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The exhibit

Knossos, Little Palace. 1600-1450 BC

A masterpiece of Minoan art, this stone vessel in the shape of a bull’s head is a fine example of both the stone-carving expertise and the ideology of the Minoans, as the bull is an emblematic religious symbol of the Minoan world. The vessel is restored. Only the left side of the head, carved of black steatite, is the original. The horns, which were not found, would have been made of gilded wood. The head and neck are rendered in very naturalistically, while details such as the hair are shown in relief or rendered with incisions. The eyes are inlaid with rock crystal and jasper, while the muzzle is highlighted with inlaid white shell. The crystal preserved in the right eye has a concave back which magnifies the pupil, giving the animal a lively expressiveness. The result is a strikingly evocative representation of a bull. The vessel is a rhyton, a ritual vase for making libations, that is, liquid offerings, to the deity. The liquid was poured into a hole in the back of the neck and ran out of a hole in the bull’s mouth. Similar vessels have been found at Zakros and Palaikastro. Stone bull’s-head rhyta date from the period of the New Palaces and are magnificent attestations to the high level of palatial, probably Knossian art.
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1 January: closed

6 January: 08:30 – 15:00

Shrove Monday: 08:30 – 15:00

25 March: closed

Good Friday: 12:00 – 17:00

Holy Saturday: 08:00 – 15:00

1 May: closed

Easter Sunday: closed

Easter Monday: 08:00 – 20:00

Holy Spirit Day: 08:00 – 20:00

15 August: 08:00 – 20:00

28 October: 08:00 – 20:00

25 December: closed

26 December: closed