Minoan snake goddess Picture

Snake Goddess indicates figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1,600 BC. These figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the snake appears as "the snake of the household", and they are probably related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity.
The snake goddess's Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means "mistress".
While the statuette's true function is somewhat unclear, her exposed and amplified breasts suggest that she is probably some sort of fertility figure. The figurines may illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women, however, it is also possible that bared breasts represented a sign of mourning. Homer gives a literary description of this kind of mourning, and this was also observed by Herodotus among Egyptian women.
The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in Hindu mythology. The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. However, Nilsson noticed that in the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.
Barry Powell suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne ("utterly pure" or "the very holy one"), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs. Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte ("virgin daughter"). She was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. In a relative Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess who Zeus abducted and carried to Crete. Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet but did not pursue this connection. Statuettes similar to the Snake Goddess identified as priest of Wadjud and magician were found in Egypt.
[From Wikipedia].

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