Who Ruled Crete

Who ruled Crete?
In looking at the social structure of Crete we need to observe that, although the legends talk about a King Minos, we do not have anything in the archaeological or pictorial record which relates to this person. So how much should legendary tales be trusted? At the very least, they should only be considered very cautiously, but there are some archaeological clues that are worthwhile investigating.

While the fresco record reveals that small groups of women were evidently more important than groups of men, no individual stands out. On the Hagia Triada Chieftain's Cup, and on the Harvesters' Vase, however, we do have examples of one individual in each of these vessels as being more distinguished than his fellows. The difference is shown by the difference in clothing. The difference is very slight, and it is insufficient to draw conclusions about the social structure from such pieces, but it does suggest that the society had leaders for different activities. It seems unlikely, though, that either of these men on the two vessels shown could be considered a king.

Although the Greek legends speak of King Minos, the evidence from the frescoes and seal rings does not depict a man as a ruler. Indeed, the major figures we see in these scenes are female. Because of this, scholars consider that the Minoans worshipped a female god, since all of these scenes do seem to be religious in nature. On a few of the rings, however, there sometimes appears a slender male figure, always smaller than the females. Scholars think this male represents a consort for the chief goddess. Most recently, one seal impression, known as the Master Impression, has been found, showing a male standing on a representation of a palace. Is he a king? Or is he a god? Scholars have not as yet made up their minds.

When Evans discovered the Throne Room at Knossos, he based his ideas on the rulers of the Middle East at that time, and wrote that Minos must have been a priest king. Other...