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The classical period in Crete

The classical period is an era of conservatism and stillness, something that is reflected in all sectors of human activity. Generally, the architecture, art and political and social organization are little changed compared to the previous periods.

Knossos is still the most important settlement on the island; however, towns such as Gortys, Kydonia and Lyttos have significantly developed. Building activity during this period is very low. The few new settlements are built mainly on mountain slopes. Builders taking advantage of the morphology of the hills, are building houses with more than one floors. Most houses comprise of 2 or 3 rooms that are often cut into the rock or made of clay. In some cases the floors are covered with tiles or plaster. Usually, the rooms communicate through courtyards. In the courtyard is where you usually find the water-tanks, used to collect the rain water. Some bigger houses also include stables, laboratories and storage spaces.

The "economy" of Crete is based on agriculture and husbandry. The existence of olive and grape presses and wine and olive oil storage areas in many houses, shows that olive and vineyard farming was very developed. In parallel, sheep, goats, oxen and pigs are domesticated not only for their meat, but also for their milk, skin and wool. Finally, honey and lumber are produced in great quantities from the forest covered mountains of Crete.

While trade was highly developed during the archaic period, the social class of merchants and practical tradesmen did not gain political power and other privileges. On the contrary, they were not considered citizens but were usually chapmen and vagrants and their trades were considered degrading for the people. This group was quite exploited and never obtained full citizens' rights during this period. Due to these factors the aforementioned professions, and thus trade, declined leaving only a few practical tradesmen who covered the local basic needs.