Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is an independent polytheist spiritual tradition that brings the gods and goddesses of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one; we rely heavily on shared gnosis and the practical realities of Paganism in the modern world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

Find out all about Modern Minoan Paganism on our website: https://ariadnestribe.wordpress.com/. We're a welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

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Minoan Artifacts: Where are the baskets?

One aspect of ancient Egyptian archaeology that I've always enjoyed is that the dry climate of the Nile valley and the surrounding desert preserved biodegradable items like clothing and baskets (and mummies, obviously!). Unfortunately, the Aegean isn't dry - it's a portion of the Mediterranean Sea dotted with islands. So sadly, on Crete and Thera (modern Santorini) most of the biodegradable artifacts have long since rotted away.

But that doesn't mean the situation is hopeless. There are other ways to discover what kinds of biodegradable objects the Minoans had.

Clothes and shoes are easy; they show up in just about every art form, from frescoes to seal stones and rings to figurines. But what about baskets? Those show up in the frescoes, too.

Look at the image at the top of this post. It's a photo of a fresco from the building called Xeste 3 in Akrotiri, on the island of Santorini - that's Thera, the one that blew up in a volcanic supereruption during Minoan times. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that the girl on the left is pouring saffron from a small basket into a larger one. And the monkey has just taken some more saffron from another basket to offer it to the goddess (the griffin tells us that this goddess is Therasia).

Other frescoes from the same building show other styles of baskets being used to harvest and carry saffron. There are even a few stone pitchers carved to look like they're woven baskets and a few basket remnants from Akrotiri, preserved in the ash fall from the eruption (sorry, I couldn't find a Creative Commons licensed photo so you'll have to check the posts in Ariadne's Tribe to see these).

We even have some tantalizing evidence that the Minoans used papyrus. It would have been easy enough for them to import it from Egypt, their biggest trading partner. Part of the process of receiving offerings into the temples involved marking the identity of the donor on clay nodules that were then attached to the item via a cord embedded in the clay. Usually these nodules just have a seal impression on them and maybe a sign or two of Linear A script, or later on, Linear B.

But in addition to the nodules with cords pressed into them, archaeologists have found a few that appear to have been used as the Bronze Age version of sealing wax on a letter. The letter itself, of course, has long since disintegrated, but the clay shows impressions of multiple layers of a thin folded material that looks like paper. The most likely material here is papyrus, though it's possible the folded sheets were made of vellum, which is attested as far back as the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt (2600-2400 BCE).

Either way, it's interesting to think about what kinds of organic, biodegradable materials probably filled the homes, temples, and lives of the Minoans. When you look at images of the temples and towns, try mentally adding clothing, curtains, rugs, baskets, fabric and leather bags, leather boots and sandals, and the occasional papyrus or vellum missive or accounting sheet.

In the name of the bee,
And of the butterfly,
And of the breeze, amen.

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Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She is the founder and Temple Mom of Modern Minoan Paganism. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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