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Dusk at the Palace: Exploring Minoan Spiritualities

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Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)

Abstract

“Minoan” Crete (Greece, third to second millennia bc) was an important part of Aegean prehistory and its archaeology forms a cornerstone of Cretan identity. Substantial work has sought to codify Minoan religion and ritual, especially with reference to the identification of deities, the use of religion in economy and politics, and the reconstruction of cult actions and locales. The issue of spirituality, especially its embodied dimension, has been almost completely avoided. Understandably, the two main reasons are: (a) the non-quantifiable nature of any such investigation, and (b) the Judeo-Christian, gender-biased, Eurocentric perspective of most approaches. This paper explores three interrelated aspects of Minoan spirituality. The first regards ways of approaching Minoan spirituality in the Bronze Age, drawing upon relevant somatic data. The second regards the complex and palimpsestic experiences by archaeologists of Minoan material culture. The third regards the veneration of Minoan antiquities by the Greek public and some followers of the broader Goddess movement, as physically, emotionally and intellectually played out in modern Crete. In essence, the paper adopts reflexive approaches which seek to not necessarily explain away, but perhaps to understand Minoan spirituality diachronically. Several important issues thus emerge and are discussed: embodiment, gender, epistemology, intolerance, institutionalization and, ultimately, personal, cultural and religious identities.

Keywords

Spiritual Experience Mystical Experience Corporeal Experience Bibliographic Research Archaeological Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I sincerely thank Christine Morris and Alan A.D. Peatfield for inviting me to contribute to their 2008 WAC-6 session entitled “Archaeology and the Goddess: Creating Dialogue”, for providing Morris and Peatfield 2004 and for drawing my attention to Goodison 2010. I also thank Christine Morris, Alan A.D. Peatfield and Kathryn Rountree for subsequently inviting me to participate in this volume and for their very fruitful dialogue. Finally, my thanks go to Trevor Grimshaw and Fay Stevens for constructive discussions on this subject. All errors remain my own.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Classical and Archaeological Studies, School of European Culture and LanguagesUniversity of KentKentUK

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