Friday 28 May 2010

Ifigenia Tournavitou
University of Thessaly

Religion as spectacle: Ritual fires in the Minoan peak sanctuaries. True or False?
The aspect of public religious rituals closely associated with the inherent meaning of the ancient Greek word (θέαμα), implying the existence of both ‘actors’ and ‘spectators’, in the widest possible sense, becomes even more pertinent in the case of ritual practices involving the use of fire, the ultimate ally and at the same time the ultimate catalyst of all forms of life, ever present in most religious traditions. Both in antiquity and in more modern times, fire destroys, yet purifies, physically and morally, is closely associated with health and fertility, acts as a medium between man and the divine and eventually leads to redemption.
Although the existence, the frequency, the date and the circumstances of ritual fires/pyres on Minoan peak sanctuaries, has been one of the most popular and controversial issues in the extant bibliography, very little has been actually published concerning the hard evidence that could corroborate or refute speculation on the matter for both the Old Palatial and the Neopalatial period. Judging by the lack of evidence for elaborate cooking activities at the sanctuaries, the accompanying activities on Minoan peak sanctuaries would probably involve a variety of options, many of which would have left no archaeological traces whatsoever.


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...