2002 · Boston
One of the most famous pieces of ancient Greek art, a gold and ivory statuette of the Snake Goddess, has been described as the most refined and precious relic of Minoan civilization. Alas, as Kenneth Lapatin reveals, not only is the Goddess almost certainly modern, but Minoan civilization as it has been reconstructed is largely an invention of the early twentieth century. The Goddess's ivory and gold are of the wrong vintage. The stories of her origins are even more recent and problematic. What makes this tale fascinating, however, is not the forgery but the motivations behind it. Sir Arthur Evans, the legendary excavator of Knossos, romanticized a sophisticated prehistoric society, and restorers working for him obligingly supplied artifacts. Their creations formed the basis for further theories, which led to further deceptions. Evans hailed Minoan culture as 'at once the starting-point and the earliest stage in the highway of European civilizations,' yet its icons were largely fashioned by modern rather than ancient Cretans to suit the desires of scholars, museums, and the art market" (dust jacket).
First edition, first issue. Publisher's black paper covered-boards with gilt lettering to spine; spine-ends lightly bumped. In original pictorial dust jacket. Interior is clean. (Inventory #: 40287)