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Sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite, Syme Viannos. 690 - 670 BC

The sanctuary of Syme in Viannos, set in a wooded landscape in the Dicte mountain range, was in continuous use for almost 2,500 years, from 2000 BC to the 7th century AD. From its foundation as an open-air sanctuary in Minoan times to the transfer of cult inside a temple in the 4th century BC, the ceremonial remained unchanged, with vessels and votive offerings adapted to the religious and social ideology of each period. One such offering was this bronze cut-out plaque of Hermes, dated to the 7th century BC, when the god began to be worshipped at the sanctuary. The plaque was originally attached to a wooden backing. At the Syme sanctuary, Hermes was worshipped in various aspects, including that of “Hermes Cedrites”, meaning “Hermes of the Cedars”, protector of his sacred tree and lord of nature, so it is thought that these plaques were placed on a tree. This particular depiction of the god refers to his attributes in the Homeric epics. The young god is wearing a mantle and holding a long staff indicating kingship. In his other hand he holds a smaller staff with three leaf-shaped tips, recalling the Homeric epithet “tripetelos”, meaning “three-leaved”. The iconography makes clear Hermes’ connection to nature and fertility, an aspect which, according to the ancient sources, made Hermes the life-giver and wealth-giver of the gods.
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