Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


25 May 2011

A new look at the Mavrospelio “Kourotrophos”

S. Budin Aegean Archaeology 9, 2007-2008 [2011]: 91-103.


A small, LM IIB–IIIA terracotta figural group from the Mavrospelio cemetery near Knossos has long been accepted as the one example of kourotrophic iconography from Bronze Age Crete. This figurine shows a skirted female holding aloft a small male by the knees. In the absence of any other kourotrophic iconography from the Minoans, archaeologists have suggested that this Mavrospelio figural group represents an intrusive aspect of Mycenaean culture onto the island. By contrast, I here argue, based on comparanda in multiple media, that the male component of the figural group is actually an idol of well-known type being held up by an adolescent girl. In the end, I show that the terracotta is wholly Minoan in character and, in line with its Minoan origins, is not a kourotrophos at all.


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