Crete is a popular choice with people booking cheap flights to the Greek Islands, but while it may be peaceful now, it has a violent past that archaeologists are only recently starting to uncover.
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is known as the Cradle of Civilisation. Tourists flying there today will find evidence of human civilisation dating back 8,000 years, but it was the Minoans who had the greatest impact. They ruled the island from around 2700 BC to 1420 BC, before being wiped out (it is thought) by the Thera Volcano.
Discover a Historical Backdrop
The Victorian archaeologists who dug up the first Minoan artefacts painted a rather rosy picture, one that endures today, of a peaceful race of tree-huggers who spent all their time on active, non-violent pursuits, where warfare was non-existent. The magnificent Palace of Knossos, near Heraklion, rather supports this view, but it is one that is deeply flawed according to Sheffield University archaeologist Barry Molloy. In reality, the Minoans may have had far more in common with the fearsome Cretan mascot, the Minotaur, who legend says had his labyrinth on the island.
According to Molloy, the combat sports seen on Minoan pottery, such as boxing and bull-leaping, would have had a purpose outside the sports arena. Seemingly peaceful hunting scenes features men oddly dressed in full battle garb, while weaponry even features in their hieroglyphic alphabet. There are no Minoan fortifications on the island, but he believes this might have been because the rugged landscape was more than enough defence.
Holidaymakers booking cheap flights to Crete with Jet2.com can see this rugged beauty for themselves, with nothing to worry about but sunburn.