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Navigating the Minoan Labyrinth: The Civilisation of Bronze Age Crete

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Popular knowledge of Bronze-Age Crete is clouded by myths about heroes and monsters.

These legends are widely-known but they obscure our understanding of the Minoans, a long-lived and fascinating civilisation that dominated Crete for almost two thousand years.

Since few (and mainly undeciphered) written sources survive from the period, it is in archaeology that the key to unlocking the secrets of this mysterious culture can be found. This course will introduce you to the art and archaeology of the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Age in Crete (c.3000-1100 B.C.).

We will also address wider issues such as the emergence of palace states in the second millennium B.C., the nature of society, the economy, religious beliefs and burial customs and the competing theories about the eventual demise of Minoan civilisation.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through 10 two-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to you via Learning Central.

  1. Crete in myth, legend and history. Introduction to the course and to Aegean Archaeology
  2. Emergence of civilisation: The hypothesis of Internal Development
  3. The Early Bronze Age in Crete
  4. The Old Palaces: Emergence of civilisation?
  5. The Aegean and the East in the second millennium B.C.
  6. New Palace Crete: Palaces and States
  7. Burial practices in Bronze Age Crete
  8. Bronze Age Religion in the Aegean
  9. Minoan and Mycenaean art
  10. Crete after the New Palaces. The Final Palatial and Post Palatial Period

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Assignments will include two written tasks of 500 and 1,000 words and will include a source criticism or documentary review and an essay.

Reading suggestions

  • Cullen, T. 2001. Aegean Prehistory: a review. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America.
  • Dickinson, O.T.P.K. 1994a. The Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Preziosi, D. and L. Hitchcock. 1999. Aegean Art and Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.