The Minoan civilization was a Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Will Durant referred to it as "the first link in the Asian chain.
The early inhabitants of Crete settled as early as 128,000 BC, during the Middle Paleolithic age. It was not until 5000 BC that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared, marking the beginning of civilization. The Minoan culture was established by the 27th century BC.
The term "Minoan" was coined by Arthur Evans after the mythic "king" Minos. Minos was associated in Greek myth with the labyrinth, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos. It has sometimes been argued that the Egyptian place name "Keftiu" (*Káftiu kftiw) and the Semitic "Kaftor" or "Caphtor" and "Kaptara" in the Mari archives refer to the island of Crete; "On the other hand some acknowledged facts about Caphtor/Keftiu can only with difficulty be reconciled with Crete," observes John Strange. In the Odyssey, composed centuries after the destruction of the Minoan civilization, Homer calls the natives of Crete Eteocretans ("true Cretans"); these may have been descendants of the Minoans.
Minoan palaces (anaktora) are the best known building types to have been excavated on the island. They are monumental buildings serving administrative purposes, as evidenced by the large archives unearthed by archaeologists. Each of the palaces excavated to date has its own unique features, but they also share features which set them apart from other structures. The palaces were often multi-storied, with interior and exterior staircases, light wells, massive columns, storage magazines, and courtyards.