Green Park

Bronze Age Mediterranean: Minoan Culture


16th—15th century BC, Minoan culture: Crete and the southern Aegean.

Worship of a goddess, or women dancing ecstatically on a mountainside?

'Here is a nice quote' said Quintin: Above all, the Minoans wanted to see their gods. Somehow, the deities had to be made to appear before the worshippers, and their appearance might take many different forms... trees, birds, snakes...

Castleden, Rodney, 1990. Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete. Routledge, London. 6: The Religious Life, p 141.

'But here's an even better one,' enthused Miranda: Hathor, the cow goddess, seems to have been popular at all periods of ancient Egyptian history. …Even earlier, in the Predynastic Period, vases were painted with pictures of cows and dancing women holding up their arms in imitation of cows’ horns. They are thought to be performing 'cow dances', as the women of the southern Sudan do today. These ancient dances are possibly in honour of Hathor.

Lorna Oakes and Lucia Gahlin, 2002, 2004. Ancient Egypt. Hermes House, an inprint of Anness Publishing Limited, London. Hathor in Art and Architecture, p 168.

Minoan gold ring

'This isn't Egypt, though,' objected Quintin. 'It’s Crete. This ring was found in a tomb at Isopata, on Crete, and it's now in the museum at Irakleion. Dates to about 1500 BC.'

'But Crete is not far from Egypt and there might have been some similarity of customs and beliefs at that time,' replied Miranda. 'The Palace of King Minos near Irakleion is adorned with upwards-pointing horns everywhere, in Sir Arthur Evans' reconstruction.'

'One of the dancers seems to have the head of a bird.'

'Then the scene might be from real life, using masks,' said Miranda. 'Or perhaps it’s a depiction of an episode from one of their myths. Like – Oh I don't know, something like a scene of women dancing ecstatically on a mountainside, while Dionysus rampages in the town below in the form of a man who can take on the appearance of an animal, a bull perhaps?'.

Minoan signet ring. Crete. c. 1500 BC.

See for yourself

Minoan Civilisation – Wikipedia

Hathor – Wikipedia

Gold ring excavated by Arthur Evans from a tomb at Isopata near Knossos – Gold Signet Rings of the Minoan and Mycenaean Worlds.

Minoan religion – Wikipedia

Newly discovered Mycenaean rings excavated in 2016 – Daily Mail, UK newspaper article


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statuette of a Minoan woman holding two snakes

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