gryphon on a alter, two normally shown being guardians of the celestial axis on which the earth wobbles backward due to precession, and the population/society (bottom left branch), which seems well organised. The functional aspect of life on the left of the tree of life, the spiritual to the right. Noting these people were good scientists, what they believed in is actually how the celestial bodies interact (it encapsulates time of day, seasons and cardinal direction in an elegant unified way to teach the kids). They were very interested in seasons, to plant grain, set sail on trade expeditions, harvest and store in the palace Magazines for winter, etc.
Now, consider that this society was very stable for two millennia until Thera erupted, they need to explore the world to get the things they needed and they sit at the apex of the universe literally (earth mother holding snakes, referring to Thuban the snake and pole star, to the snake bearer constellation, which is directly overhead in winter, Serpens head also looks like an axe and next to Ariadne’s crown, that looks distinctly like bulls horns!), they were studying the stars by night, the shipping lanes by day and they had the most advance tech of the time, zodiac constellations circle of animals almost certainly have Minoan origin and latitude, especially so when you look into the etymology (noting the twins: virgin mistress looks after the wild animals and her brother the domesticated ones). They are at the centre of the world, Europe to the North, Iberia to the far west with virtually exclusive supply of tin for bronze driving the economy, Asia to the east with lapis lazuli and other exotics coming over the silk road, some unique commodities from Africa (papyrus that they would
have written on, ivory, etc). They controlled this entire network, pulling in raw Materials and converting them into even higher value trade goods for export!
Now consider, that all the main Greek Parthenon seems to stem
from Crete! The Minoans did not believe in them as Gods. The Minoans just knew them as lawgivers, but the Greeks treated them as gods. This was the balance of power, they had the most advanced tech by a good margin, they were approaching the cusp of a preindustrial revolution, they had steam (rooms and doors – there are accounts of automatic open doors from fire in the palace of Baal that Minoan architects built, the greeks are accredited with this a millennia later (along with a lot of other 'inventions' and advanced mathematics and trigonometry, that Minoan already had), the first hypocaust, aqueducts, roads, Everything! It would not be that difficult to build a basic glider with Minoan tech either!
For all intense purposes to everyone around them, they appeared like gods and they traded and got very rich indeed.
I do not believe they let any ship pass without at least paying
duty. The acquateri flotilla fresco shows how, all the Minos fleet had white composite hulls (linen and pine resin matrix with a little limestone thrown on to make white), everyone else is using plain wooden pitch hulls: board and secure the cargo of any ship of the wrong colour, control the
network. There is even a copper coloured hull, the significance is that if they were using copper filings rather than limestone, then this is not seen until three millennia later, the Royal Navy did the same to keep the barnacles off the hull, very low drag, you can outrun/row an vessel. This fresco also shows the festival to Apollo at Delos set sail in Leo (clue), where all the islands paid the Marines (Carins) in cattle (thousands of head of herd) for providing detachments to the merchant's vessels, actually shown but the scene has been detached because it doesn’t fit, it is part of the flotilla fresco. They were top of their game. It’s a monopoly all the resources of the world are following through it. All the other nations are fighting upon themselves, they have a body of water and a navy in-between and the other advanced powerful society in Egypt hasn’t got a clue where your island home actually is! To the North, you have the Greeks mostly fighting amongst themselves, if one gets to acquire too much power, trade with their adversary and give them some weapons. This was Minos job, keep thetrade flowingand the metal rolling in….

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Ancient Technology

Grinding stone, Dendera Temple, Egypt.
Most people know of the great construction achievements of the dynastic Egyptians such as the pyramids and temples of the Giza Plateau area as well as the Sphinx. Many books and videos show depictions of vast work forces hewing blocks of stone in the hot desert sun and carefully setting them into place.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article