Aegean Civilization, the civilization of the people living around the Aegean Sea before the emergence of ancient Greece about the ninth century B.C. There were two advanced peoples in the Aegean—the Minoans, who developed a civilization that flourished from about 2500 to the 1400's B.C.; and the Achaeans, who developed the Mycenaean civilization, which flourished from about 1600 to 1100 B.C.
The Minoans were a seafaring people mainly from Crete. Their early writings are largely undecipherable, and much that is known of their civilization comes from excavations on Crete, largely in their capital city of Knossos, and on the nearby island of Thera. The Achaeans were a Greek-speaking people who had come from the north and settled on the Greek mainland.
Cretan cities were devastated by an earthquake and smothered by volcanic debris around 1600 B.C.; the island of Thera was virtually destroyed. The cities were rebuilt, but in the 1400's the Minoan civilization disappeared, apparently as a result of an invasion of Achaeans from the mainland. The Achaeans adopted some of the Minoan culture and this intermingling produced the Mycenaean civilization described by Homer in his account of the Trojan War.