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Photo of Marinatos, Nanno Ourania

Nanno Ourania Marinatos, PhD

Professor Emerita

Classics and Mediterranean Studies


Areas of Research and Publication:

Greek Religion, Minoan religion, History of Scholarship, Thucydides and Herodotus


Courses Taught (2005-2008)

  • Greek Mythology (Classics 208)
  • Near Eastern Myth (Classics 260)
  • The Iliad (Classics 298. In English)
  • The Iliad (Classics 299. In Ancient Greek)
  • Thucydides (Classics 298)
  • Herodotus (Classics 298)
  • Seminar on Mediterranean Literature: The Beyond (Classics 390)

Service to the Profession

  • Referee for book INSTAP (March 2021)
  • Referee of article submitted to Histos (Oxford Journal) in May 2021.

Selected Publications

Recent Publications:

Minoan religion: co-edited with Fritz Blakolmer. Volume of Collected essays on Minoan religion. Accepted and forthcoming in INSTAP Academic Press.

– Book review. Popular Religion and Ritual in prehistoric and ancient Greece and the eastern Mediterranean edited by Giorgos Vavouranakis, Konstantinos Kopanias and Chrysanthos Kanelopoulos. Archaeopress Archaeology 2018. Journal of Hellenic Studies 2021, 274-75.

– “A Note on the theiasmos of Nicias”. Classica et Medivaelia (forthcoming 2021).

– Nicias and Pericles: Parallel Lives in Thucydides’ Narrative” Wiener Studien (forthcoming June 2021).

– “The Minoan Genii, the Palm Tree and Solar Cult: Egyptian and Near Eastern Perspectives” forthcoming in R. Laffineur and Thomas Palaima eds, ZOIA, Aegaeum series.

– “Myth of Troy Turned into History” in Myth and History edited by Athina Papachrysostomou and Menelaos Christopoulos de Greuter (accepted and forthcoming).

– A Minoan Riddle” in Aegis Current Approaches and New Perspectives in Minoan Iconography Fritz Blakolmer (ed), Louvain 2020, 190-203.

– “Aόρατοι Θεοί” Lecture for Friends of the Acropolis Museum delivered Jan. 2019. Published in ANTHEMION 1, 2020, 16-23.

– “Το μαγικό βουνό: Τα ιερά στην μινωική θρησκεία. ”. Στο Ιρις Τζαχίλη, Μαρία Αρακαδάκη, Χρηστά ‘Εργα, Μελέτες προς τιμήν της Κλαίρης Παλυβού. Αθηνα 2019,  ( Article in honor of Clairy Palyvou edited by Iris Tzahili)pp. 305-15.

-Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete. Creating The Vision of Knossos. (I. B. Tauris. London 2015).

-Akrotiri, Biography of a Lost City (in Greek). Athens: Militos Press, 2014.

“Spyridon Iakovides and Spyridon Marinatos” (in Greek) Mentor 109, 2014, 161-172.

Spyridon Marinatos his Life and Times edited by Eleni Matzourani and Nanno Marinatos. Athens: Kardamitsas 2014.

-“Theft of Herakleion Museum 1938”, Mentor 2014, 270-76 (in Greek).

-“Myth, Ritual, Symbolism and the Solar Goddess” in Metaphysis edited by R. Laffineur and F. Blakolmer. Aegaeum. Liege 2015(forthcoming).

-“Citizen of Minos: Spyridon Marinatos and Sir Arthur Evans” in E. Matzourani and N. Marinatos eds., Spyridon Marinatos, His Life and Times. Athens 2014, 111-120.

-“Minoan Religion”, The  Cambridge History of the Religions in the Ancient World. v. 1, ed. Rene Michele Salzman and Marvin A. Sweeney. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013, 237-255.

-The University of Michigan 12th Annual Arthur and Mary Platsis Symposium Sunday Sept 29, 2 PM. Nanno Marinatos: “Minoan Monotheism: Was Sir Arthur Evans Right?” Kenneth Lapatin: Inventing the Minoans

-“The Debate over Egyptian Monotheism: Richard Wilkinson’s Perspective”, in  Pearce Paul Creasman ed., Archaeological Research in the Valley of the Kings and Ancient Thebes. Papers Presented in Honor of Richard H. Wilkinson. University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition. V. 1. 2013, 173-179.

– “Bull Games in Minoan Crete: Social and Symbolic Dimensions” delivered at Cambridge University Sept. 15, 2012 (forthcoming)

– “Levantine, Egyptian and Greek Conceptions of the Beyond” in K. DOWDEN-N. LIVINGSTONE (eds.) Blackwell’s Companion to Greek Mythology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2011), pp. (with Nicolas Wyatt).

– A Story of Lions: Palatial Ideology in Egypt, Knossos, Mycenae” Philistor. Studies in Honor of Kostis Davaras, E. Matzourani and Philip P. Betancourt, eds., INSTAP Academic Press, Philadelphia PA, 2012, pp. 113-118.

– Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess. University of Illinois Press 2010. Reviewed by Colin Renfrew, Times Literary Supplement. Reviewed by Sir John Boardman in Interdisciplinary Journal Common Knowledge Volume 18, Number 2. (published by Duke)

– “The Pseudo-Minoan Nestor Ring and Its Egyptian Iconography” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, 2, 2011, pp. 17-27 (with Briana Jackson).

-“Light and Darkness and Archaic Greek Cosmography” in Menelaos Christopoulos, Efimia D. Karakantza and Olga Levaniouk, editors, Light and Darkness in Ancient Greek Myth and Religion, Lanham • Boulder • New York • Toronto • Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books 2010, pp. 193-200.

– “Elysion and Egypt, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, 2, 2010, 13-24. (with Sebastian A. Anderson).

– “Lions from Tell el Dab’a”, Egypt and the Levant 20, 2010, pp. 325-356.

– “The So-Called Hell and Sinners in the Odyssey and Homeric Cosmology”, Numen 56, 2009,186-197.

– “The Indebtedness of Minoan Religion to Egyptian Solar Religion: Was Sir Arthur Evans Right?” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 2009.

– Co-authored Book: Taureador Scenes in Tell el Dab’a (Avaris) and Knossos. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.Vienna 2007
(with Manfred Bietak and Clairy Palyvou)

– “Minoan Beliefs of the Afterlife” in From the Land of the Labyrinth. Hellenic Ministry of Culture. Onassis Foundation. New York 2008. 143-145.

– “The King of the Lilies and Sacral Kingship in Minoan Crete” in Ph. Betancourt, M. C. Nelson, and H. Williams eds., Krinoi kai Limenes. Studies in Honor of Joseph and Maria Shaw. INSTAP Academic Press, 2007, 272-276.

– “The Minoan Mother Goddess and her Son” in S. Bickel, S. Schroer, R. Schurte and Ch. Uehlinger, eds., Bilder as Quellen, Images as Sources. Studies on Ancient Near Eastern artefacts and the Bible inspired by the work of Othmar Keel. Academic Press Fribourg Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Göttingen 2007, 349-363.

– “Proskynesis and Minoan Theocracy” in Stefanos Aristeios (Festschrift Stephan Hiller). Archaeologische Forschungen zwischen Nil und Istros. Felix Lang, Claus Reinholdt, Joerg Weilhartnereds. Wien 2007, Phoibos verlag. 179-186.

– Review of Mark Munn. The Mother of Gods, Athens and the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion. Berkeley and LA, UCP 2006. in American Historical Review, June 2007, 908.

– “Aegean Religions” in Encyclopedia of Religions, Univ. of Chicago Press 2005, pp.37-44.

– “The Dog Pursuit scenes from Tell el Dab’a and Kea” (with L. Morgan) in. L. Morgan ed., Aegean Wall Painting, a Tribute to Mark Cameron. BSA 13, London 2005, 119-122.

– “The ideals of manhood in Minoan Crete”, in. L. Morgan ed., Aegean Wall Painting, A Tribute to Mark Cameron. BSA 13, London 2005, pp. 149- 158.

– “Symbolic Forms of Sacrificial Imagery in the Eastern Mediterranean” in R. Hägg ed., Greek Sacrificial Ritual, Olympian and Chthonian, Stockholm 2005, 25-27.


Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Crete. Creating the Vision of Knossos. (I.B. TAURIS,

Akrotiri. The Biography of a Lost City (in Greek) (MILITOS PRESS,


Minoan Kingship and the Solar Goddess: A Near Eastern Koine 
U of I Press, 2010

This book attempts a new decipherment of Minoan symbolism. It begins with an analysis of the visual evidence of Minoan kingship and proceeds to show that the Minoan templates are almost identical to those of N. Syria and Anatolia. A case is made that the Minoan kings are depicted as either divine rulers or as high priests.
The discussion next turns to the form and syntax of the Minoan ideograms. They are compared to similar ones from Egypt and the Near East and it is argued that they have similar meanings. Even the mysterious double axe is made more comprehensible. Cosmology is considered next. It is suggested that the core of Minoan cosmology is solar worship. Royal and cosmic and royal symbolism converge: the king is the earthly representative of the sun deity. The Minoan goddess, whose emblem is the double axe, is shown to be a solar deity. Female sun goddesses exist also among the Hittites, the peoples of Ugarit and Egypt.

Taureador Scenes in Tell El-Dab’a (Avaris) and Knossos
(co-authored with Manfred Bietak and Clairy Palyvou).
Austrian Academy of Sciences- Vienna, 2007

This book (co-authored with Manfred Bieatak and Clairy Palyvou) is the publication of the Minoan bull leaping scenes found in Tel el Dab’a, Egypt. The paintings are compared to those of Knossos and are found to be very similar in style and content. The publication includes a new study and catalogue of the taureador paintings from Knossos itself.
The sport represented is analyzed; it is argued that all the leapers are male and that they represent slender youths as well as more muscular young adults. By their acrobatic feat, the men honor the Great Goddess of Crete. She is shown to be a solar goddess and a patroness of kings.

The Goddess and the Warrior: The Naked Goddess and Mistress of Animals in Early Greek Religion

Routledge. London 2000

The book explores the unusual iconographical formula of Archaic Greek art that naked and seductive female goddesses are juxtaposed to fully armed warriors. What is the function of this juxtaposition?
The main argument of the book is that male armament and female sexuality are two alternative forms of power. They may be combined to create an inseparable unified force or may be opposed and combat each other. Both mythical and iconographical material is explored. Parallels from Near Eastern art and myth are used to demonstrate the pattern in a broad East Mediterranean perspective.

Greek Sanctuaries (with R. Hägg)
Routledge. London 1995

A collection of essays written by both historians of religion and archaeologists.

Minoan Religion: Ritual, Image, and Symbol (Studies in Comparative Religion)
University of South Carolina Press 1993

This book is an attempt to bring together diverse types of evidence about Minoan religion. Unlike the famous work by M.P. Nilsson, Minoan and Mycenaean Religion (1950) which was based on archaeological and iconographical typology, this work attempts to organize the evidence around social questions such as priesthood. Also, it asks the question of how the sanctua .

Minoan Sacrificial Ritual
Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, series in 8. Stockholm 1986

This work contains an analysis of archaeological and visual evidence pertaining to Minoan sacrifice. The questions addressed are: who took part in the sacrifice? Where did the sacrifice take place? What animals were sacrificed?
The most important aspect is the attempt to decipher obscure ideograms of Minoan seals which are viewed here as a system of signs.

Art and Religion in Thera
Mathioulakis, Athens 1984

The Minoan paintings from Thera are discussed in their archaeological context. It is argued that they decorated rooms in which rituals took place and therefore all of them have a relationship with religious ideology.
This book presents the first attempt to find a common iconographical program and ideology in all the murals of Thera.

Service to Community


BA, MA, PhD University of Colorado at Boulder

Selected Presentations

  • How did Periclean Athens Manage the Plague of 429?. Presentation in CYA zoom-seminar, June 10, 2020.
  • «Θερμοπύλαι ως όργανο Διπλωματίας» Paper delivered at conference on the Excavations of Thermopylai, Sept. 27, 2020. Video taped at CYA.
  • “The Narrative of the Goddess on Theran Frescoes”, Oct. 29. Lecture delivered at the University of Washington, Seattle.
  • «Wounded Goddess” Nov. 2020. University of Vienna. Erasmos series
  • “Μινωική και Ελληνική Θρησκεία» Απριλιος 2021. (Workshop for the study of Myth and Religion, University of Patras, Classical Studies sector).

Research Currently in Progress

  • Thucydides the Athenian. Co-edited with Robert Pitt. Collected essays on Thucydides.
  • Forged Rings and Paradigms. Sir Arthur Evans and Minoan Religion. A book-length study of the history of the rings of Minos and Nestor and an investigation of the history of ideas.
  • Thucydides, Justice and the Cosmos: a study of Thucydides’ values and his cosmology.