Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Minotaur's Island

Today on Far Future Horizons we join historian Bettany Hughes as she follows the footsteps of Arthur Evans, Harriet Boyd, and other famed archaeologists to find startling new insights into the myth of the Minotaur's Island and the Minoan civilization that flourished there.

How did this ancient people live, worship, and prosper? Why did they build such magnificent palaces, complete with hinged doors, flush toilets, and elaborate warrens of rooms? What role did the daring, acrobatic bull-leapers play in society? And did the civilization finally succumb to natural disasters, foreign invaders, or religious strife? Fresh evidence excavated from sites all over Crete offers tantalizing clues to the everyday life, and tragic destiny, of the accomplished artisans and architects who lived at the crossroads of the ancient world.

Theseus goes in search of the Minotaur

Around 5,000 years ago the Greek island of Crete was home to one of the world’s most intriguing and amazing civilisations. Yet for all their might and culture, the Minoans are still best-known for the tale of the Minotaur, a fearsome creature who lived in a labyrinth beneath the grand Palace of Knossos.

Myth of the Minotaur

In this documentary famed historian Bettany Hughes steps back in time to explore the Minoan culture, and the features which allowed them to prosper so long ago. How did they build such magnificent palaces, with hinged doors and flushed toilets? And what significance do their mysterious bull-leapers have? Hughes revisits old archaeology to find out all this, and the Minoans’ tragic demise.

Minoan bull leaper (fresco painting)

Minoan women (fresco painting)

The glorious rise and mysterious fall of Europe’s first civilization best known for the myth of the Minotaur, a monstrous half-man, half-bull imprisoned in Daedalus’s labyrinth. Crete gave birth to Europe’s first civilization nearly 5,000 years ago, more than two millennia before Homer composed The Iliad. Then it collapsed in fire and violence.

The Minotaur's Island hosted by Bettany Hughes is available on DVD through

The Minotaur's Island
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