A Cyber-Knossos?

Those who have known me for any period of time here in SL are quite aware of my obsession with the Minoan civilization. Well, for starters I must say that it’s my boyfriend who should be blamed for this; he’s the one that got me into this whole thing. Now, what is it that makes this mysterious Bronze Age civilization so interesting and intriguing to me? Let’s see…

  1. It was the first significant civilization in Europe.
  2. By all accounts, it seems that it was a matriarchal society, or at the very least a society in which women were not considered inferior to men.
  3. For its time, it was highly advanced, with artifacts that were exquisitely crafted (jewelry, pottery, even utensils for daily use).
  4. A further sign of how advanced this civilization was is its architecture, with multi-story buildings possessing extremely elaborate floor plans and covering very large surfaces (it is believed that the labyrinth of Greek mythology was inspired by the complicated architecture of the city* of Knossos); these buildings made extensive use of lightwells and polythyra (arrangements of multiple doorways placed one next to the other) to get sunlight and fresh air even down to the lowest floors. Also, the Minoans constructed a very well-designed system of aqueducts and drainage pipes to get fresh water to their palaces and cities, and get the waste water out.
  5. While the artifacts and the references in the ancient Egyptian archives tell us quite a bit, we’re never going to know everything about the Minoans, because their writing is highly unlikely to ever be deciphered, for want of an equivalent for the Rosetta Stone. Therefore, understanding this civilization is somewhat open-ended.
  6. Its art celebrated the small, “mundane” pleasures of life, nature and even sensuality.
  7. They were fashion pioneers, with fitted dresses, often with a series of ruffles, and they were combined with tight-fitting bodices that left the breasts exposed – compare that to the “for God’s name, woman! Cover up!” attitude of later patriarchal societies that have been oppressing women until our days…
  8. I’m sick and tired of the super-cheesy reproductions of buildings from the classical antiquity in Second Life – let’s do something different, shall we?
  9. The fact that neo-nazi offspring of the WW2 nazi collaborators (posing as “patriots” – how ironic) in Greece have usurped Greece’s ancient history, distorted it and put it through the shredder, mixing it with their crap (the people of the movie “300” have a lot to answer for in this department) has poisoned this era for me, forever.
  10. It’s the civilization on which Plato created his fable of the Atlantis! How can a civilization get more cool than that?

Now, for years I have tried to make something inspired by the Minoan architecture, even mixing it with Mycenaean stuff; I’ve made – and abandoned – many prototypes based either on parts of Minoan builds or on elements of Mycenaean palaces, such as the megaron around which most Mycenaean palaces (and homes) seemed to be built; one of my most ambitious attempts was to recreate the palace of the homeric King Nestor. However, as the prim count skyrocketed and it soon became obvious that texturing it faithfully to the original was most likely not going anywhere, this too became yet another abortive attempt.

Yet, I keep coming back to this concept and goal: to make a sim that will be at least influenced by Minoan architecture. Then I remembered my visits to [pteron]. Yes, I know – [pteron], as I pointed out in a previous post, is nowhere as innocent as it tries to present itself, as it seems to be nothing more than a marketing ploy for two bullshit quasi-religious, pseudo-scientific theories (the Islamic Creationism of Turkish nationalist, web censorship advocate and religious nutjob Adnan Oktar – a.k.a. Harun Yahya – on one hand, and the oh-so-Yoda quackery of the “Global Consciousness Project on the other). However, it’s still a very well-designed build, with great use of textures, particles and lighting, it looks good under most Windlight settings and it’s a good example of how an existing architectural tradition (Islamic) can be adapted to a sci-fi setting.

This had me thinking – why not Minoan? I revisited some sci-fi builds that have influenced me over the years (such as Kumi Itoku’s Sin Labs, where I had spent quite some time in my past, or Neurolab, for that matter); sci-fi and cyberpunk builds, with dark texturing, an eternal dusk covering the whole place and glowing neon-like lighting in tones of blue, cyan, pink, purple and white. So, I started experimenting; first, I built a Minoan-like pillar. It was one box, two cylinders and three tori. Not that hard to do – after all, I know how to make these puppies. But what about texturing it? Well, I had a gold texture, some marble and granite textures… I played around, even added lighting, shininess and…

One of my Minoan-style pillars (they also work very well for Mycenaean builds, as their buildings were often knock-offs of Minoan buildings with different layouts).

One of my Minoan-style pillars (they also work very well for Mycenaean builds, as their buildings were often knock-offs of Minoan buildings with different layouts).

Not bad, no? So, last week I decided to start making a building. Marking a departure from the pseudo-Minoan builds I was trying to do in the past, which were mostly Mycenaean if I’m to be honest (they were built around a megaron), I decided to follow Minoan thinking and forget about symmetry. Indeed, if you look at the floor plan of any Minoan palace, there’s no axis of symmetry. I must say here that I have serious reservations w.r.t their palatial nature; it seems that only a small part of these builds was actually the rulers’ residence, with the vast majority of the rooms serving commercial, industrial, religious and administrative purposes, as well as providing residences for the staff that worked there. I wonder if we’d more accurately describe them as cities rather than palaces.

I must say here that I am certainly not the first to try and make a build based on the Minoan civilization. There once was The Minoan Empire, built by Aeneas Anthony, but it disappeared because it became too expensive to keep running. Pity – I never even had a chance to go there and visit. There was also another Minoan-themed sim, the Cyclades (by my friend Shu Mayflower). This, too, disappeared – twice! So, the Bronze Age of the Eastern Mediterranean now has a rather poor representation in Second Life.

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