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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Study of orientation in Bronze Age Cretan buildings has revealed long-overlooked sunrise alignments at the Palace of Knossos; while the recording of dawn alignments at the Mesara-type tholos tombs has challenged previous ideas about religious belief, suggesting a new, somatic agenda for discourse about ritual practices at the tombs. This chapter highlights a long-standing Aegean tradition from the Early Iron Age until late antiquity in which the sun was perceived as an active agent facilitating processes of prophecy and communication with the dead. Taking issue with disembodied visions of knowledge and presentist templates of religion centred on worship of abstract deities, it revisits material evidence from the Mesara-type tombs, and considers whether it is possible to trace in the prehistoric era early formulations of this tradition linking sunlight with divination and the dead.

Keywords: sunlight, archaeoastronomy, divination, necromancy, Greece, Mesara-type tombs, ritual, Minoan religion, embodiment

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