Minoan society was highly developed. The settlement pattern seen from the proto-palatial period onwards reflects the formation of a hierarchical society led by a king wielding administrative, political, economic and religious power.

Division of labour existed, with the town dwellers working as craftsmen, merchants, tradesmen, seafarers and farmers.

After 1700 BC the status of men and women as individuals came to the fore, this probably being based on personal prestige and wealth rather than on clan or descent.

One of the distinctive features of Minoan society was the special role accorded to women, particularly in acts of worship. Fastidious in matters of appearance and personal adornment, women were also free to participate on equal terms in all social events, such as bull leaping, sports, dancing and hunting.

7000B.C.  |  3500B.C.  |  2000B.C.  |  1700B.C.  |  1450B.C.  |  1350B.C.  |  1150B.C.  |  1100B.C.  |  900B.C.
The "The Lily Prince" fresco at the palace of Knossos, 3500 B.C. - 1100 B.C. (Palace at Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
The "Ladies in Blue" fresco, 1650 B.C. - 1450 B.C. (Palace at Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
Female figure in a Knossos fresco, initially interpreted as a dancer, rendered with a thick coiffure, white skin and decorated body cloth, 3500 B.C. - 1100 B.C. (Palace at Knossos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
The bull leaping fresco from Knossos, 15th century BC, 1500 B.C. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
The throne room (at Knossos??), 2004 (photograph: Vassilis Kozonakis)