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Mario Benzi, Minoan Genius on a LH iii Pictorial Sherd from Phylakopi, Melos? Some Remarks
on Religious and Ceremonial Scenes on Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery
Alberto Cazzella, Giulia Recchia, The Mycenaeans in the Central Mediterranean: a
Comparison between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Seaways
Maurizio Del Freo, The Geographical Names in the Linear B Texts from Thebes
Markus Egetmeyer, The Recent Debate on Eteocypriote People and Language
Valentina Gasbarra, I composti preposizionali negli archivi in lineare B
Louis Godart, I due scribi della tavoletta Tn 316
Nikolai N. Kazansky, The Description of Helios Herds (Od. 12, 127-136): A Mycenaean Commentary
Massimiliano Marazzi, Il corpus delle iscrizioni in lineare B oggi: organizzazione e provenienze
Sabina Mitrano, Societ e forme di potere a Creta tra TM iiia 2-b
Cecilia Nobili, LOdissea e le tradizioni peloponnesiache
Jean-Pierre Olivier, Rapport 1996-2000 sur les textes en criture hiroglyphique crtoise, en
linaire A et en linaire B
Anna Panayotou, Liens familiaux et tradition dans lonomastique personnelle chypriote: lexpression de la filiation Chypre durant le i er millnaire a.C.
Anna Sacconi, A proposito delle tavolette della serie Sh di Pilo
Serguey Sharypkin, Alcune riflessioni sulladeguatezza di una scrittura largamente disadeguata
Frederik M. J. Waanders, Que pouvons-nous souponner de laccentuation du mycnien?



some remarks on religious and ceremonial scenes
on mycenaean pictorial pottery
Mario Benzi*

he fragment discussed in this article was found in the earliest excavations at the Cycladic site
of Phylakopi and is now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (NM
11418) (Fig. 1). It was given only a summary description by Edgar in his discussion of the pottery
from the site and was later discussed by Sakellarakis in his survey of the Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery in the National Museum,1 but until now it has attracted little or no attention by scholars.
Sakellarakis assigns the fragment to a large deep bowl krater of FS 282. He describes the partly
preserved figure as that of a monster preserving its breast and forelegs, implicitly suggesting
that the monster was a quadruped. The hatched and cross-hatched patterns behind the figure
are described by Sakellarakis as a thin curved wing and as part of the body respectively. In
Mycenaean Pictorial pottery, however, the wings of winged creatures, such as sphinxes and
griffins, are usually larger and raised and are rendered in very different fashions. The cross
hatched pattern being not attached to the monster and being rendered in a completely different way can hardly be regarded as part of his body.
The preserved height of the fragment (0.089) as compared to the average size of the decorative
zone of kraters suggests that about two thirds of the figure are likely to be actually preserved. The
monster is indeed an ugly, sturdy creature with short, clumsy legs and disproportionately large
feet or paws. He has a sort of dorsal appendage consisting of two discrete parts. Just behind and
very close to his back there is a thin appendage,
which runs down the length of the back and
ends in a train trailing on the ground. Behind
it, yet very close to it, a cross-hatched pattern
has the same curved outline as the former appendage. They are so close to one another and
to the back of the monster as to suggest they
are parts of one and the same figure.
The upright pose, the sturdy body, and the
far leg stepping forward in the characteristic
walking pose call to mind the Egyptian goddess Taweret and her Aegean derivative, the
so-called Minoan Genius.
The hypothesis that the figure of the Minoan Genius derived from the iconography of
Fig. 1. Pottery sherd from Phylakopi
Taweret was first put forward by Winter and
(after Sakellarakis 1992).

* Universit di Pisa,

1 C.C. Edgar, Phylakopi in Melos. The Pottery, in T.D. Atkinson, R.C. Bosanquet, C.C. Edgar, A.J. Evans, D.G.
Hogarth, D. Mackenzie, C. Smith, F.B. Welch, Excavations at Phylakopi in Melos (The Society for the Promotion of
Hellenic Studies Supplementary Paper No. 4), London 1904, p. 145, 174, pl. 32: 6 Clay and paint reddened, not much
lustre. Part of a monster?. J.A. Sakellarakis, The Mycenaean Pictorial Style in the Archaeological Museum of Athens, Athens
1992, p. 113, No. 249 the fragment consists of two joining sherds (H. 0.089; W. 0.116). The clay is hard semifine, rosy
with light grey core; orange slip inside and out.


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subsequently adopted and developed by Sir Arthur Evans and other scholars2 yet denied, among
others, by Persson and more recently by Baurain.3 Nilsson took at first a sceptical view but later
accepted Evans suggestion.4 Later on the arguments for and against an Egyptian origin have been
discussed in detail by Gill, who eventually came to rather cautious conclusions.5 The Egyptian origin of the Minoan Genius has been most strongly advocated by Weingarten in a valuable and much
influential study.6 According to Weingarten, the earliest representations of the Minoan Genius on
Protopalatial sealings from Phaistos (CMS ii.5 321, 322) and Knossos7 are copies of late 12th/13th Dynasty Egyptian images of Taweret, the pregnant hippopotamus goddess. Furthermore, the Minoans adopted both Egyptian versions of Taweret, the hippopotamus-headed and the lion-headed,
which perhaps developed slightly later. This argues in favour of direct adoption from Egypt,
though it cannot be ruled out that the Minoans went across Taweret in some Levantine harbour
where Egyptian influence was strong.8 What is still very difficult to explain is why Taweret, a minor
goddess in the large Egyptian pantheon, made such a strong impression on ancient Minoans as to
give birth to a mythical figure which had to last in Aegean art until the end of the palatial period.
In spite of her name, which means the Great One, Taweret had no official formal cult in Egypt,
but was much popular among common Egyptians for the help she gave them in everyday life, protecting people against snakes, assisting women in childbirth, and presiding over domestic purification rites. Therefore it seems likely that she was imported into Crete by common people, such as
sailors and merchants, rather than through high level contacts. An Egyptian or Egyptianizing
scarab depicting the hippopotamus goddess was found in Tholos B at Platanos (CMS ii.1 332).9 According to Weingarten, the earliest association of the Minoan Genius with the libation jug indicates that the Minoans were aware of Tawerets role in lustration.10 Once adopted the type remains
basically the same, but from the Neopalatial period onwards the Minoan Genii become more slender and are represented with the characteristically Minoan constriction of the waist. At the same
time the range of their activities increases and they are now associated with hunting, sacrifice, and
attending humans.11 Representations of the Minoan Genius are mostly found on seal and sealings,
but also on ivories, bronze vessels, glass paste beads12 and, quite exceptionally, on wall paintings
2 A. Evans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos IV:2, London 1935, p. 431-467; D. Isaac, Les demons Minoens, RHR 118
(1938), p. 55-91; C. Picard, Nouvelles archologiques et correspondance sur un rhyton mycnien de Rhodes, RA 1947,
p. 66-67; J. Aruz, Marks of Distinction. Seals and Cultural Exchange between the Aegean and the Orient (ca. 2600-1360 B.C.) (CMS
Beiheft 7), Mainz am Rhein 2008, p. 84-85.
3 A.W. Persson, The Religion of Greece in Prehistoric Times, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1942, p. 78; C. Baurain, Pour une
autre interprtation des gnies minoens, in Liconographie minoenne (BCH Supplement 11), P. Darcque, J-C. Poursat (ed.),
Paris 1985, p. 95-118.
4 M.P. Nilsson, The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion and Its Survival in Greek Religion2, Lund 1950, p. 380; Id., Geschichte der
griechischen Religion i 2, Mnchen 1955, p. 296.
5 M.A.V. Gill, The Minoan Genius, MDAI(A) 79 (1964), p. 5-7.
6 J. Weingarten, The Transformation of Egyptian Taweret into the Minoan Genius: A Study of Cultural Transmission in the
Middle Bronze Age (SIMA 88), Partille 1991; Ead., The Transformation of Egyptian Taweret into the Minoan Genius,
in K - A. T X, A. Karetsou (ed.), Athina 2000, p. 114-119. Cf. also C. Sambin, Gnie minoen et gnie egyptien, un emprunt raisonn, BCH 113 (1989), p. 77-96.
7 J. Weingarten, The Transformation of Egyptian Taweret, cit. (n. 6), figs. 1-3 and pls. 1-3.
8 Eight Middle Kingdom statuettes of Taweret were found in the Temple of the Obelisques at Byblos, M. Dunand,
Fouilles de Byblos ii , Paris 1937, p. 757, fig. 876, pl. cii.
9 I. Pini, Eleven Early Cretan Scarabs, in A. Karetsou (ed.), cit. (n. 6), p. 107-113; W.A. Ward, The Scarabs from
Tholos B at Platanos, AJA 85 (1981), 70-73; J. Aruz, Marks of Distinction, cit. (n. 2), p. 77-78; J. Phillips, Aegyptiaca on the
Island of Crete in Their Chronological Context i-ii (sterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Denkschriften der
Gesamtakademie Band xlix. Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean Vol. xviii), Wien 2008, i,
p. 122 ff., ii, p. 231-232, No. 476.
10 J. Aruz, Marks of Distinction, cit. (n. 2), p. 84 suggests the lustral function of the Minoan Genius may come from
Near Eastern sources.
11 F.T. Van Straten, The Minoan Genius in Mycenaean Art, BABesch 44 (1969), p. 110-121; P. Rehak, The Genius in
Late Bronze Age Glyptic: The Later Evolution of an Aegean Cult Figure, in Sceaux Minoens et Mycniens (CMS Beiheft
5), W. Mller (ed.), Berlin 1995, p. 215-231.
12 For lists of finds, cf. M.A.V. Gill, The Minoan Genius, cit. (n. 5), p. 15-21; Ead., A propos the Minoan Genius,
AJA 74 (1970), p. 404-406; P. Rehak, The Genius, cit. (n. 11), p. 230-231.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


from Pylos, Mycenae and, according to

Cameron, in the Knossos Procession Fresco,13 as well as on unique objects such as the
stone triton from Mallia14 and a stone mould
from Mycenae.15 They have been found on
Crete, the Greek mainland, and Cyprus, but
are still conspicuously lacking on the Aegean
islands. The Phylakopi sherd is so far exceptional in two respects: it is the only extant representation of Minoan Genius on pottery and
the only one coming from an island of the
Aegean. The cross-hatched decoration of the
dorsal appendage is a common feature of Minoan and Mycenaean versions of the figure16
and is already found on a MM ii sealing from
Phaistos (CMS ii.5 321).17 There are, however,
some oddities which are perhaps due the inexperience of the painter in dealing with an unusual theme lacking an iconographic tradition
in vase painting. In all known representations
of the Minoan Genius the dorsal appendage
ends at mid- leg height or to the heel, but is
Fig. 2. Seal from Kalyvia (after CMS ii.3 105).
never shown trailing on the ground. As to the
plump body and emphasised walking posture
they are better paralleled on earlier representations, such as the one on the Kalyvia seal (CMS ii.3
105) (Fig. 2) than with the contemporary, more slender figures with almost overlapping legs.
The scene originally painted on the Phylakopi vessel had no doubt a religious meaning and
joins with other sacral/ceremonial scenes depicted on pottery. While religious symbols, such as
altars, horns of consecration, double axes, bulls heads, antithetic animals on either side of a central motif and mythical creatures, are relatively common on LB iii Pictorial vases,18 cultic/ceremonial scenes involving human and/or divine figures are quite rare. Some decades ago it was fashionable to regard some of them as early representations of later Greek myths, but that approach
has been largely dismissed in recent studies.19 S. Deger-Jalkotzy, however, has suggested that
scenes depicting human figures or fantastical animals may reflect contemporary poetry.20

13 M.A.V. Gill, A propos, cit. (n. 12); I. Kritseli-Providi, T K M,

Athens 1982, p. 21 ff. A1 to A5, figs. 2-3, pl. A 1; K. Demakopoulou, The Mycenaean World. Five Centuries of Early Greek
Culture, Athens 1998, p. 182, No. 150; S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean Painting in the Bronze Age, Philadelphia 1990, 111, 121, Py
No. 2, My No. 8; D. Evely (ed.), Fresco: A Passport into the Past. Minoan Crete through the Eyes of Mark Cameron, Athens
1999, p. 231 No. 69.
14 C. Baurain, P. Darcque, Un triton en pierre Malia, BCH 107 (1983), p. 3-73.
15 P. Rehak, The Genius, cit. (n. 11), fig. 1.
16 Cf. e.g the gold signet ring from Tiryns (CMS i 179) ant the ivory furniture plaque from Thebes, S. Symeonoglou,
Kadmeia I. Mycenaean Finds from Thebes, Greece. Excavations at 14 Oedipus St. (SIMA xxxv), Gteborg 1973, p. 44 ff., figs.
17 M.A.V. Gill, The Minoan Genius, cit. (n. 5), p. 3, pl. 1: 4; J. Weingarten, The Transformation of Egyptian Taweret,
cit. (n. 6), p. 7, fig. 2, pl. 2.
18 Cf. e.g. E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting, Cambridge, Mass.-London 1982, iii. 2324.26; iv. 27; v. 28a, 89, 102-103; viii. 33; ix. 27, 73-74; x. 42; xi. 85.1; xii. 2, 11, 21, 24, 27.
19 V. Karageorghis, Myth and Epic in Mycenaean Vase Painting, AJA 62 (1958), p. 383-387; M.I Davies, Thoughts on
the Oresteia before Aischylos, BCH 93, 1969, p. 214 ff.; but a more sceptical view was already adopted by E.D.T. Vermeule, Mythology in Mycenaean Art, CJ 54 (1958), p. 97-108 and L. Banti, Myth in Pre-Classical Art, AJA 58 (1954), p.
20 S. Deger-Jalkotzy, The Post-Palatial Period of Greece: An Aegean Prelude to the 11th Century B.C. in Cyprus, in
Cyprus in the 11th Century B.C., V. Karageorghis (ed.), Nicosia 1994, p. 20-22.


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Fig. 3. Rhyton from Kameiros (after Benzi 1992).

One the most outstanding and enigmatic examples of cultic/religious scenes appears on a fragmentary LH iiia:2 rhyton from Kalavarda/Kameiros, Rhodes21 (Fig. 3). Like some other rhyta, it
was painted upside down. The scene depicts a procession of three upright figures in silhouette
stretching their arms towards a stemmed kylix with high-swung handles and an undefined object,
which has been interpreted as a musical instrument (rattle?) or a mirror. The objects seem to be
floating in the air, rather than being held by the figures. Between them three birds with short
raised wings and a floral motif. The scene is
unparalleled in Mycenaean vase painting. The
figures have strange curled tails; the crests
running down their back from shoulder to
waist most likely hint to a mane or pelt. Their
mane, slim limbs and hips, and large breasts
recall a similar yet lacking the tail strange
figure of lion man walking towards two
detached limbs of bull and followed by a Minoan Genius on a sealing from the Demon
Seals Area at Knossos (CMS ii.8 200)22 (Fig. 4).
Fairly similar are also the erected goats or
Tierdmonen painted on a LH iiic Early
plastic vessel in the form of a bull from
Kultraum R 117 in Tiryns Unterburg.23 The
unusually lively figures on the Kameiros
rhyton have been interpreted by Laurenzi,
who found the vessel, and Demargne as wild
boars, by Picard as masked dancers performFig. 4. Sealing from the Demon Seals Area at Knossos
(after CMS ii.8 200).
ing some religious rite, by Majewski as hu21 L. Laurenzi, Nuove Scoperte di Vasi Micenei, Memorie Istituto FERT 2 (1938), p. 49-54; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 154-155, xii.17; M. Benzi, Rodi e la Civilt Micenea (Incunabula Graeca xciv),
Roma 1992, p. 110, 417, pl. 130a; E. Karantzali, A New Mycenaean Pictorial Rhyton from Rhodes, in Eastern Mediterranean: Cyprus - Dodecanese - Crete, V. Karageorghis, N. Stampolidis (ed.), Athens 1998, p. 96, figs. 9-10; R.B. Koehl, Aegean
Bronze Age Rhyta (INSTAP Prehistory Monographs 19), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2006, p. 174-175, 331, No. 718, figs. 3536, pl. 46.
22 M.A.V. Gill, Minoan Genius, cit. (n. 5), p. 12, 20, No. 45, pl. 4: 3.
23 K. Kilian, Ausgrabungen in Tiryns 1976, AA 1978, p. 465, fig. 22; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial,
cit. (n. 18), p. 143, 224, xi. 85.1.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


Fig. 5. The Homage Krater from Aradhippo.

man figures dressed in pelts of wild boar, by Nilsson as local or later versions of Minoan Genii in
procession.24 R. Koehl describes the figures as mixed creatures with leonine or porcine upper
body and human, perhaps male legs.25 Gill, though including them in her list of the Minoan Genii,
underlines that there is no evidence of Genii looking as wild boars.26 Furthermore, the curled tails
and the absence of the distinctive dorsal appendage make such identification unlikely. The presence of a musical instrument and a kylix does not rule out that the figures are animals, since in
Aegean art there are examples of animals performing human actions, such as the monkeys depicted on a wall of the Xeste 3 at Akrotiri.27
Some of the most elaborate ritual scenes known so far in Pictorial pottery are painted on
kraters found in Cyprus.
The well known Homage Krater from Aradhippo depicts men in processions to a female figure of authority either a goddess or a high rank priestess seated on high-backed throne28 (Fig.
5). The subject is common in Oriental art. In the Aegean the best parallels are the famous gold
ring from Tiryns (CMS i 179) and the largely fragmentary top register of the Painted Stele from
Mycenae, which preserves part of an enthroned female (?) figure and the red legs of an advancing
male figure.29 As pointed out by Vermeule and Karageorghis, the scene was inspired by a more
ambitious composition in another medium, most likely wall painting. The procession of offerings
bearers is one of the most frequent themes in Aegean wall painting, but in most cases the goal of
the procession is unspecified or missing. According to Immerwahr, the final goal was very likely
a seated representation of the goddess.30 If the juxtaposition of a standing and a seated figure on
two fresco fragments from the north-west plaster dump at Pylos is not fully certain,31 the existence of such scenes is confirmed by the fresco fragments from the Cult Centre at Mycenae preserving the foot of a seated female figure and a female hand holding up a small female figure.32
24 L. Laurenzi, Nuove Scoperte, cit. (n: 21), 50; P. Demargne, Bulletin archologique, REG 58 (1945), p. 248, fig. 1;
C. Picard, Nouvelles archologiques, cit. (n. 2), p. 66-67; K. Majewski, Rhyton mykenski z Rhodos/Le rhyton mycnien de Rhodes, Archeologia 3, 1949, p. 7-17, 409-11 (with summary in Russian and French).
25 R.B. Koehl, Aegean Rhyta, cit. (n. 21), p. 175, 337.
26 M.A.V. Gill, The Minoan Genius, cit. (n. 5), p. 18 and note 57.
27 C. Doumas, The Wall-Paintings from Thera, Athens 1992, p. 128, figs. 95-96.
28 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 23-24, 197, iii.29; V. Karageorghis, Myth and Epic,
cit. (n. 19), p. 386, pl. 99: 3-4.
29 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 132-134, 222, iii.43; S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 151, 194, pl. 84 My No. 21.
30 S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 114 ff.
31 M.L. Lang, The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in Western Messenia ii : The Frescoes, Princeton 1969, p. 83 ff; S.A. Immerwahr,
Aegean Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 118, 197, pl. 58 Py No. 9.
32 I. Kritseli-Providi, T, cit. (n. 13), p. 41-43; S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 119, 166, 191,
fig. 33 My No. 4; K. Demakopoulou, The Mycenaean World, cit. (n. 13), p. 183, No. 152-153. For a recent reconstruction of
the scene, see B.R. Jones, New Reconstructions of the Mykenaia and a Seated Woman from Mycenae, AJA 111 (2009),
p. 309-337. For lost relief fragments of a seated female figure coming from Mycenae or Tiryns, S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean
Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 194.


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Fig. 6. Amphora from Tiryns (after Kilian 1980).

Other seated figures appear on the krater from Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, discussed below, and
on a LH iiic vessel from Tiryns, which apparently depicts a chariot race (Fig. 6). The figure interpreted by Kilian as a goddess is seated on a high-backed throne and is holding aloft a stemmed
kylix. Kilians suggestion that the scene represents funeral games is fascinating yet difficult to
demonstrate.33 Steel has argued for a more cautious interpretation of chariot scenes on pottery,
suggesting they reflect an aristocratic style of life rather than funerary processions or funerary
games.34 Remains of human figure seated on a backed throne/chair are also preserved on a LH
iiic krater sherd from Lef kandi; in front of the figure a large krater placed on the ground and
inside it a kylix.35
An empty high-backed throne is represented in a scene of prothesis painted on the lid of a Late
Minoan larnax from Pigi Rethymnou (Fig. 18).36 On funerary larnakes from Episkopi and Tanagra (Fig. 7) are represented figures holding kylikes as in a final toast to the deceased, a practice attested archaeologically by the shattered kylikes found on the threshold of LH iii chamber
tombs.37 In her discussion of a local krater in Mycenaean style from Troy, Mountjoy suggests that
a human figure with upraised arms was perhaps holding a kylix, which is however not preserved.38
33 K. Kilian, Zur Darstellung eines Wagenrennens aus sptmykenischer Zeit, MDAI(A) 95 (1980), p. 21-31; cf. M. Benzi, Riti di Passaggio sulla Larnax dalla Tomba 22 di Tanagra?, in E . Simposio Italiano di Studi Egei
dedicato a Luigi Bernab Brea e Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli, Roma, 18-20 Febbraio 1998, V. La Rosa, D. Palermo, L. Vagnetti
(ed.), Roma 1999, p. 215-233.
34 L. Steel, Wine, Kraters and Chariots: The Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery Reconsidered, in MELETEMATA. Studies
in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as he enters his 65th Year iii (Aegaeum 20), P. Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur, W.-D. Niemeier (ed.), Lige-Austin 1999, p. 806.
35 J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery, in Lef kandi iv . The Bronze Age. The Late Helladic iiic Settlement at
Xeropolis (ABSA Suppl. 39), D. Evely (ed.), Athens 2006, p. 240-241, 249, pls. 59, 71 B2b.
36 K. Baxevani, A Minoan Larnax from Pigi Rethymnou with Religious and Funerary Iconography, in Klados. Essays in Honour of J. N. Coldstream (BICS Suppl. 63), C.E. Morris (ed.), London 1995, p. 15-33.
37 L.V. Watrous, The Origin and Iconography of the Late Minoan Painted Larnax, Hesperia 60 (1991), p. 301, pl. 93a;
Spyropoulos PAAH 1973, pl. 10; W.G. Cavanagh, C. Mee, Mourning before and after the Dark Age, in Klados. Essays
in Honour of J. N. Coldstream (BICS Suppl. 63), C.E. Morris (ed.), London 1995, p. 50, fig. 9; S.A. Immerwahr, Death and
the Tanagra Larnakes, in The Ages of Homer, J.B. Carter, S.P. Morris (ed.), Austin 1995, p. 116, fig. 7.5a.
38 P.A. Mountjoy, Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery from Anatolia in the Transitional LH iiib2-LH iiic Early and the LH
iiic Phases, in Pictorial Pursuits. Figurative Painting on Mycenaean and Geometric Pottery. Papers from two Seminars at the

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


Female figures of authority, either goddesses

or priestesses, sitting on chairs/thrones and
stools are often represented in Aegean art.
The most spectacular example is the seated
goddess flanked by a griffin on the wall painting of the Crocus Gatherers from Xeste 3 at
Akrotiri, who, however, seems to be seated on
pillows rather than a stool. Another scantily
preserved female figure from Xeste 3 at
Akrotiri was most likely seated; she holds a
stone vessel and a finely decorated object that
might be a conical rhyton.39 Other representations in wall painting include the relief fresco from Pseira, the fresco fragment from
Fig. 7. Funerary Larnax from Tanagra
Mycenae preserving a female feet resting on a
(after Spyropoulos PAAH 1973, pl. 10).
footstool, and the seated female from the
north-west plaster dump at Pylos, both referred to above. Female figures sitting on chairs/thrones, stool, architectural platforms, and rocky
outcrops are often represented on signet rings, seals and sealings.40 Two antithetic female figure
seated on stools are carved on an ivory mirror handle from Mycenae.41 To the this series of representations in wall painting and glyptic should also be added several clay figurines showing seated
female figures as well as empty chairs/thrones of disputed interpretation.42 Finally it must be
mentioned that Niemeier has shown that the throne in the Throne Room of Knossos was most
likely the seat of a priestess enacting a rite of divine epiphany.43 As to the figures seated on
chairs/thrones and stools, it is difficult to say whether the differences in the rank of seat implies
a difference in the status of figure as well. It may be assumed that backed thrones/chairs are more
prestigious than stools. It is perhaps not coincidental that thrones/chairs are represented on the
two outstanding gold signet rings from Tiryns (CMS i 179), and from Tomb 91 at Mycenae (CMS i
361), and on the impressive impression of a gold ring from Thebes, showing an enthroned goddess
flanked on each side by a genius and a griffin.44 As to the seated figure on the gold ring from Tomb
66 at Mycenae (CMS i 101), P. Rehak has suggested that the heap of ovoid objects behind the stool
Swedish Institute at Athens in 1999 and 2001 (Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, liii), E. Rystedt, B. Wells
(ed.), Stockholm 2006, p. 110, fig. 1.
39 A.G. Vlachopoulos, Mythos, Logos and Eikon. Motifs of Early Greek Poetry in the Wall Paintings of Xeste 3,
in EPOS. Reconsidering Greek Epic and Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology. Proceedings of the 11th International Aegean Conference
Los Angeles, UCLA - The J. Paul Getty Villa, 20-23 April 2006 (Aegaeum 28), S.P. Morris, R. Laffineur (ed.), Lige-Austin 2007,
p. 108.
40 P. Rehak, Enthroned Figures in Aegean Art and the Function of the Mycenaean Megaron, in The Role of the Ruler
in the Prehistoric Aegean. Proceedings of a Panel Discussion presented at the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of
America, New Orleans, Louisiana, 28 December 1992 (Aegaeum 11), P. Rehak (ed.), Lige-Austin 1995, p. 102-108, who lists
other possibly seated figures on fresco fragments from Chania, Kastambas, Ayia Triadha (but see P. Militello, Haghia
Triada i : Gli Affreschi (Monografie della Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene ix), Padova 1998, p. 253 ff.) and Palaikastro;
J.G. Younger, The Iconography of Rulership: A Conspectus, in Ibid., p. 151-207; W.-D. Niemeier, Zur Ikonographie
von Gottheiten und Adoranten in den Kultszenen auf minoischen und mykenischen Siegeln, in Fragen und Problemen
der bronzezeitlichen gischen Glyptik (CMS Beiheft 3), Berlin 1989, p. 173, fig. 4: 1, 7, 9-10, 13-14; D. Vassilikou, Mycenaean
Signet Rings, Athens 2000. To the previously known examples must now be added an unpublished sealing from Thebes
depicting a woman seated on a throne and flanked by Genii and griffins.
41 M. Vlassopoulou-Charidi, E M
, To Mouseion 1 (2000), p. 39-50, figs. 9-12.
42 E. French, The Development of Mycenaean Terracotta Figurines, ABSA 66 (1971), p. 167-172.
43 W.-D. Niemeier, On the Function of the Throne Room in the Palace at Knossos, in The Function of the Minoan
Palaces. Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium at the Swedish Institute in Athens, 10-16 June, 1984 (Acta Instituti
Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, xxxv), R. Hgg, N. Marinatos (ed.), Stockholm 1987, p. 163-168.
44 P. Rehak, Enthroned Figures, cit. (n. 40), p. 103, 104; Id., The Genius, cit. (n. 11), p. 231 No. 74.


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could perhaps be a less formal renderingof

the undulating shape of the Knossos throne
back.45 In all other preserved representations
the figures are sitting on stools. This further
underlines the high/divine status of the
woman on the Aradhippo krater.
Another ceremonial scene appears on the
famous krater fragment from Enkomi,
known as the Sunshade Krater46 (Fig. 8). A
chariot team at the right is followed by a majestic armless figure in long robe wearing a
long sword on a baldric over his right shoulder
and by a minor figure in silhouette holding a
Fig. 8. The Sunshade Krater from Enkomi
parasol. Floating in the air around the robed
(adapted from Furumark 1941, fig. 75).
standing figure are a jug, a conical rhyton, a
kyathos, a chalice, and a krater, which represent a complete drinking set. The ewer and rhyton have obvious, if not exclusive, ritual functions
evidenced either by the iconographic contexts in which they are represented and the actual archaeological contexts in which they have often been found.47 A ewer of similar shape appears on
a fragment, which may be from the other side of the same vase.48 In keeping with their idea that
one function of the chariot kraters is funerary, Vermeule and Karageorghis suggested that the
scene depicts a funeral procession to the tomb and the vases are burial gifts intended for libation
and offering to the deceased.49 Another jug floating in the air appears on a bell krater with chariots from Aptera, in the Soudha bay (see below). Even in that case the vase has been interpreted
by some scholars as funeral gift.50 As pointed out by Koehl,51 however, a comparison of the objects depicted on the Sunshade Krater with those on the well known seal from Naxos (CMS v
608) reveals that four of them occur on both: the rhyton, ewer, krater, and the sword worn by the
long-robed figure. Whatever the meaning and status of the male figure on the Naxos seal, the objects represented in front of him constitute the full set of ritual tools for pouring libation and
sacrificing animals, including the sword whose use in performing sacrifice has been underlined by
N. Marinatos and I. Kilian-Dirlmeier;52 a sword was found in Room 7 of the Palace of Pylos not
far from a deposit of burned bones, already recognized by Blegen as the probable remains of a
sacrifice.53 The focus of the scene on the Sunshade Krater is the majestic robed man, which calls
to mind the figure of the so-called wanax in the procession fresco of the megaron in the palace
of Pylos. His high status is further enhanced by the attendant holding a parasol behind him. The

45 P. Rehak, Enthroned Figures, cit. (n. 40), p.104.

46 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 21-22, 196, iii.21.
47 R.B. Koehl, Aegean Rhyta, cit. (n. 21), esp. p. 340 ff.
48 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 22, 196, iii.22.
49 For a summary of the many interpretations of scene, see also M.I. Davies, Thoughts on the Oresteia before
Aischylos, BCH 93, 1969, p. 214 ff.
50 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 41, 201, v.19.
51 R.B. Koehl, Aegean Rhyta, cit. (n. 21), p. 255-256, 338-340, pl. 61 S5, Table 18; C. Kardara, A N: K
E T A B, Athens 1977, p. 6-7, 95, pl. 6.
52 N. Marinatos, Minoan Sacrificial Ritual: Cult Practice and Symbolism, Stockholm 1986, p. 22-25; I. Kilian-Dirlmeier,
Remarks on the Non-Military Functions of Swords in the Mycenaean Argolid, in Celebrations of Death and Divinity in
the Bronze Age Argolid. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 11-13 june 1988 (Acta
Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, xl), R. Hgg, G.C. Nordquist, (ed.), Stockholm 1990, p. 157-161. On the
symbolic value of swords and daggers as indicators of rank and status, cf. P. Rehak, The Mycenaean Warrior Goddess
Revisited, in POLEMOS. Le contexte guerrier en Ege lge du Bronze Actes de de la 7e Rencontre genne Internationale, Universit de Lige, 14-17 Avril 1998 (Aegaeum 19), R. Laffineur (ed.), Lige 1999, p. 230-231.
53 S.R. Stocker, J.L. Davis, Animal Sacrifice, Archives, and Feasting at the Palace of Nestor, Hesperia 73 (2004), p.
183 ff.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


parasol reappears later on two chariot kraters from Tiryns and the Citadel House area at Mycenae.54 On the larnax from Episkopi which, according to Watrous depicts the departure of the deceased for the Underworld, the parasols are represented as solid painted circles on long thin
stems.55 Ten or so LH iiia and B terracotta chariot models with parasol have been found in tombs
at Prosymna, Myceanae, Argos, Methoni, and Pylona on Rhodes, but also in settlement contexts
such as the sanctuary area at Phylakopi, the south syrinx at Tiryns, and Hala Sultan Tekke.56 The
parasol is still conspicuously absent in wall painting. Neither the terracotta models or the Pictorial
fragments do offer conclusive evidence as to the status of the shaded figures and the role of parasol as a status symbol, but in contemporary Egyptian and Near Eastern art the parasol, though
rarely attested, is a feature of royal iconography.57 In recent studies much attention has been given
to the consumption of food and drink on special festive occasions as an important aspect of
Bronze Age elites lifestyle.58 In his extensive survey of evidence for Mycenaean feasting, Wright
has suggested that the scene on the Sunshade Krater depicts a festive procession, which might
have included a drinking ceremony.59
Scenes of men in long robe associated with animals and perhaps hinting at sacrifices appear on
other two kraters, both unfortunately in very fragmentary conditions. The scene on a group of
non-joining fragments allegedly coming from Enkomi is puzzling. One side preserves parts of
three standing robed figures, the other one robed person and an enigmatic design, which, according to Vermeule and Karageorghis, might be the head of an animal lowered to the ground.60
No less problematic is a fragment from Minet-el-Beida depicting two standing robed men moving
to the left and the rump of a bull moving to the opposite direction.61
A sacrificial procession was most likely represented on the well known jug/rhyton with attached hollow rings from Ayia Irini, on which a small bull is carried by one of the long-robed
participants.62 The vessel was found inside the temple and was perhaps part of the temples cult
paraphernalia. The figures are closely packed and overlap in a way that is usually avoided in Mycenaean painting. Immerwahr suggested a comparison with the Chariot and Palanquin frescoes
from Knossos, which depicts a horse-drawn chariot, crowded figures in long robes moving towards a shrine with a seated figure, and behind the chariot a bull, perhaps a sacrificial victim.63
A scene described by L. Vagnetti as evocative of a ritual or of a sacrifice is painted on a much
fragmentary LH iiib bowl from the south Italian site of Termitito (Fig. 9).64 It preserves part of
a human figure rendered in silhouette, apparently leading by the leash a bull, of which only the
front legs and part of the body are extant. Between them a solid painted stirrup jar or amphora
floating above a triangular scale pattern. A related, though stylistically different, scene appears
on a krater fragment from Berbati showing a male figure in a dotted garment leading by the leash
54 J. Crouwel, A Note on Two Mycenaean Parasol Kraters, ABSA 71 (1976), p. 55-56; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis,
Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 108-109, 110, 215, 216 x.1,4. For a new addition to the krater from Mycenae, K. Shelton,
D. Wardle, Postscript: An Update from Mycenae, in E. Rystedt, B. Wells (ed.), cit. (n. 38), p. 49.
55 L.V. Watrous, The Origin and Iconography, cit. (n. 37), p. 301, pl. 93a.
56 For a list of finds, E. Karantzali, A New Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 21), p. 50-52.
57 J. Crouwel, A Note, cit. (n. 54); M.C. Miller, The Parasol: An Oriental Status-Symbol in Late Archaic and Classical Athens, JHS 112 (1992), p. 91-105.
58 Especially in Hesperia 73:2 (2004) (Special Issue: The Mycenaean Feast) and in DAIS. The Aegean Feast. Proceedings of
the 12th International Aegean Conference /12e Rencontre genne International University of Melbourne, Centre for Classics and
Archaeology, 25-29 March 2008 (Aegaeum 29), L.A. Hitchcock, R. Laffineur, J. Crowley (ed.), Lige Austin, 2008; for a
more cautious and critical approach, I. Pini, Are There Any Representations of Feasting in the Aegean Bronze Age?,
in Ibid., p. 249-255.
59 J.C. Wright, A Survey of Evidence for Feasting in Mycenaean Society, Hesperia 73 (2004), p. 168-169.
60 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 21, 196, iii. 20.
61 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 21, 196, iii. 19.
62 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 212, ix.16; R.B. Koehl, Aegean Rhyta, cit. (n. 21), p.
215, 339, No. 1148, pl. 53.
63 S.A. Immerwahr, A Mycenaean Ritual Vase from the Temple at Ayia Irini, Keos, Hesperia 46 (1977), p. 32-39.
64 L. Vagnetti, Preliminary Remarks on Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery from the Central Mediterranean, OAth. 2526 (2000-2001), p. 108-109, fig. 3.


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a long-bearded goat. According to kerstrm,

the scene depicts a hunter leading away captured prey; bull hunts described by Watrous
as dramatized versions of the traditional bull
sacrifice and leashed animals appear on larnakes from Armeni Rethymnou, Maroulas
and Episkopi as well as on the well known larnax from Tanagra Tomb 20.65 As in Minoan
cult practice hunting was a metaphor for sacrifice, such scenes are most likely hinting at
sacrifice of captured preys.66 On the other
hand, animal sacrifice was but the first stage of
a ritual ending in communal meal and collective feasting.67
Fig. 9. Bowl from Termitito, southern Italy
A formal religious act is perhaps represent(after Vagnetti 2000-2001, fig. 3).
ed on a very fragmentary krater from Ugarit,
showing a warrior holding a fish by the tail,
so that its head hangs over an elaborate structure, that might be a highly stylized altar.68
Images of deities in Aegean art are notoriously a controversial subject.69 A divine figure is perhaps depicted on the long known krater from Klavdhia. One side has two antithetical chariot
groups with a groom between. The more interesting scene on the other, sadly fragmentary side
is usually described as depicting two adults standing side by side and supporting a little child with
outstretched arms. The scene has attracted many interpretations and suggestions,70 ranging
from Homeric memories such as Hektors adieux to his wife and little son Astyanax or Neoptolemos taking Astyanax from her mother , to everyday life events, such as parents lifting their
little child, to a ritual procession and carrying a sacred image like that represented on a larnax
from Tanagra.71 Recently a completely different interpretation has been put forward by Rystedt
on the ground of her visual examination of the piece (Fig. 10). According to her, the child is
in fact a tall cult image resting on a sort of pedestal or platform rather than a small idol carried
in procession and the two framing figures are antithetic and not turning in the same direction as
previously thought. She concludes that the scene depicts a cult image and two worshippers performing a ritual.72 As pointed out by Rystedt, her interpretation raises once again the question
of the existence of life-size, anthropomorphic cult images in LBA Aegean.73 The actual evidence
is notoriously scanty, to say the least. The presence of cult images in Minoan Crete has been denied by Hgg and Marinatos.74 In the Mycenaean sphere, leaving aside the small wheel-made figures from Mycenae, Tiryns and Asine, the evidence for cult statues is restricted to the much
problematic ivory and terracotta heads from Mycenae and Asine. It cannot, however, be ruled
out that anthropomorphic cult images of large size existed, but had not been preserved because
65 . kerstrm, Berbati 2. The Pictorial Pottery (Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, xxxvi.2), Stockholm 1987, p. 37, 61, No. 186, pl. 33: 1; L.V. Watrous, The Origin and Iconography, cit. (n. 37), p. 300-301, pls. 89b, 92a-b,
93a; M. Benzi, Riti di Passaggio, cit. (n. 33), p. 223-226.
66 N. Marinatos, Minoan Sacrificial Ritual, cit. (n. 52), p. 42 ff; L.V. Watrous, The Origin and Iconography, cit. (n.
37), p. 300.
67 P. Warren, Minoan Religion as Ritual Action, Gothenburg 1988.
68 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 171, 229, xiii.29.
69 Cf. e.g. J. Crowley, In Honour of the Gods But Which Gods? Identifying Deities in Aegean Glyptic, in L.A.
Hitchcock, R. Laffineur, J. Crowley (ed.), cit. (n. 58), p. 75-87.
70 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 30, 198, iv.18.
71 S.A. Immerwahr, Death and the Tanagra, cit. (n. 37), p. 116, fig. 7.5b; T. Spyropoulos PAAH 1974, pl. 10.
72 E. Rystedt, A New (Old) Mycenaean Scene of Worship, in POTNIA. Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age.
Proceedings of the 8th International Aegean Conference Gteborg,Gteborg University, 12-15 April 2000 (Aegaeum 22), R.
Laffineur, R. Hgg, (ed.), Lige-Austin 2001, p. 393-399.
73 E. Rystedt A New (Old), cit. (n. 72), p. 397.
74 R. Hgg, N. Marinatos, Anthropomorphic Cult-Images in Minoan Crete?, in Minoan Society. Proceedings of the
Cambridge Colloquium 1981, O. Krzyszkowska, L. Nixon (ed.), Bristol 1983, p. 185-201.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


they were made of wood.75 The existence of

lost wooden sculptures can be argued from
the emblematic images of lions, dragons and
dolphins represented on the sterns of ships in
the Ship Procession fresco at Akrotiri and
the stone vessel from Epidauros.76
Recent excavations at Kalavasos-Ayios
Dhimitrios have brought to light two kraters
decorated with scenes so far unparalleled in
Mycenaean Pictorial pottery. The fragmentary krater from Tomb 13 depicts on both sides
a procession of dignified female figures with
backwards bent upper body. They wear solid
painted bodices and long spotted skirts, which
conceal their arms and feet.77 As pointed out
by Steel the theme derives from Mycenaean
wall paintings such as those found at Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, and Thebes,78 which influenced, at a popular level, the processions of
mourning figures on the Tanagra larnakes.79
The second krater from Kalavasos shows
on either side the unique representation of a
female figure seated within a building (Figs.
11-12).80 The scenes, though sharing some basic features, are different in other respects.
Both have a building surmounted by horn of
consecration, most likely a shrine, consisting
of a main room and a lower prothyron or anFig. 10. Krater from Klavdhia.
techamber. Both main rooms house a seated
Reconstruction by E. Rystedt (after Rystedt 2001).
female figure. On side A the shrine is at the
right end of the scene, a chariot group and an
harnessless horse are moving towards it. On side B the shrine is at the very centre of the scene and
is flanked by a single harnessless horse to the left and a couple of harnessless horses to the right (a
shorthand chariot group?); a large and apparently incongruous fish is painted between the horse
and the fish. The prothyra are inverted, being on the left of the shrine on one side and on the right
on the other. There are other apparently minor, yet perhaps significant differences. On side A the
female figure seems to be seated on a stool, on the other she is perhaps sitting on the ground. On
the roof of the shrine on side B there is a curious linear object described by Steel as a bronze
stand. It is perhaps better explained as a tower like those found on the roof of some houses in
the Town Mosaic of Knossos, which might be clerestories for the lightening of inner rooms; similar tower-like structures characterize the skyline of the Departure and Arrival Towns in the Ship
75 S. Hiller, Mycenaean Traditions in Early Greek Cult Images, in The Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century B.C.:
Tradition and Innovation. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium at the Swedish Institute in Athens, 1-5 June 1981
(Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, xxx), Stockholm 1983, p. 91-99.
76 C. Doumas, Wall-Paintings, cit. (n. 27), figs. 35-37, 39-40; A. Sakellariou, Scne de bataille sur un vase mycnien en
pierre?, RA 1971, p. 3-14; L. Morgan, The Miniature Wall Paintings of Thera: A Study in Aegean Culture and Iconography,
Cambridge 1988, pls. 193-194; M. Benzi, Gli Affreschi dellAmmiraglio a Thera, Prospettiva 10 (1977), p. 10.
77 L. Steel, Women in Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting, in E. Rystedt, B. Wells (ed.), cit. (n. 38), p. 152-154, figs. 6-8.
78 S.A. Immerwahr, Aegean Painting, cit. (n. 13), p. 114 ff.
79 E. Vermeule, Painted Mycenaean Larnakes, JHS 85 (1965), p. 123-148.
80 L. Steel, Representations of a Shrine on a Mycenaean Chariot Krater from Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, Cyprus,
ABSA 89 (1994), p. 201; Ead., Women in Mycenaean, cit. (n. 77), p. 152, fig. 1.


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Fig. 11. Krater from Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios, Side A and B (after Steel 1994).

Fig. 12. Jug from Voula (after Papadimitriou 1954).

Procession fresco at Akrotiri.81 On the roof the well known clay hut-urn from Archanes two human figures watch through a light well or chimney the goddess seated inside the shrine. The model
is considerably later than the krater. It has been dated from Subminoan to Proto-Geometric B
around 800 B.C., but it could be a deliberately archaizing piece.82 Its closest parallel and the only
one with a female figure inside is the Subminoan model from the Spring Chamber at Knossos.83
Beneath the roof of the prothyron on side B there are three reserved squares. Despite their squared
81 A.J. Evans, The Palace of Minos I, London 1921, p. 331 ff; J.W. Graham, The Palaces of Crete, Princeton 1987, p. 239240; C. Doumas, Wall-Paintings, cit. (n. 27), figs. 35-38, 44-48.
82 R. Hgg, N. Marinatos, The Giamalakis Model from Archanes: Between the Minoan and the Greek Worlds, in
La Transizione dal Miceneo allAlto Arcaismo, Atti del Convegno Internazionale Roma, 14-19 Marzo 1988, Roma 1991, p. 301-308.
For a recent discussion of the Archanes model, cf. V.P. Petrakis, Late Minoan III and Early Iron Age Cretan Cylindrical
Terracotta Models: A Reconsideration, ABSA 101 (2006), p. 183-216.
83 A. Evans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos, ii : 1, London 1928, p. 128 ff., fig. 63.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


form, they are likely to indicate the ends of the

beams supporting the roof, a common feature
in Aegean depictions of architectural faades.84 This should definitely demonstrate
that the prothyra are architectural structures
rather than altars. A very similar structure is
depicted on a fragmentary sealing from the
Little Palace at Knossos (CMS ii.8 274).85 The
badly preserved look-out post (or peak sanctuary?) perched on the top of a hill beyond the
Arrival Town in the Ship Procession fresco at
Akrotiri was perhaps provided with a prothyron or porch of similar type.86 As pointed out
above sitting female figure are not uncommon
in Aegean art, but the theme of a figure within
a building is unparalleled in Pictorial pottery
and difficult to detect in the much fragmenFig. 13. The Windows Krater, from Kourion
tary wall paintings which have come down to
(after Vermeule - Karageorghis 1982).
us, unless we think that all seated figures are
implicitly meant to stay within a closed architectural structure. Nevertheless, Cameron suggested that Evans Palanquin Fresco represents a
figure seated within a shrine rather than in a sedan chair and associated it with other fresco fragments depicting a chariot and a bull.87 The two well known LM ib clay models from the circular
tomb at Kamilari represent elaborate rituals taking place in a shrine and in a sacred enclosure. One
of them shows a woman squatting on the ground.88 Images of a goddess also appears in the clay
models from Archanes and the Knossos Spring Chamber, referred to above.
A fragmentary conical rhyton from Tiryns has two registers depicting robed male figures. They
have raised arms, the left arm touching a bent tree or, according to Koehl, dendroid staffs to
be understood as attributes of religious authority. Vermeule and Karageorghis thought the scene
depicts a Mycenaean ritual whose origin goes back to the old Minoan tree-shaking ritual.89 Remotely related scenes are perhaps represented on a much fragmentary jar from the Argive
Heraion, which has a man facing a tree,90 and a fragmentary krater from Enkomi depicting a
grotesque figure touching an unusually leafy tree.91
From Attica, a region that has yielded very few specimens of Pictorial pottery, come two vessels
with simple, yet unusual scenes. A small jug from Voula has a single female figure apparently sniffing a flower or drinking from a cup; her right arm is emphatically stretched up (Fig. 13). The figure
stands between two bent palm trees splaying out from her.92 Her solid painted hair or cap has a
84 L. Morgan, Miniature Wall Paintings, cit. (n. 76), p. 75-76.
85 In the drawing published by A.J Evans, Palace of Minos iv:2, p. 608, fig. 597 the two structures are represented as
discrete, free standing buildings (altar and shrine?), but in the new drawing in CMS they look closely connected (shrine
and prothyron?).
86 C. Doumas, Wall-Paintings, cit. (n. 27), fig. 38.
87 M.A.S. Cameron, Unpublished Fresco Fragments of a Chariot Composition from Knossos, AA (1967), p. 330-344.
88 D. Novaro, I modellini fittili dalla tomba di Kamilari: il problema cronologico, in V. La Rosa, D. Palermo, L.
Vagnetti (ed.), cit. (n. 33), p. 151-160; D. Lefvre-Novaro, Un nouvel examen des modles rduits trouvs dans la grande
tombe de Kamilari, in R. Laffineur, R. Hgg, (ed.), cit. (n. 72), p. 89-98.
89 E. Slenczka, Tiryns Forschungen und Berichte vii. Figrlich bemalte mykenische Keramik, Main am Rhein 1974, p. 44,
No. 87, pl. 7: 1-2; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 92, 212, ix.15; R.B. Koehl, Aegean Rhyta,
cit. (n. 21), p. 159, 339, No. 608, fig. 26, pl. 39.
90 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 91, 211, IX.11 suggest a traditional dance before a
sacred tree; J.A. Sakellarakis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 1), p. 21, No. 3.
91 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 46, v.39.
92 J. Papadimitriou PAAH (1954), p. 79-81, figs. 5-6; M. Benzi, Ceramica Micenea in Attica, Milano p. 1975, 137, pl. iv: 99;
E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 92, 212, ix.13.


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dangling plume, like those worn by sphinxes.

Palm trees are commonly used on Pictorial
pottery as decorative filling motifs, but on the
Voula jug they seem to have a more significant
role. As already underlined by Vermeule and
Karageorghis, a slender female figure sniffing
a lily is depicted on the Window Krater
from Kourion (Fig. 14).93 Female figures
holding, though not sniffing, flowers are fairly
common in Aegean art. The richly dressed
mature women from Xeste 3 at Akrotiri carry
bunches of flowers.94 Other female figures
holding flowers occur on signet rings from
Aidonia (CMS v Suppl. 1B 113-114),95 the treasure of the acropolis at Mycenae (CMS i 17),
and on a carnelian seal from Routsi (CMS i
Fig. 14. Carnelian Seal from Routsi (after CMS i 279).
279) (Fig. 15), all clearly depicting religious
scenes.96 On an ivory mirror handle from
Mycenae two antithetic standing women hold
lotus flowers or palm trees stemming from
the ground.97 The women grasping with both hands branches or bunches of vegetation on a fresco from the Mycenae Cult Centre and on the Minet-el-Beida pyxis lid seem to draw upon a different iconographic pattern.98 It seems less likely that the Voula figure is drinking from a cup. In all
preserved instances of figures holding drinking vessels the vessel is either a chalice or a kylix, in
addition the object the figure holds does not resemble any known drinking vessel.
The second vase from Attica is the long known krater from Kopretsa, not one of the happiest
examples of Pictorial style. It has pictorial decoration on one side and conventional decoration
consisting of three elaborate palm trees on the other, a rare occurrence in Pictorial pottery. The
main side depicts two couples of human figures facing each other and raising a slightly bent arm
to clasp the partners hand (Fig. 16).99 The figures seem to wear long stiff robes, but the different
rendering of the upper bodies perhaps indicate they wear skirt and bodice like the women depicted on the krater from Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios discussed below. The silhouetted heads with
large, reserved eyes and dotted fringes are of little help to ascribe gender to the figures, which have
been variously described as women dancing in pairs, greetings or parting warriors, and even couple of boxers (!). Warriors in a similar pose yet not clasping their hands are depicted on a Pictorial sherd from Mycenae; according to Crouwel they are saluting each other.100 The costumes
of the Kopreza figures rule out the possibility they are warriors. Lorantou-Papandoniou has sug93 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 18-19, 196, iii.12
94 A.G. Vlachopoulos, Mythos, Logos, cit. (n. 39), p. 114, pl. xxx.
95 K. Demakopoulou (ed.), The Aidonia Treasure, Athens 1988, p. 49, No. 16, p. 71, No. 2.
96 W.-D. Niemeier, Cult Scenes on Gold Rings from the Argolid, in Celebrations of Death and Divinity in the Bronze
Age Argolid. Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 11-13 June, 1988, R. Hgg, G.
C. Nordquist (ed.), Stockholm 1990, p. 165-170.
97 M. Vlassopoulou-Charidi, E , cit. (n. 41), figs. 7-8.
98 P. Rehak, Tradition and Innovation in the Fresco from Room 31 in the Cult Center at Mycenae, in EIKON.
Aegean Bronze Age Iconography: Shaping a Methodology. Proceedings of the 4th International Aegean Conference/4e Rencontre
genne internationale, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 6-9 April 1992 (Aegaem 8), R. Laffineur, J.L. Crowley (ed.),
Lige 1992, p. 50-58, pls. x: a-c, xiii: M.-H. Gates, Levantine Art for a Levantine Market? The Ivory Lid from Minet el
Beidha/Ugarit, in Ibid., p. 77-84.
99 M. Benzi, Ceramica Micenea, cit. (n. 92), p. 53-54, pls. xi-xii: 215; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial,
cit. (n. 18), p. 91-92, 212, ix.12; J.A. Sakellarakis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 1), p. 20, No. 1. They have been interpreted as
women dancing in pairs, flounce-skirted women and even boxers (!).
100 J. Crouwel, Well Built Mycenae. Fasc.21. Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery, Oxford 1991, p. 16, 31 B1, pl. 1.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


Fig. 15. Krater from Kopretsa (after Lorantou-Papantoniou 1974).

Fig. 16. Prothesis scene on Krater from Ayia Triadha, Elis (after Schoinas 1999).

gested a scene of welcoming.101 In any case, whatever the ultimate meaning of the scene, the
stately and dignified pose of the figures suggests they are performing a formal, ritual action.
The first unequivocal example of funerary iconography on Pictorial pottery makes its appearance on a fragmentary LH iiic krater from Ayia Triadha in Elis showing a prothesis scene. The
deceased is laid out on a bed under a shroud and surrounded by mourning figures. Below the bed
a couchant animal, recalling the two goats depicted below the sacrificial table on the Ayia Triadha
sarcophagus, most likely hints at a funerary sacrificial rite.102 So far only two representations of
this theme are known in Aegean art, both on funerary larnakes. On a larnax from Tanagra in
Boeotia the prothesis scene is displayed on one of the long sides (Fig. 17).103 The mourning figures
interact with the deceased in a way recalling the prothesis scene on a Late Geometric krater in the
Metropolitan Museum (14.130.15).104 The prothesis on the earlier coffin larnax from Pigi Rethymnou is much more austere and is confined on one of the short side of the lid (Fig. 18). The de101 R. Lorantou-Papandoniou, M A K E M, AEph 1974, p. 85-91.
102 C. Schoinas, E A T H, in
M K, A , 25-28 1994, Lamia 1999, p. 257-262;
J.Crouwel, Late Mycenaean Pictorial Pottery. A Brief Review, in E. Rystedt, B. Wells (ed.), cit. (n. 38), p. 19, fig. 6;
S.Hiller, The Prothesis Scene Bronze Age-Dark Age Relations, Ibid., p. 183-185, fig. 5.
103 T. Spyropoulos PAAH 1970, p. 34-35, pl. 48; W. Cavanagh, C. Mee, Mourning, cit. (n. 37), p. 48, fig. 7; S. Immerwahr, Death and the Tanagra, cit. (n. 37), p. 110, fig. 7.2b; M. Benzi, Riti di Passaggio, cit. (n. 33), fig. 2B; S. Hiller,
The Prothesis Scene, cit. (n. 102), fig. 3.
104 G. Ahlberg, Prothesis and Ekphora in Greek Geometric Art (SIMA xxxii), Gteborg 1971, fig. 22; Benzi, Riti di Passaggio, cit. (n. 33), p. 219.


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ceased, shown conventionally floating

above the funerary bed, is a stiff, shapeless figure; her arms and legs are concealed within a
long robe.105 The obvious stylistic differences
apart, this figure is similar to the recipient in
the presentation scene on the Ayia Triadha
sarcophagus.106 As to the scenes depicted on
the two short sides of the well known larnax
from Tanagra Tomb 22, they seem to show
the deposition of the deceased into the larnax
rather than his formal prothesis.107 In a recent
article Hiller raises the interesting question of
Fig. 17. Prothesis scene on larnax
when funerary motifs such as the prothesis
from Tanagra (after Immerwahr 1995).
and the much more common (on Tanagra larnakes) procession of mourning figures were
introduced into the LBA Aegean pictorial repertoire. Since such themes made their first appearance contemporary with similar scenes in the tombs of Amarna, he suggests Egyptian influence.108 At first sight, however, the poor quality of the Aegean representations does not encourage comparisons with their suggested Egyptian models. In addition, as pointed out by Hiller
himself, in the Aegean scenes of prothesis/mourning tutelary deities or other religious symbols
are never represented. This is popular art which seems to depict would-to-be realistic, though conventionally rendered, scenes of actual funerary ceremonies. The public exhibition and mourning
of the deceased is a widespread and time-honoured costume independently practised in many cultures all over the world. As to the similarity in the composition of the scenes, the paratactic
arrangement of the figures is in any case unavoidable in two-dimensional representations and the
resemblance with the Egyptian scenes may be mere coincidence. On almost all Pictorial vases the
figures are arranged in paratactic order, the only exceptions being the Zeus Krater and another
krater from Enkomi, which are among the earliest examples of pictorial vase painting, on which
the figures are loosely scattered over the field perhaps an homage to the old Minoan taste for
birds-eye views ,109 and the uncanonical Circus Pot from Mycenae.110 The free-field scattering
of figures over the whole available space resurfaces in late LH iiib and iiic Pictorial vases depicting
mainly hunting and battle scenes.111
After the collapse of the Mycenaean palace system the production of Pictorial pottery did not
come to an end. Large amounts of Pictorial material have been discovered in old and new exca105 K. Baxevani, A Minoan Larnax from Pigi, cit. (n. 36), p. 15-33; Benzi, Riti di Passaggio, cit. (n. 33), fig. 2C; S.
Hiller, The Prothesis Scene, cit. (n. 102), fig. 2.
106 C.R. Long, The Ayia Triadha Sarcophagus. A Study of Late Minoan and Mycenaean Funerary Practices and Beliefs (SIMA
xli), Gteborg 1974, fig. 52.
107 T. Spyropoulos PAAH 1969, 9-11, pls. 13, 14-; W. Cavanagh, C. Mee, Mourning, cit. (n. 37), p. 48, fig. 4; S. Immerwahr, Death and the Tanagra, cit. (n. 37), p. 112, fig. 7.2a; M. Benzi, Riti di Passaggio, cit. (n. 33), p. 217, fig. 2A;
S. Hiller, The Prothesis Scene, cit. (n. 102), fig. 4b. The unpublished side shows the deposition of the deceased in a
strongly contracted position to fit the small size of the larnax.
108 S. Hiller, The Prothesis Scene, cit. (n. 102); Id., Egyptian Elements on the Haghia Triadha Sarcofagus, in
MELETEMATA: Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as he enters his 65th Year (Aegaeum 20), P. Betancourt, V. Karageorghis, R. Laffineur, W.-D. Niemeier (ed.), Lige-Austin 1999, p. 361-369.
109 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 13-15, 195-196, iii.2-3.
110 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 80-81, 210, viii.8.
111 Cfr. e.g. E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), v.60 (Aradhippo), ix.71 (Mycenae), xi.13
(Mycenae), xi.19 (Tiryns) xi.70-71-72 (Mycenae), xi. 80 (Pylos), xi.83 (Perati), xiii.27 (Ugarit); J.A. Sakellarakis, Mycenaean
Pictorial, cit. (n. 1), p. 24, No. 10, pl. 10; p. 39, No. 36; p. 65, No 107; W. Gnthner, Tiryns Forschungen und Berichte XII: Figrlich bemalte mykenische Keramik aus Tiryns, Mainz am Rhein 2000, pls. 9: 1b. 33: 5a-b.
For the unique fishing scene on the LH iiic strainer hydria from Naxos, cf. O. Hadjianastasiou, A Mycenaean Pictorial Vase from Naxos, in Atti e Memorie del Secondo Congresso Internazionale di Micenologia. Roma-Napoli, 14-20 Ottobre 1991,
E. De Miro, L. Godart, A. Sacconi (ed.), Roma 1996, p. 1433-1441.

minoan genius on a lh iii pictorial sherd from phylakopi, melos?


vations at Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Lef kandi,

Kalapodi, Kynos and other mainland sites as
well as on Naxos, Kos and the Aegean coast of
Asia Minor.112
Alongside traditional motifs, such as antithetic animals on either side of a stylized tree
or a panelled pattern, new themes make now
their appearance in the repertoire of Pictorial
pottery. Outstanding among them are representations of ships and rowers from
Kynos,Kos and Bademgedigi Tepe.113 Chariot
groups are also common, but the men onboard are no longer the placid, dignified figures of the previous period but real warriors in
Fig. 18. Prothesis scene on larnax
full fighting trim. Likewise, scenes of fighting
from Pigi Rethymnou (after Baxevani 1995).
on land and sea never represented before on
pottery are now common.114 By contrast, representations of religious/ceremonial scenes are less common than ever. Apart from the krater
from Ayia Triadha and the amphora from Tiryns, which have been discussed above, the only examples of that kind seems to be the krater fragment with seated figure and vessels from Lef kandi,
referred to above, and another krater fragment from Lef kandi preserving part of a figure, possibly
a priest, dressed in a an ankle-length robe and holding a jug in his lowered right hand. He is followed
by a sphinx moving in the same direction as the human figure with her child below facing in the
opposite direction according to an old iconographic pattern.115 Images of deities or priests/priestesses accompanied by sphinxes and griffins have many antecedents in Aegean art,116 but in this case
the relationship between sphinx and human figure is unclear because of the small size of the fragment. According to Vermeule and Karageorghis, this might be a cult scene, while Crouwel thinks
the scene may be a glimpse of a mythological story or a mere juxtaposition of unrelated figures.117 However, the very presence of what seems a libation jug with pinched rim suggests a scene
of ceremonial character. Much more difficult to interpret is another, tiny krater fragment from
Lef kandi, preserving the legs of three male figures in different scale.118 Between the legs of the
taller figure a two-handled vessel is apparently floating in the air; its round bottom suggests it is
a bronze cauldron rather a clay vase. According to Crouwel, the scene may depict a family group
composed of two adults and a boy. Differently-sized figures are uncommon on Mycenaean pottery.
The discrepancy in scale occurs on a krater fragment from Amyklai, but the combat context rules
out the identification of the smaller figure with a boy.119 Likewise, the small-sized figure between
112 J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 102), p. 15-29.
113 F. Dakoronia, Mycenaean Pictorial Style at Kynos, east Lokris, in E. Rystedt, B. Wells (ed.), cit. (n. 38), p. 23-29;
Ead., Bronze Age Pictorial Tradition on Geometric Pottery, in Ibid., p. 171-175; L. Morricone, Coo. Scavi e Scoperte
nel Serraglio e in Localit Minori (1935-43), ASAA 50-51 (1972-73), figs. 356-358; P.A. Mountjoy, Mycenaean Connections
with the Near East in LH iiic: Ships and Sea Peoples, in EMPORIA. Aegeans in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean. Proceedings of the 10th International Aegean Conference/10e Rencontre genne internationale Athens, Italian School of Archaeology,
14-18 April 2004 (Aegaeum 25), R. Laffineur, E. Greco (ed.), Lige - Austin 2005, p. 423-427. Also M. Wedde, War at Sea:
The Mycenaean and Early Iron Age Oared Galley, in R. Laffineur (ed.), cit. (n. 52), p. 465-474.
114 J. Crouwel, Fighting on Land and Sea in Late Mycenaean Times, in R. Laffineur (ed.), cit. (n. 52), p. 455-463.
115 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 137, 223, xi.65; J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean
Pictorial, cit. (n. 102), p. 19, fig. 10; Id., Late Mycenaean Lef kandi, cit. (n. 35), p. 244-245, 254, pl. 68 G2.
116 J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean Lef kandi, cit. (n. 35), p. 245 and note 109-110.
117 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 137, 223, xi.65; J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean
Pictorial, cit. (n. 102), p. 19, fig. 10; Id., Late Mycenaean Lef kandi, cit. (n. 35), p. 244-245, 254, pl. 68 G2.
118 J. Crouwel, Late Mycenaean Lef kandi, cit. (n. 35), p. 240, 250, pl. 60 B10; E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 137, 223, xi.66 described the big legs as the hind legs of an animal like a griffin.
119 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 113, 217, x.36.


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two chariots on a krater from Pyla-Verghi is an attendant rather than a child.120 A boy or perhaps
a girl is represented among the mourning figures on the prothesis krater from Ayia Triadha, referred to above (Fig. 17). A couple of differently-sized figures is depicted on LM iiia2/b pyxis from
Mochlos, but the smaller figure seems to lead the larger one while we would expect just the opposite. Banou has tentatively interpreted the scene as Hermes psychopompos leading the deceased to
the afterworld.121

120 E. Vermeule, V. Karageorghis, Mycenaean Pictorial, cit. (n. 18), p. 19-20, 196, iii.13.
121 E. Banou, LM iii Mokhlos (East Crete) Versus LM iii Viannos (Central Eastern Crete): Differences and
Similarities, in Ariadnes Threads. Connections between Crete and the Greek Mainland in Late Minoan iii (LM iiia 2 to LM iiic ).
Proceedings of the International Workshop held at Athens Scuola Archeologica Italiana 5-6 April 2003 (Tripodes 3), A.L. DAgata,
J. Moody, E. Williams (ed.), Atene 2005, p. 163-164, figs. 25-26.

co m p o sto i n c a r att e re da nte m onotype da lla

fa b ri z i o se rr a e dito re, pisa ro m a .
sta m pato e rilegato nella
t i p o gr a f i a d i agna n o, ag na no pisa no (pisa ).

Aprile 2010
(cz 2 fg 21)