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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mystic mountains and sacred caves : re-examining Minoan extra-urban sanctuaries Sauvé, Isabelle Tonia


This thesis explores the functions and social organization of the Minoan Neopalatial peak and cave sanctuaries. Despite the large body of scholarship on this subject, there is much deliberation concerning the differences in architecture, the functions, and the social organization of both types of sanctuaries. Many scholars believe that the peak and cave sanctuaries were used for a range of ritual activities, where male and female worshippers were segregated in different spaces. While previous studies have only taken an aggregated approach to extra-urban sanctuaries, this study analyzes individual sites to provide a more a detailed and holistic approach to these types of sites. This study also positions itself in current gender scholarship in the field, challenging previous assumptions made about gender in the Minoan world. Instead, I use an inclusive feminist framework to approach gender in a more nuanced way. Using socio-spatial analysis, I examine the sanctuaries of Petsophas, Juktas, and Psychro to understand the architectural and social distinctions between the two types of sanctuaries and how they relate to differences in function. I also attempt to identify the groups of people using these two types of sanctuaries and determine whether they differ according to gender. Socio-spatial analysis is a useful tool to examine how the built environment can influence social behavior. Architecture can encode meanings that communicate social information to its users. This includes information about whether a space is private or public, high or low status, and male or female. The artifact assemblages found within architectural remains also provide insights into the activities taking place in certain spaces as well as the social identities of those performing the activities. The analysis of the architectural remains and artifact distributions of Petsophas, Juktas, and Psychro demonstrate that while the architecture between peak and cave sanctuaries differs, they were used for the same ritual functions including votive depositing, pouring of libations, and ritual sacrifice or feasting. This study also demonstrates that the sanctuaries were not gender segregated, but rather that male and female worshippers participated together in ritual.

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