During the youths were engaged in a fertility ritual

During the Neolithic period
there was large migration to Crete, the largest of the Aegean islands. Knossos is so far the
earliest known settlement on Crete, the palace was built by the ancient Minoan civilization.
The Minoans were named by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur

Evans who
discovered the ruins of the Knossos palace. Sir Arthur named this ancient
civilization the Minoans after the mythological king Minos who was the ruler at
Knossos. Minoan civilization remained a mystery until Sir Arthur Evans started
an excavation mission and successfully began uncovering the buried ruins of the
complex at Knossos, on Crete’s north coast.(book) The artifacts discovered at the Tomb of Agamemnon and the
Palace of Minos at Knossos on Crete provided evidence about the life and the
physical activities of these ancient Greek civilizations. There is still much
more to known about the Minoans and their culture but with the art they left
behind it enables us to get a sense of the Minoan culture.

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The
palace of Knossos has provided a sneak peek at the Minoan ancient culture from
pottery to frescoes in relief, the image of the bulls pervade the Knossos
complex. Depictions of bulls and bull-leaping people are prominent in major
entrances leading to the central court of the palace complex. Some rooms in the
palace were decorated with wall paintings of bulls. The bull-leaping fresco at
the palace at Knossos dates from about 1450 BCE and depicts the acrobatics of
two white female figures and a red male figure. A bull-leaping scene, vividly depicting how the
spectacular sport was performed. There are three participants, two
white-skinned women and a brown-skinned man. One of the female athletes is
restraining the bull by the horns to reduce its speed so that the leaper,
performing the dangerous backwards somersault, will not be gored. The second
female athlete, behind the bull, is waiting with outstretched arms to catch the
leaper as he lands.(cite). It is possible that these figures represent
performers providing entertainment for the royal family or during a festival.  Another common explanation is that the youths
were engaged in a fertility ritual or rite of passage into manhood because the
bull was seen as a symbol of fertility in ancient times by many cultures.
Ritual bull leaping was likely an activity that incorporated both physical
contest and religious ceremony in a manner similar to later Greek athletic
games.

.

 

Another
artifact found in the Knossos place is the famous Bull’s Head rhyton. It was
made from rocks it has been reconstructed with inlays of shell, rock crystal,
and jasper in the muzzle and eyes. The gold covered wooden horns have also been
reconstructed. This rhyton was dated back to 1450-1400 BCE.  Rythons are almost certainly of ritual
significance they are a series of containers used for pouring liquids. As we
have seen, bulls are a recurrent theme in Minoan art,

and
rhytons were also made in the form of a bull’s head. This rhyton was filled with liquid through a hole in the
bull’s neck, and during ritual libations, fluid flowed out from its mouth
(book)

 

conclusion

As
limited as our understanding for physical activity in Minoan society is, even
less is understood about these practices in the lives of the Mycenaeans. What
is known is derived from archaeological evidence, particularly with bull
imagery or bull worship by the Minoans.

Bull leaping,
and the many other representations of the bull on frescoes, coins, and vases,
was one of many practices in the Cretan bull cult.(cite) The Minoans, along with other ancient cultures, held the
bull in high regard and worshiped it as an idol. The significance of the bull
sheds light on the Minoan relationship with nature and indicates how their
great civilization was once the most advanced in the region.