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Aegaeum 42: The Cultic Life of Trees in the prehistoric Aegean, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus

by: Tully, C.J.

Category: Aegaeum (Annales d'archeologie egeenne de l'Universite de Liege et UT-PASP)
Code: 24164
ISBN-13: 9789042937161 / 978-90-429-3716-1
ISBN-10: 9042937165 / 90-429-3716-5
Publisher: Peeters
Publication Date: 2018
Publication Place: Leuven
Binding: Cloth
Pages: 332
Book Condition: New
Comments: Aegaeum (Annales d'archeologie egeenne de l'Universite de Liege et UT-PASP), 41

The Cultic Life of Trees in the Prehistoric Aegean, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus

Aegaeum (Annales d'archéologie égéenne de l'Université de Liège et UT-PASP), 42

Authors: Tully C.J.

This research examines 44 images of Minoan tree cult as depicted in sphragistic jewellery, portable objects and wall paintings from Late Bronze Age Crete, mainland Greece and the Cyclades. The study also compares the Aegean images with evidence for sacred trees in the Middle and Late Bronze Age Levant, Egypt and Cyprus. The purpose of this investigation is the production of new interpretations of Minoan images of tree cult. Each of the chapters of the book looks at both archaeological and iconographic evidence for tree cult. The Aegean material is, in addition, examined more deeply through the lenses of modified Lacanian psychoanalytic modelling, “new” animism, ethnographic analogy, and a Neo-Marxist hermeneutics of suspicion. It is determined that Minoan images of tree cult depict elite figures performing their intimate association with the numinous landscape through the communicative method of envisioned and enacted epiphanic ritual. The tree in such images is a physiomorphic representation of a goddess type known in the wider eastern Mediterranean associated with effective rulership and with the additional qualities of fertility, nurturance, protection, regeneration, order and stability. The representation of this deity by elite human females in ritual performance functioned to enhance their selfrepresentation as divinities and thus legitimise and concretise the position of elites within the hegemonic structure of Neopalatial Crete. These ideological visual messages were circulated to a wider audience through the reproduction and dispersal characteristic of the sphragistic process, resulting in Minoan elites literally stamping their authority on to the Cretan landscape and hence society.

Table of Contents iii
Table of Tables vii
Table of Figures ix
Acknowledgements xv
Chronologies used in this study xvii
Introduction 1
Part 1. Background and Methodology
Chapter 1. Review of the Literature 5
Tree Cult as Evidence of Primitivism 6
Ethnographic Analogy 8
Use of Glyptic Imagery to Explain Actual Cult Sites 9
Interpretations and Misinterpretations of Cult Structures 10
“Fertility Goddess” and “Vegetation God”? 12
Glyptic Images as Components of Ritual Narratives 13
Explaining the Actual Tree 16
Elite Ideology 19
Scope for Further Research 19
Chapter 2. Theoretical Framework 21
Four Categories of Minoan Tree Cult 21
Triangulating the Approach 22
Architectural Analysis 22
Parergon and Miniatursation 23
Iconographic Analysis 24
Peircean Semiotics 24
Towards Meaning 25
Animism 26
Ethnographic Analogy 26
Ideology 27
Part 2. The Aegean
Chapter 3. Trees in Rocky Ground 31
Images Discussed 32
Location in the “Real” Landscape 32
Types of Location 36
Rural Sanctuary 36
Sacred Grove 37
Garden 38
The Parergon and Miniatursation Restrict Identification of Location 39
Landscape Elements – The “Imaginary” 39
Trees 40
Rocks 41
The “Symbolic” – What do These Signs Mean 42
Human Figures in Landscape with Epiphany 42
Epiphany Suggests Animism 43
Elites Communicate with Landscape – Trees and Rocks 44
How Do They Do This? – Possession 44
What the Tree and Stone May Represent 46
Cosmology 47
Mountains 48
What This Says About the Character of Minoan Religion 48
Ideological Landscape 50
Conclusion 51
Chapter 4. Trees, Walls and Gates 53
Images Discussed 54
(Mis)Identifying Different Built Structures 54
Walls 54
Gateways 55
Sacred Enclosure Walls 57
Location in the “Real” Landscape 59
Potential Sites 59
Types of Location 64
The Parergon and Miniatursation Restrict Identification of Location 65
The “Imaginary” – Not Scenes but Signs 66
The “Symbolic” – What do these Signs Mean? 66
Procession 67
Dancing 69
Authority 70
Conclusion 72
Chapter 5. Trees and Cult Structures 75
Images Discussed 76
(Mis)Identifying Different Structures 76
Columnar Structures 76
Ashlar Altars 79
Tripartite Shrines 80
Constructed Openwork Platforms 81
Incurved Altars 83
Table Altars 84
Altars with Horns 84
Location in the “Real” Landscape 86
Potential Sites 86
The Parergon and Miniatursation Restrict Identification of Location 93
The “Imaginary” – Signs of Relationship with Nature 93
Urban Bāmāh 93
The “Symbolic” – What do These Signs Mean? 96
Conclusion 97
Part 3. Interconnections / koiné
Chapter 6. Trees and Boats 101
Images Discussed 102
Previous Scholarship – Supernatural or Ritual Scene 102
Location in the “Real” – Minoan Seafaring 107
Background 107
Southern Aegean 109
Thalassocracy 110
Long Distance 110
The Parergon and Miniatursation Restrict Identification of Location 112
Tree Cult and Seafaring – The “Imaginary” 113
The Conceptual / Numinous Wood and Water 113
The “Symbolic” – What do These Signs Mean? 118
Cultic Considerations 118
Females, Trees and Boats 119
Elite Ideology 120
Conclusion 122
Chapter 7. Trees in the Levant and Egypt 123
Previous Scholarship 123
Biblical and Ugaritic Texts 124
Iconography – The Imaginary and Symbolic 126
Syro-Mesopotamian Glyptic, Sculpture and Wall Painting 126
Levantine Metal Pendants, Figurines and Plaques 128
Levantine Glyptic 129
Levantine and Egyptian Terracotta and Stone Plaques 130
Levantine Terracotta Figurine 130
Painted Pottery 131
Egyptian Wall Painting, Funerary Equipment and Texts 132
Location in the Real Landscape 134
Bāmôt 134
Bronze Age Bāmôt 135
The Palace of Zimrilim at Mari 136
Qatna 137
Megiddo 137
Nahariyah 138
Tel ?Ashir 138
Lachish 139
Gezer 139
Tell el Dabca 140
Conclusion 141
Chapter 8. Trees in Cyprus 143
Images Discussed 144
Cypriot Cylinder Seals 144
Three Iconographic Styles 146
Common Style 147
Bronze Cult Stands 148
Cultic Elements 149
Tree 149
Human Figures 151
Ingots 152
Bucrania and Snakes 153
Chairs/Thrones 154
Location in the Real Landscape 155
Bronze Age Sanctuaries 155
Ayios Jakovos Dhima 155
Athienou 157
Kalopsidha Koufos 159
Myrtou Pighades 159
Kition 160
Conclusion 162
Final Summary 163
Abbreviations 165
Works Cited 167
Glossary 199
Appendix A. Images of Minoan Tree Cult 203
Appendix B. Aegean Comparative Images 235
Appendix C. Levantine, Egyptian and Cypriot Images 285

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Aegaeum 42: The Cultic Life of Trees in the prehistoric Aegean, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus

by: Tully, C.J.

  • ISBN-13: 9789042937161 / 978-90-429-3716-1
  • ISBN-03: 9042937165 / 90-429-3716-5
  • Peeters, Leuven, 2018