The Minoans, Knossos, Crete, Ancient Greece for Kids and Teachers Illustration

The Minoans

The Minoans lived on the island of Crete. They were a very advanced people. They were ruled by a king, so they had a central government. They had a really strong navy, being an island culture. They had beautiful art and statues. They had running water for drinking and bathing. They even had toilets that flushed! The Greeks never conquered the Minoans. But they knew each other. The Greeks traded with the Minoans.

The Minoan capital city was the city of Knossos. That's where the king lived. His palace was amazing. It supposedly had 1500 rooms. But even the poor people on the island of Crete had beautiful homes, decorated with drawings of the sea. Most had 4 bedrooms. Minoan kings shared their wealth with the people in the form of art, surplus food, and architecture.

The Minoans had a written language. Scholars and archaeologists have discovered a great deal about their daily life from the records they left behind. They also learned about them from the pictures they found painted on the ruins of the walls of their homes.

Scholars believe that the ancient Minoans enjoyed a rather odd sporting event. There are paintings of both boys and girls jumping over the horns of snorting bulls. It would appear that this was a most popular sport.

About 2,500 years ago, much of the island was destroyed by an earthquake, but the Minoans rebuilt. About 200 years later, much of the island was destroyed by tidal waves, triggered by an erupting volcano. After the volcano, there is no record of the Minoan civilization. Perhaps they moved to some other place. No one knows.

The ancient Greek storytellers had a lot of fun with stories about the Minoans. One of our favorites is about the Minotaur, the horrible beast - half man, half bull - who made his home at the heart of a maze near the king's splendid (1500 room!) palace.

Theseus and the Minotaur (Greek myth)

Icarus and Daedalus, Wings

The Cretan Bull, the 7th Labor of Hercules

Minoan Tables

QUIZ: Early Ancient Greece (Interactive with answers)

QUIZ: Ancient Greek Gods, Goddesses, and Myths (Interactive with answers)