Representations of the cow and calf in Minoan art
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Research into the depiction of cattle in Minoan Art ha'i concentrated on representations of interaction between men and cattle, in particular, the images of bull sports. This emphasis has detracted from other types of cattle imagery. In this thesis the representation of the cow and calf in Minoan glyptic is assessed. Discussion of representation and meaning are of equal value, as a full understanding of the potential meaning of an image is dependent upon a detailed knowledge of what is represented. Specific anatomical and behavioural details described in the images are therefore compared with known physiological and behavioural characteristics. The Bronze Age representations are found to be very accurate and detailed in their description of the relationship between the cow and calf. Both the aesthetic and social contexts of the image are discussed in detail. The majority of representations of cows and calves are found on seals and sealings. The size, shape and restrictions of the medium as well as the range of potential uses of the stones (administrative, amuletic, jewellery) are considered. Fauna! evidence from Bronze Age Crete and accounts of cattle in Linear B texts confirm the importance of bovines as an integral part of the agricultural system as well as providing evidence of the range of cattle exploited. In discussing the potential meaning of the image, the survey draws on Bronze Age Aegean, Near Eastern and Egyptian evidence and later Greek (in particular Cretan) examples. Evidence from unrelated societies in which the cow is prominent is used as evidence of the diversity of possible meaning. The thesis concludes that it is not possible to categorise the image as specifically religious or secular; the range of potential meanings reflect the importance of the animal in all aspects of Minoan society.