Gryphons: Minoan Wingless


Early depictions of griffins in Ancient Greek art are found in the frescoes in the Throne Room of the Palace of Knossos, a chamber built for ceremonial purposes during the 15th century BC . It is found at the heart of the Bronze Age palace of Knossos,Crete, in Greece, one of the main centers of the Minoan civilization. The chamber contains an alabaster seat on the north wall, identified by Evans as a “throne”, while two  wingless griffins rest on each side. The Throne Room is considered the oldest throne room in Europe and was unearthed in 1900 by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, during the first phase of his excavations in Knossos.
The griffin/gryphon continued being a favored decorative theme in Archaic and Classical Greek art, although in earlier times they were brilliantly colored, and they protected kings and drew chariots of goddesses. In later Greek art the aspect of griffins changed. No longer protectors, they were then fierce beasts. Often molded in bronze, they featured hooked beaks, pointed ears and protruding tongues. In Greek vase paintings, the griffin is often depicted attacking other animals or men.


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