Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier

Friday, March 19, 2021 - 18:30 to 19:30
Event Description: 



Rethinking the 'Priest King' stucco relief from Knossos, Minoan kingship and religion.

Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier

INTERNET LINK: https://uoa.webex.com/uoa/j.php?MTID=m5f0dd18092a116bfbc65ac6906b0fa9a

The painted stucco relief of the ‘Priest King’ (also named ‘Lily Prince’, ‘Prince with Lily Crown’, ‘Prince with Feather Crown’ in different languages) from Knossos is the most popular icon of Crete. It has been copied innumerable time throughout the world. They are sold as replicas, posters and post cards, reside in travel bureaus, welcome worldwide the clients of Greek restaurants, form the logo of a Cretan shipping company, decorate the chimneys of its ferryboats and even the cover of a recent handbook on the Bronze Age of the Aegean. In the parade of Hellenic history from the Bronze Age to the present at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens a male model in the costume of the ‘Priest King’ represented Minoan Crete. The ‘Priest King’ relief formed the icon for Sir Arthur Evans’ ideas about sacral kingship at Knossos and has played for a century an important role in the discussions about Minoan kingship and religion.

However, as will be argued in the seminar, the 'Priest King' relief is not a genuine Minoan work of art of the 2nd millennium BC but a pasticcio of fragments of three different figures created in the late 2nd millennium AD by Emile Gilliéron the younger, Sir Arthur Evans' conservator and artist. All aspects of the 'Priest King' will be discussed, the story of its finding, the development of different versions of the reconstruction, the controversial discussions about the 'Priest King' in the recent decades which can now be raised on a new base after the recent restoration of the piece during the works for the re-opening of the Herakleion Museum and after important observations which were made by Georgios Rethemiotakis, then director of the museum, and the conservator Eleni Papadaki. At the end, a new reconstruction and interpretation of the 'Priest King' will be presented, which will provide new evidence about Minoan sacral kingship and religion.