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The calf in Bronze Age Cretan art and society by E.Loughlin

The calf in Bronze Age Cretan art and society by E.Loughlin

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Published by: ArchaeoinAction on Jun 15, 2011
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The calf in Bronze Age Cretan art and society
 PECUS. Man and animal in antiquity. Proceedings of the conference at the Swedish Institute in Rome, September 9-12, 2002. Ed. Barbro Santillo Frizell (The Swedish Institute in Rome. Projects and Seminars, 1), Rome 2004.www.svenska-institutet-rom.org/pecus
leanor Loughlin
versaowe y te representatons o us, epctons o cavesrom Bronze Age Crete have received little scholarly attention. In this paper sa ocus on a group o epctons o untng were cavesre the prey. With the exception of a painted sarcophagus, the imagesccur on seas an seangs. e anmas are represente woune or with projectiles and shields included in the field. In order to understande meanng o tese mages te wer regous an secuar mpor-ance of cattle is considered. It is concluded that the images are used toonvey compex an ayere meanngs reatng not ony to te untewild or feral animal but also the wider importance and function of omestc catte.
Images of bulls from Bronze Age Crete have receiveduc scoary attenton. Important toug tese are,s ocus as tene to etract rom te overa verstyof cattle iconography. Probably the most overlookedgroup of representations is that of calves.
In order todetermine the possible significance of some of these im-ages ts stuy w concentrate on a group o `untngscenes were te young, rater tan aut us are te prey. Wt te excepton o a snge pante arnax
), these images are found exclusively on sealstones andclay sealings.In Bronze Age Greek art both human and animalyoung are represente wt accurate proportons ananatomca caracterstcs an sowng eavouraraits indicative of youth.
In terms of general propor-ions, calves are represented with less muscular, longer egs, thinner bodies and larger heads than adult cat-e.e aca musces are not we eveope an teome crown an narrow eatures re ect te sapeo te su.e sze an sape o te orns are asodistinctive, calves typically being represented with horn buds or short horns.
unter and Prey
he largest and most complex of the hunting scenesappears on te se o a cay arnax rom te LM III-B ca. 1400-1350 BC cemetery at Armeno
 Fig. 1
ree untsmen pursue a goat an two cows, a wtyoung. Spears have been thrown, while one figure castsa net an anoter ranses an axe. Te comnaton oweapons an nets proay represents an ntenton tote moters an capture te more manageae young.
The wild or feral bovine population
of Crete would havecompeted with domesticates for limited resources andmay have posed a threat to crops. Hunting would there-ore ave serve to eep ter numers n cec. Uneaut catte, caves are reatvey easy to transport veand could therefore have been slaughtered at a later date, providing meat,
bone and horn.
Alternatively,they may have been intended for sacrifice, castrated
an expote as sources o tracton
or use to resente gene poo o te omestc ers.
Te sze o te e o ecoraton proves ampespace for the inclusion of representations of a variety of hunting and capture techniques. On sealstones with di-ameters of less than 2 cm it is hardly surprising that themages are ess compex. Te caves are sown sngyor n pars an te suect s ncate y te ncusonof hunting related objects rather than the hunter. Mostfrequently a projectile is depicted either pointing at the
g. . untng scene. ay arnax rom rmeno.
animal or protruding from its torso (
 Fig. 2
Unlike themage on the larnax from Armenoi (
 Fig. 1
these imagesepresent the killing rather than the capture of calves.On an LM ca. 1600-1400 BC seastone rom te areao Knossos
2 we see te moment o mpact. Ase proecte ts, te cas ront egs gve way ant throws back its head, bellowing in pain. The calf aises its back near side leg in an attempt to remove the projectile. This is a characteristic cattle response to pain.Catte np or c at te area were tey are eeng te pan rater tan at te source o pan. A cow recevngan injection will kick and bite at the area of the needleather than the vet.The inclusion of a figure of eight shield, rather than a pro-ecte n a LM ca. 1600-1400 BC exampe rom Knossos
 Fig. 3
may smary serve to represent te asent unt-er. Normay assocate wt atte, ses are aso repre-sented being carried by hunters in Bronze Age Greek art.
nterpreting the Images
I have so far proposed literal readings of the images butwe should bear in mind that Bronze Age Greek art hase potenta to express mutpe an compex meanngs.Catte were an mportant an versate component oBronze Age Cretan socety an catte conograpy wasused to convey complex concerns relating to many as- pects of life. In order to understand the possible meaningof the images of the hunted calf it is therefore necessaryo oo eyon untng an conser te wer mpor-ance o te ca n Cretan socety.
Te Domestcate Ca
e now rom te arcaeoogca recor tat te cungof juveniles (i.e. animals under three years), in particular he males,
was a common method of herd managementn Neolithic and Bronze Age Greece.
he adult animalwou prove a greater ran on mte resources tane young an tose reare to maturty wou represente mnmum numer requre or tracton an ree-ng while serving as continuing sources of secondary products, namely faeces
and milk.
Indeed part of thereason why animals less than one-year old were slaugh-tered was because they served as competition for milk.
It is possible that the image of the hunted calf conveyedconcerns reatng aso to te cung o omestcates.Te saugtere young wou ave serve as a sourceo vea, one an sot eater an te ncuson o te ox-hide figure of eight shield in some images may relate tothe animal as a source of leather. Although shields wouldhave been made from the tough, thick hides of adultsrater tan soter ca-sn tey may ave serve as asymo o te eater worng nustry.
Te Sacre Ca
Certan mages may aso e ntene to represent an-mals singled out as having ritualistic importance. Somehave suggested that sacred animals were kept in cult places in Bronze Age Greece, as they were in Egypt andte Near East urng ts pero.
It s posse tat nte case o te sarcopagus rom Armeno
te caves may ave een caugt rater tankilled because they were intended to serve such a pur- pose.Images representng te eat o te young mayreate spec cay to sacr ce. It as een argue tatsacr ca rtuas evove rom untng
an tat BronzeAge images of hunting served as …
metaphors for sacri- fice
Consumption may also be implicit in these images,since sacrifice and consumption were linked elements of a snge rtua.
Te ncuson o proectes an ses urter awegt to ts nterpretaton as tey are assocate wtsacrificial rituals.
For example, the figure of eightshield, intrinsically linked in terms of its material anduncton wt te contnuum o e an eat, may aveeen spec cay assocate wt rtuas o renewa.
 In aton, t s posse tat oter types o magemay refer to the sacrifice of calves. For example a seal-stone from Knossos MM III-LM I (ca. 1700-1500 BC)(
 Fig. 4
decorated with the head of a bearded figure onone se an a ca on te oter as een nterprete asrepresentng a prest an sacr ca vctm.
g. . a struc y a proecte. ento sea rom nossos strct.
no.301.g. . a an a gure o egt se. ento sea rom nossos.CMS II.4, no.5.
 Eleanor Loughlin
he archaeological record unfortunately provides lit-le evidence of calf sacrifice. Small, fragile calf bonessurvve ess requenty tan tose o auts an, epen-ng upon te retreva metos use, tey can e easyoverlooked during excavation. The cooking and con-sumption or the dispersal of the meat following sacri-ce further compounds the problem. A calf’s head wasowever ent e n a epost o pottery nterprete asavng een use n unerary rtuas at te cemetery atrcanes
an, rom manan Greece, te remans oa sacrificed calf were found on a pile of stones near theentrance to a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Kazarma in thePeloponnese.
 New Life and Death
Catte were te argest, most poweru an potentayuseu an angerous anmas on Crete. Ts s re ecten te use o te u as a symo o power an te cowas a symbol of regeneration and nourishment.
The rep-esentation of the death of the calf, regardless of whether t specifically related to sacrifice, reflects concernseatng to te ragty o new e an te reatonspetween e an eat, a teme tat s expresse nany areas o Bronze Age Cretan art.
This complex theme is encapsulated in an LM (ca.1600-1400 BC) sealstone from Ayia Triada (
 Fig. 5
Ins exampe ntentona amguty as een empoyeo express tese concerns. Te stance o te ca s tato te woune anma an yet no proecte or otedeterminate is evident. This pose is however also thatadopted by the suckling calf who, like the dying calf,stands with pressed down shoulders and stretched neck.Wen sucng, ts enaes te ca to reac a te teatsan stragten te oesopagus to aow te m to entedirectly into the fourth stomach.
The stance and there-fore the image serves to represent both the nourishmentan eat o te young.
In this paper I have sought to explain the elements rep-resente n a partcuar group o mages an to exporeter nterpretaton. I we conser rsty te representa-tion of calves, the images provide detailed descriptionsof juvenile anatomy and behaviour. The ability to rep-resent the animals in such detail is based on knowledgeerve rom amarty an nteracton. Te maortyo Cretans wou ave een nvove n agrcuture aneven craft specialization was probably not a full timeoccupation.
In order to survive people had to gain anunderstanding of and ability to utilise their environmentan te omestc, era an w anmas tey sare twt an t s ts rstan nowege tat s expressen te mages o caves.Man’s interaction with domestic, wild and feralcattle was that of both nurturer and slaughterer. Cattleserved as a source of meat, skin, bone and horn, trac-ton, seconary proucts an caves ut ter nutrtonarequrements, sze an strengt meant tat tey werenot to prove a drain on the limited resources of theisland or pose a threat to man their numbers had to bekept in check. This complex relationship both informedte way tat caves were represente an was n turnexpresse troug te meanng o te mages an teexampes scusse sow tat spec c poses, ncatonsof interaction and additional elements were used by theartist to communicate complex and layered meaningrelating to both religious and secular concerns. Imageso te unte ca eptomze te rage equrumtat exste etween new e an eat n Bronze AgeCretan society.Eleanor LoughlinUnversty o Yor e507yor.ac.u
g. . an an ca. wo-se ento sea rom nossos. .,no..g. . a n contorte poston. mygao sea rom ya
II.4, no.153.
The calf in Bronze Age Cretan art and society

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