CULT ACTIVITY ON CRETE IN THE EARLY
DARK AGE: CHANGES, CONTINUITIES AND
THE DEVELOPMENT OF a 'GREEK' CULT
Anna Lucia D'Agata
Certainly to a greater extent than on the Greek continent,1 the study of cult activity on Crète in the Early Dark Age has been carried out with the assumption of cultural continuity between the Bronze Age and the Early Archaic period, and it is undeniable that on the island the continuity of formal elements of Minoan derivation is tangible at least up to the beginning of the Archaic period.
In the 1980s the key site for supporters of continuity was the sanctuary of Kato Symi on the Dikti massif, the excavation of which has been considered the symbol of uninterrupted Cretan cult activity from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age (Lebessi 1981, 2002). It is also worth noting that at least until the 1980s the idea of persistence has rarely been considered in terms of contradicting the alleged Doric invasion of the island, also taken more or less for granted until the last few years (Desborough, Last Mycenaeans, Dark Ages; Coldstream 1984b, 1991; Musti 1985).
Over the past twenty years the matter has been taken in somewhat different terms. It is now widely acknowledged that even if continuity of use can be demonstrated for some places, the problem remains of trying to piece together a detailed picture of the transformation mechanisms and the developments of cult activity between the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages. In other words, continuity in the use of a given site in terms of cult activity does not automatically imply persistence of the same cult practices and identical religious beliefs on the same site over the centuries.2 Secondly, it is now clear that on Crète itself, as indeed in Greece,3
1 For cult activity in Greece in the Early Dark Age, see Mazarakis-Ainian, Dwellings; Morgan
1996; Morgan in Isthmia: 378–94; Lemos, Protogeometric Aegean: 221–4.
2 See, e.g., the case of the open-air sanctuary of Agia Triada, D'Agata 1997, 1998, 1999.
3 See among others Deger-Jalkotzy 1994, 1998a, 1998b. On Dark Age Greece see now the many
papers focusing on regional contexts included in this volume.