Minoan Religion

Susan Lupack

in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873609
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Minoan Religion

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  • Classical Studies
  • Religion in the Ancient World
  • Ancient Greek History


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The shrines situated on mountains, called peak sanctuaries, are a distinctive feature of Minoan religion. The most common finds are clay figurines, which appear in the form of animals, human votaries, and parts of the human body, such as feet, eyes, and genitalia. These votives reflect the concerns of the worshippers—their own fertility and well-being and that of their animals. Richer peak sanctuaries have stone vessels, Linear A inscriptions, jewelry, seals, bronze blades, figurines, and double axes. The more costly finds were found at a limited number of sites and generally date to the Neopalatial period. The ritual focus of the shrine may consist of a flat rock, a cairn of stones, and/or concentrations of white pebbles. Actual architectural remains appear at only nine sites, eight of which were those that continued into the Neopalatial period.

Keywords: shrines; peak sanctuaries; Minoan religion; figurines; votives; fertility; Neopalatial period; ritual

Article.  5027 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Religion in the Ancient World ; Ancient Greek History

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