Minoan Religion

Relatively little is known about the Minoan religion.

It seems to be a polytheistic religion based on the worship of nature. The main deities were representations of the Earth, sea, and sky. Examples are seen in the sculptures pictured below. Seen left is a bird goddess. Interestingly, the goddess is in human form with no wings but wearing a crown of birds. To the right is the snake goddess. The snake was one of the deities representing the Earth. No doubt the Minoans also worshiped the sun. An artifact called the Disk of Phaestos is probably evidence of that.

Certainly, the bull was also a sacred animal. A painted sarcophogus found at Hagia Triada shows blood being taken from a bull. Bulls were most likely used in this manner as sacrifices to the main Minoan gods and goddesses.

Evidence suggests that the Minoans worshipped their gods and goddesses at home and at shrines found on mountains and in caves. People likely went to these shrines to offer sacrifices of food, herbs, or oils to their gods.

One such shrine was located at the top of Mount Juktas near the palace at Knossos. Juktas was believed to be the head of Zeus. Even in classical Greek times, the Minoans maintained that Zeus was born and died each year, even though “proper” Greek mythology said Zeus was immortal.

View other examples of Minoan deities and culture in art

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