Sheep, sacrifices, and symbols: animals in Later Bronze Age Greece
Paul Halstead & Valasia Isaakidou In U. Albarella, M. Rizzetto, H. Russ, K. Vickers & S. Vinder-Daniels 2017 (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Zooarchaeology, Oxford: 113-126.
The Minoan and Mycenaean ‘palatial’ civilizations of later Bronze Age southern Greece Table 8.1) have excited popular and scholarly interest for their rich material culture and Europe’s earliest known scripts. Animals are prominent in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography and a major focus of Mycenaean clay documents in the deciphered Linear B script. Together, images, texts, and skeletal remains offer rare insight into the ideological, political, and economic importance of animals to these societies. This chapter focuses on animals in later Bronze Age (second millennium cal BC) southern Greece, with brief comparative consideration of the preceding Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (seventh- third millennia cal BC) and non-palatial north of Greece to highlight any changes associated with palatial society. We consider first the osteological evidence for which species people exploited and how; then textual evidence for their role in Mycenaean political economy; and finally iconography as a guide to their place in elite ideology and cosmology. We focus on the terrestrial fauna that dominates the osteological and textual data.