Ariadne's Tribe: Minoan Spirituality for the Modern World

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan family of deities. Ariadne's Tribe is an independent spiritual tradition that brings the deities of the ancient Minoans alive in the modern world. We're a revivalist tradition, not a reconstructionist one. We rely heavily on shared gnosis and the practical realities of Paganism in the modern world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

Find out all about Ariadne's Tribe at We're an inclusive, welcoming tradition, open to all who share our love for the Minoan deities and respect for our fellow human beings.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

More Minoan 3D Fun (Part 2): Jugs, Jars, and Pots

This is the second in a series exploring 3D elements in Minoan art. Find the other posts here: Part One, Part Three, Part Four


This time, I'd like to explore some of the amazing 3D elements in Minoan ceramics. Minoan potters were highly skilled and remarkably creative. Many of their works look quite modern and would be right at home in a typical kitchen or living room these days, or maybe in an art gallery.

A while ago, I shared some interesting offering dishes that have 3D decorations sitting inside them. These appear to be a sort of "pre-filled" offering setup, with either the offering itself or perhaps the deity who will be receiving the offering represented by ceramic sculptures within the dishes. Definitely unique!

What I want to look at today is the extensive array of Minoan ceramic containers that have 3D decoration on the outside. Like the large pithos above, with its all-over 3D design. According to archaeologists, these designs were a sort of label identifying the contents: wine, grain, oil, or other staples. The multiple looped handles were used to thread rope through, to stability these giant jars for transport.

That's a fairly utilitarian use of 3D decoration. But sometimes, 3D elements on Minoan ceramics were purely decorative. Minoan potters were quite fond of barbotine decoration, which is a fancy way of saying "pointy bits." Like this beaked jug with its lovely spiraling design:

Minoan beaked jug with spiraling barbotine decoration
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Or this one with far less subtle 3D elements along with some painted-on papyrus blooms. There's also a small 3D figure eight shield on the neck:

Minoan ewer with barbotine decoration
Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Some 3D decorations on Minoan ceramics are quite realistic, like the lovely white flowers on this Kamares ware krater from Phaistos, which may represent sea daffodils:

Kamares ware krater from Phaistos
Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Or this lovely little cup from Malia that's decorated with applied-on cats and bushes for a whimsical outdoor scene:

Minoan cup from Malia with cat and plant decoration
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Or this gorgeous offering stand from Phaistos with its bold dolphin and seashell design depicting an underwater scene:

Minoan offering stand with dolphins and seashells
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In the case of the offering stand, it's obvious this is a ritual object. But with the other items, we can't really tell whether they had specific religious or sacred significance. Some of the vessels I'm sharing here today might depict scenes from myth, or they might simply be pretty decorations.

Bear in mind that in the Bronze Age, there wasn't a clear-cut division between the sacred and the mundane. In fact, the idea of "the mundane" would probably have been foreign to the Minoans and their neighbors. Like most of the people of the ancient world, the Minoans probably viewed the sacred as permeating every aspect of their lives. Still, there's a distinction between objects used specifically for ritual, like offering stands, and items used for everyday purposes, like dinnerware.

Archaeologists have also found artifacts with 3D decorations that suggest the Minoans had a sense of humor alongside their deep reverence for the divine. Consider, for instance, this jug from Koumasa with a little human figure clinging to the side:

Minoan jug from Koumasa with human figure decoration
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Or this container from Kamilari with a little person standing on a platform along the side, dangling their arms into the vessel:

Container from Kamilar with human figure
Image CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

So as you can see, Minoan potters didn't feel too tightly bound by convention when it came to designing their ceramics. Their designs were full of creativity and imagination and maybe even humor. No wonder so many of them feel positively modern.

Next time, we'll explore some even more expressive 3D container designs.

Last modified on
Laura Perry is a priestess and creator who works magic with words, paint, ink, music, textiles, and herbs. She's the founder and Temple Mom of Ariadne's Tribe, an inclusive Minoan spiritual tradition. When she's not busy drawing and writing, you can find her in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.


Additional information