Linear B workshops for primary school students

This October, we were delighted to welcome two Year Five/Six classes from East Oxford Primary School to the Rumble Museum and Classics Centre to explore the Minoan Civilisation and Linear B!

The Year Fives and Sixes had been learning all about the ancient Greeks this term at school, so these workshops gave them a glimpse into the period of history before Greek civilisation began to emerge - around 3000 - 1200BC when the Minoan Civilisation flourished. The first thing both groups did on arrival was to have a go at chalking the outline of a labyrinth onto the concrete outside! All sorts of different shapes and sizes of labyrinth appeared. We then went across to the Classics Centre to talk about the cilivisation and site in which the labyrinth story originated.

The mysterious Minoan Civilisation was both discovered and named by English Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. He had long been obsessed with finding the civilisation behind the labyrinth story; when he uncovered the remains of a vast palace on the island of Crete – at the site known as Knossos – he named the civilisation which had made it the “Minoans” after the legendary King Minos. We talked about the story of King Minos and his son the minotaur, locked up in a labyrinth which had been built by the great designer Daedalus!

The two groups then looked at replicas of artefacts which were discovered, such as vases with octopuses painted over them, a musical instrument, a snake goddess, and the fascinating (and as yet undeciphered) Phaistos Disk.

There was also a replica Linear B tablet at each table - we explored how Linear B tablets were discovered at Minoan sites, and eventually it was discovered that the script recorded a form of early Greek, not from the Minoans, but a civlisation called the Mycenaeans who overtook the Minoan palaces at around 1400BC.

After this, every pupil was given a ball of modelling clay, a cocktail stick and a key with Linear B, and asked to make their own tablet and have a go at writing their names using the script! The groups quickly discovered that many letters were missing, and certain combinations of letters were not possible, so some had to miss out syllables or insert them.

Finally, we showed the two groups a replica shield and helmet - they found these heavy and strange to hold and wear!

At the end of the workshop, every pupil was given a gift bag with a free iota magazine, sticker and badge.

We really enjoyed meeting the two groups and thank their teachers for bringing them to our workshops!