Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Avra S.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Art; Aegean; Bronze age--Aegean Sea Region; Nature (in religion; folk-lore; etc.)--Aegean Sea Region


The Bronze Age in the Aegean geographical area was dominated by two major civilizations, the island civilization of Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean civilization of Mainland Greece. The older culture of the Minoans was of such importance as a source of inspiration to the Mycenaeans that they often appear as if interwoven into one larger civilization. The visual arts produced by these two civilizations contain numerous compositions that have been identified by Sir Arthur Evans as being representations of rites of vegetation worship. Among these compositions are depictions of a female and a male that Evans believed were the Great Minoan Nature Goddess and her consort. On the basis of these depictions, scholars have assumed that the Minoan-Mycenaean religion was analogous to the religions developed by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Semites. These peoples had developed a religion based upon the yearly cycle of vegetation and upon two important divinities: the Great Nature Goddess who usually represented the powers of nature and her consort/son/or daughter who represent vegetation itself. It is the comparisons with these other religions that have enabled scholars to piece together the Minoan-Mycenaean form of vegetation rites as seen through their visual arts. Chapter one examines the premises upon which our knowledge of the vegetation cult is built and the origins of this religion amongst prehistoric people. Chapter two examines the mythical deities of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Semites that have been identified as the nature goddess and her companion. It also examines the important role that kingship played within the vegetation rites, and how the king was frequently thought to be the living incarnation of the nature goddess' consort, the youthful god of vegetation. Chapter three examines the tree, the stone, and the free-standing stone pillar and the wooden post as possible aniconic depictions of vegetation deities. Through comparisons with examples of such images within roughly contemporanious cultures, this chapter determines that such beliefs were hinted at in the visual arts of the Minoan-Mycenaeans. Representations of these objects are examined within the contexts of the Minoan-Mycenaean compositions in which they are found.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and map.


viii, 138 pages




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