The first criterion by which Minoan peak sanctuary figurines are typically classified and characterised, in databases, catalogues and discussions, is gender. Contingent on the rendering of their anatomical features, their surface colour, hairstyle, clothing, and gesture, they are described as ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘both’, or ‘unknown’. Moreover, interpretations of the sites’ function are often formulated on the basis of the ratios of gender representation within a collection. Less frequently, however, is attention paid to the representation of age on peak sanctuary figurines, and indeed few are discussions in which correlations between age and gender are drawn.
This paper investigates the iconography of youth and aging at Minoan peak sanctuaries. A systematic and meticulous examination of anthropomorphic figurines reveals that age, like gender, is also expressed through the careful modelling of certain anatomical details, the use of colour codes, the depiction, hairstyle, clothing and accessories, and through the careful rendering of the artefacts’ body comportment and gesture. In the light of this evidence, the significance of iconographical narratives of youth and aging to the ritual practices evidenced at peak sanctuaries is discussed, and the relevance of these narratives to the contemporary socio-political climate of Bronze Age Crete is explored.