This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution click to the left or right of an image in blog mode.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Snake Goddesses of Knossos

A Park in central Irakliou (Heraclion)

Today we spent a great day going to the Irakliou Archaeological Museum which houses the key relics of Minoan Crete and to the ruins of the Palace of Knossos, so this is a blog focused on the Minoan cultural treasures and their message of sexual balance and female power.

Panorama of Heraclion passing into the New Port

Panorama of Irakliou from the sea front in front of Rea

Four Lion Square

Old Town Chambers and a Church (below) Irakliou

This is a high point for both myself and Christine because it was a unique society influential both in terms of its ability to govern for long periods in peace, partly due to the relative isolation of Crete during its early phases and for its emphasis on the power of women and the worship of the goddess of fertility in a variety of forms that predate the patriarchal takeover of Greece and of succeeding European cultures.

We first visited the museum which had a running exhibition containing some of the most key treasues found in excavating Knossos at the turn of the 20th century. We found the sheep spread of the items fascinating and seeing them all as part of a single culture gives a much clearer idea of the world view of the Minoans that seeing separate images in scattered literary works.

Items from the Irakliou Archaeological Museum holding the key Minoan Relics

Breast-bearing Goddess figurines

These include the figurines of goddesses bearing breasts, the topless snake priestess displaying her sexual power, the friezes of priestesses holding religious rites, and the terracotta images of goddess figures.

Snake-charming Minoan priestesses

This Goddess is herself a kind of serpent woman

To our surprise, the relics of Knossos also included the famous poppy goddess whose head is crowned with opium poppy pods slit to bleed the opium just as it is still done today in many parts of the world, attesting to the sacred use of opium and its medicinal value which continues as a key ingredient of Western medicine to this day.

Second from right is an opium poppy Goddess with slit poppy heads (see below)

The slit pods of the poppy goddess

The priestess worships the Goddess while people look on from a hole in the roof


Gold jewelry

Portrait of a Princess/Priestess

Pale skinned priestesses officiate while dark-skinned bearers carry animals

The priestess jumps bulls

A 'luxurious' board game

We then followed up with a scorching trip out to the ruins of the Knossos palace, famous for its Labyrinth and for the Minotaur whose bull-like manifestation is echoed in the bull-jumping priestesses of the Minoan frescoes.

The palace at Knossos

Panorama of the site showing the surrounding country

Arthur Evans' controversial restoration

An artistic representation of the Palace

Returning early we couldn't resist a bit of topsy-turvy ecstasy to celebrate girls on top while we had the chance of a quiet room to ourselves, even though the power went off for most of the day after diggers tore up the supply to the entire street, forcing a rapid gimcrack rewiring of the whole neighbourhood, making the room too hot to do anything but lie still in until about 6 pm.

And irony of ironies, Crete is becoming effectively denuded of trees because Greece has a policy that public land that is burned becomes no man's land and can be claimed by land squatters, compounded by a contempt possessed by people in Crete that green trees are simply robbing everyone of the precious water that lies under the ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment