In September 2015 I was for a week on Crete and visited Knossos, and the Minoan Palace, the largest Bronze Age archaeological site. I had already seen many pictures of the palace on the web, but when there I was touched by the atmosphere in a surprising way. Because thousands of tourists visit this site day after day, and so many tourist buses and cars fill the parking places, I expected that it would become a noisy, stressy experience, but the visitors were silent, calm, and did not even talk with each other. The atmosphere was so intense peaceful that it is justified to comparethe site with a holy place. I remember what I once read about powerful energy spots on earth, in the magnetic field of the earth, in the soils, and all the layers beneath the surface.
Monasteries were also built on these special spots. Stonehenge is another example. The Minoans who lived in the palace of Knossos were highly civilized, not only rationally, but also spiritually. Priestesses were also living in the palace of Knossos, an enormous complexity of buildings with even four storeys. The Minoan Lady, also named La Parisienne, was a priestess. Continue reading below the picture.
When I decided to start a web shop to sell the seven soaps, made out of Cretan olive oil, herbs and essential oils, and searching for the picture that could be used for the logo, the icon in the media and blog, my thoughts went almost immediately to that one picture that I made in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, in 2015. It was an intuitive choice. For me the Minoan Lady was and is what I would like to represent in my products: ethics, values, respect, dignity, esthetics, beauty.
It is a pity that I lost the article that I once read about Minoan priestesses in Knossos and their role in the herb garden: only priestesses were allowed to pick the herb salvia fruticosa, or Greek sage. For that sage ritual they had to wear a white dress, because that herb was holy. When I smelled dried Greek sage some years ago -for the first time in my life- I understood. Because of that intense smell I also understand why it is used in rituals to clean the atmosphere in rooms, in buildings with negative energies, graveyards, in a diversity of cultures, world wide.
The use of soap in the Minoan Civilization
It is not certain if the Minoan Lady has used soap herself. There is nothing written about the use of soap in the palace of Knossos, though the first soaps seem to have been made in Greece, during the Minoan time. Here are some articles with information that explain for instance the use of salt in bathing rituals:
“Before modern medicine, salt water treated patients as a healing remedy. Before modern spa day, firm believers of its healing created a concept of therapeutic bathing. In order to cleanse the body, they infused salt with herbal blends, lavender and bay laurel leaves that extracted daily toxins. Another contribution salt progressed into was basic soap making. Dated around 2800 BC, the Greeks were one of the first soap makers who created mixtures of alkaline salts with local vegetable oils, animal fats and wood ashes to form soaps and detergents. By contrast, today an individual uses soap for bathing or personal hygiene, in ancient times, it was produced for cleaning cooking utensils, goods and medicinal purposes.”
“The oldest archaeological findings in Europe related to bathing habits date from the Bronze Age (2,400–800 BC). In the palaces of Knossos and Phaistos in Crete, the population of the Aegean Minoan civilization has left traces of special chambers devoted to bathing. Alabaster bathtubs excavated in Akrotiri (in Santorini Island), as well as wash basins and feet baths, showed how people from the Minoan civilization maintained their personal hygiene.”
“Lustral Basins were first identified by Arthur Evans at Knossos and consist of a sunken rectangular room reached by an L-shaped or dog-legged stairway. There is often a balustrade running alongside the stairway, normally ending with a pilaster supporting a column. All of the examples at Knossos, like the one at Mallia (above) were lined with gypsum and so Evans thought they were used for bathing—a clay tub was even found in one of them. However, a few of them were found in areas of the palace, the Throne Room for example, where relaxing in the tub seems unlikely. In those cases Evans believed they were used for ritual purification through lustration—hence the name”
Sources and additional information
- Minoan woman or goddess from the palace of Knossos (“La Parisienne”) – Khan Academy
- Appendix Two, La Parisienne – Erenow, Biographies and Memoires
- Knossos and the Minoan Civilization – World History
- Journal article – Water, Fertility and Purification in Minoan Religion – Oxford University Press
- How ‘ritual’ were the Palaces? – The Secret of Civilization
- Minoan Religion, Ritual, Image and Symbol – Nanno Marinatos, Academia
- Hydro-technologies in the Minoan Era – IWA
- Minoan civilization – YouTube playlist
- Archaeological Museum Heraklion – Photo album Flickr
- Minoan Art, Archaeological Museum Heraklion – Photo album Flickr
- The archaeological site of Knossos, Crete – Photo album Flickr
- Stonehenge – Wikipedia
- Herbs for health and beauty in Minoan Crete – Explore Crete
- The Minoan Harem : the Role of Eminent Women and the Knossos Frescoes [article] – Nanno Marinatos
- Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete – Nanno Marinatos
- Salvia fruticosa and rituals – Scholarly articles
- Picture Minoan Lady – Flickr
- Importance of salt in Ancient Greece – Greek Boston
- Ancient Greek and Roman bathing – Blog Stella
- Lustral Basins in Knossos – Odyssey