Minoans and Mycenaeans (Online)


The Minoans and Mycenaeans left us with the intriguing Greek Bronze Age sites of Knossos, Mycenae ‘Rich in Gold’, Pylos and Akrotiri.

Excavation of these sites turned archaeologists like Schliemann, Evans and Marinatos into superstars, as stunning architecture, sculpture, frescoes, weaponry, ceramics and jewellery were revealed. The finds were perhaps only rivalled by those of the later discovery of Tutenkhamun’s tomb.

The mythical enigmas of Agamemnon, Odysseus, the Minotaur, the Trojan War and Atlantis were called into question in the process.

“Today I gazed upon the face of Agamemnon”. Heinrich Schleimann

Visually rich, archaeologically fascinating and replete with material for discussion, this course will examine recent exploration into the social, political and religious contexts of the Minoan and Mycenaean world. But who were these people? Why did they succeed? Why (or) did they fail? Students will be invited to analyse and reflect on the current controversies and dilemmas posed by the material evidence, and assess the influence of a culture that has been described as ‘the first European civilisation’.

For an introduction to the course, watch the video below:

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

This course will cover the diet and disease, eating and drinking habits, social and economic structures, trade and overseas contacts, domestic arrangements, funerary customs, worship, and bureaucracy of these cultures within the following ten units:

1. Welcome to the Greek Bronze Age
This unit looks at the evidence we have for these cultures, their geography, chronology and the Cycladic culture

  • Before we begin
  • What do we know and how do we know it?
  • Establishing geographical knowledge of the Aegean region
  • Establishing chronological knowledge of the Aegean region
  • Study of the earliest (‘Cycladic’) Aegean culture
  • Study of the Cycladic figurines
  • Identifying the styles of the Cycladic figurines

2. Cretan myth and the ‘Palace of Minos’ at Knossos
This unit takes an in-depth at look at Arthur Evans’ excavations at Knossos

  • Introduction to Minoan Crete
  • Geographical orientation: Crete and the Aegean
  • Cretan myth
  • Arthur Evans and his discoveries at Knossos
  • Pre-palatial culture on Crete
  • Proto-palatial structures at Knossos
  • Neo-palatial structures at Knossos
  • The wider environment beyond the ‘Palace’ at Knossos
  • The Knossos Complex: was it a palace, and was it ‘Minos’?

3. The Minoans beyond Knossos
In this unit we explore other sites on Crete, comparing and contrasting with the restorations at Knossos

  • Crete away from Knossos
  • Geographical orientation: Crete and the Aegean
  • Phaistos
  • Kato Zakros
  • The country house at Myrtos-Pyrgos
  • Minoan settlements: creating case files

4. Minoan culture: lifestyle, religion, art and writing
In this unit we examine the daily lives of the Minoan people and are introduced to the Linear A writing system

  • Introducing the Minoans and their daily lives
  • Geographical orientation: Crete
  • Minoan lifestyle
  • Minoan religion
  • Minoan art – asking questions
  • Minoan art – research and organisation: curating answers
  • Minoan writing
  • The Phaistos Disk

5. Akrotiri: The Pompeii of the Aegean
This unit examines the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri on Thera and discusses the Late Bronze Age volcanic eruption which destroyed the site and analyses the arguments that it was responsible for the demise of the entire Minoan civilisation and was perhaps the site of Plato’s Atlantis

  • Geographical orientation: Santorini
  • Akrotiri on Santorini
  • The frescoes of Akrotiri
  • The artefacts of Akrotiri
  • The Late Bronze Age eruption of Santorini
  • The beginning of the end for Minoan Crete, and Plato’s Atlantis
  • The end of the Minoans?

6. The Mycenaeans: Myths, origins and discovery; the Citadel at Mycenae
In this unit the focus switches to the Greek mainland and examines the people and the Citadel of Mycenae. We take our first look at the Linear B writing system

  • Geographical orientation: Mycenae
  • Mycenae and myth
  • Mycenae and history
  • The citadel of Mycenae
  • Linear B (Part 1)
  • Mycenaean warrior culture

7. Mycenae ‘Rich in Gold’: Grave circles B & A; Tholos tombs
This unit continues with the exploration of the site at Mycenae, focusing in particular on burial practices and the discoveries made in the graves

  • Geographical orientation: the site of Mycenae
  • Death and the Mycenaeans
  • Grave Circle B at Mycenae
  • Grave Circle A at Mycenae
  • Tholos tombs
  • Mycenae ‘Rich in Gold’

8. Mycenaeans: Lifestyle, economy, religion, art and bureaucracy
In this unit we examine the daily lives of the Mycenaean people and learn more about the Linear B writing system

  • Geographical orientation: Mycenae and the wider Greece area
  • Mycenaean social structures
  • The Mycenaean economy
  • Mycenaean religion
  • Mycenaean art and lifestyle
  • Linear B (Part 2)
  • Minoans and Mycenaeans

9. Mycenaean architecture and engineering
This unit moves away from Mycenae to focus on other Mycenaean sites – in particular Tiryns and Pylos – and we look at possible causes for the demise of the Mycenaean culture

  • Geographical orientation: Mycenae
  •  ‘Well-walled’ Tiryns
  •  ‘Sandy’ Pylos and the Palace of Nestor
  • Gla, Ithaka, Midea, Asine and Phylakopi
  • Cyclopean masonry
  • The end of Mycenaean culture

10. Troy
In this unit we look at the myth, history and archaeology of Troy and further explore the end of the Bronze Age and the start of the Dark Age

  • Geographical orientation: Troy
  • The myth of Troy
  • The archaeology of Troy
  • Hisarlık/Troy
  • A walk through Troy
  •  (Re-)Evaluating our evidence
  • Final revision
  • Minoans, Mycenaeans, Trojans and the 21st century

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following textbooks:

  • Preziosi, D. & Hitchcock, L., 1999 Aegean Art and Architecture, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

  • Shelmerdine, C. W. (ed.), 2008 The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Please ensure you are able to access copies of any required textbooks prior to enrolling on a course.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:


Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw

Dr Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw is trained in Archaeology, Western History of Art, Classics and Education, specialising in the Aegean Bronze Age. She conducts research as a Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL) and independently. She also lectures in Archaeology at the Continuing Education Departments of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, among other institutions, and is affiliated with Humboldt University in Berlin.

Course aims

This course aims to:

Explore the culture of Bronze Age Greece, with special focus on the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations.

This course will enable participants to:

1. Gain a knowledge of a crucial phase in the history of the Bronze Age;

2. Examine, understand and assess the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations in their social, cultural and archaeological contexts; 

3. Develop skills of archaeological, historical, and artistic observation and analysis with further applications in study, work and leisure, and provide an interesting, enjoyable and relevant course of study

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • The general outline of the development of Minoan and Mycenaean culture, gained through a variety of types of written, artistic and archaeological evidence.

  • The nature of written, artistic and archaeological evidence and the problems of interpretation.

  • The cultural context of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations studied through their writings, mythology, art and architecture

  • By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to research and assess the context and importance of varying types of written, artistic and archaeological evidence.

  • An ability to think both logically and laterally across a range of issues, to see how different types of evidence interrelate, and to have an awareness of the potential diversity of response to any given problem.

  • The facility critically to discuss issues and evidence in a clear, balanced, and effective manner.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/english-language-requirements


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.