Friday 18 March 2011

Loeta Tyree
American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Artifacts as an indicator of Neopalatial cave ritual: A reassessment

The aim

of this presentation


is an investigation of ritual activity in Cretan caves during the Neopalatial period, Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan I, ca. 1750-1490 B.C. Given the lack of stratigraphy in caves due to repeated use and extensive looting, the relative date must be ascertain for deposited artifacts, our primary indicator today for ritual activity in caves. Of particular interest is whether or not several categories of objects, usually attributed to the Neopalatial period, actually belong in that period. Accordingly, I have made a reassessment of the function and chronology of artifacts that are thought to be Neopalatial. None of the caves have been fully excavated. All have received only preliminary or partial publication. Of these, Psychro Cave has been more fully published than the rest. In addition to Psychro, five other caves will be included where there are sufficient data. These caves are: Skoteino, Kamares, and Idaean Caves in central Crete and Melidoni and Mameloukou Trypa in western Crete.
The chronology of four categories of artifacts: bronze animal figurines; small handmade animal figurines; large, mostly wheelmade animal figures; and bronze anthropomorphic figurines, will be discussed. In addition, the most abundant Neopalatial artifact type in caves – pottery vessels – will be discussed by date and form, and some suggestions will be made concerning their possible role in cave ritual. Two other types of artifacts, libation tables and small double axes with thin blades, will also be considered. Finally, some suggestions will be made concerning the participants in these rituals and where they may have come from. Thus some firmer conclusions can be reached regarding the ritual activities that may have taken place in Cretan sacred caves during the Neopalatial period.



Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...