Women, Children and the Family in the Late Aegean Bronze Age: Differences in Minoan and Mycenaean Constructions

of Gender Author(s): Barbara A. Olsen Reviewed work(s): Source: World Archaeology, Vol. 29, No. 3, Intimate Relations (Feb., 1998), pp. 380-392 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/125037 . Accessed: 25/09/2012 23:32
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Olsen Abstract This paper discusseshow the relationshipbetween women and childrenis portrayedand understood in the societies of the Mycenaean(Greek) mainlandand Late MinoanCrete. Aegean BronzeAge. Iconographic sources.their iconography suggeststhat the two culturesvalued this role differentlyand did not invest equallyin placingwomenprimarily withinthe familystructure. This assumption. World Archaeology Vol. Keywords children.In contrast. reveal distinct differences among Minoan and Mycenaean depictions of child-care scenes.iconographic reinforcementof women'stask as child-rearers suggestsa muchgreaterlevel of investmenton the part of Mycenaeansociety to envisionwomen withinthe contextof the home. however.while the writtenrecordsof both societiesplace women as child-caregivers in daily practice. women of Minoan The iconography almostuniformlydepictedoutside of domesticcontexts. figurines. Minoan.Mycenaean are and imageryprovidesa systematic. The Mycenaean texts attest that women of Mycenaean Crete and the Mycenaean mainland were the primary tenders of children. 29(3): 380-392 Intimate Relations ?CRoutledge 1998 0043-8243 . Introduction Motherhood and the tending of children has long been assumed as the primary social role of the women of the Late Bronze Age Aegean Minoan and Mycenaean societies. gender. Childrearing has been long assumedto be the primary socialrole of Aegean women. Child-bearing. Evidence for Minoan and Mycenaean child-care practices derives from two sources: the administrative records written in the Linear B script and artistic depictions of women and children.kourotrophoi. however. Therefore.Women.Yet the art of Late Minoan Crete reveals almost no interest in idealizingwomen as child-nurturers. has been more based on ethnographic analogies or contemporary ideologies than on examinations of relevant archaeological material. the Late children Minoan and Bronze the and family Age: of gender in Aegean in differences Mycenaean constructions Barbara A.Mycenaean.

This period witnessed the rebuilding of the Cretan palaces following earthquake damage. It culminated in the Second Palace period which lasted from Middle Minoan III to Late Minoan IB (c. Their language. IJIA1 LM 111A2. 1450 BC). the emergence of Cretan syllabic writing in the Linear A script. for abbreviations and chronology see Table 1). While the Mycenaean Greeks spoke the same language and worshipped many of the same gods as their historical period descendants. Background The Late Bronze Age in the Aegean Basin (1600-1100 BC) witnessed the rise of two interdependent civilizations.IIA LH JIB. LM IIIB LM IIIC Subminoan . children and the family in the late Aegean Bronze Age 381 or kourotrophos. held primacy first. written in the Linear A script. Minoan art evinces no interest in portraying women with children. Mycenaean presence and Mycenaean administration are securely attested on Crete in this period. This destruction has generally been attributed to the Mycenaean Greeks from the mainland and has been traditionally understood as a Mycenaean military conquest of Crete. the Minoans on Crete and the Mycenaeans on the Greek mainland. scenes are only a trope in Mycenaean iconography. architecture. The most compelling evidence for the Mycenaean administration of Crete is that the language and script of the palatial administrative records changes from the Minoan Table I Late Bronze Age Aegean chronology.) In any case. and ceramics.Women. 111B2 LH IIIC Submycenaean Crete(LM = LateMinoan) LMIA. and a dominant cultural role in the Aegean which in turn heavily influenced the Mycenaean mainland in art. glyptic. 1700-1450 BC. L(ate) M(inoan) IB marks the destruction by fire of nearly all the primary and secondary sites of the Minoan administration. the identity of the Minoans is less apparent. and their relationship to known ethnic groups in the Mediterranean remains uncertain. following Dickinson 1994. (A minority of scholars have proposed less directly military explanations for the Mycenaean domination of Crete in the Third Palace Period (LM II-LM IIIB). Date BC 1600 1500 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 Mainland(LH = LateHelladic) -----------LH1. a highly-developed system of internal and external trade. This cultural hegemony lasted until the Late Minoan IB period (c. The Cretan civilization. IJIA1 LH 111A2. figurines. and possibly in more direct political mechanisms. all dates approximate. a flourishing of Minoan art in such diverse media as fresco. IIIB1. is untranslated. 1B LM II. designated Minoan after the legendary Cretan king Minos.

Olsen Linear A script to the Mycenaean Linear B script. where female figures often occupy prominent spatial positions. however. particularly through the analysis of gendered space (Tringham 1994). Scholarly opinion. whether in human contexts (N. the majority of the focus both in academic circles and the popular press has largely centred around attempts to posit a Mother Goddess-centred religion (Evans 1932. especially a Great Mother Goddess. beginning with Conkey and Spector's ground-breaking synthesis of feminist and archaeological theory (Conkey and Spector 1984). They are commonly identified either as representations of the so-called Minoan Mother Goddess. In the last decade. . assessments privileging either ethnographic analogies inspired by modern Mediterranean societies or essentialist models inspired by hunter-gatherer ethnographies tend to conceptualize women as remaining close to home. has been strongly challenged. which records an early version of Greek. scholarship on women in prehistory has become increasingly sophisticated. Gimbutas 1989) or to recover a matriarchal society among the Minoans (Thomas 1973). The question of how deeply Mycenaean influence permeates Minoan culture remains open (see Driessen 1994). costume or administrative regalia. received much less scholarly attention. Women and children in the Aegean Bronze Age The role of women and the nature of gender relations in the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean Basin have long attracted both scholarly and popular interest.and proto-history have tended toward polarization: products of two vastly different theoretical and methodological approaches. calling instead for a greater awareness of gender as a culture-specific phenomenon. In analyses that privilege evidence from Aegean art. To date. At very least. women are assigned power and status. The Mycenaeans. Ever since the first modern excavations in the early 1900s at the Minoan administrative centre of Knossos recovered depictions of powerful and prominent female figures in frescoes. and for the study of gendered social roles as products of specific societies. Meskell 1995. occupied primarily with domestic affairs and the raising of children. Dickinson 1994). and glyptic. or in the divine realm (Evans 1935). figurines. as high-ranking public officials or priestesses. is by no means in consensus on these assertions. in human contexts. the notion of a pre-Indo-European Great Goddess. noting severe methodological flaws in these analyses as well as essentialist biases (Talalay 1994. Only recently have feminist scholars begun challenging the androcentric biases of such interpretations. In contrast. Marinatos 1995. Conkey and Tringham 1995). discussions of the social positioning of women in Aegean pre.382 Barbara A. the conflation of woman and the social role of child-rearer or kourotrophos. usually dismissed as the bearers of Indo-European patriarchal baggage. the gender relations of prehistoric Crete have enjoyed a great deal of attention. or. To date. Recent scholarship has severely questioned readings which allege a goddess-centred prehistory. whose social status is suggested by their jewellery. Much recent work in the Aegean has focused on the social status of women in the prehistoric societies. This paper examines more closely one of the primary social roles scholars have attributed to Bronze Age women.

The situationis muchthe same and at Pyloswhere. both in domesticandin palatialcontexts. evidencerelevantto women'srole in the raisingof chilrecordswritten in the Linear B dren stems from two sources:from the administrative scriptfromboth Crete and mainlandGreece. the texts are explicit that these sons are older .in the personnelseries that recordthe workingstrength of women'sworkgroups. census and rationstablets consistentlycount boys and girls the with their mothers.There is unfortunately way of knowing no justwhatis meantby 'older'and 'younger'.At Knossos the process is furtherelaboratedsince the childrenare differentiated only by sex.as recipientsof rations. recordsof rationsallottedto workers.for examplein termsof heads of reflectedin the organizational of householdchoicesor.But it is clearthat once they pass the line from 'older boys' to men.youngerboys. children and the family in the late Aegean Bronze Age 383 Womenand childrenin the LinearB tablets For the Late Aegean BronzeAge.Men andwomen Of occupydifferentspheresand performtasksas membersof single-sexworkgroups.among others. The texts also providea fair amountof materialon the complexitiesof domesticsocial at organization both Knossosand Pylos.men andwomenstill do not workwithinthe sameworkgroups theirwork and environments remainsegregatedby sex.the remainderrecordchildrenaccompanying of workgroups women. Pyloson the mainlandand Knossoson Crete.listingnumbersof men.By no meansall familiesgovernedby these polities are recorded.childcare 200 is a task performedby women. girls. only four are sharedwith men: again.The tablets record mattersrelevant to each palace's economy such as counts of personnel.quantitiesof materialsand goods being receivedor distributedby the administrative centre.Women.are clear that. women. In the few tablets where boys are recordedas accompanying men.writtenon clay tablets and intended for temporary iconography.At both centres. were serendipitously preservedwhen the buildingsin which they were stored were burned. About a dozen or so tabletsrecordwhat appearto be households. have between them producednearly5. At Pylos. Childrenappearprimarily three contexts:as componentsof of familyunits.older girls. Approximately tabletsfrom these two centresrecord 90 childrenin the so-calledpersonnelseriestablets.andaccompanying workgroups specializedlabourers. they returnto a rigidlygendered society.of thirty-five occupationsperformedby women. however. accompanying women of workinggroups.The two best textuallyattestedcentres.approximately tabletsat Knossoswith in an additional110 at Pylos. respectively.and boys. religious functionaryand slave with two additionalcategories of leatherworkingand weaving. and older boys.childrendifferthe 'younger' entiatedby sex andby age grades:youngergirls.The only familyunitsdiscerniblein the tabletsare ones that the palaces have some interest in regulating. use.effectivelyfiringthe tablets. even for these last two shared professions. only two of these occupationsare sharedwithmen:those of religiousfunctionaries slave. but also by age with two separateage gradesfor 'older'and not children.child-care choices.and records of land grants. The tablets depict a highly gendered society with clear task differentiationbetweenthe sexes.The texts. the twenty-twooccupationsheld by women at Knossos. usefulto this study.000 tablets. dedicationsto divinities. It is interestingto note that the persons designatedolder boys continue to be grouped with their mothersratherthan their fathers.This may imply that we may read palatial ideology structures these families.We see. and from the evidence of Late Bronze Age The LinearB records.

In short. 1) and one on Cyprus. introduced in LH II. And Psi figurines hold both arms extended over the head at diagonal angles resembling . While Cyprus. They tend to be rather small. Mycenaean depictions of nurturing scenes are limited to figurines where female figures are depicted cradling infants. this theme receives rather differential attention in the Bronze Age Aegean. (The Phi type is preceded by the Proto-Phi type. Two sites have produced large clusters of figurines: a votive deposit at Aphaia on Aegina produced twenty-seven groups. and most have not been thoroughly published. As Mylonas (1956) observed. and at least twenty were excavated at the site of Mycenae. Psi figurine types after the letters of the Greek alphabet they resemble. has a continuous tradition of kourotrophoi scenes in all phases of the Bronze Age (Merrilees 1988). pictorial painted pottery. or images of women holding children. and metalwork. French (1971). a small but significant subset of Mycenaean terracotta figurines. typically between 10 and 20 cm in height. for example. They derive from at least eighteen sites: seventeen on the Mycenaean mainland (Fig. the figurines appear suddenly and their types are fully developed.) Tau figurines hold their elbows straight out. The corpus of kourotrophoi consists of approximately seventy terracottas. They depict single female forms. they are also typically cursorily painted. are well attested in Neolithic Greece as well as in the Greek historical period (Price 1978). in contrast to women who tend children of both sexes until the age when boys leave for professional training. Mycenaean kourotrophoi While kourotrophoi scenes.384 Barbara A. Although the figurines employ a variety of compositional forms. in her valuable and exhaustive study of the development of the Mycenaean terracotta figurines. Men are never listed with children unless those children are older boys specifically undergoing training in a trade. Mycenaean terracotta figurines begin to appear during the Late Helladic II period and are found in large numbers during all phases of Late Helladic III. were often not recorded by earlier excavators unless they were found in tombs. Phi figurines have their hands resting on the hips with the elbows bending outwards resembling the Greek letter (. often with articulated breasts. Olsen boys and accompany their fathers for the purpose of instruction in their trade: these are not young children requiring care. with curvo-linear lines on the body to suggest decorated clothing. and one ivory group. on the Greek mainland kourotrophos images appear only in the Late Bronze Age (termed Late Helladic in this region) and then only within specific genres. parallel to the ground reminiscent of the letter T. It is the manner in which Minoan and Mycenaean societies display women with children and infants in their iconographic repertoires which is extremely different. I will use French's (1971) typology to outline the chronological development of these figurines. All have articulated arms. child care in both the Mycenaean mainland and Mycenaean Crete is clearly a role assigned to women and receives fairly equal treatment in the tablets of each centre. The figurines' legs are covered by their garments. designated the Phi. Tau. Images of women and children are absent from Mycenaean frescoes. These figurines are not without methodological difficulties. there are three major types. points out that these figurines often survive in highly fragmentary condition. glyptic. which is very similar to the standard type but has not quite reached the canonical proportions.

.l Palaiopolis Figure1 Mainland sites where kourotrophos figurines were excavated.Women. children and the family in the late Aegean Bronze Age 385 ) 4) y ~~~~~~~~~~BOEOTIA PHLOCINSE 6~~~~~ ( G L .

The earliest known Mycenaean kourotrophos dates to LH II and was discovered in the Aidonia cemetery excavations at Nemea in the Argolid (Demakopoulou 1996).and one came from Palaiopolis on Kythera (Waterhouse and Hope Simpson 1961. In the following LHIIIA period. Tau or Psi types nestles a single child against its mother's left breast. is a second child partially hidden beneath the parasol. The most frequently cited Mycenaean scene portraying the interaction of women and children . The majority of these figurines follow a canonical form: a single female figurine of the Phi. Two other triplet groups have been excavated. by the LHIII period. French 1971) of a more unusual composition. the earliest type to appear is the Phi.two from the Petsas house excavations and a third from a chamber tomb . Kourotrophoi occur at many sites and are found in a variety of excavation contexts. either clasped in the left arm (in the Phi and Tau figurines) or unclasped as in the Psi figurines. Three ProtoPhi kourotrophoi figurines dating to LHIIIA1 have been found: one from the Mycenaean cemetery of Deiras near Argos (Deshayes 1966) and a second group from the Atreus Bothros at Mycenae.386 Barbara A. this figure carries two children and a parasol-like object. Another Proto-Phi group of uncertain provenance is on display in Geneva (Price 1978). The infant nurses at one breast and rests its hand on the other. the material culture of Kythera reflects Mycenaean and not Minoan traits. Found in a chamber tomb which contained the secondary burial of a child. including graves. The Kythera group warrants further comment as it displays a number of unusual features: the female figure has pierced breasts and holds a remarkably large child who sits upright and wears a polos-cap. all the canonical features are present . The child faces forward and may be rather stylized or may be rendered with greater detail.) Contemporaneous with the above is a Phi group from chamber tomb 41 at Mycenae (Tsountas 1888. Even in this figurine. the earliest. below the parasol projecting from the left shoulder. It has been suggested that this figure may be a local imitation of a better made example from the mainland. respectively. Mycenaean figurines become dramatically more numerous on the mainland. Olsen the letter T. these figurines are termed kourotrophoi figurines from the Greek for 'child-nurturer'. one-child convention.the child is clasped in front over the left breast of a standing woman of the popular figurine type. Kourotrophoi groups of LH IIIA include several typological forms. it is a highly naturalistic figurine of Proto-Phi type with a long. all of the Phi type. A subset of Mycenaean terracotta figurines adds a child to the woman. Instead of the more typical one-woman. Both of the earlier forms continue to persist with the introduction of the later variants.the Ivory Trio from the citadel of the site of Mycenae (Wace 1949. Of these one was found at Berbati in a tomb containing six adults and a child (Saflund 1965). and the other from chamber tomb 80 at Mycenae. Kourotrophoi variants of each of the three standard types are to be found. on her back. S. One child is nestled against her left breast in the usual formula but. In terms of chronological development. ellipsoidal torso and a short thick stem. and votive deposits. (It has been suggested that Kythera began as a Minoan colony or fell under heavy Minoan influence but. but the majority follow the development of single figure Proto-Phi and Phi types as identified by French (1971). LHIIIA2 contexts have produced six kourotrophos groups. followed by the Tau and Psi types. settlements. Coldstream and Huxley 1972). one from the votive deposit at Aegina. three were found at Mycenae . Marinatos .

attached at the body. Among the latter category is the group in Brussels which is the only published wheel-made kourotrophos (Price 1978). Marinatos 1933. Rutter reports a possible kourotrophos of Late Psi type from Korakou dating to the LH IIIC period. namely tombs. French (1971) reports additional kourotrophoi from the sites of Eutresis and Thebes in Boeotia.imported ivory rather than native clay. None of the Tau kourotrophoi are well preserved. with the participants identified as goddesses with a young god (Wace 1949) or divine nurses caring for a human child after death (Mylonas 1956). the sole Mycenaean kourotrophos figurine found outside of mainland Greece. which was a cist with no extant bones. we have several kourotrophoi for which no date more specific than LH III can be assigned. Additionally. and the third from the Petsas house excavations at Mycenae. and the other from grave A at Voula. carrying a child between them on their shoulders (S. otherwise of canonical proportions.also dates to LH IIIA. Canonical Psi kourotrophos groups are attested at Aegina. it otherwise closely follows traditional compositional conventions. the figure's small plastic arms curve over her chest. now on display at the Alte Museum in Berlin. Eleusis. LHI IIB introduces two new types of kourotrophos figurines to the corpus. From chamber tomb 79 at Mycenae was excavated a group of two female Phi figurines. a second from tomb 1 at Dendra which contained five skeletons. Mylonas 1956). The interpretation of these groups has given rise to much speculation. reportedly from Mycenae (Mollard-Besques 1954). Two terracotta triple groups depicting two women with a single child also appear in LH IIIB. Mycenae. A similar figure was found at chamber tomb 6 at Voula by Papademetriou and Theochares.Women. Most of these explanations focus only on one type of findspot. the child rests on the lap of a seated Phi figurine. attested by two figurines. to the exclusion of . and the child is held in the left arm as usual. but there is some doubt as to whether the Eutresis figurine is actually carrying a child rather than a snake (Goldman 1931) and I have been unable to verify the existence of the latter group. It has often been read as having religious overtones. A final compositional type. Furthermore. in which the child wears similar clothing and jewellery. Here. French (1971) argues that they should be read as related to the triple ivory group from Mycenae. These figurines remain undatable for several reasons: because of their extremely fragmentary condition. Other undatable groups include the Phi figurines from Priphtiani. A variety of explanations for the function of these groups has been proposed. because they derive from excavations very early in this century. etc. as well as the group from Cyprus. This group differs from the rest of the Mycenaean kourotrophoi in that it is the one depiction of child-rearing rendered in a luxury material . and by another group of uncertain origin. Aegina. French (1971) publishes one highly fragmentary group from Mycenae and mentions the existence of an additional six unpublished groups. or because their excavation contexts are no longer known. In both groups. and Mycenae. following the collapse of the Mycenaean palatial system (Rutter 1974). differing from the canonical type. This group depicts two female seated figures accompanied by a male child. While this figurine is unique in its production technique. one from the Louvre. is the seated kourotrophos type.) . children and the family in the late Aegean Bronze Age 387 1973. three kourotrophoi figurines are attested from the transition from LH IIIA to IIIB: one from tomb 35 at Prosymna. Finally. Zygouries. the original Phi type is supplemented by child-carrying Tau and Psi figurines.

Marinatos 1933) or. but came from a votive deposit. The nearest nurturing image in an anthropomorphic setting is substantially earlier . metalwork. This figurine. of the LM III cylindrical-skirted . not in terracotta. argues that Psi figurines especially were divinities to be placed in graves. there are two LMI ivory children from the town of Palaikastro and an LMI bronze infant from the cave of Psychro. similarly. images placing women with young children are virtually absent from Minoan art before the LMIB destructions which herald the Mycenaean presence on Crete. Excavations have recovered no Cretan Middle Minoan or LMI kourotrophos scenes in any medium. and on the two Middle Minoan III faience plaques from the Temple Repositories at Knossos which depict a cow and her calf and a goat with her young. Mylonas (1956). They may be votives.the Early Bronze Age Goddess of Myrtos (EM II). but this depiction is not an image from a Cretan context. stone work. glyptic. and/or household objects. Olsen the others. Kourotrophos imagery in Mycenaean Crete is equally sparse. For example. Minoan art from Cretan contexts does show an interest in the depiction of children. Furthermore. Yet nowhere in all of Minoan art do these elements combine to produce scenes where women nurture children. glyptic. Minoan art depicts in high numbers figurines of individual women. kourotrophoi remain extremely rare. Finally. especially as votives at Minoan peak sanctuaries. Following the LM IB destructions. that many of the graves where kourotrophoi figurines were found show no evidence of containing child burials. What is significant here is that all three of these contexts are loci where the placement of women with infants is emphasized. frescoes. Explanations based on groups found in tombs tend to identify the female figure as a goddess (Mylonas 1956. grave offerings. following S. namely the twenty-seven kourotrophos figurines from Aegina. a terracotta figurine who reserves the space in her arms not for children but for a miniature terracotta juglet resembling those found in excavations at Myrtos (Plate 1). It should be emphasized. or faience. S. figurines from intra-settlement findspots have been suggested to be children's playthings (Blegen 1937). Marinatos (1933). however. Animal mothers and young are depicted in ivory.388 Barbara A. Minoan and Mycenaean Crete In contrast to the numerous kourotrophoi from the Mycenaean mainland. We also see a few group compositions involving women. was not found in either necropolis or a settlement. The sole representation depicts an anthropomorphic mother and child . The most judicious reading might then be that the meaning of these figures varies according to context. but they are never anthropomorphic. presumably graves of children. Others propose that these figurines were deposited in graves to ensure health and fertility (Van Leuven 1994). The closest associated image is the Minoan-inspired fresco from the West House at Akrotiri on the island of Thera where an older child stands near to a woman (LMIA) (Immerwahr 1983).the so-called goddess from the Mavrospelio cemetery near Knossos (Forsdyke 1926-7). Nurturing scenes do occur in Minoan (pre-LMIB) iconography. as a divine nurse who protects the child after its death (Demakopoulou 1996). It is again necessary to note that the largest cache of kourotrophoi figurines.

on two grounds. Her pose is repeated nowhere else in Minoan iconography. Her late date of LM IIIA. Additionally.Women. children and the family in the late Aegean BronzeAge 389 Plate1 'The Goddess of Myrtos. attested at numerous Cretan sites. roughly contemporaneous with the Knossos Linear B tablets. While the cylindrical-skirted goddess is a frequent Late Minoan type. sacred enclosures. she alone holds something in her arms (all other cylindrical-skirted 'goddesses' raise their arms above their heads) and. she was placed in a burial whereas the others of this type most commonly come from shrine areas within settlements. and given her marked . and Psi figurines of the Mycenaean mainland but rather is held face-forward. Mavrospelio included. I contend that she is problematic as a source for Minoan conceptualizations of child care for the following reasons. is rendered in terracotta and holds a small male child. Since burial of figurines is a more common Mycenaean practice.' (Reprinted by permission of Editions Hannibal. This child is not cradled against her left breast as per the Phi. second. several of the cemeteries near Knossos in this period. And her findspot in a burial is highly atypical since Cretan figurines are more commonly found in peak sanctuaries. have unusual features that have prompted suggestions that they were used by an intrusive Mycenaean population. or domestic shrines. Very infrequently are they found in graves.) goddess type. First. the Mavrospelio example is unique among the cylindrical-skirted 'goddesses'. Tau. at arms' length as if in presentation. places her well into the Mycenaean period.

it is not until the eighth century BC that child-rearing scenes are to be found as a regular motif on Crete when they begin to appear at the cave of Cave of Eileithyia. Above all. if not a fundamental difference in gender construction between Minoan and Mycenaean societies. at very least a fundamentally different approach to a gendered social role. Finally. the goddess of childbirth. We see in Minoan iconography images of women in more public contexts: occupying prominent spatial positions in outdoor assemblies and processions. Furthermore. I argue that nothing in Minoan iconographic depictions of divine or human life promotes or even associates women with children. In contrast. either in the Minoan or Mycenaean period. Crete and the mainland cannot be read as sharing identical gender ideologies. This study has several implications. the public rather than the domestic. It is also interesting to note that. however. nothing about her appearance or function implies her use by a 'Hellenized' Minoan rather than by a mainlander on Crete. While the tablets reveal that both Mycenaean women and the women of Mycenaean Crete share the same social role of child-care provider. implying the survival of at least some aspects of Minoan child-care ideology. and acting in religious contexts either as individual worshippers or as officials involved in sacrificial rituals. it is plausible that this figurine may have been produced by a Minoan artist commissioned by a Mycenaean mourner. . First. while Mycenaean Phi and Psi figurines have been found on Crete. that the iconographic record be read as reinforcing culturalspecific conceptualizations of where women's time and energies should be invested.390 Barbara A. The art of Mycenaean Crete continues to follow the Minoan traditions regarding child-rearing scenes rather than adopting the contemporary Mycenaean interest in them. It may not be motherhood per se that is being celebrated in Mycenaean society but rather the locating of women in domestic contexts which is being iconographically reinforced. I suggest. Minoan society does not invest in idealizing women as mothers. none has been a kourotrophos. Motherhood occupies a much more central role in Mycenaean cultural ideology than it does in Minoan. Regardless. This might be surprising in light of the allegations of a matriarchal or goddess-centered Minoan culture and the patriarchal nature of Mycenaean culture. I argue that this represents. It seems instead to place them in capacities other than those associated with the care of infants. interacting with each other either in conversation or in dance. While this 'eternal theme' is certainly resonant with Mycenaean cultural ideology. Conclusion Merrilees (1988) in discussing Cypriot terracotta kourotrophoi refers to mother and child scenes as variations on an eternal theme. it is at best a flimsy one for the Minoans. Aegean societies share no standardized investment in depicting motherhood as women's primary social role. their societies are not uniform in their representations of this role. emphasis is on the social rather than the biological. The second implication of this study is that this difference between Minoan and Mycenaean iconographic interests persists into the Mycenaean period on Crete. Olsen differences from other Cretan figurines. In contrast to previous scholars who have asserted the centrality of mother-child imagery in Minoan religion and society (Evans 1935).

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