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They were an enigmatic people, worshiping snake priestesses and engaging in human sacrifice with origins not linked to Europe as expected, but to ancient Iran, which may explain why they were so different from the Greeks who rose to power after them.Such practices gave rise to Greek myths about the Minotaur, a half-man half-bull that ate human flesh in his forbidding labyrinth.But inexplicably, at the height of their power, the Minoans were wiped from the pages of history.

The island of Santorini, 70 miles north of Crete, was home to the wealthy Minoan seaport of Akrotiri, a place where the wall paintings discovered portray their landscape with happy animals and farmers harvesting saffron. Incredibly, despite Crete’s close proximity to the volcano, the debris from Thera largely missed the major Minoan towns.

But the Minoans had built their prosperous city on one of the most dangerous islands on earth, next to the volcano Thera. On Crete, strange and chaotic layers of soil, broken pottery, building materials, and even cattle bones can be found along the eroding coastline near the ancient town of Palaikastro.

With the help of soil scientist Hendrik Bruins, archaeologist Sandy Mc Gillivray discovers that the soil also contains micro-organisms that are normally found only on the ocean floor.

The only way they could have been deposited on land is by a powerful tsunami.

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek historian Plato wrote about Atlantis, the fabled civilization that was swallowed by the sea.

But the origins of Plato’s story have never been identified.

It is only recently that some archaeologists have begun to believe the legend may have started on Crete.

They are hoping that scientific investigation can provide an actual link to Plato’s ancient folk memory.

Five thousand years ago, the Minoans, Europe’s first great civilization, flourished on the island of Crete.

The sophisticated inhabitants, named after the legendary King Minos, were the first Europeans to use a written language, known as Linear A, and the first to construct paved roads.

They were an advanced society of highly-cultivated artisans and extremely skilled civic engineers.

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