Velchanos is an ancient Minoan god associated with vegetation and worshipped in Crete. He was one of the main deities in the Minoan pantheon, alongside a Mother Goddess figure who appears to have been his mother and consort, with the two participating in an hieros gamos.

ParentsMother Goddess
ConsortMother Goddess
Greek equivalentZeus
Roman equivalentJupiter
Mesopotamian equivalentTammuz

The cult of Velchanos was likely influenced by the Mesopotamian deitiy Dumuzid. Following the rise of Mycenaean Greece and contact with the Minoans, Velchanos' cult influenced that of Zeus, who was at times referred to by Greeks under the name Zeus Velchanos. Other possible influences include the Roman deity Vulcan.

Origins edit

According to Arthur Evans, a tree cult played one of the most important aspects of the Minoan religion in ancient Crete. In this cult, two deities were worshipped; one male and one female.[1] In this tree cult, while the Mother Goddess was viewed as a personification of tree-vegetation, the male god formed a "concrete image of the vegetation itself in the shape of a divine child or a youth", with the two forming a mother and child relationship.[2] Given the role of the hieros gamos between the two, it has been theorized that Velchanos was partially based on the Mesopotamian Dumuzid.[3]

Worship edit

Mycenaean period edit

The Minoans viewed Velchanos as less powerful than the goddess.[4]

At some point, the Mycenaean civilization came in contact with the Minoans and identified their own god Zeus with the Cretan god.[5][6] This religious syncretism led to Zeus obtaining some of Velchanos' traits, with his mythology also being affected; henceforth, Zeus was stated to have been born in Crete and was often represented as a beardless youth. He was also venerated as Zeus Velchanos.[5]

Hellenistic period edit

In the 4th century BC, during the beginning of the Hellenistic era, Hagia Triada fell under the control of the polis of Phaistos and was reinstated as a place of worship.[7][8] In this period, an aedicula was installed over a Minoan stoa in honor of Zeus Velchanos. In the same location, a bull protome was also found, built around the 2nd century BC, which is attributed to the shrine of Velchanos.[9] Velchanos appears to have been worshipped in Gortyna as well, as coins depicting him have been found.[10]

Velchanus' main festival, the Velchania, was likely celebrated in the Cretan poleis of Gortyna, Lyttos,[11] and Knossos.[12]

Iconography edit

Symbols edit

Coins from Phaistos depicted Zeus Velchanos with a cock in his lap.[13] These coins also depicted him with an oak tree.[14] He was also depicted with a bull.[15] At other times, Velchanos was depicted as an eagle.[16]

Influences on other cultures edit

Given the similarities in naming, it has been suggested that Velchanos was an influence on Vulcan from Roman mythology.[17]

References edit

  1. ^ Al 1944, pp. 215.
  2. ^ Al 1944, pp. 216–217.
  3. ^ Dietrich 1974, pp. 11.
  4. ^ Castleden 1990, p. 29.
  5. ^ a b Al 1944, p. 219.
  6. ^ Kouremenos 2018, pp. 55.
  7. ^ D'Agata 1995, pp. 24.
  8. ^ Sanders 1976, pp. 133.
  9. ^ D'Agata 1995, pp. 25.
  10. ^ Kouremenos 2016, pp. 47.
  11. ^ Hadzisteliou Price 1978, pp. 84.
  12. ^ Dietrich 1974, pp. 16.
  13. ^ El-Khashab 1984, pp. 215.
  14. ^ Cook 1908, pp. 413.
  15. ^ Dietrich 1967, pp. 408.
  16. ^ Dietrich 1974, pp. 15.
  17. ^ Rose 1934, pp. 42.

Bibliography edit

  • Al, B. (1944). "Cretan Religion in Relation to Greek Religion". Mnemosyne. Brill Publishers. 12 (3): 208–222.
  • Castleden, Rodney (1990). "The people: Social structure". Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415088336.
  • Cook, Arthur Bernard (1903). "Zeus, Jupiter and the Oak". The Classical Review. Cambridge University Press. 17 (8): 403–421. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00325550. S2CID 161390689.
  • D'Agata, Anna Lucia (1995). "Changing Patterns in a Minoan and Post-Minoan Sanctuary: the Case of Agia Triada". British School at Athens Studies. British School at Athens. 2: 19–26.
  • Dietrich, Bernard Clive (1974). The Origins of Greek Religion. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3110039825.
  • Dietrich, Bernard Clive (1967). "Some Light from the East on Cretan Cult Practice". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. 6 (4): 385–413.
  • El-Khashab, Abd El-Mohse (1984). "The Cocks, the Cat, and the Chariot of the Sun". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 55: 215–222.
  • Kouremenos, Anna (2016). "The double axe (λάβρυς) in Roman Crete and beyond: the iconography of a multi-faceted symbol". In Francis, Jane E.; Kouremenos, Anna (eds.). Roman Crete: New Perspectives. Oxbow Books. pp. 43–57. ISBN 978-1785700958.
  • Kouremenos, Anna (2018). "In the Heart of the Wine-Dark Sea: Insularity and Identity in the Roman Period". Insularity and identity in the Roman Mediterranean. Oxbow Books. pp. 41–64. ISBN 978-1785705809.
  • Hadzisteliou Price, Theodora (1978). Kourotrophos: Cults and Representations of the Greek Nursing Deities. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. ISBN 978-9004052512.
  • Rose, H. J. (1934). "Altheim: Revolutionary or Reactionary?". The Harvard Theological Review. Cambridge University Press. 27 (1): 33–51. doi:10.1017/S0017816000021386. S2CID 161636302.
  • Sanders, I. F. (1976). "Settlement in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods on the Plain of the Mesara, Crete". The Annual of the British School at Athens. British School at Athens. 71: 131–137. doi:10.1017/S0068245400005840. S2CID 130930642.