Ritual and Religion in Neolithic Crete?
The tendency to view Neolithic Crete through the filter of Minoan Bronze Age sophistication means that the Neolithic material is often read as a precursor to Minoan civilization rather than understood in its own right. This is especially true in the interpretation of religion, where early studies viewed Neolithic Cretan religion as replete with goddesses and elaborate rituals. By contrast this chapter addresses the Neolithic religious material within its own context. Essential is the fact that for most of the Neolithic period (approximately 7000 to 3000 cal. BC) Knossos was the only settlement on the island, and was relatively isolated from cultural developments elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although only 1% of Neolithic Knossos has been excavated, the surviving evidence, fragmentary figurines, suggests religious life was focused on the simplicity of the household rather than the broader community. The change comes in the Final Neolithic period, wherein there is a massive dispersal of settlements across the island, indicating population growth perhaps supported by an influx of new settlers. Religiously this manifests in a enriched diversification of ritual material culture, including cave shrines and burial sites, communal feasting at population power centres, and perhaps also the beginnings of a ritual landscape.
Type of Material
Copyright (Published Version)
2016 Oxbow Books and the individual authors
Status of Item
Nash, G. and Townsend, A. (eds.). Decoding Neolithic Atlantic and Mediterranean Island Ritual
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