Μαντζουράνη Ελένη, Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Ελευθέριος Πλάτων, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Γεώργιος Βαβουρανάκης, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Figures with long robes, recurring theme in the Creto-Mycenaean art, form one of the specific elements encompassing strong symbolism. Been adopted through the exchanges with eastern cultures, this kind of garment is transformed in several versions in its Aegean style, in terms of length, sleeves, folds, decoration or even fabric type. Researchers have assumed several aspects regarding its purpose for the societies of that era.
This thesis attempts the demonstration and the analysis of the long robe in the Aegean iconography through 93 artistic representations from the Cyclades, Cyprus, Crete, and the mainland of Greece. Furthermore, it aims to point out its social and ideological contribution, by examining the possible institutional role of the figures that wore it. It is worth mentioning that the first iconographic reference of a long-robed figure was established already by the middle of the Early Minoan period in Crete. However, the vast majority of the representations of figures wearing the aforementioned garment in the Aegean are found in the Late Bronze Age, when iconography art reached its highest point. Long robes are portrayed more frequently in different seals and sealing rings, due to the functional use of these objects, their value and ideological substance, and the fact that they were inextricably linked to social structures. However, it is the art category of the frescoes in which the long robe is depicted being worn by a variety of figures participating in ritual events.
The first two chapters include a brief introduction to the subject, the thesis orientation, as well as a short overview of the research history. In the following three chapters, the data according to geographical regions are presented. Cyclades and Cyprus are examined in the same chapter. The representations compose a list with a continuous ascending number. The examined material has been divided into categories of sculpture, great painting, figurines, ceramics and objects from other materials. In each geographical region, categories are presented according to the number of representations in them. In each category, the data are listed in chronological order, from oldest to newest. Attempts are made to identify the long-robed figures based on their position, posture and characteristics, association with other figures that may exist in the same image, as well as their surrounding space.
In the sixth chapter the importance of the long garment in the prehistoric Aegean societies is analysed in as much detail as space permits. The discussion is conducted in four subchapters, that focus on the parameters of society, religion, gender, and rites of passage. The narrative character of the representations transfers overtime messages of political, social, ideological, even aesthetic principles and values of the Aegean noble class. Given the particularity of the aforementioned garment, its symbolism, as well as the context of the institutional character of the figures that wore it, the religious and/or social interpretations that emerge are discussed. Eight plots aid in drawing interesting conclusions.
The long garment is worn mainly by male figures, but it is also depicted as a garment of females, or, in some cases, of indeterminate gender. The ceremonies were probably not only religious but also secular in nature especially if they originated from a socio-political basis. The approaches of the painters and the artists of Creto -Mycenaean iconography justify the social constitution of the prehistoric Aegean era, the relationships between the societies, as well as the relationships between these and the other civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean.
As Aegean culture was more or less theocratic, social and religious spheres where not clearly distinguishable. In addition, as a presence of a priesthood is also indicated, the scholars assume that these garments are sacred. The inadequacy of written sources and the fragmentation of the most of the remains, make struggle with the religious and/or social interpretations. Nevertheless, as research is a continuous process, the elements are reexamined through different scientific approaches, while new archaeological data are added and studied comparatively.