The Minoan Epiphany - A Bronze Age Visionary Culture
The art and iconography of the Minoan civilisation of Bronze Age Crete is rightly described as having a refreshing vitality with a fortunate combination of stylisation and spontaneity in which the artist is able to transform conventional imagery into a personal expression.
The dynamism, torsion and naturalism evident in Minoan art stands in stark contrast to the hieratic rigidity of other ancient civilisations, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the iconography of the Minoan Epiphany, a set of mainly glyptic (rings, seals, and seal impression) images which appear to depict religious celebrants experiencing direct and seemingly ecstatic encounters with deities.
This collection of essays explores this central aspect of Minoan religion, taking a strongly archaeological focus to allow the artefacts to speak for themselves, and moving from traditional ‘representational’ interpretations into ‘embodied’ perspectives in which the ecstatic capabilities of the human body throw new light on Aegean Bronze Age ritual practices. Such ideas challenge rather passive assumptions modern Western observers hold about the nature of religious feelings and experiences, in particular the depictions of altered states of consciousness in ancient art, and the visionary potential of dance gestures.
Speculative asides on the potential for a Minoan origin for Classical Greek humanism, and hints in the imagery on ancient Cretan conceptions of the cosmos, are set against sound archaeological theories to explain this lively and dynamic corpus of images.
Beautifully illustrated with images and sketches of the relevant artefacts, this wide-ranging volume will stimulate audiences with archaeological, prehistorical and spiritual interests, as well as historians of religion and art. ‘The Minoan Epiphany’ also represents an influential antecendent to the Visionary Humanist philosophy which forms the majority of Bruce’s current independent research interests.