Beyond Myths and Minotaurs: Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece with Dimitra Pilarinou

Beyond Myths and Minotaurs: Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece with Dimitra Pilarinou


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The idea of human sacrifice, although appalling, is repeatedly present in the narrative of Ancient Greece. This seminar will discuss the powerfully evocative concept of human sacrifice from a diverse range of perspectives, including myth, art, and history. We will then delve into the archaeological evidence to look for proof of real human sacrifices in antiquity.

From the story of the Minotaur, a bloodthirsty monster dwelling in the gloomy Labyrinth of Crete, to noble maiden princesses like Iphigeneia and Polyxena, Greek myths and legends are laden with human sacrifices. Other-worldly and perversely powerful, the stories of young men and maidens slaughtered on the altar are utterly contradictory to the Greek notion of humanity and logic and a source of inspiration for Greek art and form the primary themes of Greek tragedies.

This conversation will dive into the distinct aspects of this multifaceted theme: from the meaning of sacrifice to the ancient Greeks to the various myths that incorporate human sacrifice in their core, to an up-to-date review of existing archaeological evidence of human sacrifice in Minoan, Mycenaean, and Greek civilizations. We will shed light on archaeological finds and inquire if this kind of ritual was a historical reality and if so, under what circumstances it was performed and how it was perceived later.

Led by an expert on the prehistoric archaeology of the Aegean, archaeologist Dimitra Pilarinou, this interactive seminar is designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels. Participants will come away with an increased knowledge of one of the most controversial topics of Greek antiquity.

Dimitra Pilarinou is a Greek archaeologist and Licensed Tour Guide with a Masters degree in Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean. She has worked in excavations all around Greece, has given speeches on various topics in Seminars and Congresses, and has appeared on documentaries about the Minoans on History Channel and Travel Channel.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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