Health and Healing on Cretan Bronze Age Peak Sanctuaries

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Title: Health and Healing on Cretan Bronze Age Peak Sanctuaries
Authors: Peatfield, Alan A.D.
Morris, Christine
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Date: 2014
Abstract: The peak sanctuaries of the Cretan Bronze Age are well-known for having a healing dimension. These ritual sites, of which around 25 are known, are characterised by both their location – on or near mountain peaks – and their distinctive finds of clay figurines of animals, humans, and detached anatomical models, termed ‘votive limbs’ within Aegean archaeology. By analogy with anatomical offerings elsewhere, these votive limbs quickly suggested to the earliest excavators, such as Myres at Petsophas in Eastern Crete and Evans at Jouktas above Knossos, that issues of health and healing were a significant element of Minoan peak sanctuary cult. Alternative interpretations of the finds – that they are parts of puppets, dolls or sacrificial dismembered body parts – are not supported by the evidence. Relatively few of the figurines can be recognised as explicitly representing illnesses, but the large category of votive limbs, including legs, arms, torsos with incised genitalia, and vertically split bodies, resonate with offerings familiar from later and more fully documented healing cults in the Mediterranean area. Indeed, the offering of anatomical models is a tradition which also finds expression in the contemporary metal tamata and wax models found in Greek Orthodox churches. The Minoan votive limbs have, somewhat surprisingly, not been studied or published in any detail. In this paper we review the study of the anatomical offerings from peak sanctuaries, considering them within the wider context of the figurine assemblages. In addition, we will explore the evidence for the processes or mechanics of healing in relation to ritual action and embodied experience at the peak sanctuaries.
Type of material: Book Chapter
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Copyright (published version): 2014 Oxbow books
Keywords: Peak sanctuariesVotive limbs
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Is part of: Michaelides, D. (eds.). Medicine and Healing in the Ancient Mediterranean World
ISBN: 9781782972358 2017-09-01T01:00:09Z
Appears in Collections:Archaeology Research Collection

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