Once upon a time a powerful kind of people reigned on Crete. Nobody knows exactly where they came from. Nobody knows what they called themselves, but we call them Minoan based upon one of the legendary kings. We know how they wrote but we cannot decipher what they wrote, nor how they spoke.
With their plumbing, construction knowledge, rituals, and art they were perhaps even more sophisticated than the ancient Greek. They traded, fought wars, and sailed the seas. Like so many ancient civilizations they worshiped a mother goddess, before the world gave way to male main deities. They loved bullfighting thousands of years before the Spaniards.
And then the Santorini volcano blew up into a cloud of fire and ash, shook the grounds and seas, and threw never-ending walls of water against the coast of Crete. Villages were wiped away in by the tsunamis and ports and ships were shattered against the mountains. Badly crippled, the Minoan empire could not keep the Mycenaean invaders away. And when everything was almost lost, the Dorians arrived and wiped out the remains. And so what once was self-evident became fable. A thousand years later, Homer and Plato were reciting stories old as legends.
Standing over the ruins of the once story-spun palace of Festos, I cannot help but think how things would be today should Minoan smarts have survived. How would the world have turned out if they had not taken the secret of plumbing and flushing toilets to the grave 3500 years ago?
The answer is lost in the cacophony of afternoon cicadas and drifts away in the scent of dry pine needles and hot earth.
(Festos palace and Agia Triadha village, Crete, Greece; August 2014)