The Sarcophagus of Ayia Triada

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The Sarcophagus of Ayia Triada

excavated at Ayia Triada, near the palace site of Phaistos


This stone sarcophagus is very well preserved and has the typical vivid colors of Minoan painting. The colors are better and more luminous than in other paintings which have survived, no doubt due to the unusually good conditions which preserved it. The costumes and objects in the painting are also typical Minoan.

The image is of a solemn procession. The side picture, among stylized floral friezes, shows a scene of preparation for a religious rite. It ends in a bull sacrifice - the rite is probably related to the funeral.

Minoan lines do not confine figures to flat two-dimensional forms such as in Egypt, but are fluid and dynamic. The gestures are naturalistic and do not contain excessively rigid conventions.

On one of the sides of the sarcophagus there is a painting of a priestess or queen carrying blood from a sacrifice to hand to another priestess, who then empties them in a receptacle between two double axes. Some have argued that the Minoans practiced human sacrifice, but the evidence is inconclusive either way.

The site at Ayia Triada is an early Minoan city, not as grand as Knossos. Two early Minoan tholos tombs with their funerary rooms were discovered there with well preserved objects.

Sarcophagus of Ayia Triada
Detail from Sarcophagus

Minoan Religion

Part of The Minoans a HistoryWiz exhibit

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