The Fall of the Minoans

In this week’s lesson, Apollo and Artemis explored a possible reason why the Minoan Civilisation, with its beautiful, unfortified palaces, and its incredible technology, was overthrown by the Mycenaeans.

We discussed how the Minoans did extensive trade, and probably had a very strong naval presence, which would have helped prevent attack, and may explain why their palaces did not seem to have defensive walls. Various ideas were offered by both groups on what might have happened to weaken the Minoan Civilisation, leaving them open to attack.

Some one suggested that perhaps invaders hid in their ships and then attacked when they arrived at Crete; another idea was that a small number of invaders arrived and it was the illnesses they carried which wiped out the civilisation. A few others thought that maybe some form of natural disaster – a storm, fog or an earthquake – destroyed the palaces.

We watched a small section of this very enjoyable and informative documentary on the Minoans to find out the clues which led archaeologists to the possible answer. Archaeologists discovered the presence of pumice stone high up on hills around a coastal Minoan settlement. They reasoned that they could have only got there from an enormous wave sweeping the stones onto the high land.


On the island of Santorini (or Thera), at around 1400 BC, there was a catastrophic volcanic eruption, one of the most devastating in recorded history. It would have instantly wiped out the Minoan settlements and palaces on the island itself, and the tsunami it produced would have destroyed the Minoan navy as well as the palaces in nearby Crete. This may have weakened the Minoan Civilisation, encouraging the Mycenaeans to take advantage of their fragile state and to invade.

Meanwhile, most of the island of Santorini actually sank, giving rise, perhaps, to the myth of Atlantis, the story of a great civilisation which vanished without trace… You can read a very interesting article here on the scale and cultural significance of the eruption – what might have happened if the Minoans hadn’t been destroyed?


We did some sentence practice, too, to reinforce the idea of nouns changing to show if they are subjects or objects. Everyone did very well in remembering and recognising these changes!


Please watch the rest of the documentary – there will be a quiz in your next lesson, and please learn all the vocabulary in chapter one for a short test!


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