The scale of architectural complexity in Bronze-Age Crete, from 1900 - 1400 BC, is unlike anything previously seen in the Greek world, and it has earned the label of “palatial society”. The palaces share similarities of design and construction including a throne room, a ceremonial court, private chambers, storage magazines, controlled points of entry, and multiple levels. Taken together, these point to a highly complex, centralized, and hierarchical society.
The palaces were also part of a complex religious system that included cave sanctuaries, house sanctuaries, and mountain sanctuaries. The belief system behind these structures remains difficult to reconstruct, since we have no sacred texts. However, the figurines, shrines, and cult objects suggest a profound reverence for the forces of the natural world. The paucity of evidence can lead to imaginative conclusions. For instance, the presence of goddess figurines and frescoes has led some to suggest that the Cretans held Chthonic beliefs, although very little hard evidence supports this view. We can say with assurance that Minoan culture was sensitive to human beauty and to the beauty of the natural world.
At the same time, palatial society depended on a firm control of economic production, both in the sphere of staples such as grain, wool, and oil, and in more specialized areas such as perfume, metalwork, and international trade. By controlling production, storage, and redistribution, Minoan palaces placed themselves at the very centre of every aspect of daily life.