What is the significance of this scene? Scenes of human figures leaping across bulls are found on a large number of objects, along with other scenes that involve chasing bulls into nets, attacking bulls with weapons, and so on; bull-leaping may have been one part of a larger ritual or ceremony involving bulls. In any event, bull-sports were clearly important in Minoan Crete, and are especially associated, to judge by the iconographic evidence, with Knossos.Show E.g. Younger 1983, p. 78; Shaw 1993.
The Mycenaeans on the Greek mainland would also adopt at least the iconographic conventions if perhaps (?) not the actual practice, with depictions of bull-leaping and associated bull-sports unearthed in Mycenae, Pylos, and elsewhere. A bull-leaping fresco, almost certainly made by Minoan artists, has even been discovered at Tell el-Dab’a (Avaris) in Egypt. Later Greeks would tell stories of Heracles and Theseus wrestling bulls, which are perhaps faint memories of ancient practices or inspired by contemporary bull-sports.
Finally, where did the Minoans perform their bull-leaping? Some believe that the activity took place in the Central Courts of the Minoan palaces, but limitations in space, the dangers posed to the audience, and the stone paving of the courts themselves (uncomfortable for the bull and potentially fatal for a leaper who misjudged a jump!) argue against this notion.Show For a more detailed discussion, refer to Younger 1995, pp. 512-513.
Instead, it seems likely that the bull-leaping was performed somewhere outside, on relatively soft soil. The final stage of the rituals associated with bull-leaping – the sacrifice and slaughter of the unfortunate bull – may have taken place in the Central Court,Show As also suggested by, for example, Lupack 2010, p. 256. perhaps after a procession during which the exhausted bull was led into the palace.
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