A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Little did I know at the age of six, when I announced to my mother that I was going to be an archaeologist, that I would spend more than 15 years trying to find out what Minoan women wore. My fascination with the subject began when, still an undergraduate, I was first introduced to Minoan art, which reached its high point in the mid-second millennium B.C. I was amazed by the liveliness of female figures captured in motion, by their proud, arched backs and, most of all, by their magnificent costumes, designed to celebrate their curvaceous anatomy. I quickly understood why Sir Arthur Evans, upon discovering the elegantly clothed faience statuettes from Knossos around the turn of the last century, identified them as goddesses or priestesses and why feminists today have adopted them as icons of women's power.
I decided to replicate the costumes and try them out on a model, who would imitate the poses of the figures in art. The tailoring of Egyptian garments had suggested to me that the dresses in Minoan art were somewhat realistically portrayed, and I believed that the closer my reconstructions conformed to the representations in art, the closer they would be to the way Minoans dressed.
Bernice Jones, an adjunct assistant professor of Art History at Queens College, New York, is writing a book on Minoan costume with the support of a fellowship from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. She wishes to thank Valerie Bealle, Deniz Oktay, Maria Carvalho, Lora Grisafi, and Massimo Gammacurta.