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Christopher L.C.E. Witcombe

Women in the Aegean
Minoan Snake Goddess

Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe

4. Evans's "Snake Goddess"

The figurine usually identified in art history books today as the "Snake Goddess" was originally identified by Evans as one of her votaries. The figurine Evans believed to be the actual "Snake Goddess" stands 131/2 inches tall (34.2 centimetres) in its reconstructed state.

She wears a tall hat of a purplish-brown colour with a white border and stands with her arms extended out and down before her with the palms up. In her right hand she grasps the head of a long greenish snake spotted with purple-brown the body of which winds up the upturned flat underside of her forearm, over her right shoulder, down one side of her back, over her buttocks, up the other side, over her left shoulder, and down her right arm.

A second snake has its tail looped over the right ear of the Goddess from which it winds down frontwards over her right shoulder follows the curve of her exposed breast. It continues down below her waist, then loops back up the left side of her torso, up in front of her left ear, and up her tall hat to the summit.

It would appear that a third snake entwines her waist, its body forming a knot in the front. Evans describes the general ground colour, including the flesh tint, as being of a milky white, with the various details in purple, purplish-brown, or black.

Large portions of the figurine seen today are reconstructions. Of the original figurine, only her torso, right arm, head, and her hat (except for a portion at the top) were found. It not at all clear, for example, that it is one single snake that has its head in her right hand and its tail in her left.


Minoan Snake Goddess
from Knossos, Crete
c. 1600 BCE
height 131/2 inches (34.3 cm)

(Archeological Museum, Herakleion)

Copyright © (text only) 2000
Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe
All rights reserved


1. Discovery

3. The Votary

3. Temple Repositories


5. Snake Goddess in Minoan Culture

6. Snake Goddesses on Crete

7. Fertility Deity?

8. Snakes, Egypt, Magic, & Women

9. Snake Charmers

10. Women in Minoan Culture

Excursus: Matriliny in the Bronze Age