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The earliest Greeks were called Minoans. The Minoans were a group of people who lived on the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea during the Bronze Age
Below are some interesting facts and information about the old civilization of the ancient Greeks or alternatively download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- The Minoan civilization flourished in the middle Bronze Age on the Mediterranean island of Crete from ca. 2000 BCE until ca. 1500 BCE and, with their unique art and architecture, the Minoans made a significant contribution to the development of Western European civilization as it is known today.
- The inhabitants of the island during this time were labeled Minoans by Sir Arthur Evans, a British archaeologist. He named them after a mythological figure called King Minos, who was the son of Zeus and Europa. In Greek mythology, King Minos constructed a labyrinth in Knossos.
- The archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans was first alerted to the possible presence of an ancient civilization on Crete by finding carved seal stones worn as charms by native Cretans in the early 20th century CE. Excavating at Knossos from 1900 to 1905 CE, Evans discovered extensive ruins which confirmed the ancient accounts, both literary and mythological, of a sophisticated Cretan culture and possible site of the legendary labyrinth and palace of King Minos.
- As a civilization, the Minoans were organized in trade. Because of their location, they traded a lot of goods overseas. One of the items they may have traded was tin, which can be combined with copper to make bronze. At the time, the use of bronze for weapons and other items was very popular. This is why the time is called the Bronze Age. Minoans may have traded with surrounding areas like Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
- Crete is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea. There were many natural harbors nestled in numerous mountain ranges. According to Homer, Crete had many cities. Some of the sites that have been studied by archaeologists are Knossos, Phaistos, Maila, Agia Triada, and Pyrgos. The land was subject to major natural disasters at the time. A volcano at Thera erupted twice during the time of the Minoans. It is also likely that there were earthquakes and tidal waves.
- The religious practices of the Minoans generally focused on females. Priestesses often governed rituals honoring goddesses. Major celebrations included a bull dance, which is depicted in many Minoan frescoes (a kind of mural painting). The bull was a sacred symbol to the Minoans because of its strength and fertility.
- Minoan settlements, tombs and cemeteries have been found all over Crete but the four principal palace sites (in order of size) were at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros.
- At each of these sites, large, complex palace structures of two or three stories and covering several thousand square metres seem to have acted as local administrative, trade, religious and possibly political centres.
- The palaces themselves covered two periods: The first were constructed around 2000 BC and following destructive earthquakes and fires, re-built again ca. 1700 BCE.
- These second palaces survived until their final destruction between 1500 BCE and 1450 BCE, once again by either earthquake, fire, or possibly invasion (or a combination of all three).
- The sophistication of the Minoan culture and its trading capacity is evidenced by the presence of writing – firstly hieroglyphic and then Linear A scripts (both, as yet, undeciphered), predominantly found on various types of administrative clay tablets.
- A further example of the culture’s high degree of development is the variety and quality of the art forms practised by the Minoans. Pottery finds reveal a wide range of vessels from wafer-thin cups to large storage jars (pithoi). Ceramics were initially hand-turned but then increasingly made on the potter’s wheel. In decoration, there was a progression from flowing geometric designs in Kamares ware to vibrant naturalistic depictions of flowers, plants and sea life in the later Floral and Marine styles. Sadly, much of the art from this period has deteriorated over time. Rabbits are social, loving and interactive animals. They live in groups called herds in a home called a warren. The average lifespan of a rabbit is between 8 to 10 years.
- The civilization existed until its decline around the 11th century BCE after the occurrence of the Trojan War. The Minoans seem to have experienced a long period of peace with little internal conflict. Clashes began with the invasion of the Mycenaeans, a group of people who invaded from the Greek mainland.
- The reasons for the demise of the Minoan civilization continue to be debated. The rise of the Mycenaean civilization in the mid-2nd millennium BC on the Greek mainland and the evidence of their cultural influence on Minoan art and trade make them the most likely cause.
- However, other suggestions include earthquakes and volcanic activity with consequent tsunami. The eruption of Thera (the present day island of Santorini) may have been particularly significant, although the exact date of this cataclysmic eruption is disputed and therefore its connection with the end of the Minoan period remains unclear.
Ancient Minoan Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Ancient Minoan Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about the Minoans who were a group of people who lived on the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea during the Bronze Age
Download includes the following worksheets
- Ancient Minoan Facts
- Fact or Bluff
- Cities of Crete
- Fill in the Blanks
- Word Search
- Natural Disasters
- Word Jumble
- Minoan Palaces
- Let’s Draw!
- Ancient Minoans
- The End
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