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Sacred Prostitution in Minoan Crete? A New Interpretation of Some Old Archaeological Findings

Lefteris Platon


Sacred prostitution remained for several years a taboo topic in the study of the ancient Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Despite the fact that some ancient writers refer to it, several scholars doubted its practices in the frame of the noble Greek civilization. Recently, R. Strong put the question, re-interpreting archaeological data from sites reported as places in which sacred prostitution took place.

Regarding Minoan archaeology, the single reference to the subject is included in Nikolaos Platon’s notes on his lectures for the students of the Thessaloniki University. There, the question is cited, with a positive answer considered possible, especially on the basis that the Paphian Aphrodite’s “Tri-partite Shrine” originates from Crete. Some years later, in Zakros, Platon excavated a building, the architecture and the finds of which could be connected with this matter. The paper re-examines the data from this structure, attempting to give a new interpretation of its function and significance.


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