Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


26 January 2015

Images and semiotics in space: the case of the anthropomorphic figurines from Kophinas

Giorgos Rethemiotakis Κρητικά Χρονικά 34 (2014), 147-162

From the introduction

Kophinas, like all peak sanctuaries, has yielded large numbers of clay votive objects, particularly figurines. Genre, form and style are factors defining origin, choices, ideological background and behavioural patterns in cult of specific groups of votaries who frequented the site.

The zoomorphic figurines are numerous. This kind of dedicatory offering shows that shepherds or flock owners still thronged to hypaethral sacred places, such as Kophinas, in the Neopalatial period. Most of the votives belong to the type of small solid figurine, while others are hollow, medium or large. Bovid figurines are the commonest, a fact that demonstrates the importance of cattle in general and the bull specifically among the local population, as producers of milk and meat or as draught animals for transporting heavy loads and ploughing, or even as substitutes for sacrifice. The sanctity of the sacred animal, a commonplace in Minoan religion, is further stressed by the combination, in some cases, of the bull’s image with the functionality of the rhyton.


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