THE MYCENAEAN CAT

MYCENAEAN CAT HISTORY

 

The Mycenaean civilization lasted a mere 500 years ending abruptly due to infighting, the invasion of the Dorians, or an invasion of the “Sea People”.  Primarily warriors, the Mycenaeans enlarged their empire by conquest rather than by trade, as the Minoans had, and inhabited what is today the whole of the Peloponnesus and Crete.   

However, Mycenaean artifacts have been found as far away as Russia, Germany and Ireland.  Whether through the influence of the Minoans or from their own respect for the cat’s symbolic strength and cunning, feline representations adorn various Mycenaean artifacts.  For example, an inlaid dagger dating to 1600BC depicts a gold cat hunting water fowl surrounded by lotus plants.

Inlaid Dagger, Mycenaean 1600BC , Mycenaean Cat History

Inlaid Dagger, Mycenaean1600BC
Courtesy National Archeological Museum Athens

“The familiarity with Egypt is further proved by the lotus pattern on the dagger blade, by the cat on the dagger, and the cats on the gold furl ornaments, since the cat was then unknown in Greece.” (Mahaffy, 2007 p.393)  In addition, found in a shaft grave in Mycenae, two gold images of cats pose strangely like they could have been used on a coat of arms (Engels, 2001).  Although the Mycenaeans represented the cat in various attitudes and on various works of art and even on daily utensils, no mention or reference is made to the cat in Mycenaean Linear B script.  


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