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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Nude and the Dressed: Religious Expressions in the Aegean of the 2nd Millennium B.C.

The nude and the dressed, as antithetical and at the same time supplementary practices, compose one of the many pairs of counterpoint categories which condition and signify the human thought and behavior, therefore the culture in its evolutionary perspective. In the framework of the Aegean civilizations of the 2nd millennium BC, especially in the Minoan but also in the Cycladic and Mycenean civilizations of the Late Bronze Age, the dialogue between nude and dressed, in practical as well as in symbolic level, is exclusively known to us through the various manifestations of art. Particularly interesting is the study of the religious expressions of the subject, on which we are mainly focused in this article. Issues primarily discussed are the complete nudity of humans as well as the meaning of the first dressing of boys -in the framework of the rites de passage — , the rare complete nudity of the deities and also the symbolic stressing of the penis and the female breasts through dressing choices. Reference is also made to the attire of the priesthood and the sacred clothes of deities; the dedication of the latter seems to function as the ritual nucleus of important feasts, many of which will also survive in the historic years.