Archaeology: How a Civilization Disappeared

What ever happened to the Minoan civilization? Centered on the island of Crete 15 centuries before Christ, the seagoing Minoans once dominated the commerce and influenced the culture of the eastern Mediterranean. Suddenly, their advanced civilization came to a catastrophic end. Great temples and lavish palaces fell into ruin. Traffic halted on a complex system of paved roads; elaborate viaducts crumbled, and most of the residents of Crete died or mysteriously disappeared.

For many years, archaeologists believed that a sudden earthquake had devastated the island, or that it had been systematically conquered and...

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