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As you are preparing your Science project for your school’s next Learning Fair, you receive in the mail an invitation to visit the palace of King Minos (Μίνως) in Ancient Crete. You know well that the Minoan civilization was destroyed more than 3,000 years ago, but the invitation is from the King himself who urges you to explore his palace so that you can present it to your contemporaries. His final instructions are: “Follow the Process to spin a web of knowledge to guide you out of the darkness of the maze, like my daughter would.”
The final goal of your exploration is to develop a poster which you can present in the upcoming Science Fair. Your poster should include answers to basic questions such as
- Where is Knossos?
- What do we know about the Minoan civilization?
- Who was Daedalus?
- What did the Minotaur look like?
- What does Atlantis have to do with Crete?
Your poster should include a combination of textual and visual elements, which you will have to organize in a way that tells the story of the Minoan civilization clearly for your peers.
- The first step is for you to get a sense of the physical location and surroundings of the palace of King Minos. To see an interactive map of aerial images of Crete go to this site, where you can “see” Crete from above. Click on “Minoan Crete” on the left to see the towns and villages we know existed 3,000 years ago. Click on the other links and try to see if any of the major towns or locations have remained the same throughout the years. To read what ancient historians, like Plutarch (Πλούταρχος) and Herodotus (Ηρόδοτος), have said about King Minos, visit the History Channel. If you would like to create a visual with information about the genealogical tree of King Minos, visit this page.
- The second step asks you to take a closer look at the palace itself, both in terms of its architecture and in terms of the artifacts that have been found there. The most comprehensive site, which includes maps of the archaeological site, can be found here. Spend some time learning about the excavations of Sir Arthur Evans. You can also view more images from the site of the Greek Ministry of Culture or in a commercial site from Greece. You can also visit a pictorial guide of the palace or go through a series of photographs from the palace. For those of you who feel more adventurous, there is also a very interesting virtual 3D tour of the palace available, and even a site with very intriguing facts about the whole Minoan civilization. For this part of your poster, you can draw a very simple architectural design of the palace and present some of the images from the site that would showcase its character. You can also explain in a few words what the most interesting piece of information about the palace is for you…
3. This step is all about one of the most referenced stories in the history of Western Literature: the story of the Labyrinth (λαβύρινθος) and the monster that supposedly lived in it, the Minotaur (Μινόταυρος). The story begins with Daedalus, a famous architect and engineer from Athens, who was invited by King Minos to build a maze underneath the palace of Knossos. Read about the story of Daedalus here and about the story of the Minotaur here. Until today, archaeologists have not found evidence of a labyrinth underneath the palace, but it seems that the palace itself was designed in such a complex way that people thought it was a maze. For a more detailed explanation of what the labyrinth was look at this site. For some more fun and interactive activities, try playing the Daedalus and Icarus game, or explore a sophisticated maze program called Daedalus. Finally, look at some very imaginative depictions of what the Minotaur could look like. Your overall goal for this part of the process will be to retell the story of Daedalus and the Minotaur, either in words or in some cartoon format. Try to include the details that you managed to read about, to make your story more engaging.
4. Finally, the last step of this process asks you to consider the relationship between the Minoan civilization and the myth of the lost continent, Atlantis (Ατλαντίδα). When Plato first described Atlantis, several researchers believed that there was actually a separate continent that disappeared into the sea, so they began looking for it. However, many scientists now believe that the explosion of the volcano of Santorini, which most likely destroyed the Minoan civilization, was what Plato was talking about, and Atlantis was none other than Knossos. For more on this theory see here. However, you might also want to read a number of other quotes which represent a number of other approaches, or the different theories about the location of Atlantis that have been put forward. Finally, look at a fascinating video from National Geographic about Atlantis (use keyword “Atlantis” in the search box if you don’t go directly there). You final task for this poster is to write a brief paragraph providing an answer to the mystery of Atlantis after examining its connection to the Minoan civilization.