Minoan Civilization

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The ancient civilization of Crete which existed from 2600 to 1450 BC. The Minoans were skilled engineers for their time, and the Minoan palace at Knossos (one of several palaces on Crete) is known to have had a sewer system, a feature that was unknown to European architecture until then. They prospered as merchants of tin, which was needed to make bronze in the days before iron working, importing it from Spain and possibly even Britain.

The Minoan civilization suddenly disappeared after the catastrophic eruption of Mt.Thera (now known as Santorini). The island of Crete, the home of the Minoans, was eventually invaded by Mycenaeans who rebuilt several of the destroyed palaces, namelt Knossos.

The Minotaur

Around 2600 BC a civilization arose on the island of Crete called the Minoan civilization. They were one of the most powerful Mediterranean nations of their time and have found their place in various legends. Among these is that of the Minotaur.

According to myth, Minos II, the king of Crete, boasted that he could obtain anything through prayer. To prove this he prayed to Neptune for a bull that he might sacrifice. Although the bull appeared, it was so beautiful that Minos declined to sacrifice it. In his anger Neptune drove the bull wild and caused the kings wife to fall in love with the bull. So in love with it she asked Daedalus to construct a hollow cow, covered in leather, in which she could hide and consume her love for the bull. Although Hercules got rid of the bull, it left behind its offspring: a wild half-bull/half-man called the Minotaur which terrorized the country until the king’s architect, Dædalus, trapped it in a huge labyrinth. At this time Athens was under the rule of Crete. Each year king Minos required that Athenians send a number young people to feed to the beast. Finally Theseus, a hero from Athens, resolved to let himself be thrown to the Minotaur that he might attempt to kill it. He entered the labyrinth, and trailing a thread behind him so that wouldn't get lost, he proceeded to search out the Minotaur. In the ensuing fight Theseus was victorious and Athens was freed.

The Minoan civilization was a fairly advanced people group the remains of whose cities can still be seen today.