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The first Greeks were not even from Greece, but from the island of __Crete__ in the
__Mediterranean (Middle Earth)__ Sea. The civilization started around _2800___ B.C.
and left an important _legacy___, or gift from the past, to the Greeks. Historians do not
know much about these Greeks called the _Minoans___ (or Cretans) because they have
not been able to decipher (or _translate_) their writing. Historians call their form of
writing __Linear A___ because it is written in a straight line and because it is the first
form of Greek writing.
According to Greek legend the Minoans are the offspring of __Zeus__, the Greek King of
the Gods, and a Phoenician princess named Europa (the continent _Europe_ takes its
name from her). Zeus (who took the form of a _bull_) and Europa had children and one
of them was __Minos__ who became the king of the people of Crete and the Cretans took
the name Minoans in his honor.
Given that Crete was an island the Minoans began to build __boats__ to be able to trade
for what they needed. The Minoans became the world’s first important seafaring
civilization and changed the ship building industry. The Minoans built bigger, stronger,
and faster ships by adding more _masts__ (sails) to the ships and placing a deck over the
heads of rowers. They also were the first to add a _prow_, a wooden beam in the front of
a ship used to ram holes into enemy ships.
Because of their location in the
__Mediterranean__ Sea, the Minoans traded with the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and the
people of Greece. Most people wanted the _olive_ oil the Minoans made.
Minoan cities were very different from other ancient civilizations because they had no
__walls_ for protection and because instead of temples in the center of the city the
Minoans had _arenas__. The palaces were huge and usually covered over 4 _acres_.
The biggest city was _Knossos__. To foreign visitors the palaces seemed like a
__labyrinth__ or a maze. The walls in the palaces were decorated with _frescoes_
(color paintings on walls). The Minoans even had bathrooms with __plumbing___ and
hot and cold running water.
The Minoans were ruled by _kings_ and may have been under the control of _priest__.
These kings/ priests made the __laws__ and represented the gods. Historians are not
certain, but they do believe that _women_ had an important role in Minoan society. The
Minoans may have made _human_ sacrifices and their sporting events may have been
done to please the gods. The Minoans definitely loved to watch _bull-jumping/leaping_.
Based on findings the Minoan religion was __polytheistic__, meaning they had many
gods. The most important god was the _Snake_ Goddess or Mother Goddess who was
responsible for the food that came from the Earth and for bringing children into the