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BSA Friends’ Hybrid lecture

Dr Matthew Haysom, “Men, Women and Others in Minoan Iconography”

Abstract: Throughout the history of Minoan studies scholars have felt that there was something distinctive about the way that Minoans depicted people. Arthur Evans and the first generation of scholars were struck by what seemed to them the dominant position of women in iconography. For some, this reflected a religious system dominated by one or more female divinities. For others, this was evidence of a matriarchal society. Historians of ideas, like Cynthia Eller, have done much to illuminate the wider context of this early scholarship. They situate Evans and his contemporaries in an intellectual tradition concerning a matriarchal prehistory that has deep roots in the European imagination. But, at the same time, there remains a general agreement amongst leading Cretan archaeologists that women really do dominate Minoan iconography. The aim of this lecture is to present the evidence as it is now available to us. What categories of people can we discern in the iconography? How frequently are different categories represented? In what contexts? What are they associated with? Do these patterns reveal anything about Minoan society and its view of the world? And, how do they compare to patterns in the iconography of contemporary nearby societies?

Bio: Dr Matthew Haysom is Lecturer in Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Newcastle. Throughout his career he has had a close connection with the BSA and has lived for many years in Greece. He has held the Macmillan-Rodewald Studentship, the Leventis Fellowship and is a former Curator at Knossos. His work has focussed on the archaeology of religion of the Aegean during the Bronze and Iron Age. He has a broader interest in the history of ancient religions in the eastern Mediterranean.


Hybrid lecture, 5pm (UK) / 7pm (Greece)

Please register here to participate online via Zoom:

Please register here to attend in-person in London (Room G35, Senate House):


Please do consider making a donation.

The Friends of the BSA support the British School at Athens, which is a charity. The Friends organise regular lectures – like this one – and occasional trips to Greece. We also raise funds to support projects of the BSA and recently covered the costs of the final phase of the ‘Digital Thessaly’ project, making the archives of Alan Wace available to the wider public.

You can help us by making a donation here when you attend a lecture (we suggest £10 for Supporters, £15 otherwise): Please quote ‘Friends’ in the additional comments field.

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BSA Friends' Lecture
When: 26 September, 2023 @ 5:00 pm BST
Where: Room G3 Senate House – London – Malet Street