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...
'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.
'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?'.