Marianna Ridderstad. Evidence of Minoan astronomy and calendrical practices

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В данной статье автор делает несколько интересных предположений касательно минойской астрономии и  календарного цикла, нашедших отражение в искусстве (рассматриваются изображения небесных светил, а также солярные и лунные орнаменты), архитектуре (в первую очередь ориентация минойских дворцов относительно восходов Солнца и Луны.

Literary, archaeological and archaeoastronomical evidence on Minoan astronomy and calendrical system has been examined. It is concluded that the Minoan society had religious beliefs and ritual practices, which were closely related to periodical celestial events.
In Minoan art, symbols for celestial objects are frequently depicted, often in clearly religious contexts. The most common are various crosses, spirals and rosettes, which are identified as solar and stellar symbols. The palace of Knossos was amply decorated with these symbols.
A clay disk with an astronomical motif depicted on it has been identified as a Minoan- Mycenaean ritual object showing the most important calendrical cycles, especially the 99-month lunar octaeteris. The disk has been compared with the large Minoan stone kernoi, and it is concluded that both types of disk likely had a ritual purpose related to the calendrical system used by the Minoans. These kinds of ritual calendrical objects were most likely used in the palaces and shrines.
Orientations of Minoan buildings and graves have been examined. The central courts of Knossos, Phaistos, Mallia, and Gournia were oriented to the rising sun, whereas the Eastern palaces Zakros and Petras were oriented to the southernmost and the northernmost risings of the moon, respectively.
The central courts of Knossos and Phaistos were oriented to the sunrise of five days before the vernal equinox or after the autumn equinox. On this date, the rays of the rising sun enlightened a platform, where a statue was likely kept, in the Inner Sanctuary of the Throne Room complex. The date was related to a Minoan festival celebrated on the five epagomenal days in the end of the solar year. The model for this kind of solar calendar probably came from Egypt.
In the Minoan religion, the idea of renewal was central. The myths of Minos and the two goddesses of Minoan origin, Demeter and Persephone include the cycles of eight, which can be related to lunar and Venusian periods. The tradition of Minoan astronomical observations of the sun, the moon, Spica, and to Venus and Spica in conjunction is reflected in these myths.
In Minoan Crete, Spica rose heliacally in early September, before the autumn equinox, marking the grape harvest. One of the orientations of the Knossian Throne Room, the western side of the great court of Gournia, as well as the orientations of the majority of Mesara tholos tombs were towards the heliacal rise of Spica or to sunrise near the date of the heliacal rise. This was probably the time of an important Minoan religious festival, a predecessor of the Classical Eleusinian mysteries.
The religious rituals celebrated in the palaces made use of the alteration of light and darkness, and re-examination of the archaeological evidence available suggests that also reflective properties of materials were made use of. The ceremonies utilizing light and reflection were probably connected to the epiphanies of deities, most importantly the Poppy Goddess, who was a female solar deity, the 'Minoan Demeter'.

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