Minon and Mycenean Civilizations: c. 3500 BC – 500BC 

Ancient Greece Video

Minoan Video

European Civilization Begins

  • Indo-Europeans settle across Europe
  • Celts along Atlantic coastline
  • British Isles
  • France
  • Scandinavia
  • central European tribal groups (Goths, Vandals, Huns, Anglos)
  • Greeks and Romans

Overview of Greek Civilizations

  • Greece Origins 2000 – 1100 bce
    • Minoans
    • Myceneans
    • Age of the City-states (800 – 350 bce)
      • Athens (Golden Age)
      • Sparta
      • Many others
      • Hellenistic Era (350 – 200 bce)
        • Alexander unites Greece and conquers Egypt, Persia and N. India
        • In 2nd century bce Roman Empire conquers Greece

Minoan Civilization


  • Ruled by a monarchy
  • Beautiful palace on Island of Crete
  • King Minos the most famous ruler


  • Fishing, agriculture
  • Trade throughout the Greek islands and with Egypt


  • Polytheism emphasizing fertility goddess
  • Snake/fertility goddess probably the origin for Medusa
  • Temples and rituals to gods and goddesses

Social Life

  • Typical Social Hierarchy of ruler then nobles then rich then traders then peasants, women and slaves
  • Women regarded as important; given more freedom than many other early civilizations

Intellectual Life

  • Labyrinth of Crete
  • In Greek mythology, the labyrinth of Crete was derived from the elaborate floor plan of the Palace at Knossos.
  • Daedalus the Athenian craftsman, was the architect and inventor who designed for King Minos of Crete
  • the labyrinth imprisoned the Minotaur, a man-eating monster that was half man and half bull.
    The labyrinth was so skillfully designed that no one could escape from the maze or the Minotaur.
  • Daedalus revealed the secret of the labyrinth only to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, and she aided her lover, the Athenian hero Theseus, to slay the monster and escape.
    In anger at the escape, Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the labyrinth. Although the prisoners could not find the exit, Daedalus made waxwings so that they could both fly out of the maze. Icarus, however, flew too near the sun; his wings melted, and he fell into the sea. Daedalus flew to Sicily, where he was welcomed by King Cocalus.


  • Beautiful mosaics preserved till today
  • Bull Jumping


  • Dolphins


  • Fall of Minoans
  • Island of Thera now called Santorini
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunamis
  • Destroyed much of Crete
  • Perhaps the origin of the tale of Atlantis

Mycenean Civilization

Politics - warlike and absolutist kings over various city states; conquered Minoans.  Colonized along Persian coast; Battle of Troy

Economy – sailors, farmers, merchants

Religion – polytheist Greek mythology

Social – typical patriarchic society.  Ruler then nobles, then merchants, then farmers then slaves.  Women had less rights than the Minoan Civilization.

Intellectual – Homer’s Odyssey and Illiad, great metal workers, arch for the first time in Europe

  • Trojan War
  • Trojan Horse
  • Famous for the Lion’s Gate and the Mask of Agamemnon