The People Behind The Palaces

Today was a fascinating  day school at Oxford’s Rewley House exploring the everyday lives of the Minoans you don”t here about – the ones that didn’t live in the palaces.

Knossos parissien.jpgDr Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw put together an excellent program looking at the Minoans through five different windows, helping us to get to grips with the lives of the “non-elite” (we don’t even have a word for this! Hoi-poloi?)

Dr Christine Morris (Trinity College Dublin) shared her knowledge of the terracotta figurines found at Peak Sanctuaries, especially at Atsipahdes where she has excavated (http://tinyurl.com/mg55dkr). Dr Lisa Bendall (OUDCE) teased out the learnings about everyday lives from the Linear B tablets. Dr Kostis Christakis (University of Crete) looked at what could be learned from the food storage facilities beyond the palaces while Dr Senta German (Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology) explored what could be learned from bio-archaeology about Minoan women.

Here are some great facts from the day….

  • less than 20% of Minoan archaeology to date relates to non-elite sites.
  • Knossos was really obsessed with sheep : more than 20% of the Linear B tablets found there relate to sheep, wool or woven cloth.
  • never mind the small numbers of votive figurines in the Palaces. If you want to understand (at least one) devotional focus of the majority of Minoans look at the thousands of figurines found on the Peak Sanctuaries.
  • Minoans were 5% shorter than today’s Brits but lived on average less than half as long if you were lucky enough to be a man, or a third as long if a woman.

For more details on the one and two day study sessions run by OUDCE see their web site and click Archaeology. Everyone that I have attended has been great.

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