Lesson 2: How did the Minoans and Mycenaeans take advantage of Greece's geography?


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will be able to describe how the geography of Greece influence the way people lived and how they interacted with others

Key Terms to Know

Look up each term in your textbook (pages 118-120) and define each in your Social Studies Notebook.

  • Crete
  • Mycenae

The Minoans

The Minoans were not Greek, but they were the first to live on the Greek island of Crete. The Minoans were a wealthy society. The earned their wealth through trade. They built ships and traded with Egypt and Syria.

  • They traded pottery for ivory and metals
  • They carried goods to other ports
  • They controlled the seas and protected travelers from pirates

The Minoan civilization ended suddenly. Some believe it was due to underwater earthquakes that destroyed the cities. Others believe they were destroyed by invaders, the Mycenaeans.

Ask Yourself

  • Can an entire civilization be wiped out by another?
  • What would cause one group of people to destroy another group of people?

The Mycenaeans

The Mycenaeans came from Asia to invade the Greek mainland. Those leaders became the first Greek kings. Mycenaean kingdoms had a central palace on a hill where the king lived. Other important wealthy people lived just outside of the palace. Slaves and farmers lived on the their land. The kingdom was surrounded by stone walls to protect it from invaders.

Gaining Power

The Mycenaeans traded with the Minoans. Through trade the Mycenaeans learned a lot about how the Minoans lived. They copied many things from Minoan culture.

  • Shipbuilding techniques
  • Bronze making techniques
  • Using the sun and stars to travel on the sea
  • Worshipping the Earth Mother (Minoans' chief goddess)
  • Trade with Egypt and they expanded to Italy

These actions led historians to believe that the Mycenaeans conquered Crete and destroyed the Minoans.

Ask Yourself

  • Why do you think the Mycenaean kingdoms built the king's palace in the center of the community?
  • Why do you think the Minoans shared so much about their culture with the Mycenaeans?
  • Do you think it was a smart decision for the Minoans to share so much of their culture with the Mycenaeans? Why, why not?


Directions: In your notebook, create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. Use the notes provided and your textbook as resources. Think about:

  • how each used of the geography of Greece to their advantage
  • how each acquired their wealth
  • how each contributed to early Greek civilization

Click below for Lesson 3

Lesson 3: How did the ancient Greeks develop the idea of citizenship?

'Click below to go back to the homepage

It's All Greek To Me!