Sacre` Bleu! Minoan Blue Monkey Frescoes

NOTE: A million years ago when I was young, attractive and a middle-aged student at Marshall University, I wrote a paper that captured my imagination and secured my love of Cultural Anthropology. I had enormous fun writing this paper. Beware: it’s long — something like 33 pages long. I am posting it to archive it. You’re free to read it, of course, those who do report not only being interested, but amused.

NOTE #2: I sometimes refer to myself as once the world’s foremost authority on Minoan blue monkey frescoes. I would hope someone has cleared up the question as to why an ancient people in what is now Greece were drawing blue monkeys on their walls.

Sacre` Bleu!: Minoan Blue Monkey Frescoes

What ultimately gives a culture its character is its thought,

and that– in a prehistoric context– is the most elusive characteristic of all….

Nevertheless, the Minoans left thousands of clues to guide us.

[Castleden, 1993, p. 123]


This paper began as an attempt to sate my curiosity as to why a prehistoric people on an island in the Mediterranean felt compelled to paint monkeys – an animal not native to the area – and, moreover, why they chose to do so with blue paint. The paper ends with the development of my own, apparently unique, theory.

These prehistoric people, the Minoans, are generally believed to have developed a sophisticated culture on the island of Crete. Minoan or Minoan-influenced settlements, some argued to be colonies, are also found on the islands of Thera, Kythera, Rhodes, Naxos, Karpathos, Kea, and Melos, and on the Anatolian coast [Castleden, 1993, p. 117]. The differences between Neolithic assemblages and Early Minoan ones are sufficientlydissimilar as to suggest the Minoans were immigrants to the island, although Watrous discusses internal factors that may account for the cultural breaks [Watrous, 1994, pp. 703-704]. The material evidence of the Greek mainland during the Bronze Age suggests the Cretan Minoans were not the ancestors of the people who became the Classical Greeks [MacKendrick, 1981, p. 61]. Sometime after the volcanic eruption on Thera, the Minoan civilization began to dissipate, eventually to be replaced by the Mycenaean culture of the Grecian mainland.   Their origin and demise is mysterious, but they left enough artifacts on Thera alone that “[e]ven if [Doumas] had the money- which he does not – to pay more restorers, the sheer weight of the archaeological evidence would occupy hundreds of people for decades.” [Ellis, 1998, p. 187.]

In “sound-bite” descriptions of Minoans, the bull leaping, polychromatic art/architecture, and undeciphered Linear A script are almost invariably mentioned as is speculation about status of the women. Yet, one does not have to delve very far into the literature to find mention of the blue monkey frescoes on the walls of a “palace” and other structures. They are held as examples of trade connections, serve as examples of the Minoans use of color, and have been used as evidence of Minoan colonization.


But….sacre blue! By the lapiz-lazuli beard of the Assyrian moon-god [Kunz,1971, p. 92], why are these people drawing blue monkeys on the walls of some of their most prestigious real estate?

During review of the literature of several disciplines related to the artistic, religious, political and social aspects of the Minoans and their contemporaries, I began to suspect the blue monkeys in Minoan frescoes reflected a religious belief. However, I was beginning to feel a bit like Eric Von Daniken proposing ancient Aztec astronauts because the subject of blue monkeys as religious iconography is conspicuously absent from the main body ofliterature. It was with a huge sigh ofrelief that I finally found the following statement, “[t]he monkey may have been a sacred animal…” [Castelden, 1993, p. 50.] The evidence of the Bronze Age Aegean including the artifacts, history, and mythology provide tantalizing clues in support of such an idea.

The iconography of blue monkeys may not be just an artistic convention borrowed from the Egyptians as postulated by Evans [Evans, 1928, p. 361], but a religious one based on cultural diffusion between the Aegean islands and Greek mainland, the Levant, Near East, and Northern Africa including Egypt. In support of this possibility are the imagery of the frescoes in context with their physical location, the Minoan potential for adoption/adaption of religious concepts encountered in trade relations and surviving Greek myth which has been influenced by the Minoans. I believe a case can be made that the monkeys are a representative of a Minoan god of writing and craft similar to the contemperous Egyptian god, Thoth. As we don’t have written documents, nor could we read them if we did, I can’t support my theory on the material record. However, the material record does offer adequate support to consider the monkeys as part of Minoan religious iconography.

Before the Minoan blue monkeys can be seen as a religious motif, it is necessary to refute Sir Arthur Evans’s original analysis. As excavator of Knossos, he had the first opportunity to present the artifacts and his interpretation of Minoan society. He seemed quite convinced that the monkey frescoes were an adopted art form from Egypt and that they held no religious significance.   Even in the most recent literature “his views are still too often accepted uncritically.” [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 141]

In order to effectively refute Evans, I must show: 1) the monkeys are not just an artistic Egyptian import; 2) they contain religious imagery aside from the monkeys; and 3) their location in the assemblage of Minoan artifacts suggest a religious motive. In order to advance the theory of a Minoan Thoth, I have only circumstantial evidence, innuendo, mythology, and a strong hunch. Nevertheless, I’m inspired by Schliemann and his quest to find Troy. I am well of my undergraduate impertinence. Attacking Evans and doing so in the name of Schliemann could well be unforgivable.  All I can say is that I am married with a mortgage and a teenager; I have nothing left to fear. Thus, at the end of this paper I will discuss my theory of a Minoan Thoth utilizing the SWAG method (to be defined at that time).

Review of the Literature

This is my first in-depth look at Minoan culture. Consequently, I have relied heavily on two articles published in the American Journal of Archaeology, the first by Watrous (1994) and the second by Rehak and Younger (1998). Together they provide a comprehensive overview of Cretan culture form earliest prehistory to the post-palatial period and current theory. Rather than overburden my text with repeated citations of these two documents, it should be assumed that general background material in this document was provided by these two articles.

I began with Evan’s seminal work on the material record of the Minoans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos, a four-volume work published between 1921 and 1935. There is much to criticize about Evan’s methodology; and his theories and conclusions are presented more and more in a negative light. However, his enthusiasm is contagious, and his love of the Minoans infused in every word. Nonetheless, the criticisms appear to be well-earned. One of his more well-known mistakes involves “The Saffron Gatherer” fresco which he had restored and described as having a “religious association” because of the inclusion of crocuses in the image. These, he said, were a symbol of the Great Minoan Goddess [Evans, 1921, p. 265].

Scholars are now in agreement that the image restored as a boy is, in fact, a monkey. He misconstrued “The Saffron Gatherer” fresco as a blue boy in Volume I and then, in Volume II, describes the other blue monkey frescoes, some containing crocuses, as artistic imports from Egypt devoid of religious imagery. In doing so, the one fresco has religious significance, the others do not. This contradiction marks the beginning of missed opportunities to explore the possible religious significance of the blue monkeys.

Puzzling in the current atmosphere of increased criticism of Sir Arthur Evans, most of the recent literature apes the idea of artistic import – specifically Egyptian import – and the blue coloration as attributable to limited palette choices. The field is, however, expanding to include the images as proof for theories of gift exchange, trade networks, actual importation of vervet monkeys to Crete, and the ebola virus as cause for the Plague of Athens [Ellis, 1998, p. 246; Parker,1997, p. 348; Strasser,1997, p. 348]. Parker does say “[a]n object from the heavens and one from a distant land may well have held related power for prehistoric peoples.” Her argument is based on the monkeys as part of an elite gift exchange. [Parker,1997, p. 348]. In some instances, the blue of the monkeys is cited as an example of the Minoans dismissal of the need to be realistic. Contradictorily, others believe the blue is proof of a realistic, albeit pigmentally exaggerated, element proving the monkeys represented are some species of Cercopithecus. There is frequent discussion the monkeys are blue because of palette limitations as is cited to be the case with the Egyptian tomb paintings of the same period. In short, Evans’s initial analysis that the blue monkeys are an adoption of Egyptian artistic convention has persisted. Their seems to be little discussion as to the possibility that these frescoes were a symbolic representation of something meaningful to the Minoans.

This is particularly bewildering, because Evans refers to the Egyptian lunar god, Thoth, when he says “[t]here is clear evidence that the dog-faced ape of the Soudan, who was credited by the Egyptians with wisdom beyond that of mankind, had been early impressed into the service of Minoan religious imagery.” [Evans, 1928, p. 763] In researching this paper, I had to check listings for ape, baboon, and monkey because the terms are used interchangeably, particularly in the older literature. The iconography of Thoth and possible relationship to Minoan artifacts will be discussed later.

As the Minoans were a Bronze Age people living on ore-deficient land, the location of their copper is much discussed.   The religious beliefs of the people as they relate to rituals and iconography of bulls, the Great Minoan Goddess, snakes, trees, plants, and othern animals have been examined at length. Additionally, a great deal of the literature is consumed with the origin of the Linear A alphabet and corresponding language. The prevailing theory is that the language was Semitic in origin. [Rehak &Younger, 1998, p. 133] Current opinion is that Linear A did not evolve into Linear B, the precursor of Modem Greek, as Evans proposed.

Overall, the literature shows a culture interacting within a sphere of influence covering a significant geographical span. It does discuss the idea that the Minoan civilization were operating as a thalassocracy (sea empire) and involved in intricate trade relations. Artifacts of different geographical provenance including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Sardinia, Afghanistan, and, possibly, Sumer and India are found in Minoan settlements. Conversely, Minoan artifacts are found in Cyprus, the Levant, Egypt, and on the Greek mainland and Cycladic islands. [Renfrew, pp. 456-458; Rehak &Younger, p. 111]

Chronology and Implications for Trade

The chronology of the Minoans is complicated and controversial. The first one was proposed by Evans and based on pottery styles. Later, a Minoan chronology based on palace eras was introduced (pre-, proto-, neo-, final-, post-palatial). Absolute dating is provided, in part, through written Egyptian records and tomb assemblages. The earliest monkey fresco, discussed below, is believed by Evans to be Middle Minoan II (Evans scale) and the others no older than Late Minoan IA (Evans scale), a time span of approximately 170 years, 1750 BC to 1580 BC according to the Modified High Minoan and Low Egyptian Chronology used by Younger and Rehak. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 99] (See Table 1).

This time period seems to be of sufficient length to counter the argument that monkeys were a passing popular phase similar to pink poodle skirts of the American 1950s or the current Beanie Baby (TM) rage of the late ’90s. At least it would be, except that Marinatos states unequivocally that “The Saffron Gatherer,” the earliest fresco, is not as old as Evans thought. [Marinatos, p. 110] If that is true, then I offer the fact that monkey or “ape” shaped seals were found as early as EMIT which increases the Minoan use of monkey iconography to more than a thousand years. Figure 1, EMIII, is of ivory, other seals found were of lapis lazuli, but I have been unable to ascertain if any of those were “apes.” [Buccholz, 1973, p. 98; Marinatos, p. 44, Plate 12 following p. 112]

The chart included as Table 2 shows the chronological relationship and trade interconnections of selected early civilizations including the Minoan. [Fagan, 1995, p. 362]

Through these interconnected civilizations, the Minoans had the potential to be exposed, directly or indirectly, to the cultural beliefs, practices, technology and tools of several other civilizations. This “interconnectedness,” as Fagan terms it, accounts for many of the debates among historians as to whom got what from where and who had it first. I believe it also highlights the false simplicity of the primary explanation given for blue monkey frescoes in Minoan culture (i.e. because the Egyptians did it).

Blue Monkey Fresco Sites

On Crete, Melos and Thera, frescoes and fresco fragments with images of blue monkeys have been found. The earliest and first discussed by Evans is the”The Saffron Gatherer” found at the “Palace of Knossos” on Crete and dated by him to be Middle Minoan II, although that date is not universally accepted. [Marinatos, p. 11OJ. (See Figure 2).

Evans said, “[i]t must be regarded as the only example of figured wall-painting surviving from the Early Palace walls.” [Evans, 1921, p. 265] This fresco was found as fragments on a lower floor of the Lotus Lamp Sanctuary and believed to have fallen from an upper floor. The head was missing from the pieces. [Evans, 1921, pp. 265-266; Castleden, 1993, p. 74] The assemblage and stratigraphy suggested to Evans Middle Minoan I or Middle Minoan II, but he decided MMII was a more accurate estimate. [Evans, 1921, pp. 265-266] Hood has dated it to be MMIIIA and Immerwahr as MMIIIB or LMIA. [Dickinson, 1994, p. 164] Evans describes the subject of the fresco as “a youthful figure, naked except for a girdle, gathering saffron-flowers, and setting them into bowls in a rocky field” and then suggesting the image had a “religious association.” [Evans, 1921, p. 265]

Ironically, Evans regarded the “youthful figure” as human, not a monkey, and refers to the later color convention wherein men were painted red and women white. The Saffron Gatherer was one of the earliest frescoes found and Evans evidently regarded the skin color as attributable to its early date. He does suggest the blue may indicate the subject is female, because that is more in keeping with the later convention.   A statement I find nonsensical, because we have no examples of blue women. This color convention of Minoan frescoes will be discussed later. Evans had the fresco restored by M. Gillieron so that the image is of a boy. [Evans, 1921, pp. 265-266]

At least three other examples of blue monkey frescoes were found at Knossos in the House of Frescoes.   This structure, near the palace, was described by Evans as a “single, small dwelling.” These three were found as fragments in a deposit he dubbed “The Fresco Stack” which were removed in eighty-four trays, 2 x 2 feet in size, and reassembled by Evans and his crew. Evans dates these to be possibly MMill, but no later than LM IA, and was of the opinion that the deposit represented an endeavor wherein the frescoes had been carefully removed from their original positions and stacked. [Evans, 1928, pp. 444-450]

In two of the fragments “the foreparts of monkeys of a prevailing blue colour appear on a deep Venetian red ground…. Most of the head of the monkey, together with a raised forepaw, is here visible, and the head of another from a similar panel…The animal is seen in a typical wild setting, where glorified papyrus sprays of many colours are mixed with native crocus tufts and dwarf iris, while the ‘sacral ivy’…climbs up between the brilliantly veined and variegated crags.” (See Figures 3 and 4.) The third shows “…the outline of the whole animal-here, of a lighter blue than the other…” against a white field. “He is seen prying among the papyrus stalks, which he divides with his paws, evidently on the hunt for something eatable, perhaps a waterfowl’s egg. The papyrus here has not the floral character that it presents in the other panel.” (See Figure 5.) [Evans, 1928, pp. 444-450]

In discussing the fragments of the fresco stack, he states they are uniform in character and devoid of “religious themes.” [Evans, 1928, pp. 444-448] This would seem contradictory to his statement regarding “The Saffron Gatherer,” because at least one of the monkey frescoes incorporates crocuses into the imagery.

At Akrotiri, at least four examples are found. The majority of the frescoes found at Akrotiri were fragmented, some just managing to adhere to the walls. [Ellis, 1998, p. 172] Many had fallen and the pieces had to be reassembled. Due to the poor condition, large areas of the frescoes had to be “reconstructed.” [Ellis, 1998, p. 172] However, the context of these paintings related to their location provides more information than those of the House of Frescoes.

I have not been able to locate a copy of the Theran fresco images. Consequently, Eilis’s description must serve to describe the monkeys of Thera.

The Blue Monkey Fresco in Beta 6 again shows an animal not native to the island as the subject of a major painting. But unlike the single, supplicant monkey in Xeste’ 3, the simians in Beta 6 cavort in great numbers all over one wall. These monkeys are identifiable as to type, and therefore, as to origin. They are guenons, long-tailed ground dwellers from Africa, and even though color is not a good determinant (the Minoan wall painters had a very limited palette) the monkeys in the paintings closely resemble the species coincidentally known as “blue monkeys,” Ceropithecus mitis.   Found from central to south Africa, blue monkeys are characterized by their solid, slate-gray to bluish coloration, with a distinct white band across the forehead, clearly visible in the Akrotiri paintings         In addition to those of Beta 6, monkeys appear in three other Theran wall paintings: in Xeste’ 3, a young woman sits on a platform flanked by a griffin and a monkey; in Room 2 of the West House, there is a fragmentary frieze showing monkeys holding swords or playing a lyre; and Sector A shows part of a monkey with its forepaws raised in front of an altar.” [Ellis, 1998, p. 175-176]

With regard to the image in Xeste’ 3, Parker [1997, p. 348] describes the scene as the monkey “handing an offering of saffron to a goddess.” It is interesting to note than even in 1998, Eilis’s publishing date, the blue as a palette limitation is still offered.

There is at least one blue monkey fresco at Phylakopi, The Pillar Crypt area, on Melos as cited by Rehak and Younger [1998, p. 139]. This image has also eluded my attempts to include it for reference in this paper, nor have I been able to locate a written description of the image. Perhaps significant, though, Rehak and Younger explain that “pillar crypts” are a feature of palaces and villas, and “often considered to have a cultic function,” but also go on to say they might just have been storage rooms. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 109]

Color, Color Conventions, Limited Palette and Techniques

The most often cited reason for the monkeys being painted blue is importation of an Egyptian convention attributable to their limited palette and adopted because the Minoans also had a limited choice of pigments. The palette was limited in terms of what is available to the modem artist, but a cursory walk through Evans’ four volumes shows that even so, the artists were able to render paintings showing blue, red, pink, orange, yellow, brown, beige, gray, black, white, and green. Sufficient, one would think, to depict the monkeys closer to their natural coloration.

The red was derived from red ochre, yellow from yellow ocher, black from charred bone or carbonaceous shale, and some of the blue from a copper-tinted glass. [Castleden, 1993, p. 75]. Other shades of blue, such as that on the sarcophagus of Agia Triadha “had a more exotic origin: the blue seems to be ground lapis lazuli.” [Castleden, 1993, p. 75]

Evans cites Heaton as the white being made from calcium carbonate in the form of hydrate of lime. [1921, p. 533] Green was a mixture of blue and yellow with Evans proposing that pure green pigment utilizing malachite did not appear until Tiryns, although the Egyptians were using malachite paint. [Evans, 1921, p. 534; Smith, 1946, p. 256] The other colors are not discussed, but clearly were available.  The pigments were being mixed to produce the aforementioned green, and possibly to produce the other colors that appears in some of the frescoes (See Figure 3 for example of gray).

With respect to the blue, we have several different pigments mentioned in the literature. Castelden states it was derived at times from a copper-tinted glass and at others by ground lapis lazuli.[Castleden, 1993, p. 75] However, Evans is a little more specific regarding the origin of the blue pigment. According to him, during the Middle Minoan “a deep natural blue was in use,” [1921, p. 534] but he does not define “natural.” It is assumed by the presence of loom weights and depictions of fabric in the art that the Minoans were accomplished weavers. If the frescoes are any indication, the Minoans were also accomplished dyers. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 123] As footnoted by Rehak and Younger [1998, p. 123], little is known about the dyes except for purple, hence we cannot discount the use of a woad or indigo type dye as the “natural blue.”

Evans goes on to say that “somewhat later” during the Middle Minoan a “brilliant cobalt hue, a crystalline silicate of copper” appears and by the Late Minoan Age is fully established. [1921, p. 534] This is, he states, “identical” to that being used by the Egyptians and “may be” regarded as an Egyptian product. [1921, p. 534]

The raw materials for the red, yellow, white and black pigment were readily available on the islands. However, the materials for blue excepting, possibly, the “natural blue,” whether derived from blue glass, copper, or lapis lazuli were probably imported.

The materials for blue glass or the copper derivative pigments are dependent on copper ore and Crete imported most of it from off the island. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p.123] Not until the Late Minoan I is raw copper being imported in bulk in the form of ingots. Some of this has been tested and the testing reveals that very little of it is from Cyprus, even though Cyprus was rich in natural deposits of copper ore. There is discussion that Sardinia may have been the origin for some of the copper ingots found. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p.123]. Afghanistan has been mentioned as a source for the lapis lazuli, although Castleden suggests it arrived by way of Syria. Crete had well established trade relations with Syria. [Rehak and Younger, 1998, p. 111; Castleden, 1993, p. 119] Watrous simply suggests the Near East as the source. [Watrous, 1994, p. 747]

What isn’t clear, however, is which blue was being used for the monkey frescoes. If Evans is correct, the blue was probably a copper derivative. However, lapis lazuli was used to make blue pigment up until modem times and was considered a stone of some value in the Bronze Age, often associated with magical properties and religious imagery or ritual. [Kunz, 1971, pp. 92, 226-230] It could be significant that the monkeys were painted either with lapis lazuli derived pigment or painted to imitate that hue.

The second part of the primary reason given for the Minoan use of blue for their monkeys is because the Egyptians did. (This would seem to beg the question as to why the Egyptians were painting monkeys as they are not native to Egypt either, but that will be discussed later.) This argument hinges on the Egyptian convention of painting monkeys blue or green as seen in tomb paintings as early as the Old Kingdom period.

Evans tells us the Egyptians depicted the monkeys ‘being seen, for instance, under chairs, nibbling onions, and frequently appearing as women’s playthings, though also on men’s tombs.” [1928, p. 448] Evans is sure the Egyptian monkeys were Ceropithecus callitrichus, the West African green monkey, and the Minoans used blue to represent the greenish hair color. [1928, pg 448]. The Minoan’s use of blue can’t be attributed to a lack of green as the monkey in Figure 5 is surrounded by a green and brown band of rock. [Evans, 1928, p. 448] Castleden and Evans, therefore, are in apparent disagreement. The former states the Egyptians convention was to paint monkeys blue, while Evans’s implication is that green was more common. [Castleden, 1993, p. 50; Evans, 1928. p. 448] In any case, the Egyptians were sometimes depicting monkeys as green or blue.

The Egyptian convention of using blue, black and green interchangeably and all three as a substitute for gray is documented during the Old Kingdom. [Smith, 1946, p. 258] Smith speaks at length on the color conventions used in Egyptian tomb painting. In his opinion and of those he cites, this blue-green-black interchange was a stylism to differentiate between individual subjects, provide contrast, or correlate with accompanying hieroglyphic conventions. A distinctive methodology for choosing which color would be utilized in consideration of painting subject and palette has not been derived. Other animals are shown in varied colors and combination of colors with no set pattern. [Smith, 1946, pp. 257-263] However, as far as is known, the Minoan fresco monkeys are always blue.

The Egyptian tomb paintings and Minoan wall paintings are both referred to as frescoes in the literature. It needs to be noted that the tomb paintings were not true frescoes, but more of a tempera technique (paint on a drywall of gypsum plaster). [Smith, 1946, p. 25] The fresco technique of applying wet paint to a surface of wet plaster sized with lime was sometimes, though not always, employed by the Minoans. [Castleden, 1993, p. 74]

The Minoans were, in fact, employing three techniques – true fresco, a tempera technique like that of the Egyptians, and a third, unusual, fresco/tempera inlay technique. They also were painting ceilings and floors, as well as walls, sometimes employing relief technique. [Castleden, 1993, pp. 74-75] This would indicate the Minoans were developing their own styles and conventions and not just copying those of the Egyptians.

In the Egyptian and Minoan paintings, as well as Near Eastern paintings of the same time period, all three were using the same color convention to depict gender. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 120] Men appeared red and women white. In several instances, men are shown painted black, and this is assumed to be a depiction of Black African slaves or mercenaries. Therefore, color, therefore, is being employed to reveal information about the subject.

One possible Minoan break of the gender convention is the “Priest King Relief.” Rehak and Younger discuss current theory regarding this relief painting. There is a school of thought which says this well-known piece may have been reconstructed from pieces that do not belong together. In addition to the problem of skin color, other iconographic anomalies exist.  Evans does not discuss the skin tone of the Priest King in The Palace of Minos at Knossos. He does, however, advance his opinion that the figure represents the incarnation of a god or son of the Great Goddess. Since all Minoan women are depicted white, including those thought to be the Great Goddess, perhaps he felt this explained the lack of red skin tone. It seems odd that he didn’t discuss it, especially since he dates the piece to LM IB – a time period when the red/white convention was firmly established.  It is odder yet that he doesn’t do so after having questioned the blue skin of the “boy.” [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 120; Evans, 1928. pp. 772-795]

Some have argued the convention doesn’t hold because many of the bull leapers are depicted white which indicates some are female. Rehak and Younger dismiss this argument stating there is no reason to assume women weren’t capable of bull-leaping. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 120] If the “Priest King Relief’ is a misconstruction, then men are always red, women white, and monkeys blue. No effort seems to have been expended to represent varying shades of skin tone, although care was taken to depict fingernails, veins, elongated thumbs, muscles and tendons. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 118; Evans, 1928, p. 783] Women may have spent less time under the Aegean sun than their male counterparts and, therefore, were paler, but the color convention seems primarily a device to simplistically depict gender. As the status of women in Minoan society has long been discussed, the gender of an image may be key to understanding the representation. Concomitantly, the color of a monkey may reveal something its status.

Castleden offers an interesting interpretation of the use of blue by the Minoans.

In reference to the “Tripartite Shrine at Knossos,” he says, “…the three cellae represented the underworld (red), earth (yellow ochre), and heavens (blue). [Castleden,1993, p. 133] The Temple Tomb at Knossos, a small square chamber cut into the rock of the Gypsades hillside, has ceiling painted blue and supported by a gypsum pillar. [Castleden, 1993, p. 155] “Evans rightly observed that wherever there are pillared rooms on the ground floor of a building, there are also cult objects and often the apparatus of ritual.” [Marinatos, p. 34] Perhaps blue is also indicative of ritual.


The context of the Minoan paintings differs from the Egyptians ones. Most of the surviving Egyptian paintings are funerary. [Smith, p. XII]. The tomb paintings serve a very different function than the Minoan ones. Smith says:

Representational art in the form of paintings and reliefs was developed to furnish in a lastingform a magical substitute,firstfor food and equipment needed by the dead, then for the ceremonies by which this food was made available to the dead, and finally for typical actions from daily life, that these might be re-lived again in the Afterworld….. and in Egypt their purpose was the recreation of this world for the use of the soul after death.” [Smith, 1946, pp. XII-XIII]

The Minoan frescoes are found in structures presumed to have been occupied by the living. “The Saffron Gatherer” was found in a palace and palaces may have been liminal zones. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 129]. The palaces also appear to have been bustling centers of redistribution, trade, and, perhaps, governance. The other three Knossos frescoes were found in the House of Frescoes and we do not know the purpose of this structure. The assemblage, however, strongly indicates the potential for ritual activity. [Evans, 1928, p. 434-438]

At Akrotiri, ten complete buildings have been unearthed, but no palace. Xeste 3, the site of one of the Theran blue monkeys is described by Ellis as having a “primarily religious function.” In fact, Ellis states:

It is obvious that the wall paintings in Xeste 3 were more than mere decorations: they depicted specific events or symbolic iconography that had substantial importance to the inhabitants of Akrotiri. [Ellis, 1998, p. 177] In light of this statement, it is very odd that Ellis suggested the blue was a palette limitation, reiterating Evan’s (erroneous, I think) 1928 opinion. [Ellis, 1998, p. 175]

As stated above, the Pillar Crypt of Phylakopi, the site of a blue monkey fresco, may have been a cult center. The imagery of the monkey frescoes is very suggestive of religious iconography. No less than three of the paintings incorporate the crocus. As already discussed, Evans was of the opinion this was a flower of special significance to the Great Minoan Goddess, and Younger and Rehak allude to the Thera goddess having been decorated with crocuses. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 121] The papyrus flower is seen in the monkey frescoes, also. Castleden is of the opinion that it was an Egyptian influence, but held “symbolic value” for the Minoans. [Castleden, 1998, p. 75] Evans discourses at length throughout all four volumes of The Palace of Minos at Knossos as to the religious symbology of plants. Several of the monkey frescoes are lush with vegetation.

Castleden citing Sinclair Hood says that some of the frescoes were secular, but that the “evidence points increasingly to a pervasive religious content. Even the landscapes, birds and animals may have had a religious significance…” [Castleden, 1993, pg. 75] Two of the Akrotiri frescoes, that of the monkey offering saffron to the Goddess and the other showing a monkey with his forepaws raised in front of an altar, are clearly religious in context.

He further points out that the angle of the art is as if “seen from the air or through a fish-eye lens. Rocks and plants project into the pictures from the top as well as from the bottom…It is a very different approach from that of the Egyptians.” With respect to Minoan art as “naturalistic,” Castleden describes this as “deceptive” because the artistic renderings are often inaccurate in comparison to the object depicted and offers the rock rose as painted compared to its natural form in Crete as an example. [Castleden, 1993, p.75] “The mythic animals are an even strong reminder that the fresco artists were depicting another world than the everyday one…’ [Castleden, 1993, p. 75] The differences in context of the monkey images between the Egyptians and the Minoans indicate a difference in their symbology. The onion munching monkey of the tomb paintings was a depiction of a secular, daily event in the life of the deceased.

Marinatos comments of “The Saffron Gatherer” that it is “wearing an armlet, belt and amulet (the cord is visible on the chest) which is rather surprising.” [Marinatos, p. 11OJ Parker points out that the animal has been anthropomorphized and offers as evidence their depiction of holding a sword or playing a lyre. [Parker, 1997, p. 348] Such a presentation in a religious context gives strong credence to the idea that the monkeys were more than pets or “women’s playthings.”

The Minoan monkeys, found in possible liminal zones, wearing an “amulet” shown with  a goddess, and in supplication before an altar almost certainly reflect something very different than everyday life.


As the reader may have noticed, several different species of Ceropithecus have been postulated as the animal depicted in the frescoes. Evans offered Ceropithecus callitrichus, a West African green monkey [1928, p. 448], Ellis gives credence to Ceropithecus mitis, a central-south African long-tailed, ground dweller, commonly

known as the blue monkey [Ellis, 1998, p. 175], while Parker advances Ceropithecus aethiops [Parker, 1997, p. 348]. Strasser doesn’t designate a species, but suggests the monkeys are “most likely the vervet.” [Strasser, 1997, p. 348] Castleden was correct when he said of the animals in Minoan frescoes, “often species is elusive.” [Castleden, 1993, p. 108] Prevailing opinion is that the monkeys were actually present in Minoan society. Castleden describes “The Saffron Gatherer” as a pet since it is wearing a harness, although, as cited above, Marinatos was of the opinion it was a belt. [Castleden, 1993, p. 75; Marinatos, p. 110] Strasser states, “[t]he monkeys are painted in sufficient detail to identify the genus, and to suggest that the motifs were based on actual observations.” [Strasser, 1997, p. 348]

Baboons and Monkeys, Egypt and Punt

It does seem likely the Minoans had first-hand experience with the monkeys. It is equally likely they were imported from Egypt. The question, therefore, is where and why were the Egyptians in possession of monkeys. This possession of monkeys may have begun with the desire for temple incense, the trail to which also led to baboons and monkeys.

The only non-human primate native to Arabia is the hamadryas baboon, Papio hamadryas, and it is likely their presence in Arabia is a result of the Egyptian breeding of these animals following import from Punt. [Hamadryas; Kummer, 1995, p. 3] The baboon was an Egyptian sacred animal and seen as a representation of the Egyptian god, Thoth. [Kummer, 1995, p.3] Expeditions to Punt (named “God’s Land” by Sahure reigning in 2750 BC) during the early dynastic reigns to obtain fragrant gums and resins for incense are well documented. Breasted says, “[v]oyages to this country may have been made as early as the First Dynasty…” [Breasted, 1924, p. 127]

Much later, when Minoan Crete was in decline, during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1457 BC) the Egyptians report the Puntites as saying, “[w]hy have ye come hither unto this land, which the people [of Egypt] know not? Did ye descend upon the roads of heaven, or did ye sail upon the waters, upon the sea of God’s Land?” [Breasted, 1924, p. 276] The answer to the Puntite question is that the Egyptians had lost the knowledge of how to get to “God’s Land” during the long reign of the Hyksos (1637 – 1529 BC, about the time Thera erupted and corresponding to LM IA-lB). Hatshepsut desired to plant myrrh trees from Punt on her terrace, partly because Punt was thought to be the original home of the gods, and because it was used to make incense for the temples. Consequently, she commands that the way to Punt be re-found and so it was. [Breasted, 1924, pp. 266-277].

Hatshepsut’s first expedition to Punt arrived back in Egypt with monkeys and baboons, as well as trees and other goods. [Breasted, 1924, pp. 275] The iconography of Thoth depicted as a baboon is well-established prior to the Hyksos reign and tomb paintings show images of both baboons and monkeys as early as the Old Kingdom. At what point the monkey became a pet is not known to me, nor have I been able to learn if the monkey held any religious significance for the Egyptians, but its presence in Egypt is certain. (See Figure 6.) [Evans, 1928, p. 763; Smith, 1946, p. 342] The remains of mummified hamadryas baboons sacrificed to Thoth have been found in Egypt. [Hamadryas] The hamadryas is native to Ethiopia which is contiguous to Somalia, a country proposed to have been Punt. [Hamadryas; Breasted, 1924, p. 26, Encarta, 1996]

The Cercopithecoidea superfamily includes both the Ceropithecus genus of monkeys and the hamadryas baboon. The superfamily is known for having a wide range of adaption, tails, quadrupedal location, and most (except for the leaf-eaters) have opposable thumbs. [Poirier, et. al., 1994, pp. 170-171] Most sleep in trees, but the Ethiopian hamadryas will sleep in treeless, rocky locations if conditions make it necessary. [Poirier, et al, 1994, p. 182] There is no doubt this aided the animal’s adaptation to Arabia, so long ago, it is referred to as a native.

Thoth, Thumbs, Monkeys and Baboons

In his book, Hans Kumer cites Macdonald when he says that the Greeks reported “Egyptian priests placed writing implements in front of the newly arrived hamadryas males. If the animals picked these up and began to scribble–behavior that seems entirely possible to me–the baboons were consecrated to Thoth.” [Kummer, 1995, p. 3] Their opposable thumb certainly would have aided that scribbling. Evolution of an opposable thumb has long been considered key in the human ability to use tools. The act of writing (as well as painting), both ancient and modem, requires such a thumb. That a thumbed animal became consecrated to Thoth, the god of writing and crafts, is not surprising. That the only animals known to have thumbs came from the “Land of Gods” may also be significant.

In Minoan art, the thumb is often depicted as elongated. [Younger & Rehak, 1998, p.118] The artistic treatment of the human thumb indicates some special thought about thumbs. It is not unlikely that they should be intrigued with an animal having such a thumb if they were intrigued with their own. Furthermore, if the Egyptians shared the origins of the animals, “the original land of the gods”, we would have more reason to understand the inclusion of Minoan blue monkey frescoes in areas with a religious context.

That the Minoans adopted the monkey, rather than the baboon as a sacred animal, if indeed they did, could be predicated on several circumstances. First of all, the hamadryas baboons were not particularly pleasant animals. Kummer marvels at the depictions of docile baboons in Egyptian art as it pertains to their trainer’s (unlikely) skill. [Kunnner, 1995, p. 4] (See Figure 6.) Neopalatial Minoan art is marked by the presence of miniatures. Younger and Rehak state, “Neopalatial frescoes tended towards figures in lithe and supple movements in miniature, busy scenes, painted with a polychrome palette.” [Younger & Rehak, 1998, p. 120] The Ceropithecus monkey being smaller, slimmer, and more lithe than the baboon, but possessing the thumb and originating in the sacred land may have appealed to the Minoan aesthetic sense. Evans has suggested that Crete was much more forested in Minoan times and strongly suggests a worship of trees. [Evans, 1921, p. 635; Castleden, 1993, p. 128] If an arboreal type which had not, like the hamadryas, adapted to rocky, treeless landscapes, the monkey may have been more appealing in terms of tree worship. This could be even more significant if the Minoans knew the Egyptians obtained their sacred trees from the same place as the monkeys.

Sacred Blue, Blood and Hair

There is a wealth of mythology related to both blue and lapis lazuli, much of it originating in close proximity to Crete. As cited above, Castleden attributes the blue of the Tripartite Shrine as depicting the heavens.

Lapis lazuli was the blue heaven stone prized for its power to cause rebirth. The Papyrus of Nekhtu-Amen said an amulet oflapis lazuli stood for the hear (ab), source of motherblood; therefore the amulet was inserted into a mummy to generate a new heart for the deceased….The Bible called lapis lazuli sappur or “holy blood.” It was the substance of God’s throne. [Walker, 1983, p. 150]

The Christian Virgin Mary in her role as Queen of Heaven is shown wearing blue robes, a lapis lazuli pigment having been used in the older art, and this is a syncretic adaption of more ancient associations with Astarte, a great goddess. [Jackson, 1998] Astarte is identified with the goddesses Hathor (Egypt), Demeter (Mycenae) and Aprhodite(Cyprus). [Walker, 1983, p. 69] According to a dictionary, “hathor” is derived from “house of Horus” and is a synonym for the color known as royal blue.

Blue blood was once supposed to be the sign of the gods’ aristocracy. It was given by the Goddess Homer said the blood that flowed in the veins of gods was a blue etherealfluid, ichor, prepared by Aphrodite’s honeybees. This blue essence evolved from a confused memory of IndoEuropean ancestral gods made immortal by their blue blood. Hindu gods are still painted blue in sacred art [Walker, 1983, p. 837]

A lapis lazuli seal (MM) has been found in a tomb assemblage attesting to the possible value Minoans may have ascribed to the stone. Seals were also worn as amulets and the tradition persists in modem-day Crete where they are known as mother’s milk stones. [Dickinson,1994, p. 218; Rehak and Younger, 1998, p. 112] There are some who think the word JIA-SA-SA-RA found on Linear A tablets is the Minoan name for Astarte. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 131]

Syria has been proposed as the provider of lapis-lazuli to the Minoans. Watrous says of the protopalacial era that “Minoan contacts with northern and southern Syria were apparently well established…” [Watrous, 1994, p. 135] Both the Watrous and Younger & Rehak articles make numerous references to trade relations with and Syrian artifacts in Minoan Crete; and Watrous indicates these begin as early as EM II with evidence of a mid-third­ millennium Syrian cylinder seal found in a tomb at Mochlos. [Watrous, 1994, pp. 711-712] Renfrew cites   Pendlebury in saying “a limestone head from Middle Minoan I levels at Knossos looks distinctly Sumerian.” [Renfrew, 1972, p. 456] This is particularly intriguing in that the Sumerian use oflapis lazuli is renowned as is the religious significance they attributed to bulls – a significance shared by the Minoans. Furthermore, origin of the Sumerians is unknown but believed to be possibly Iran or India. [Powell,1995, p. 18] See Figure 7 — of this piece, Woolley says it is “…probably ritualistic in origin, whereby the bull had to be provided with a beard; in this case the beard is oflapis lazuli…” [Woolley, 1935, p. 76]

Inarma, the Sumerian Queen of Heaven, is featured in a myth that Parker says had “the most influence on later religion and mythology.” [Powell, 1995, p. 35] This myth tells the story of her descent to the underworld and the temple of Ereskkigal located there. The temple was made entirely of lapis lazuli. [Powell, 1995, p. 36] Kunz tells of an Assyrian hymn to a moon god named Sin wherein “he is addressed as the ‘strong bull, great of horns, perfect in form, with a long flowing beard, bright as lapis-lazuli.” [1971, p. 92] Nearly a thousand years separate the Sumerians and the Assyrians, but the image of a lapis lazuli bearded bull persisted. Kunz suggests this “lapis-lazuli beard” may have reappeared in classical mythology as the “hyacinthine locks.” [Kunz, 1971, p. 92] To wit:

Minerva then made him [Ulysses] look taller and stronger than before, she also made the hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like hyacinth blossoms. [Odyssey]

In the Minoan frescoes found on Thera, there is a curious depiction of humans with blue hair. Marinatos as quoted by Ellis says, “their blue heads, which denote partial shaving, and their nudity ‘indicate that they are’ performing a special function as youthful adorants…” Ellis goes on to say, “and suggests that they are making an offering to their deity.” One of these “blue heads” is identified as a “priestess.” Marinatos believed the blue represented “partial shaving” of the head.  [1998 p. 177] His daughter, however, says, “[i]f the blue color of her hair denotes partial shaving, then the lock on top of her head is dressed in such a way as to resemble a snake.” [Ellis, 1998, p. 177] In view of the Odyssey passage above, some vestige of the Minoan “blue hair” may have survived to be reborn in Greek myth.

The intertwining of blue and gods tangles further by 240 BC when the Papyrus of Ani (The Egyptian Book of the Dead – Translated by E.A. Wallis Budge) includes the following: I shine at the moment of the mighty of strength, Suti. Hail, thou who makest sweet the time of the Two Lands! Hail, dweller among the celestial food. Hail, dweller among the beings of blue (lapis-lazuli), watch ye to protect him that is in his nest, the Child who cometh forth to you. [Papyrus]

SWAG Method

My husband tells me that among the building trades, several methods are in use for estimating the cost of job. Two of these are referred to as the WAG and SWAG methods. The first, the WAG (wild-assed guess) method is used primarily by the inexperienced or shoddy builders. The second, the SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess) is employed by those with some experience and knowledge, possibly possessing good building skills, but lacking fiscal acumen. Whereas those employing the WAG method cursorily survey the job and immediately provide an estimate, the SWAG user may actually employ a tape measure, calculator, and/or writing implements before providing a job cost. [Leinen, 1998]

As I lack the material evidence, a metaphorical “fiscal acumen,” I am reduced to using “scientific wild assed guesses” to support my theory that the blue monkeys are representative of a Minoan Thoth. As I said earlier, what is left to me is only circumstantial evidence, innuendo, mythology, and a strong hunch, — worse yet, I have no authority I can cite who shares the theory.

Thoth is the Egyptian god of writing and crafts. He is depicted as an ibis, a baboon, or with a human-like body bearing the head of one of these animals. As the scribe of the gods, he was the patron saint, so to speak, of the Egyptian scribes and recorded the results of Maat’s weighing of a deceased’s heart against the ostrich feather.

He is credited with the writing and, sometimes, the creation of all languages. [Ancient] In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Thoth figures prominently as does the lapis lazuli stone. [Kunz, 1971, pp. 225-230] He is included in sacred art and appears frequently in conjunction with the Eye of Horus. In Minoan art, a floating eye symbol is often depicted. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 126]. In Figure 6, the middle tomb painting, we see an ibis, a monkey, a boy and baboon. Two of these are acknowledged to be representations of the Thoth. The addition of the monkey 1s curious.

Furthermore, the papyrus plant appears often in Minoan art as a repeated floral motif. As papyrus was being used for paper by the Egyptians, the papyrus imagery becomes especially significant in contemplating a Minoan god of writing. Hermes, a later Greek god, is credited with creation of the first alphabet and serves as the messenger of the gods. [Hermes] In early Greek art, he was depicted as bearded, and his mythology includes the story of his theft of cows on the day of his birth. Stone pillars are associated with his worship, and it is believed he dwelled in them to guard the premises. He often carries a snake-twined staff.             [Hermes] Of Thoth, Robert Graves says that the Canopic Hercules, Apollo, Aesculapius, Hermes “whom the Greeks identified with Thoth,” and Dionysus “who in the early legends is an alias of Hermes” all represent the same deity. [Graves, 1966, p. 133] Furthermore, he says:

Hyginus says that the original thirteen-consonant alphabet was taken by Mercury into Egypt…in other words this Mercury…was a Cretan, or of Cretan stock. And Mercury, aka Hermes, in Egypt was Thoth…who invented writing…” [1966, p. 227]

It is well-known that Minoans used writing. They did, in fact, use two different ones before Linear B. Cretan Hieroglyphic seals appear in MMI, but the practice isn’t common until MMII. Hieroglyphic writing script also appears in MMIA, but dies out during the Neopalatial period. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 130]. “[I]t’s genesis is important because it is the first Aegean linear script…” [Rehak & Younger, 1988, p. 130] Linear A appears in MMIIA and is the primary writing system on Crete in the Neopalatial period, although Phaistos, Knossos, Mallia, and Petras were using both systems simultaneously. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 130]

If there was some interaction between the Minoans and Sumer, then it is possible that the Minoans were also exposed to some Hindu beliefs (or exposed Hindus to some Minoan ones). Sumer was also trading with the Indus Valley [Woolley, 1935, p. 85] By 400 BC when the written Upanishads appear, Hanuman, the monkey god, has become a popular, though minor, deity. [Encarta: Upanishads] Hanuman, during a heroic rescue attempt, is given the gift of flight. Similar to the winged Hermes and Mercury, he serves as a messenger of the gods.    The major deities of the Indian pantheon are often depicted in Hindu art as having blue skin. [Hanuman]

In the Levant, an area that the Minoans also had contact, Moses is given instructions by his god to make the dye required for the ritual prayer shawl. However, the Israelites lost the secret of how to make the blue dye. [Dye, p. 148] Moses is, of course, the recipient of the ten commandments, seen mythologically as the story of how the Israelites acquired writing. [Graves, 1966] The ritual breastplate, worn by the Israelite priests, contained the lapis lazuli stone which is also reputed to be the stone on which the ten commandments were engraved. [Graves, 1966, p. 269; Kunz, 1971, p. 104]

Many modem-day Ethiopians believe the Lost Ark of the Covenant is to be found somewhere in their land and that they are the lost tribe of lsrael. In casual conversation with Dr. Girmay Berhie, an Ethiopian by birth and rearing, I discussed the topic of this paper.   Although, I made efforts not to lead the conversation, I caught him off-guard asking about the significance of monkeys and/or blue in Ethiopian mythology. He reacted as somebody trying to find a word “on the tip of their tongue.” He says there is something, but he just can’t bring specifics to mind. The best he was able to offer was a vague memory of stories wherein the monkeys aided the kings or queens in attaining or retaining their kingdom. As for blue, the political history of Ethiopia has been tortured, but early flags of the royalty incorporated blue. [Berhie, 1998] The portion of the Nile River which flows through Ethiopia is called the Blue Nile, the same river Queen Hatshepsut’s expedition would have used traveling to God’s Land of Punt. The baboon sacred to Thoth, brought back from Punt, and living in modem day Ethiopia indeed has a blue cast to its fur. (See Figure 8)

Marinatos argues that Minoan Crete religious development was an “unachieved monotheism.” In discussing their beliefs, he is of the opinion that the different representations of the Great Goddess were just that, different representations of one deity. [Marinatos, p. 36] However, he does discuss the “young gods” and the “deities” worshiped in private chapels, [Marinatos, pp. 36-40] Younger and Rehak (1988, p. 135] discuss Ugaritic texts wherein the Goddess Ana! sends her messenger, Quadesh wa-Amrur to Kaphtor to obtain the “god of crafts.” Kaphtor is probably Crete. I think the Minoans had a god of writing, that he or she was depicted as or served by a monkey, and that the blue indicated divinity. This would be in keeping with the mythology of the peoples in proximity to Crete that lived before and after the Minoans. It may also explain the Goddess Anat’s interest in Kaphtor Rehak and Younger note that the Postpalatial period is marked by the loss of literacy on Crete. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 166] A few pages later, they remark “…many art forms become defunct. No frescoes, hard stone seals…seem to be manufactured in this period or later…[Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 170] If there was a blue monkey god of writing and crafts, a Minoan Thoth, the simultaneous loss of writing and frescoes is not disparate. This god or goddess left Crete, but returns later as Hermes-Dionysus, in whom, the Minoan penchant for wine returns in another ecstatic religion. [Rehak & Younger, 1998, p. 147]


Many scholars (I’ve quoted several and cited others) have examined the Minoan artwork, including the frescoes, and advanced their opinions that religious iconography is a pervasive feature. The Egyptian influence on Minoan culture has been well documented. The Syrian influence is becoming more apparent. Both of these cultures, as do others in the geographic area, share common elements in their art and religion. The iconography of the monkey frescoes, their location in Minoan structures, and the accompanying assemblage give strong indication to support Castleden’s statement “[t]he monkey may have been a sacred animal.” [1993, p. 50] The history of the region and surviving mythology provide additional information in support.

It has been proposed that Minoan Neopalatial culture have been a “threskeiocracy.” [Rehak and Younger, 1988, p. 138.] They say, “[a]nother model to account for the spread of Minoan Neopalatial culture in the Aegean is the suggestion that it had a religious underpinning. Later history provides well-documented examples for religion-based models of exchange, especially in ‘contact periods.” [1998, p. 138]. Whether the Minoans were exporting or importing religion, it is certain they were exposed to the beliefs of other cultures.

That Sir Arthur Evans said the monkeys had no religious underpinning has carried too much weight for too long. He has been wrong often enough to allow me to feel comfortable playing the “impertinent undergraduate” and question his logic. The monkeys wore amulets, were anthropomorphized, and played starring roles in sacred art. It seems to me there can be no question – the monkey was a sacred animal. That the monkeys were painted blue is explained by the common custom of using blue or lapis lazuli in religious art as a symbolic designator of deity, heaven, or aspects of religious belief.

I now have a complicated explanation to offer “as to why a prehistoric people on an island in the Mediterranean felt compelled to paint monkeys – an animal not native to the area – and, moreover why they chose to do so with blue paint.” In my experience, human behavior is too complex to be explained by a simple answer such as “because the Egyptians were doing it.” That the answer is complicated has the ring of truth, or so I believe. As for a Minoan Thoth, well… perhaps, someday I will read an acknowledged Minoan expert advance the same or similar opinion. Even if that never occurs, I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun researching this paper and I hope I have transmitted some of the enjoyment to the reader.

Works Cited

Books and Journals

Breasted, James Henry. (1924). A History of Egypt (2nd ed.) New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Buccholz, Hans-Gunter and Vassos Karageorghis, translated from the German by Francisca Garvie. (1973) Prehistoric Greece and Cyprus: An Archaeological Handbook,. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Castleden, Rodney. (1990, 1993 paperback). Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, London: Routledge.

Ellis, Richard. (1998). Imagining Atlantis. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Evans, Arthur. (1921-1935). The Palace of Minos at Knossos, (4 volumes: 1921, 1928, 1930, 1935) London: MacMillan and Co.

Dickinson, Oliver. (1994) The Aegean Bronze Age. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.

Fagan, Brian M. (1995). People of the Earth: World Prehistory, (8th ed.). New York: Harper Collins College Publishers.

Graves, Robert. (1966). The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, (Amended and Enlarged Edition). New York: The Noonday Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Kummer, Hans, translated by M. Ann Biedeman-Thorson. (1995). In Quest of the Sacred Baboon: A Scientist’s Journey. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Kunz, George Frederick. (1971). The Curious Lore of Precious Stones. New York: Dover Publications (first published in 1913 by the J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia).

Marinatos, Spyridon, photographs by Max Rinner. (No publication date) Crete and Mycenae.

New York: HarryN. Abrams, Inc., Library of Congress No. 60-8399.

MacKendrick, Paul. (1981) The Greek Stones Speak: The Story of Archaeology in Greek Lands, (2nd ed.) New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Books and Journals – continued


Parker, Patricia. (1997) African Vervets on Crete and Thera during MMIIIB-LMIA (Abstract).

American Journal ofArchaeology 102(2) , 348.

Poirier, Frank E., William A. Stini and KathyB. Wreden. (1994) In Search ofOurselves: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology, (5th ed.) Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Powell,BarryB. (1995) Classical Myth. Englewood, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Rehak, Paul and John G. Younger. (1998) Review ofAegean Prehistory VII: Neopalatial, Final Palatial, and Postpalatial Crete, American Journal of Archaeology, (102), 91-173.

Renfrew, Colin. (1972). The Emergence ofCivilisation: The Cyclades and the Aegean in the Third MillenniumBC, London: Methuen & Co LTD.

Smith, William Stevenson. (1946). A History ofEgyptian Sculpture and Painting in the Old Kingdom, London: Oxford University Press.

Strasser, Thomas F. (1997) TheBlue Monkeys of the Aegean and Their Implications forBronze Age Trade (Abstract).        American Journal of Archaeology 102(2), 348.

Walker, Barbara G. (1983) The Woman’s Encyclopedia ofMyths and Secrets. New York, NY: Harper San Francisco, a Division ofHarper Collins Publishers.

Watrous, L. Vance. (1994). Review of Aegean Prehistory ill: Crete from Earliest Prehistory through the Protopalatial Period. American Journal ofArchaeology, 98, 695-753.

Woolley, C. Leonard. (1935). The Development ofSumerian Art. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Personal Communication

Berhie, Girmay. (1998) Ethiopia: personal communication. Dr. Berhie is a native ofEthiopia.

Jackson, Susan G. (1998) Astarte: personal communication. Dr. Jackson is a  Marion art


Leinen, Jerry. (1998) SWAG Method: Frenetic conversation from a man who spent too much time alone in the car between sales calls to contractor building sites. Mr. Leinen is a sales representative for a electrical supply distributor.


Electronic Sources

Upanishads: Encarta Encyclopedia. (1996) Microsoft Corporation.

Online Sources: Web Pages

Ancient Egyptian Art: The Brooklyn Museum, Dye for Antiquity Reborn, Science News, 9/8/84, Abstract, p. 148

Hamadryas Baboon, Oakland Zoo, Hanuman,…ndalini/kundalini_eng/hanuman.htm.l Hermes: 1195 Untangle Inc. Hermes, http: Odyssey:]

Papyrus of Ani, Egyptian Book of the Dead:

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