New Study Reveals that Mysterious Minoans Were not Egyptian
A new study published in the Journal of Nature Communications has revealed that the founders of the first advanced European civilization were European and not Egyptian as previously believed.
The Minoan culture is most famous for the myth of the minotaur, a half-man, half-bull that was said to have lived deep within a labyrinth. The Minoans lived on Crete, which is now part of Greece, and the Minoan culture reached its peak sometime between 2700 BC and 1420 BC.
While it may seem logical that the Minoans were European, a long-held theory maintained that the original inhabitants of Crete had arrived there from Egypt. Part of this belief came from the fact that the ancient palace of Knossos, which was discovered more than 100 years ago, had art and decoration that was very similar to Egyptian art.
The team of researchers made their discovery by comparing DNA from 4,000-year-old Minoan skeletons found in a cave in Crete’s Lassithi Plateau with genetic material from 135 modern and ancient people living throughout Europe and Africa in the past and today. It was found that the Minoan skeletons were genetically very similar to modern-day Europeans and genetically distinct from Egyptian or Libyan populations.
"They were very similar to Neolithic Europeans and very similar to present day-Cretans" said study co-author George Stamatoyannopoulos, a human geneticist at the University of Washington.
The findings suggest that the ancient Minoans were likely descended from a branch of agriculturalists in Anatolia (what is now modern-day Turkey and Iraq) that spread out into Europe about 9,000 years ago.
It is not entirely clear what happened to the Minoan population but it is suggested that a massive volcanic eruption on the island of Santorini doomed the Bronze Age civilization.