Horns of Consecration

Horns of Consecration

"Horns of Consecration" is an expression coined by Sir Arthur Evans to describe the symbol, ubiquitous in Minoan civilization, that represents the horns of the sacred bull. [Horns of consecration are juxtaposed with bulls in many configurations on Late Minoan IIIA2 "larnakes" illustrated by L. Vance Watrous, "The Origin and Iconography of the Late Minoan Painted Larnax" "Hesperia" 6.3 (July 1991), pp 285-307).] The much-photographed poros limestone horns of consecration on the East Propyleia at Knossos ("illustration, right") are restorations, but horns of consecration in stone or clay were placed on the roofs of buildings in Neopalatial Crete, or on tombs or shrines, probably as signs of sanctity of the structure. [Geraldine C. Gesell, "Town, Palace, and House Cult in Minoan Crete" (SIMA, Göthenburg) 1985, p. 62.] The symbol also appears on Minoan seals, [An example is the seal illustrated by Evans, "The Palace of Knossos", "BSA" 7 (1900/01), fig. 9 and as fig. 1 in Karl Kerenyi, "Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life" (Princeton) 1976, and by Joseph Campbell, "Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God" (1964) 1970, fig. 12..] often accompanied by double axes and bucrania, which are part of the iconography of Minoan bull sacrifice. Horns of consecration are among the cultic images painted on the Minoan coffins called "larnakes", sometimes in isolation; they may have flowers between the horns, or the labrys. [Watrous 1991, "passim".]


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