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Mycenaean skulls: “αμενηνά κάρηνα" or social actors in Late Helladic metaphysics and society?

Gallou, Chrysanthi



Eva Alram-Stern

Fritz Blakolmer

Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy

Robert Laffineur

Jorg Weilhartner


Bodily fragmentation with particular focus to the ceremonial removal and re-deposition of the skull, has formed part of a complex system of post-mortem rites and ancestor cults since prehistory; “a powerful statement that surfaces in the iconography, mortuary practices, and political agendas of many cultures”.1 The Aegean archaeological record has provided numerous examples for postfunerary treatment and ritual re-deposition of skulls from the Mesolithic onwards and various studies have put the practice in the proscenium of Aegean ritual with particular focus on the Neolithic and Minoan periods.2 On the other hand, less research has focused on headless skeletons and bodiless skulls in the Mycenaean mortuary record. This study aims to investigate the preferential selection of the skull in Late Helladic post-funerary contexts, and to offer insights into how second funeral rites and the manipulation and display of the cranium might have been employed to serve and preserve community cohesion, ancestral ties and memory in Mycenaean society.

Acceptance Date Oct 19, 2015
Online Publication Date May 1, 2016
Publication Date May 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 2, 2019
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue 39
Series Title Aegaeum
Book Title Metaphysis: ritual, myth and symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age: proceedings of the 15th International Aegean Conference, Vienna, Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology, Aegean and Anatolia Department, Austrian Academy of Sciences ...
ISBN 978-90-429-3366-8
Keywords Aegean; Mycenaean; Archaeology; Death; Commemoration; Ancestor Cult; Ritual
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