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In festive mood…


Fragment of a fresco depicting female figures on a balcony

National Archaeological Museum

Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities, inv. no. P 1015


Origin: Acropolis of Mycenae, House of Staircase

Dimensios: Length 14,1 cm, height: 10,0 cm, depth: 3,0 cm

Dating : 14th cent. BC

Exhibition Place: Exhibition of Mycenaean Antiquities, Hall 4, Showcase 20


In the fresco fragment with the rare representation, the two best preserved out of the three depicted female figures, are watching in amazement a public spectacle from the window or balcony of a decorated building. With their left arm over the railing, they display the typical short-sleeved waistcoat of Mycenaean costume. One woman brings, in a sign of surprise or admiration, her right hand to her face, while the figure sitting in front of her, with slightly raised head, has a similar expression. The garlands hanging above them, of flowers or jewels, highlight the festive character of the scene.

It is possible that the three women enjoy a magnificent procession such as those depicted in wall paintings of Crete, Tiryns and Thebes, where women wearing colorful costumes and impressive jewelry carry, accompanied by music and dance, flowers, luxurious vases and other offerings to shrines of various deities.

Linear B tablets record festivals dedicated to gods associated with the change of seasons and the corresponding agricultural or livestock works. In this context, large banquets where thousands of citizens participated, were organized as part of the local ruler’s obligation, with the aim to maintain his popularity and strengthen the social ties between his subjects, as well.

At least four major feasts have been identified in the tablets of Pylos and Knossos, which were related to the harvest, the “holy marriage”, the performance of libations but also to the theophoria, the ritual transport of the divine idol, something not unknown in classical Greece.


Dr. Eleni Konstantinidi-Syvridi



Warren, P. “The fresco of the garlands from Knossos”, L’Iconographie minoenne. Actes de la table ronde d’Athènes (21-22 avril 1983), BCH 11 (1985), 187-208.

Wright, JC, The Mycenaean Feast, Princeton, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2004.

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