Marine Creatures and the Sea in Bronze Age Greece: Ambiguities of Meaning

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Like most cultures, prehistoric Greek communities had an ambiguous relationship with the sea and the creatures that inhabit it. Positive and negative associations always co-existed, though the particular manifestations changed over time. By drawing together evidence of consumption of marine animals, seafaring, fishing, and iconography, this article unites disparate strands of evidence in an attempt to illuminate the relationship prehistoric Greeks had with marine creatures and the sea. Based on the marked reduction in seafood consumption after the Mesolithic and the use of marine creatures in funerary iconography in the post-palatial period, it becomes apparent that the sea-then as now-is an inherently ambiguous medium that captures both positive and negative emotions. On the one hand, the sea and the animals residing in it are strongly associated with death. On the other hand, the sea's positive dimensions, such as fertility and rebirth, are expressed in conspicuous marine consumption events. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Maritime Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Death
  • Diet
  • Marine animals
  • Sea


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