School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Research Publications

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Numinous tree and stone: re-animating the Minoan landscape.
    Crooks, S ; TULLY, C ; Hitchcock, LA ; Alram-Stern, E ; Blakolmer, F ; Deger-Jalkotzy, S ; Weilhartner, J ; Laffineur, R (Peeters, 2016)
    Iconographic scenes of inferred cultic activity, including the hugging or leaning upon of aniconic stones and the apparent appearance of epiphanic figures in proximity to trees, are suggestive of an animistic conception of the natural world. Architectonic evocations of the numinous sacred landscape, through iconographic representation, cultic paraphernalia, palatial architectural features, extant baetyls and peak sanctuaries, reflect strategies of elite status legitimisation through advertisement of relational associations with landscape. Scenes of epiphanic ritual depicted within apparently natural settings – amongst trees and stones free from architectural elaboration – are suggestive of elite interaction with perceived numinous elements within the landscape, while images of envisioned epiphany imply direct communication between human ritual actors and the animate landscape, achieved through interaction with tree or stone. Stepped cult structures such as shrines and openwork platforms, which may be sat upon by women or surmounted by trees, may have symbolised mountains and facilitated the replication of peak sanctuary ritual in an architecturally elaborated, possibly urban, setting. Interaction with baetyls may appropriate qualities of solidity and permanence, while also enhancing claims to status and authority through evoking ancestor veneration. Evidence of feasting in association with baetyls may suggest their function within programs of social cohesion and the naturalisation of hierarchy in which elites expressed status and generated ritual indebtedness through conspicuous generosity and display. These elements of the Minoan sacred landscape will here be analysed through the lens of animism. In contrast with the influential primitivist evolutionary epistemology expounded by the Victorian comparative ethnologists, animism drawn from cultural anthropology posits a relational epistemology, in which a reflexive relatedness exists between people and the natural environment, which is perceived as being sentient. Rather than providing inert backdrops to ritual performance, the landscape is here reconfigured as sentient and numinous, functioning as a politicised, active agent in the enactment of power.