Temple of Anemospilia

Topics: Sacrifice, Human sacrifice, Minoan civilization Pages: 8 (3123 words) Published: May 20, 2011
General overview:
The temple of Anemospilia is a rather unique find, not only for its size but for its location and the way it is built. Most agree that it was most definitely destroyed by an earthquake and resulting fire; some say the earthquake was a result of an eruption by the nearby volcano Thera. When J. Sakellarakis excavated the site in 1979, he found three bodies, along with many pots, pans, food items and jars. Most temples of that time in Crete were built with labyrinthine-like walls and doorways, whereas this temple is built with simple walls, floors and doorways. It is also a lot smaller than most buildings of its type, this has led to many questions, both by historians and archaeologists. Why was the temple built in such a way? Was the man in the West Room sacrificed because the people knew the earthquake was coming and wanted to please the gods? Each room sheds more light onto the mystery, however, as with many cases like this, it is merely a form of guesswork when it comes to working out what really happened here. Purpose of each room:

Inside the temple, there are three chambers, along with an annex that leading into the rooms. The east chamber was probably the holding room, or pantry to the gods. A stepped alter was found inside it, along with countless vessels of pottery. On the floor were remnants of honey, milk, peas and grains, which were also found in the bottoms of some of the jars. When these jars were put back together, some showed religious scenes and rituals. This evidence all points towards this room being used a storage chamber. The annex, a room on the outside of the building; contained a skeleton who most probably died when the earthquake hit. It is impossible to tell if the person is male or female, as their entire pelvic area has been completely obliterated by the falling stones in the roof. A jar was found in their hands, along with woven cloth, vases, pithoi and cooking pots scattered all around. As this room held pots and jars that could possibly contain blood, i believe this was the room where things other than food were stored. A pair of clay feet were found in the central chamber, probably left over from the fire that blazed through the temple. The evidence for this lies in the burnt wood and ash lying around its base. As well as this, many large utensils were found, almost the entire floor was covered with vases. Howveer, the most interesting thing about this entire room is the piece of rock intruding into the building. It would have been allowed to stay as it represented ‘The Sacred Earth’. The Minoans considered earth, along with sea and sky, to be the eternal elements of the world. In hte gathering of this information, its my estimate that this was the room used for worship, and to prepare the sacrifices and offerings to the gods. The last room, being the Western chamber, is probably the most fascinating of all. Caught in mid-sacrifice, and frozen at that point in time. Its inhabitants tell the story of what was probably a frightened people doing their best to ward of the impending earthquake. This would have been the blood sacrifice room, used primarily to take the life of bulls, smaller animals, and at extreme times, human beings. The entrance is to the east and not at the centre; as is the way in the other rooms. This could have been to mark it out as ‘special’ and sacred. Human sacrifices in Crete at that time usually had the blood drained out of them, the table in the western room is used specifically for this purpose. Role of each person and the manner of each person’s death: There are 4 people of interest in this find. First of all is the person in the Annex. Due to the way they were found (with their entire pelvic area crushed and in the position of having just fallen) we can safely say that they probably weren’t a blood sacrifice. They are also holding a jar that could possibly contain blood, whether that of the sacrifice next door or a bull’s blood. Their bones...
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