Thursday, October 13, 2011


Olga Krzyszkowska (ed.), Cretan Offerings: Studies in Honour of Peter Warren. British School at Athens Studies 18. London: British School at Athens, 2010. Pp. xxxix, 400. ISBN 9780904887624. $158.00.

Reviewed by Vassilis P. Petrakis, National Hellenic Research Foundation (

Version at BMCR home site

(Table of Contents at the end)

Peter Warren is a rare case of a scholar whose academic output covers so many aspects of Minoan studies and who has also advised and inspired many of the field's current protagonists. The quality, quantity and coverage of this collection of articles, assembled on the occasion of the honouree's 70th birthday, directly reflect the relevant properties of his work.

Papers by Warren's former PhD students, presented at a one-day colloquium in the University of Bristol in May 2008 form the core of this volume. The subsequent expansion with more invited contributions resulted in a meeting-place of three generations of Minoan archaeologists, three dozen field companions, colleagues, friends and ex-students, all of whom are established scholars in their own areas of expertise. It is, therefore, no less than remarkable that none of them makes any real effort to associate the chosen subject of their contribution to the honouree's interests. The vast range of the latter allows any study -however specialised and focused- not to look out of place.

Abstracts of individual contributions are bilingual (English and Greek). Immediately following the short Preface, in which the editor narrates the volume's origins, three senior colleagues (Cadogan, Hood, and La Rosa) share their insightful and amusing first-hand experiences of Peter Warren's 'Cretan' life. The honouree's bibliography follows, spanning seven pages in Times New Roman 11 pt typeface! The thirty-six contributions are arranged alphabetically, but it may be more useful to review them in broad thematic groups.

Environment: Rackham, Moody, Nixon and Price review current field systems in Cretan plains (excluding terraced slopes), making the important point that their application and distribution are more indicative of social patterns rather than crop selection and actual land-use.

Theory: Broodbank discusses Braudel's posthumous Les Mémoires de la Méditerranée, an overview of the Mediterranean from earliest prehistory to late antiquity, and places it within later world-systems ideas inspired by Braudelian structures, such as those of Wallerstein and the Sherratts. Simandiraki focuses on depiction modes, perfomativity, absence and containment in order to achieve a fuller treatment of Minoan perception of the human body in 'religious' iconography. In particular, she offers some intriguing suggestions as to the 'completion' of extant imagery by the physical presence of bodies who would accommodate (or be accommodated by) extant imagery (324), recalling Niemeier's suggestion that the presence of an enthroned person would 'complete' the 'enacted epiphany' in the Knossos Throne Room north wall fresco.1

Historiography: Tsipopoulou uses documentation from the Historical Archive of the Greek Archaeological Service to illustrate Evans' work at Knossos (1922-1931) from the perspective of the contemporary administration. A highlight is the enthusiastic response of the 30-year-old ephor, Spyridon Marinatos, to the discovery of the 'Temple Tomb'. D'Agata explores the fluctuating post-Bronze Age peripeteia of the ruin of the 'Palace of Minos' through its successive association, dissociation (including the dislocation of the Labyrinth to Gortys) and re- association to the mythical personae of Minos and Daedalos, culminating in Kalokairinos' discoveries that led Evans to Kephala.

Chronology: Warren's 1989 book with Vrowney Hankey, Aegean Bronze Age Chronology, remains the only synthesis of the topic, something underscored by Wiener's lengthy overview of the Theran eruption date problem, which concludes with an approval of Warren-Hankey's proposal (1530-1525 BC). Erik Hallager returns to the debate on the final destruction of the Knossian administration, where Warren has sided with Popham's early 14th century thesis. Hallager presents evidence for a stirrup-jar with "conventionalised octopus pattern", a type virtually restricted to the 13th century, from the East Wing of the palace, demonstrating firmly that some areas of the palace must have been still in use in this period. Birgitta Hallager argues persuasively that 'Late Minoan (=LM) IIIC Late' and 'Subminoan' were contemporary styles that followed LM IIIC Early and were succeeded by Protogeometric.

Pre-Palatial Crete: Many contributions focus on the Early Minoan (=EM) period, an era illuminated by Warren's prompt and exemplary publication of his excavations at Myrtos. Betancourt publishes a group of storage vessels from Aphrodite's Kephali, a small fortified site dated to the beginning of the EM period, and approaches the vessels as evidence for major change in ceramic technology (use of kilns), as well as storage potential (and the presupposed organizational complexity) in the incipient Bronze Age. Driessen associates the isolated human skull from Myrtos with the adjacent 'Goddess' and argues that both objects articulated a notion of collective group identity, what he has recently called a 'House'. Nowicki discusses the settlement pattern of the broader region around Myrtos, focusing on defensible sites, whose use preceded and succeeded the occupation in Phournou Koryphi. Vasilakis, on the other hand, compares Myrtos to contemporary Trypiti Adami Korfali and emphasises structural differences, such as separate quarters in Trypiti). Cadogan questions the identification of the Myrtos 'Goddess' (of Mirabello fabric), soberly remarking that the image of a female holding an oversized jug originates in a generic link between fertility/ maternity and water, but is insufficient for establishing the figure as a deity. La Rosa presents a new terracotta model from Levi's excavations at Phaistos. An extensive analysis concludes that it probably represented two seated females facing a baetyl. Vlazaki reviews possible evidence for the use of iris oil in Minoan Crete a propos her study of a workshop installation recovered in Chamalevri near Rethymnon. This had been an eagerly awaited publication ever since organic residue data were included in the Minoans and Mycenaeans: Flavours of their time 1999 exhibition. Finally, Branigan offers a dense re-assessment of the phases immediately preceding the rise of the first Minoan palaces ('Late Prepalatial'), and defends both the existence of the 'EM III' as a distinct entity and the term 'palace' as the still more useful appellation for the court-centred complexes of the following phases.

Palatial and Post-Palatial Crete: Poursat offers a compact overview of the history of occupation in Malia. Joseph Shaw reviews the architectural beginnings of palace complexes and appreciates the evidence from Pelon's soundings at Malia. Remains of a large EM II building there may anticipate the significance of the 'West Wing' in later complexes. Hood publishes here the final report of the 1950 excavation of the unplundered Ailias cemetery at Knossos, used throughout the Proto- and Neopalatial phases. Macdonald traces the rise, fall and succession of the 'footed goblet' (also known as 'egg-cup'). Recognising its emergence as an index of "individualised" drinking habits, he also hypothesises that Middle Minoan (=MM) III 'pinched-footed goblets' (of the same type as those bearing the Linear A 'inked' inscriptions) might have simulated and replaced the (by then obsolete) 'footed' type. Platon gives a synthetic approach to the material from Hogarth's 'Pits' at Zakros, discussing the date, provenance and function of each of the objects. He argues that the material, whose unusually high percentage of decorated fineware suggests a non-domestic character, came from the clearance of an important building. The occurrence of lamps and the presence of celestial symbols (mostly crescents) in ceramic relief, allows the association of the material with nocturnal ceremonies, persuasively associated with instances in the moon cycle.

Crete and the outside world: Doumas and Renfrew discuss Cretan-Cycladic relations in the third millennium. Doumas suggests a model of economic interdependence between Crete (contributing resources to the barren islands) and Cyclades (offering metallurgical know-how and maritime services), commenting on the presence of Cycladic elements in Crete versus the scarcity of Minoan imports in the islands. Renfrew tackles the same problem, but asks an intriguing question: Wouldn't we expect Cycladic settlers on Crete (like those supposedly buried in Ayia Photia) to be also attracted by the 'gravity' of the virtually pan-Cycladic ritual centre of Dhaskalio Kavos (Keros)? Christakis examines a pithos (which he establishes as a Cycladic import) from the Knossos Temple Repositories (MM IIIB). A Linear A inscription on its rim records a substantial quantity of wine, plausibly interpreted as an offering within the context of the religious-political significance of Neopalatial Knossos. Bietak makes the attractive and persuasive proposal to identify the New Kingdom naval base of Peru-Nefer with the site of Tel El-Dabca. This would place both the Minoanising frescoes recovered there and the mention of Keftiu ships harboured in Peru-Nefer (BM Papyrus 10056) in new perspective.

Arts, Crafts and Iconography: Warren's Minoan Stone Vases and numerous articles indicate his intense interest in the technical and interpretative aspects of Minoan art. Celebrating this interest, an intriguing gold discoid seal from a Neopalatial chamber tomb at Poros is published by Dimopoulou. It depicts an oversized canine imposed on an ashlar wall with a floral motif, interpreted as marking the high status of the deceased. Evely publishes fully a (Neopalatial?) unfinished flask of red marble from the Knossos Stratigraphic Museum. Excellent images illustrate very well technical details of manufacture. Krzyszkowska provides us with an introduction and general overview of landscape elements in Aegean glyptic. The subject had scarcely been treated before and is here accompanied by high quality images. Nikolakopoulou discusses Middle Cycladic pictorial pottery from Akrotiri (Thera) and associates it with the emergence of nucleated island polities. The occurrence of such pottery in elite contexts elsewhere (Mycenae Shaft Graves, Ayia Irini House A, Knossos Temple Repositories) indicates their value and significance. Pini publishes a four-sided chalcedony prism from a private collection, unique in combining 'talismanic' motifs with human figures and also in its late date (Neopalatial). Maria Shaw observes that the application of a square grid for the execution of complex fresco designs, albeit usual in Crete, on the Mainland is restricted to Pylos, adding to the intriguing 'Minoanising' elements revealed in Michael Nelson's analysis of Pylian architecture (2001 PhD thesis).

Cretan religion: Warren's interest in cult-practice and ritual culminated in his influential Minoan Religion as Ritual Action. Davaras examines thoroughly and refutes the identification of Thylakas as a 'peak-sanctuary', arguing instead for its identification as a Greek mountain shrine. In doing so, he illustrates the pitfalls and difficulties in establishing the identification of a 'peak-sanctuary'. Rethemiotakis publishes a terracotta 'shrine' model from Galatas, which preserves an attached seated female figurine, a feature which recurs in the cylindrical models from Knossos and Archanes (LM IIIC/Subminoan and Protogeometric B respectively). Although Rethemiotakis makes a good case for continuity, it should be noted that the Neopalatial Galatas figure lacks the 'upraised arms' gesture of the later examples, a possibly significant point. Soles compares the Myrtos 'shrine' to the Neopalatial Building B.2 in Mochlos and stresses evidence for cult practice based primarily on ancestor reverence. Gesell reviews the 'Snake Goddess' figures in LM IIIB-IIIC Crete. By examining their associations with other cult symbols or equipment, she concludes that they represent aspects of a single deity, rather than separate ones. Lebessi discusses a peculiar iconographic type from a votive terracotta plaque from Syme, a winged figure flanked by felines(?). Identified with Hermes, this unique type of plausible Bronze Age background is paralleled to the 'Potnios thērōn' on the Mycenaean rhyton from Pylona (Rhodes).

The quality of images is very satisfying, although some papers could have been more copiously illustrated (e.g. B. Hallager). Colour figures have been used wisely, only where they enhance the discussion (Bietak, Dimopoulou, Evely, Nikolakopoulou, Pini).

This splendid collection of scholarly work includes virtually no 'fillers'; every contribution has a sound point to make. Given the uneven quality of most Festschrifts, this is a remarkable exception. The coverage of an impressive range of Cretan Bronze Age themes by such high-standard contributions is suggestive both of the honouree's breadth of scholarship, as well as of outstanding editorship and excellent planning. Any serious student of Minoan archaeology should want to consult one or more of these Cretan Offerings, a most fitting homage to Peter Warren's influential and lasting contribution to the island's prehistory.

Table of Contents

Frontispiece The 'Goddess of Myrtos'. (ii)
Portrait of honouree (v)
Table of Contents (vii-viii)
Abbreviations (ix-x)
List of figures (xi-xvi)
List of tables (xvi)
Abstracts/ Περιλήψεις (xvii-xxvii)
Olga Krzyszkowska: Preface (xxix)
Gerald Cadogan, Sinclair Hood, Vincenzo La Rosa: 'Some reminiscences' (xxxi-xxxii)
Bibliography of Peter Warren (xxxiii-xxxix)
1. Ph. P. Betancourt: 'The EM I pithoi from Aphrodite's Kephali' (1-9)
2. Manfred Bietak: 'Minoan presence in the pharaonic naval base of Peru-nefer' (11-24)
3. Keith Branigan: 'The Late Prepalatial resurrected' (25-31)
4. Cyprian Broodbank: 'Braudel's Bronze Age' (33-40)
5. Gerald Cadogan: 'Goddess, nymph or housewife; and water worries at Myrtos?' (41-47)
6. Kostis S. Christakis: 'A wine offering to the Central Palace Sanctuary at Knossos: the evidence from KN Zb 27' (49-55)
7. Anna Lucia D'Agata: 'The many lives of a ruin: history and metahistory of the Palace of Minos at Knossos' (57- 69)
8. Costis Davaras: 'One Minoan peak sanctuary less: the case of Thylakas' (71-87)
9. Nota Dimopoulou: 'A gold discoid from Poros, Herakleion: the guard dog and the garden' (89-100)
10. Christos C. Doumas: 'Crete and the Cyclades in the Early Bronze Age: a view from the north' (101-105)
11. Jan Driessen: 'The goddess and the skull: some observations on group identity in Prepalatial Crete' (107- 117)
12. Doniert Evely: 'On a lentoid flask of red marble from Knossos' (119-129)
13. Geraldine C. Gesell: 'The snake goddesses of the LM IIIB and LM IIIC periods' (131-139)
14. Birgitta P. Hallager: 'The elusive Late IIIC and the ill-named Subminoan' (141-155)
15. Erik Hallager: 'A note on a lost stirrup jar from Knossos' (157-160)
16. Sinclair Hood: 'The Middle Minoan Cemetery on Ailias at Knossos' (161-168)
17. Olga Krzyszkowska: 'Impressions of the natural world: landscape in Aegean glyptic' (169-187)
18. Vincenzo La Rosa: 'A new Early Minoan clay model from Phaistos' (189-194)
19. Angeliki Lebessi: 'Hermes as Master of Lions at the Syme Sanctuary, Crete' (195-202)
20. Colin Macdonald: 'Rejection and revival of traditions: Middle Minoan II-IIIA footed goblets or eggcups at Knossos' (203-211)
21. Irene Nikolakopoulou: 'Middle Cycladic iconography: a social context for 'A new chapter in Aegean art'' (213-222)
22. Krzysztof Nowicki: 'Myrtos Fournou Korifi: before and after' (223-237)
23. Ingo Pini: 'An unusual four-sided prism' (239-242)
24. Lefteris Platon: 'On the dating and character of the 'Zakros pits deposit'' (243-257)
25. Jean-Claude Poursat: 'Malia: palace, state, city' (259-267)
26. Oliver Rackham, Jennifer Moody, Lucia Nixon and Simon Price: 'Some field systems in Crete' (269-284)
27. Colin Renfrew: Contrasting trajectories: Crete and the Cyclades during the Aegean Early Bronze Age (285- 291)
28. Georgios Rethemiotakis: 'A shrine-model from Galatas' (293-302)
29. Joseph W. Shaw: 'Setting in the palaces of Minoan Crete: a review of how and when' (303-314)
30. Maria C. Shaw: 'A fresco of a textile pattern at Pylos: the importation of a Minoan artistic technique' (315- 320)
31. Anna Simandiraki-Grimshaw: 'The human body in Minoan religious iconography' (321-329)
32. Jeffrey S. Soles: 'Evidence for ancestor worship in Minoan Crete: new finds from Mochlos' (331-338)
33. Metaxia Tsipopoulou: 'The work of Arthur Evans at Knossos as documented in the Historical Archive of the Greek Archaeological Service (1922-31)' (339-352)
34. Andonis S. Vasilakis: 'Myrtos Fournou Korifi and Trypiti Adami Korfali: similarities and differences in two Prepalatial settlements in southern Crete' (353-357)
35. Maria Vlazaki: Iris cretica and the Prepalatial workshop of Chamalevri (359-366)
36. Malcolm H. Wiener: 'A point in time' (367-394)
Index of place names (395-398)
List of contributors (399-400)


1.   In Robin Hägg and Nanno Marinatos (eds.) The Function of the Minoan Palaces, Stockholm 1987, 165-167.

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