It was unearthed in a burial chamber of a Minoan princess. It indicated that Crete, even in its “dark age” nourished a brilliant civilization….
“An unusual find was made however, close to the entrance to the side chamber, when the dismembered corpse of a horse was discovered. A bull’s skull was also found and it would seem that both animals had been sacrificed in honour of the person buried in the side chamber….
When the side chamber was excavated a single burial in a clay larnax was discovered. It proved possible to establish the position in which the body had been laid to rest (with the head facing west and the body in a foetal position) and therefore the position on the body of the various small objects, mainly of gold, that were found in the larnax. One of the more important (and beautiful) finds was an amazing gold ring showing a cult scene.
Although the sex of the person buried in the side chamber could not be determined from the skeletal remains, the nature of the funerary offerings showed that the person was without doubt a woman and the richness of the finds imply that she must have belonged to the royal family. The fact that the rings all showed cult and religious scenes suggest that she may have also been a priestess. And this view is supported by the evidence of a bull sacrifice in her honour. Read More: http://www.uk.digiserve.com/mentor/minoan/phourni.htm a
The rocky hills of Crete have seemingly been the haunt of Gods since the dawn of time. Zeus is alleged to have been born there, and his grave is said to be hidden on Mount Juktas, a few miles south of Knossos, where the legendary King Minos, son of Zeus by Europa, built his labyrinth palace and founded the civilization that we call by his name. At the foot of Mount Juktas today lies the village of Arkhanes, inhabited mainly by farmers and vineyards. Customarily, one of the grape growers used to retreat from trhe midday heat into a cave a short distance from the village.
It was only in the 1960′s that anyone realized that the cave was not a natural formation at all, but the work of man; in fact it resembled the upper chamber of a tomb similar to the famous Mycenaean tholos tombs on the Greek mainland. Serious excavation began in 1965 and it uncovered the unplundered burial chamber of a princess, or more likely a priestess-queen, who died around 1400 B.C. and was interred with extraordinarily rich grave offerings. The rings all depict the Mother Goddess conducting some form of religious rite.
The outer chambers had been looted, but the odd shaped stones in the inner tomb had apparently fooled the thieves. Buried close to the door was a skeleton of a horse that had been cut into pieces as well as the skull of a bull which had been sacrificed in her honor. Her remains were sealed up in a painted larnax, a type of ancient coffin. The treasure trove was quite substantial: golden bands, necklaces, rings, and lesser offerings in bronze. A total of one hundred and forty gold ornaments. A semi-divine tre
e fro someone with semi-divine status.
Oddly, the period of her burial had usually been thought of as a Cretan dark age, a troubled time when the island was inhabited by what Sir Arthur Evans called “squatters” hardly worthy of their illustrious Minoan predecessors. But a burial so lavish points not to poverty but to a civilization that continued to flourish in spite of natural disasters.
The Cretan princess survived to bear witness that the Minoans and the mainland Greeks were not strangers to one another, and that the island of Crete, where Zeus was cradled, was also the cradle of a dazzling and brilliant civilization.
“In some recent accounts of the history of Minoan archaeology, Evans himself has taken a lot of criticism. At best, he has seemed a dupe of his own obsessions with a particular vision of prehistory and of his fixation with the idea of a primitive mother goddess (a fixation unconvincingly explained in J.A. MacGillivary’s hostile 2000 biography, Minotaur, by the loss of Evans’s own mother when he was only six years old). At worst, he has been presented as a rich, upper-class racist, working out his sexual hang-ups and his British imperialist prejudices on the archaeology of Minoan Crete. … Read More: http://crete.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/evans-knossos-and-the-minoans-facts-and-forgeries/
…Evans is vulnerable to some of these charges. On any estimate, he was an archaeologist of “the old school.” He was only able to excavate Knossos because he bought the site wholesale, and he lived almost a parody of an English expatriate life there. According to the account in Dilys Powell’s memoir The Villa Ariadne (1973), Evans refused ever to drink Cretan wine and had French wine, gin, and whisky, as well as English jam and tinned meat, specially imported to Crete at huge cost. (Though she is better known as a movie critic, Powell had been married to the British archaeologist Humfry Payne and knew the set-up at Knossos well.) Evans was also capable of writing with contempt of the “inferior races,” and at the age of seventy-four he was convicted in London of “an act in violation of public decency” with a young man (he had been married briefly—but whether this offense was part of a habitual pattern of conduct or a one-off incident we do not know).
There is also the question of quite how far he was aware of the brisk trade in Minoan forgeries during the early decades of the twentieth century, many of which he authenticated, some of which he bought for himself…. Read More: http://crete.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/evans-knossos-and-the-minoans-facts-and-forgeries/