Centre for Continuing Education

Ancient Greece Course I: The Minoans

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The Minoan culture arose on the Aegean island of Crete around 1950 BC and they spread their culture throughout the region. The famous palace of Knossos, richly decorated with a series of remarkable frescoes, was just one of a number of palace compounds which controlled the resources of a maritime empire. Numerous trading colonies were established in the eastern Mediterranean including Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. Around 1450 BC all the palaces were destroyed and Crete came under the control of Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.


At the completion of this history course participants will have:

  1. Explored the evidence for the origins of the Minoans
  2. Discovered the archaeological remains of the Minoan palaces
  3. Investigate the causes for the collapse of Minoan civilisation


Crete and its early history

Crete is located in the central Mediterranean and was formed by the collision of the African and European continental plates. We examine the geology and geography of Crete and look at the archaeological evidence for the early cultures on the island form the Neolithic down to the Middle Bronze Age.

The Palatial period

A spectacular new ‘Palatial’ civilisation developed on Crete around 1950 BC. This lecture examines the archaeological evidence for the so-called ‘Palatial Period’ when the Minoan civilisation was at its height. We explore the physical evidence from the sites such as Malia, Phaestos and Haghia Triada.


One of the most important places on Crete was the centrally located one at Knossos. We examine the remarkable archaeological remains of the Late Bronze Age. Famously discovered and restored by Arthur Evans in the 19th Century, Knossos preserves a unique record of life during the Minoan period.

Santorini and the settlement at Akrotiri

The Minoans were a seafaring people who traded extensively throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The island of Santorini lies to the north of Crete and preserves excellent evidence from the Minoan period. Destroyed in a monumental volcanic eruption, the site of Akrotiri is buried in ash, preserving a unique record of Minoan life.

The end of The Minoans

The Minoans had an important influence on the cultures of the Greek mainland. Their civilisation was supplanted by the Mycenaean after 1450 BC. This lecture examines the fall of the Minoans and the role of external forces on the decline of their society.

Intended Audience

This history course is suitable for personal interest adult learners, university students and active retirees who have an interest in history, ancient Greek history or the Minoan culture.

Delivery Style

This history course in Sydney will be delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture where questions and open discussions will be encouraged.

Recommended Reading

J. Lesely Fitton, Minoans, London, 2002


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion