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Minoans

The Ancient World and Fashion > Civilizations of Ancient Greece

Minotaur Mask?


According to Greek legend, the first king of Crete kept a beast called a ‘minotaur’ in a huge maze under his palace. This creature had a bull’s head and a man’s body. Some scholarsbelieve that this legend had its origin in a ceremony performed at the palace, in which the king wore a mask of a bull’s head.

The first great civilization in Europe grew up on the Greek island of Crete.The Minoan civilization started slowly, and developed over several thousand years, but by 2000 BCE there were a number of palaces on the island, each ruled by a king. In the warm, sunny Mediterranean climate, agriculture thrived.The Minoans farmed, fished, made pottery, and worked gold.

This fresco
This fresco

This fresco from the Minoan palace at Knossos shows a procession of priestesses, all wearing full-skirted dresses with low-cut bodices.

Minoan Dress


Colorful paintings on the walls of the Minoan palaces reveal the sort of clothes that people wore on the island. Minoan men usually wore a simple loincloth or a short kilt made from wool or linen. The kilts dipped down to form a point at the front, and they were often decorated with geometric patterns and a patterned border. Minoan men were usually clean shaven and their hair was worn loose down their backs. They wore golden collars, armlets, and bracelets, and some wore golden bands covering most of their calves. Minoan women’s dress was far more elaborate.They wore brightly colored dresses, with full, flounced skirts, falling in many layers to the ground. The short-sleeved tunic that covered the top of the body had a tight-fitting bodice, cut very low to leave the breasts bare. Minoan women wore golden necklaces and bracelets and left their hair long and loose. They wore tall, conical hats, or more often just a simple headband.

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