National Geographic : 1978 Feb
Harking forward to Europe's age of medieval knights, bronze armor (left) from around 1400 B.C. was probably still being used some 200 years later in the Trojan War. According to Homer, the Trojans' Hector fought "in dread armor of bronze." Though skilled metallurgists from early in the Bronze Age, the mainland Greeks did not emerge as a power until about 1650 B.C., when feudal rivalries were perhaps quelled by the area's then strongest overlord-the king of Mycenae. For the next two centuries, while gathering strength and extending their domain over much of the Aegean world, they lived in apparent harmony with the Minoans, drawing heavily upon the Cretans' skills to forge their own civilization. But when natural disasters beset Crete in the 15th century B.C., the opportunity for complete Aegean control was open, and they moved swiftly into Knossos. Within a century Crete had become a full-fledged Mycenaean colony, and the cultures had merged. This knife maker in modern Crete (right)might just as easily be descended from sons of Agamemnon as from daughters of Minos.