Crete in Ancient Times

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• Part 2: Industry and Invention
Part 3: Religion and the Arts

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Ancient Map of Crete
The Myth of Icarus
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Part 1: From the Beginning

The island of Crete has a rich and colorful history, full of facts and legends, some often difficult to tell apart.

In the beginning, Crete wasn't an island at all. It was connected to the Peleponnesus, the peninsula containing Sparta and other Greek cities. This was way before people were around. Eventually, water filled in the gaps and Crete became an island.

The first civilization of note on Crete was the Minoan civilization, named after its great King Minos. This king's great palace at Knossos is still around. This civilization began, some historians think, about 2000 B.C.

The Minoans were more advanced than the early Greeks, sailing all around the area and founding colonies here and there. Greek historians say that Minoan ships and soldiers sailed with the Mycenean armada that sailed to conquer Troy.

Minoan ships and people continued to influence their Greek neighbors until about 1450, when the volcano on the island of Thera, 75 miles north, created a tidal wave of such force that it swept over Crete, almost burying it beneath the water forever.

Cretan power revived somewhat after this, but the Minoan influence was gone for good. Greeks ruled the Aegean Sea and much of the Mediterranean area after this, and their influence is still felt today.

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