Ted's teaching tips

15th January 1999 at 00:00
What is the fascination of powerful animals? Minoan civilisation is not the only one to admire the bull.

Knossos

Where is Knossos (near Heraklion, Crete) and when did Minoan civilisation flourish (c1600 BC)? What other great civilisations and historic places are in the Aegean (Athens, Rhodes, Ephesus)? Why was the eastern Mediterranean so important to the development of world civilisation (early science, astronomy, mathematics (Euclid, Pythagoras), medicine (Hippocrates), engineering; the arts, literature (Hercules, Odysseus), classical buildings including the Parthenon, sculpture and statuary; philosophers and thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle)?

Animal symbolism

Which animals are often shown in frescoes and carvings, and why (lion, strong and courageous; bull, big, powerful, symbol of fertility)? Think of animals you know, such as the tiger, butterfly, cat, dog; what could they symbolise? (Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, was sometimes depicted as an owl.) Which animals show strength, sleekness, delicate beauty, humour, sadness, joy, laziness? What about less likely animals (hedgehog, pig, beetle, fish, frog)?

Writing

Imagine you are the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who first excavated Knossos in 1899. You uncover an entrance to the ancient palace. Describe what happens and how you feel as the first person to enter it for thousands of years, and see the spectacular frescoes.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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