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Minoan Archaeology

Sarah Cappel
Ute Günkel-Maschek
Diamantis Panagiotopoulos

Be(hav)ing “Minoan”: Negotiating Life and Death Through Practice and Performance

Performance Theory in Minoan Rituals and the Ambiguity of Minoan Symbols*

Maria Chountasi

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From early in the 20th century to nowadays, interpreting Minoan religion has been characterized by a general tendency to emphasize the importance of iconographic symbols so as to decipher religious symbolism behind them. Even though studying symbols and symbolism is indeed an essential process in order to understand Minoan religion, it is underlined here that such a tendency derives and at the same time enforces the epistemological distinction between thought (i.e. religious beliefs) and action (i.e. ritual) by stressing the first and ignoring the latter.
Modern anthropological research has highlighted the fact that religious symbols can be very ambiguous and unclear to the participants of a ritual practice, in constrast to a ritual ceremony which most of the time is widely understood and can be applied without needing a specific conceptual background. The results of these studies lead to a gradual shift from the ambiguity of symbols to the importance of ritual practice as a basic in...

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