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What will you leave behind?

Considers our personal legacy at the beginning of the school year

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To consider our personal legacy at the beginning of the school year.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two readers.
  • See the photographs supplied with this assembly.
  • You could download a map of the eastern Mediterranean showing the position of Crete (optional).


  1. Leader As we begin this school year, I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what you, as a human being, will leave behind you, long after you’ve gone? What will be your contribution to the world, the local community and society as a whole?
  2. Reader 1 The island of Crete is midway between Europe and Africa, in the Mediterranean Sea. It is also halfway between Greece and Libya. It has many ancient ruins, dating from thousands of years ago, of a civilization that we call the Minoans. If you want to know why, read the stories of King Midas and other ancient Greek myths. It is thought that the fictional Midas may have been based on a Cretan king. The people who live on the island of Crete call themselves as Cretans.

    Reader 2 The Minoan civilization was very advanced for its time.

    This ruin is a palace from about 1500 BC. Around that time in the UK, people lived in caves. Here, though, archaeologists have found that there were two-storey palaces and the people had amazingly organized social lives, with religious festivals, agriculture and so on, and they traded with many countries, including Egypt, where the pharaohs ruled.

    Reader 1 Then, as now, Crete was largely covered in olive trees. In one ruin, some olives were found in a jar. Dated as being 3000 years old, one archaeologist actually ate one. It was still good!

    Reader 2 This photo was taken in June 2013. The tree is an ancient olive tree, reckoned to be 3250 years old. That’s an old tree! As you can see, it’s still producing olives!

    Reader 1 Just up the mountain from the old tree is an archaeological site that is still being explored. The people who lived in the ancient town of Azoria (put emphasis on the last syllable) controlled entry to the mountain pass at their end of Crete. The town is now thought to date from 4000BC. That’s 6000 years ago. It was the people of Azoria who planted the tree in the photo, which is now called the ‘Monumental Olive tree of Kavousi’ (pronounced ‘Kavoosi’), Kavousi being the nearest village.
  3. Leader Where are the Minoan people today? No one knows. Just like the dinosaurs, they vanished. The palaces were burnt down, there were huge earthquakes, there was a volcanic eruption – these explanations are all true, but no one really knows what happened to this early, remarkable civilization. The people have all gone.

Time for reflection

The Minoan people controlled Crete for thousands of years. They had an amazing civilization. They’ve gone now, but they left behind the ruins. More importantly, they left behind olive trees. Used for as long as we know for oil and to eat, olives are the mainstay of many economies and the groves of trees have been and still are handed down through the generations. No one on Crete can thank the Minoans personally for their civilization, but today they still thank them for the olive trees, which provide food and oil for all.

I wonder, as we begin this school year, what our individual legacies will be? Will we leave good things behind – warm memories of good relationships, hard work and great fun? Something good, like the olives of Crete?

Will we instead have memories that we don’t want to revisit because they are unpleasant, painful?

Olive trees are slow-growing, but they live for many, many years. May we be like those trees, producing fruit that will still be good even in thousands of years’ time.


‘Christ be our light’ by Bernadette Farrell

Publication date: August 2013   (Vol.15 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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