Issue 10, November 2008
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News of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA)
Scientific Conference on the Minoan World
A scientific conference on the Minoan World was held in conjunction with the exhibition "From the Land of the Labyrinth"

In conjunction with the exhibition “From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete: 3000-1100 BC” that ended recently, the affiliated Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) organised a most successful conference on the Minoan Civilisation, on Saturday, September 13th, 2008, at the Onassis Cultural Centre in New York. Titled “The Minoan World: Exploring the Land of the Labyrinth”, the conference attracted many distinguished professors and scientists from Greece and the USA.

 
 

Greek Ambassador Lucas Tsilas referred to the exchange of views during the conference as “a wonderful scientific experience.” “Some scientists”, he noted, “claimed that the Minoan Civilisation received influences from the Middle East, almost 5,500 years ago, whereas others argued that there was certainly a human interaction, but there was also an exchange of motives, artifacts, ideas, and not necessarily one of immigration or colonisation.”

(Left to right) Speakers James Muhly, Malcolm Weiner, and Robert Koehl with panel coordinator Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki
(Left to right) Speakers James Muhly, Malcolm Weiner, and Robert Koehl with panel coordinator Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki

General Director of Antiquities, Emeritus (Hellenic Ministry of Culture), Dr. Yannis Tzedakis, discussed the significance of the exhibition today, pointing out that “History teaches us about the effort of the great powers to be great powers, without them knowing that great powers rise and fall. If the viewers of the exhibition understand this, I hope that they will think for a moment that no power can ever be perennial. It is really worth looking beyond objects as artworks.” 

The first session of the conference, chaired by Dr. Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, curator of the exhibition about the Minoan Civilisation and director of the 25th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Crete, was concerned with human movements, trade, the import and processing of metals mainly in the early years of the Minoan Age, in the 3d millennium BC. Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the University of Pennsylvaniaand Director Emeritus of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece, Dr. James Muhly, gave a talk about the first use of metals and the beginnings of maritime trade. Dr. Robert Koehl, Professor of Aegean and Classical Archaeology at the Department of Classical and Oriental Studies of Hunter College, CUNY, discussed the role of Ghassulian Culture in the development of early Bronze Age Crete. The specific case of the island of Kea, seen in connection with Minoan Thalassocracy, was discussed by Dr. Malcolm Weiner, President of the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Aegean Prehistory in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Top: Ambassador Lucas Tsilas, Executive Director of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), during his opening address<br />
Bottom: The conference attracted eminent archaeologists and other scientists from Greece and the U.S.A.
Top: Ambassador Lucas Tsilas, Executive Director of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), during his opening address
Bottom: The conference attracted eminent archaeologists and other scientists from Greece and the U.S.A.

The second session focused on Minoan agriculture, economy, and architecture. Presentations were given by the independent scholar Dr. Anaya Sarpaki, who talked about the Olive and the Vine in Minoan agriculture; Dr. Jeffrey S. Soles, Professor at the Department of Classical Studies, University of North Carolina, and co-director of the Greek-American excavations at Mochlos, Crete; Dr Thomas M. Brogan, Director of the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, who talked about the economy of Mochlos circa 1500 BC; and, finally, Dr. Eleni Mantzourani, Full Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Athens, who talked about the architecture of the Minoan “Villas” of East Crete.

Minoan religious beliefs were covered by the topics of the conference’s third session, which was chaired by Dr. Yannis Tzedakis. Dr. Alexandra Karetsou, Honorary Ephor of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Heraklion, Crete, discussed the case of Mount Juktas; Dr. Marisa Marthari, Director of the 21st Ephorateof Prehistoric and. Classical Antiquities for the Cyclades and Samos, gave a talk on the Minoan Religious Symbols in the Cyclades, and Dr. Thomas G. Palaima, Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, talked about Linear B Writing.

In the fourth session of the conference, Dr. Yannis Tzedakis talked about the Minoan necropolis and industrial town of Armenoi; Dr. Katerina Kopaka, Associate Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Crete, discussed the relation between the Isle of Gavdos and Minoan Crete, while Dr Jennifer Moody, Research Fellow at the Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin, gave a talk about the influence of climate change on Cretan life in the Bronze Age.

photos: Costas Beis

 
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