Is a matriarchal society the solution to our problems?
I’ve just returned from Crete, where I visited the ancient palace of Knossos, and the archaeological museum in Heraklion, where thousands of the artifacts and artworks of ancient Crete are displayed.
The most striking thing about the culture of ancient Crete (or Minoan culture, as it is often called) is how prominent women are. They are everywhere in Minoan artwork, on pottery, frescoes and figurines (small stone statues). They are shown as priestesses, goddesses, dancing and talking at social occasions, in beautiful dresses with their breasts on show. There is a striking fresco of a beautifully dressed woman surrounded by a group of half naked dancing men.
It is clear that – as many archaeologists have agreed – this was a society in which women had very high status; at least as high as men.
Some archaeologists believe that the Minoans worshiped a goddess, and that women were the main religious leaders. Women certainly weren’t oppressed – they obviously took a full and active role in every aspect of life. As a result, some archaeologists have characterised ancient Crete as a matriarchal culture.
What is also striking about the artwork and decorations are the beautiful natural images everywhere – colorful and vibrant images of flowers, birds, fish and other animals, together with beautiful symbols and patterns. These seemed to fill every piece of pottery and every wall space, expressing a deep connection to nature and a sense of its sacredness. The whole culture seemed to have an atmosphere of joy and lightness, a lack of oppression and fear.