THE DOUBLE-AXE: A CONTEXTUAL APPROACH TO THE UNDERSTANDING OF A CRETAN SYMBOL IN THE NEOPALATIAL PERIOD
Article first published online: 5 JAN 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Journal compilation © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Oxford Journal of Archaeology
Volume 29, Issue 1, pages 35–55, February 2010
How to Cite
HAYSOM, M. (2010), THE DOUBLE-AXE: A CONTEXTUAL APPROACH TO THE UNDERSTANDING OF A CRETAN SYMBOL IN THE NEOPALATIAL PERIOD. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 29: 35–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0092.2009.00339.x
- Issue published online: 5 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 5 JAN 2010
The Double-Axe has always been considered as one of the most important religious symbols in Minoan Crete. This paper reassesses the significance of the Double-Axe and puts forward a new interpretation for it. It recognizes the great potential for change in symbolic meanings during the Bronze Age and seeks to understand the Double-Axe in as narrow a period as is realistically possible by filtering out evidence from other periods. Central to the argument is the principle that the meaning of symbols is contextually dependent. It builds, therefore, a new interpretation of the Double-Axe on the basis of as wide a range of contextual associations as possible, both within iconographic sources and in the wider material record. From these contextual associations, it suggests that in the Neopalatial period the Double-Axe was a symbol primarily associated with a social group which exercised power in the economic, military and religious realms and that it became a solely religious symbol only later.