ISBN is

978-0-618-14475-4 / 9780618144754

Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History

by

Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

One of the most famous pieces of ancient Greek art, a gold and ivory statuette of the Snake Goddess, has been described as the most refined and precious relic of Minoan civilization. Alas, as Kenneth Lapatin reveals, not only is the Goddess almost certainly modern, but Minoan civilization as it has been reconstructed is largely an invention of the early twentieth century. The Goddesss ivory and gold are of the wrong vintage, and the stories of her origins are even more recent and problematic. What makes this tale fascinating, however, is not the forgery but the motivations behind it. Sir Arthur Evans, the legendary excavator of Knossos, romanticized a sophisticated prehistoric society, and restorers working for him obligingly supplied its artifacts. Their creations formed the basis for further theories, which led to further deceptions. Evans hailed Minoan culture as ďat once the starting-point and the earliest stage in the highway of European civilization, yet its icons were largely fashioned by modern rather than ancient Cretans to suit the desires of scholars, museums, and the art market.
This astonishing book reads like a mystery, but it is also a major work of intellectual investigation, shedding light on the ways in which the past is reinvented to suit the needs of the present.

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