A lot of people have the impression that Minoan art mostly contains depictions of women and girls. But that's all it is: an impression.

Back in the early days of this blog, I went through Nanno Marinatos's book Minoan Religion and counted up the male and female figures in the art depicted in the book. They came out just about even.

In the years since then, archaeologists have uncovered a lot more art - figurines, seals - and I wanted to see whether the balance still held. So I went through nearly 2000 photos of Minoan artifacts and counted, and the male/female ratio still comes out just about even.

I suspect part of the reason for the impression that Minoan art is heavily female is that many of the frescoes and figurines that depict women have been so widely popularized, at least in part due to the depiction of shirtless women as "racy" and "exotic." They're simply more well known than the other art.

Another part of the false impression that women predominate in Minoan art is probably due to the Smurfette principle. We've been trained for so long to think full representation means one female character in an otherwise all-male cast that having equal numbers of male and female figures in the art makes it feel like the female ones predominate.

I've seen research (sorry, am unable to find it at the moment, but will keep searching) that when people are shown crowds that are exactly half women and half men, they interpret them as being majority female. That's how skewed our senses are because of lack of adequate representation for so long.

This misunderstanding of gender representation in the art spills over into the way people understand Minoan religion, too. I've met lots of people who think the Minoan pantheon contains only goddesses (it doesn't - there are plenty of gods, too) or only one goddess, as Sir Arthur Evans interpreted his version of Minoan monotheism.

So just remember that equality is the thing in Minoan art, with female and male figures represented about equally (and the possibility of trans and/or intersex people as well, but that's a post for a different day). And all genders are represented in the pantheon (yes, I said all, but again, that's a post for another day).

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