Ever since Arthur Evans discovered the delightfully elegant world of the Minoans, the numerous depictions of seemingly important women have been difficult to ignore. These women, however, are invariably considered to be goddesses, or at the very least, in service to a/the goddess. This study attempts to make a case for a number of these “goddesses” to be allowed entry into the secular world. Such prominent women should not automatically be relegated to the sacred sphere in time-honoured binary fashion where men hold power in a temporal capacity and women can only do likewise within a religious framework. Our cultural expectations, both present and inherited, should be suspended and the archaeological record itself be given the opportunity to speak for itself.
Chapter 1 outlines the plot, introduces the characters and sets the scene for enactment of the Minoan drama. The historical background forms the backdrop against which all future interpretations are played out. Chapter 2 endeavours to tease out the reasons for the original deification of a number of Minoan women and to assess how “gender-neutral” these assessments have been. Chapter 3 presents the myriad ways in which Bronze Age women in the Mediterranean participated in their communities. It also attempts to make a case for the influence and power Minoan women might have had: with particular reference to their links with saffron. Chapter 4 presents two case-studies: the “goddess” from Xeste 3 at Akrotiri and the “goddess” on the Mochlos ring. The denouement comes in Chapter 5.