Before Sir Arthur Evans, the principal object of Greek prehistoric archaeology was the reconstruction of history in relation to myth. European travellers to Greece viewed its picturesque ruins as the gateway to mythical times, while Heinrich Schliemann, at the end of the nineteenth century, allegedly uncovered at Troy and Mycenae the legendary cities of the Homeric epics. It was Evans who, in his controversial excavations at Kssos, steered Aegean archaeology away from Homer towards the broader Mediterranean world. Yet in so doing he is thought to have done his own inventing, recreating the Cretan Labyrinth via the Bronze Age myth of the Mitaur. Nan Marinatos challenges the entrenched idea that Evans was thing more than a flamboyant researcher who turned speculation into history. She argues that Evans was an excellent archaeologist, one who used scientific observation and classification. Evans's combination of anthropology, comparative religion and analysis of cultic artefacts enabled him to develop a bold new method which Sir James Frazer called 'mental anthropology'. It was this approach that led him to propose remarkable ideas about Mian religion, theories that are w being vindicated as startling new evidence comes to light. Examining the frescoes from Akrotiri, on Santorini, that are gradually being restored, the author suggests that Evans's hypothesis of one unified goddess of nature is the best explanation of what they signify. Evans was in 1901 ahead of his time in viewing comparable Mian scenes as a blend of ritual action and mythic imagination. Nan Marinatos is a leading authority on Mian religion. In this latest book she combines history, archaeology and myth to bold and original effect, offering a wholly new appraisal of Evans and the significance of his work. Sir Arthur Evans and Mian Crete will be essential reading for all students of Mian civilization, as well as an irresistible companion for travellers to Crete.
Nanno Marinatos is Professor of Classics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. Her publications include Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess: A Near Eastern Koine, Minoan Religion: Ritual, Image, and Symbol and The Naked Goddess and Mistress of Animals in Early Greek Religion. Author residency - Chicago, Illinois, USA.