Miss Elena Soulioti
(email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The meaning and function of symbolism in Minoan iconography
Minoan civilization constitutes one of the most intriguing fields of Prehistoric Aegean Archaeology. Since the early 19th century, when Arthur Evans discovered the splendid ‘Palace’ of Knossos for the first time, striking right at the heart of the new civilization that he named ‘Minoan’, major aspects of its real nature remain for modern archaeologists long-lasting unanswered questions. The exact political structure, the role of priesthood, the religious beliefs and the precise nature of the relations with other neighbouring civilizations of the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean are matters only partially elucidated by an undeniably satisfying number of excavated ‘palaces’, ‘mansions’, towns, rural as well as ritual sites along with a wealthy amount of artefacts such as pottery, jewellery, seals, weapons and frescoes, worldwide famous for their elegance and originality. Ironically enough, this generous set of evidence does not seem to be sufficient to answer the above questions as texts keep frustrating investigators trying to decipher Linear B Minoan script.
Apart from that, however, one of the reasons Minoans have hidden their secrets so well, is the fact that their iconography is to a large extent codified by a system of symbols and symbolic scenes that makes interpretation almost as challenging as their script.
A systematic study of the meaning and function of these symbols in iconography as well as in their actual archaeological context and a parallel examination of their origin, the ways of evolvement in use and appearance through time and the influence they received from other cultural systems will hopefully provide a new key to the Minoan labyrinth.