Spring 2015: Double axes, horns of consecration, and images of a prominent female goddess were powerful cult symbols for both the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. And indeed, it was originally thought that these two cultures practiced the same religion. But closer examination of textual and archaeological evidence reveals that despite the similarities in their respective iconographies, the religions had significant differences, differences that must have arisen from their different cultural backgrounds. In this course we will look at many different types of evidence Linear A and B texts, archaeological sites and mortuary remains, cult objects such as rhyta and figurines, and artistic renderings of religious scenes found on gold rings and frescoes so that together we can attempt to reconstruct the ritual practices of these religions. We will also use these physical manifestations to consider more broadly the nature not only of the Minoan and Mycenaean religions, but also of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures.
We will also come back to those similarities first noted in the artistic expression of the religions, so that we can trace the Minoan elements that do appear in Mycenaean religion, and try to understand why they were taken up by the Mycenaeans and what that adoptive behavior meant in terms of religious belief. Elements of other Aegean cultures will be explored as well as we move forward in time through the Iron Age and into the Archaic and Classical periods, in an effort to evaluate what came through from the Bronze Age into the historical periods practice of cult.