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The exhibit

Palace of Knossos. 1450 - 1400 BC

This fresco is the best preserved of at least four paintings depicting the same subject, which were found in the East Wing of the Palace of Knossos and adorned a room on the upper floor. Their theme is bull-leaping, an acrobatic sport involving bulls. Most scholars believe that the numerous depictions of the sport in frescoes, seals, figurines and other objects indicate that bull-leaping was a real event, rather than just a depiction of a myth. Men and women, rendered in red and white respectively, executed athletic leaps over charging bulls, an extremely risky enterprise demonstrating their acrobatic skill and daring. The sequence of movements from the ground to the back of the bull and landing on the ground again has formed the subject of many studies, with contradictory conclusions. The bull, either as an individual animal or in bull-leaping and hunting scenes, was one of the most popular subjects in Minoan art. As a symbol of strength and fertility, it is particularly associated with the Palace of Knossos, and is a pictorial element indicating Knossian authority and religious ideology.
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