Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
History and American Studies
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
The Minoan civilization of Bronze-Age Crete has, until recently, been obscured in mythological uncertainty. As a prehistoric civilization, the available evidence for historic analysis is sparse and ambiguous. This paper evaluates the material evidence for ritual activity to chart the religious developments of Minoan Crete. In the earliest periods of their civilization, the Minoans practiced animism, which reflected their ideals towards survival and cooperation. As their prosperity grew due to technological advancements, a social hierarchy formed. The emerging elite employed religion to justify their claim to power by appropriating religion, which culminated in a dual-monotheistic Knossian theocracy. This lasted until a period of Mycenaean occupation on Crete, through which the Mycenaeans established political control through religious syncretism. After the Mycenaean authorities withdrew to the mainland, the Minoans continued to practice polytheism until the ultimate collapse of their civilization. Punctuated by periods of natural disasters, these developments show how religion can be used by the social elite as a tool to accumulate wealth and power.
Rybarczyk, Elizabeth, "Demythologizing Homer: Investigating Religion in Minoan Crete" (2023). Student Research Submissions. 520.
Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity Commons, Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture Commons, Classical Archaeology and Art History Commons, European History Commons, History of Religion Commons, Other Religion Commons, Political History Commons, Social History Commons