Little is known about the rise of ancient Cretan society, because very few written records remain. This contrasts with the superb palaces, houses, roads, paintings and sculptures that do remain.

Cretan history is surrounded by legends (such as those of 'Theseus and the Minotaur' as well as 'Daedalus and Icarus') that have been passed to us via Greek historian/poets (such as Homer).

Archaeologists working in Crete have uncovered magnificent stone-built, multi-story palaces, which are estimated as being pre- Mycenean. The palaces contained a drainage system, and the queen had a bath and a flushing toilet. The expertise displayed in the hydraulic engineering was of a very high level.

Because of a lack of written records, estimates of chronology were made by seeking Cretan artefacts traded with other civilisations (such as the Egyptians) - a well established occurrence. Based on this, it is thought that Crete was inhabited from between 4000 and 3000BC through to the fall of Knossos circa 1400 BC.

In World War II Crete provided the setting for the Battle of Crete (May 1941), wherein German invaders, especially paratroops, drove out a British Empire force commanded by General Sir Bernard Freyberg.