Prologue — Dr. Theresa Martis at Athens and Mt. Ida, Present Day
“There is no evidence for a priestess-led society, only for matrilineal family order and inheritance! That you continue to argue otherwise demonstrates to me—and to this entire committee—that you are incapable of objective analysis when it comes to Crete or, indeed, the Aegean entire!”
Dr. Whitten Stone’s face was alarmingly red, and his eyes looked ready to pop out of his head. Dr. Theresa Martis, the object of his disparagement, waited a moment, composing her response. Just because the committee chair had gone off the rails did not mean she should follow him.
“There is evidence, it is simply ambiguous,” she said. “I continue to believe there is a place in every discussion for open minds about the possibility of historical matriarchies. I believe it is wrong to decide a priori that Minoan society must have been patriarchal, simply because others at that time were.”
And, she thought, in the absence of a decipherable written record, these men see the 3,500-year-old evidence through their privileged male view of power politics. Why should an island between Greece and Egypt be anything but a kingdom and military power?
Dr. Whitten made a disgusted face, then looked at his neighboring committee members. His expression changed to dismay as he realized he did not have the committee’s support in this aspect of the disagreement.
“It is my intention to open and explore the remaining mountain sanctuaries and to utilize the latest ground-penetrating radar scans to locate and either clear or confirm the presence of other so-far-undiscovered sanctuaries and caches. Perhaps we might even find another Phaistos Disc.”
“Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” someone said.
“An excellent application for GPR,” someone else added.
“In undecipherable Linear A,” grumped Dr. Whitten.
Several on the committee made comments on this, and Dr. Martis’ only true ally amongst them, the American, Dr. Barbara Sanders of the University of Allentown, spoke up. “The more caches we find, the more likely we are to find our Rosetta Stone,” she murmured.
Many agreed with this, including some voices in the audience.
“I call a vote,” one of the committee men said.
Voting proceeded. Dr. Martis could only hope they would see fit to fund further exploration of Crete. That was more important than who would lead the expedition. Though it would be nice if it were she.
She hoped there would be financial backing for what she already was planning to do, on her own if need be. There was still a scant year’s worth of support in the trust her parents had left her. Once that was gone, she supposed she would buy a goat and live off cheese and wild olives.
She listened as they tallied the committee’s vote.
She had forgotten how hot and bright the Cretan sun could be. Fortunately, she had worn a long-sleeved shirt to protect her arms from the scrapes she often got on a dig. She’d worn a hat, to shade her face. But the Mediterranean sun burned her neck, along with the tops of her feet, except where her sandal straps had covered them.
Today she wore socks and shoes over the thick coat of aloe she’d put on her feet, and an aloe-soaked bandanna covered her neck. She wasn’t going to take a day off for sunburn, she was so eager to find and make an opening into the Mt. Ida side-cavern.
Of course, several different archaeological teams had researched the big cave at the top of the mountain many times. But the GPR had discovered an adjacent cavern—one so far untouched by modern hands. The scan showed “things” inside the cavern.
She smiled to herself. GPR had paid off. Too much of Minoan archeology had been expended on Knossos with its 1,300 rooms and 24,000 square meters of space. With new tools, old ideas would be overturned.
She and her team members had looked carefully at all potential entrances to the “new” section. There was no outside entrance, and GPR showed no disturbances anywhere along the slopes leading to the main cave. A side tunnel from inside the main cavern had most likely accessed the undiscovered section. The tumble of rocks that blocked that access lay before her now.
She had the crew set up lights, so everyone could see what they were doing. A rough-excavation crew removed rocks—some of them truly great granite boulders—from the top of the opening. She wanted to climb up there and help them, throw rocks with her bare hands down to the floor of the main cavern, where laborers would load them into donkey carts and haul them outside for careful examination. She had not yet seen any signs of frescoes or other art on the walls of the main cavern, but who knew what the place had looked like before the cave-in?
The workers built a zig-zag path up to the top level where they had at last removed enough stones to peer into the new branch of the cave. Her foreman led her up the path, bright lights on his head and in their hands. She leaned gingerly against the stones at the top and looked down into the new section.
“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. There are stacks of stuff. I can make out pithoi, tablets, and piles of things covered in dust.” She turned to the foreman, who was grinning as fiercely as she was. “When can I go in?” she asked.
Days, it took. Days to clear enough rocks to enter and make a path down the other side. She started moving rocks herself at the end of the second day, though what she wanted was to dive straight into the treasure trove.
At last she could descend. Her assistants, Dr. Jane Katsaros and almost-doctor Aeneas Sanna followed her down into the dark and dusty space.
It was huge.
It was full, the floor covered in goods.
Dr. Martis wiped the tears from her cheeks and got her assistants to set up work lights and help organize a marking grid. She had Sanna set up two computers for recording grid information and to categorize finds. Jane would be responsible for the manual recording as backup.
Outside, workers continued removing rocks, lowering the wall, and increasing access.
They emerged to discover they’d not only spent the day but most of the night working on their discovery. Sanna made phone calls, Dr. Katsaros wrote e-mails. They both sent out photos. Dr. Martis opened a bottle of wine, which they shared in celebration as they ate the stew their cook had prepared.
It would be good to get rid of the wall. They could set up a small space for food and drink well away from the workspace, which they must keep pristine and uncontaminated.
She worried about the lights, and what damage those might be doing, but they weren’t going to have a choice about that. They could not work in the dark. She planned to bring in de-humidifiers the next day and get those set up with extension cords running over the wall. It was starting to be a capital-W Wall, it was such an obstruction.
Sunday, the work crew took off for church or family visits, or both. Aeneas Sanna drove down the mountain and west to spend the day in civilization in the charming city of Chania, where his girlfriend was staying. Dr. Martis and Dr. Katsaros went back into the find.
How could they stay away? Once Jane realized Dr. Martis was going, she insisted they go together. They left their lunch along the path down the Wall, bringing only their water, lights, and cataloging tools. Dr. Martis was intent on clearing a space in the center where they could stand. Each item removed must be photographed in situ, then in close-up, and then packaged for cleaning and removal to their study site in the main cavern.
They’d cleared a path about two feet long toward the center of the circular area when they paused and retrieved their lunch. They sat on the narrow shelf of the zig-zag path down the Wall, legs dangling, in the shadow of the lights directed at the floor of the cavern and the find.
“At least we don’t have to worry about sunburn anymore,” Jane said.
A rumble of the earth was her answer.
“Earthquake?” Dr. Martis wondered, abandoning lunch, and heading back down to the floor.
Jane joined her on shaky legs as the rumbling intensified.
Both, they realized. First an earthquake, jerking and shaking everything around them. Next a rock fall, as the Wall closed up again, the ceiling above it collapsing with a thunderous roar. Rocks slid down the Wall, obliterating the path.
Dr. Martis wanted to throw herself over the piles of ancient Minoan goods to protect them, but what good would that do? She was not nearly big enough.
But the ceiling above the find held solid. Rocks tumbled down the Wall even after the quake had stopped shaking. A few stones fell in the back of the cavern well out of sight from where they stood. They could hear grinding and rumbling around them, even where the light did not show them what was falling.
At last there was silence.
Amazingly, the work lights remained lit. Dr. Martis turned one to light the Wall.
The path was gone, of course.
The opening was gone, as well. There was no way in or out.
“Well. They will know where we are,” Jane said.
“Yes. Okay. That main cavern has withstood many centuries of quakes and the devastations of time,” Dr. Martis cleared her throat. “There’s no reason to think they won’t be able to dig us out again, just like we found a way in in the first place. It may take a couple days, again though.”
The fans of the de-humidifiers hummed, audible above the sound of a few more rocks clacking down in the distance.
“We have water. Do we need to be concerned about air?” Jane wondered.
A rumbling filled the air, then quieted, leaving them shaking. “Aftershock.”
“I think air will not be a problem,” Dr. Martis said, her eyes caught by a glint of daylight far above them, toward the back of the cavern. “It’s not a reflection of our lights, it’s an opening to outside.”
“Maybe another way in.”
“Possibly.” Dr. Martis looked around. They had lights; they had room. They could do nothing about earthquakes or aftershocks. “Might as well work, I suppose.”
Jane grunted, dusting off her computer. “No internet. But we can still catalog. I don’t see the good camera, though.”
Dr. Martis brushed dust off a stack of stone tablets. It was a bit of a miracle that none had been crushed by falling rock over the eons, if such quakes and rock falls were common.
She found a map of Crete incised on the reverse side of the top tablet she held. “Photo, please,” she asked, and Jane complied, using the laptop’s camera. “Highest quality setting?”
They recorded the map find and set it in the “discovered” stack. Dr. Martis picked up the next tablet in the stack. She looked it over, then quickly grabbed the next one in the stack. She stood holding them, the skin on her arms prickling, then going numb as she stared in disbelief. Beside her, she heard Jane gasp.
They stared, mesmerized.
“Holy shit,” Jane said at last.
“Do you see what I see?”
“The Rosetta Stone for Linear A,” Jane said, absolute certainty in her voice.
“It’s an A to B and B to A dictionary.”
Dr. Martis sat down in the tiny space they’d cleared, holding the tablets against her lap like twin babies.
“Oh, my God,” Jane said. “Photos and photos. Then, what if you read, and I’ll type the definitions in?”
Goosebumps still covered her arms and legs. She was so stunned, it took a few moments for Dr. Martis to make sense of the first definition.
“Keftiu,” she said. “The Minoan word for Crete, written out here in Linear A. And Linear B.”
“Linear A first, suggests that was the primary, at the time?”
“Perhaps. We cannot jump to conclusions, but that would make sense. Linear B we know is Mycenean Greek.”
“What’s next?” Jane asked.
Act I — Life of a Bull Jumper
Scene 1 — Kitane at Suramarti
The bull whuffed then trotted toward Kitane. She reached her hand out and scritched the base of each ear. She had to stand on her toes to reach. Enosidas then tossed his head, ready to work out.
Kit gave his head a pat, then turned and trotted in a big circle, side by side with the bull. When they had good momentum built, she reversed, running the opposite direction, getting ready for her leap. Then she heard the roar and felt the shaking of another earthquake. She and the bull both stopped, waiting it out. Sometimes the quakes were quick; sometimes they kept going, as this one did. It felt like the ground beneath their feet was heaving, like some monster was trying to hatch out of it. Then it settled, the noise diminishing, the ground lying back down, still.
She heard the braying of donkeys and saw two animals running wildly toward them. She patted Enosidas’ head, then ran toward the donkeys, arms waving. It would not do to have them spook the bull—he’d stayed calm so far. The donkeys’ wide white eyes saw her. They changed direction, running down the hill toward the Tylissos fields.
“Which is probably where they belong, anyway,” she muttered. Jura needed to get his animals under control. Weren’t they supposed to be penned up?
Frowning as she thought about it, Kit moved downhill toward Tylissos. Jura’s pack animals were kept in a pen with a good solid fence. Normally donkeys did not panic any more than any other animals. Was something wrong at Tylissos villa? She glanced back and saw Enosidas browsing on the sweet new grass coming up after the recent rains. He should be fine. She walked toward the neighboring villa, thinking about Jura.
He had been wooing her for months now. He compared well with her other suitors, except for his stiff disposition. The man seemed made of stone he was so rigid. She kept hoping she would catch him in a softer mood, but that hadn’t happened yet. He was her mother’s pick, and he would be a good match. But. She sighed. Was there always a “but?” Wasn’t there one perfect man among her choices?
In truth, it wasn't only the choice of suitor that was the problem. The direst problem was the bulls. If she or Eno ever made a mistake and lost the competition, he would be sacrificed at the end of the "celebration."
She shuddered, just thinking about it.
This "tradition" was simply wrong. No trained bull should ever be slaughtered, no matter how badly they lost, how poorly they showed. She did not believe such a sacrifice could ever honor Jasasara, the Goddess of life whom they honored with the bull jumping.
At Tylissos, the steward directed a crew of atomai, bringing saws and axes to cut up the big tree that had fallen into the donkey pen. No wonder the animals had been terrified. One donkey lay pinned and squealing beneath the weight of the ancient plane tree that had crashed down upon it.
As she approached, Kit saw the steward bend down and cut its throat with a sharp bronze blade. The squealing stopped. Jura ran into the pen from the small Tylissos stable, a blade in his hand, a moment too late to do the deed. He and the steward conversed, then Jura spotted Kitane walking toward them down the hill.
“I am so sorry for your loss,” Kit said, nodding toward both the tree and the donkey.
“Potidas is still so angry,” Jura said.
“I am asking the Goddess to intervene,” Kit said. “I am asking my sister for her blessing for all Keftiu. Whatever has angered Potidas, She may be able to intercede for Her people.”
Jura nodded. “I honor Potidas each morning, in the traditional way.”
“That is good, Jura. It is good.” But is it enough? Kitane wondered, looking at the destruction.
The sun flowed warm over her shoulders as Kitane admired the new courtyard they’d built around the goddess tree. Her family had long intended to enclose the ancient tamarisk tree and create a small shrine here behind Suramarti villa. Now it was done. She stepped forward, under the tree.
The dappled sunlight the tree let through felt softer, as though the tree had gentled it, making it kind. She eyed the bench her cousin had carved from the dead goddess tree at Zakros. The costly wood had been smoothed and oiled and then left in its natural shape on a stone platform carved to hold the wood. Kit wandered over to look at it, and to compare the wood with the living bark of the tree that shaded it.
“Such a waste of resources,” Jura said, walking into the courtyard on sandaled feet. “The money spent on that wood could have paid for the entire new wing of your home.”
Kit eyed him over her shoulder with distaste. “Even if you think so, the living tree should still be honored with bare feet!”
Jura looked down at his sandals, retreated to the small gate, and slipped his footwear off, placing them outside the gate beside his dog, who had better manners than its master. Re-entering the courtyard in his now bare feet, he essayed a smile at her. “Sorry,” he said, seeming to address Kit more than the Goddess with his apology.
Kitane continued to scowl, her peaceful enjoyment of the new enclosure now broken by this stone of a man. It wasn’t as if Jura was poor, either, he just was a natural conservative when it came to spending—even when it was for the Goddess or the Temple. Or rather, his mother was, and Jura was too much a traditionalist to try to change that.
She could think of nothing to say to him. She looked back at the tree, brought her clenched hand to her forehead with respect, and backed out of the enclosure. She turned and walked rapidly toward the new wing of the Suramarti villa, abandoning Jura and the tree together.
Her mother’s sister and family had recently fled from Akrotiri, which the priestesses said was no longer safe. The new wing had been built to house them here at Suramarti, and it had created another kind of courtyard, sheltered on three sides, filled with flowers and trees and a small fountain. The small rectangular garden was protected on one side by the new wing, on the other side by the old wing, and topped by the original cross-corridor with a shrine and a long wall pierced by doors and windows—the polythyron—for celebrating the Goddess.
With six sleeping rooms, three workshops, and a plumbed toilet per wing, the villa was now huge.
She walked through the corridor of the new wing into the dining hall where the family was gathered. Everyone was here except her brother Diwoki—at sea in his trade ship, and sister Sakusna—also at sea, with the trader Tros.
Halima, Diwoki’s wife from Kmt, far to the south, and her two little children were a dark accent among the bronzy-skinned Keftiu. Kit reached out a hand and clasped Halima’s slender one. As graceful and agile as she was, Kit always felt chunky next to the tall, slim Kmt woman. They embraced, and Kit explained how the ceremony would work for the benefit of her sister-in-law.
Kit’s eldest sister, the Priestess Qazipatima, had come from the Knossos Temple to bless the villa’s new wing. Kit smiled to see her little sister Biaja following Qazi rather like a little bald duckling waddling after its mama. Bee was an initiate at the Temple, learning what the school there had to teach.
Her mother, father, aunt, and cousins filled the space along with several neighboring telestai, including Jura. She nodded at Jura, then grasped her cousin and friend Isari’s hand. The three young women, Halima, Kitane, and Isari, watched as Qazi and Bee walked around the room, making sure everything was in place for the ceremony.
“Everything looks so beautiful,” Isari murmured.
“The rooms are lovely,” Halima said, her accent clipped and charming.
“The Goddess has truly blessed us,” Kit said softly.
They all filed through the lustral basin one by one, removing and stacking their sandals, and cleansing their bare feet with the herbs and leaves in the bottom of the basin. Kit had helped gather them that morning. The greens released a delicious aroma of bay and thyme and rosemary as they were crushed. Formally, each person saluted Qazipatima, fisted hand to forehead, as they entered the ceremony room on cleansed bare feet.
Qazipatima the priestess would transform into an incarnation of the Goddess before she made the blessing. Kit tried not to burst with false pride at the sight of her beautiful sister honoring the Goddess Jasasara and blessing their lovely villa. It was due to Jasasara, not to her mother or father or her sisters or any of the Suramarti families, that they had such a beautiful home. Kit knew that pride was one of her personal failings, and she worked on conquering it every day.
Beside her, Isari sighed and Halima stood a silent shadow. They faced the first door and window combination. One novice priestess who had come with Qazipatima oversaw opening the door and window shutters of the polythyron at the correct times. Another initiate, probably her sister Biaja, would light and extinguish the lamps, so that the appropriate sections of the frescoes would be illuminated as the ceremony proceeded from west to east. At peace, Kit smiled and prepared to celebrate Jasasara’s blessing.
After the family and guests finished eating and the ceremony was complete, the younger people dispersed. Halima went to her rooms to care for her infant daughter and chase after her son who had just discovered running.
Kit invited Isari to come out to the field to watch her practice. Isari was suffering from displacement, loss of her regular routine after the abrupt move her family had made. Much had been left behind when they escaped Akrotiri. The earthquakes were so large that they had been felt on Keftiu. Priestesses at Thera had sent strong warnings to all their people on that island. Earthquakes and steam warned of the Goddess’ anger. Now Isari was on Keftiu with nothing to do.
“Take Isari around with you,” Okune, Kit’s mother had said. Okune had welcomed the refugees, but expected them to help at Suramarti. “Let her see what is available here for her. She could set herself up in one of the new workshops, perhaps.”
“What is she going to do for tools and supplies?” Kit asked.
“Her father should be here soon with all that he could carry on the last family boat,” Okune said, frowning with concern. “Until then, I suppose she could borrow from us, or perhaps from Jura’s family.”
Kit automatically scowled at the mention of Jura.
Her mother went on, “She could follow you around until then, perhaps help groom Enosidas?” At Kit’s even deeper scowl, she hurriedly added, “Or perhaps they could use help at the Temple; she can go with you to the ceremony at the end of the week.”
“Yes, all right. I’m happy to have her with me. But no one touches Enosidas but me. He is a bull, mama, not a pet for all to play with!”
“Of course,” Okune had said, lips quirking.
Still scowling, Kitane went to find her cousin.
“I don’t understand,” Isari said as they walked to Kit’s practice field. “I don’t have to marry until I find the perfect match. Is your family rule so different from ours?”
“You don’t have three sisters,” Kit said. “That’s the difference. Mama made sure we all understood that a long time ago. By age seventeen we have to be married, or the estate passes along to the next youngest sister. Qazi and Sakusna both chose not to marry—Qazi for the Goddess, Sakusna for trade.”
Isari shivered. “She sails with that pirate Tros.”
“He’s not a pirate!” Kit looked at her cousin in shock. How could Isari believe such nonsense? Perhaps her mother was feeding her stupid stories—or Kit’s own mother was. “He’s a powerful trader. And rich.” She thought about Tros, his strong, angular face, his dark-lashed deep green eyes. “I have thought about choosing him.”
Isari looked at her, disbelief clear in her features. “Tros!? Oh, Kitane. Oh.”
Kit flinched. Now even her cousin was going to become involved in her choice of husband? It felt as if there was pressure coming from all sides. Then she thought of her father, who had said nothing at all about husbands or suitors or choices. She felt as if she had been hugged by the quiet, kind man. Perhaps she should spend more of her time with him, who did not pressure, did not judge her.
With a sigh, Kit turned and signaled Enosidas to catch up. The big animal had stopped to chew on his favorite snack bush. Kit watched carefully to make sure he did not get into the nearby oleander that made him so irritable. He—and she—needed to be perfect for the ceremony.
“Try to think of Tros as his own person, not as the wild man your mother has obviously described,” she said. She hated to be short with Isari, but really. The prejudice she showed when she had never even met the man was a disgrace.
Isari shrugged. “Everyone says so, not just mother. But if you like him, I will try to also. He’s probably better than Jura, who is just as big a statue as you said.”
“Mother is looking at his wealth, his villa, his proximity. I don’t think she’s ever looked at the man himself. Oh! So rigid, so…umgh!”
Her cousin laughed.
“Oh! Remind me on the way home to show you where the best clay dig is.”
“Yes, I want to get started, my hands are bored,” Isari said with a smile.
They stopped walking at the top of a hill amidst wild grasses and small shrubs. This was Kit and Enosidas’ practice field. From here they could see far down the slopes to the distant, blue Middle Sea, the jumble of stone and clay roofs of the Temple at Knossos, tiny so far away in the East and partly hidden by laurel and pine trees.
“I think it would be best if you sat here. I usually take him in a circle around this hillock. We won’t run up here because of the stones, and they make a nice seat.”
Isari nodded and lifted her pale blue linen robe up enough not to pull as she sat down. Kit tugged her own robe off over her head, leaving her torso and legs bare, just the tightly-woven wool loincloth covering her, held up by the wide firm belt that fitted around her waist. She took off her necklace with its seal on a leather thong and set it on top of her robe. Isari patted the robe and watched as Kit stretched out briefly, then asked Enosidas to begin trotting in a circle.
Kit moved alongside him for a bit, loosening up her muscles some more, then she paused, turned, and ran the other way so that she and the bull were on a collision course. As they neared one another, Eno lowered his head and sped up a bit. She leaped, placing her palms firmly on the broad plane of his forehead, letting the momentum of her leap carry her feet over her head and the bull’s. She landed facing backward, the soles of her feet firm and flat on Eno’s back. She pounced forward, still using the momentum from her first leap and the bull’s speed, placing her palms on his rump as she flipped off his back onto the ground, momentum still propelling her forward in a trot away from Eno and then around to meet him again.
After a few leaps, Kit fed Eno a handful of the oats she kept stashed in a sack among the stones, then stretched out again, and let Eno rest between the practice runs.
Isari walked over to where Kit was catching her breath. “Wow cousin, I never saw bull jumping like that on Thera. Our jumpers always grabbed the bull’s horns. The bull did all the work tossing the jumper to the animal’s back. Your way looks harder, but more dramatic. Is it dangerous?”
"There are many styles of jumping. I found when I used the horns, I always over-jumped. I landed on Eno's rump without room to push off for my final flip. I imagine it has something to do with the jumper’s size and the bull’s strength.”
Isari shook her head. “I thought all jumpers did the same tricks.”
“No, the most dangerous part of bull jumping is the many falls and injuries while figuring out the best method for the team. It’s one reason no one ever tries a different bull once the camaraderie between the jumper and bull develops."
Isari watched, eyes wide, as Kitane and Enosidas performed the maneuver over and over again. Two leaps, two flips, two landings. For the ceremony, with thousands of people watching and the terrible penalty for losing, they needed to be perfect.
Scene 2 — Jura at Tylissos
Jura relived his childhood as he walked through the ancient olive trees to the highest point of the Tylissos villa. He entered the sanctuary and could recall his father’s voice.
“Young Jura, the goddess Jasasara planted this olive tree when she granted your mother’s family this land.” He had raised Jura to touch the double-axe. “We call this a ‘labrys’ and it honors Jasasara.” Next to Jasasara’s monument, the horns of consecration towered over young Jura. “When you look up at the twin pylons, imagine the horns of the god Potidas’ Bull.”
The horns of consecration no longer towered over him and these early memories filled Jura with gratitude to be living in this time of peace and prosperity. Even when his little brother Ukan was born and Jura felt abandoned, he could find solace in the sanctuary. Jura upheld the traditions of his mother, and his mother’s mother, with pride and honor.
His assistants filled the bull’s head rhyton with wine and placed two baskets of small terracotta cups at his feet. The preparations for the morning ritual were complete. The atomai, all given time off for the ceremony, lined up to receive their portion of wine to honor Potidas, god of earth, sea, and the underworld.
Before the ceremony began, the earth shuddered, the baskets of cups rattled, and the atomai fell to or sat down on the ground. Jura reached for the nearby horns of consecration for balance and stood strong as a third pylon. He never skipped an opportunity to praise the gods. “Do not be afraid. Get up, arise. Potidas protects you in his sanctuary.” They followed his example, though arising cautiously.
Jura was a telestai, a landowner. As a child, he walked with his father and looked for broken bricks, crushed stones, and pottery shards.
“Father. Look at that! What is it?
“Jura, you know. That is from an earthquake that collapsed an old building. All our villas and temples rest on the ruins of previous ones. The telestai always rebuild bigger and better after earthquakes.”
Jura did not fear earthquakes.
The line of people moved quickly, each picking up a cup and receiving the portion of wine Jura offered. After refilling the rhyton several times, fifty supplicants stood around the horns of consecration. Before the ceremony started, Jura addressed the gathering. “Welcome, atomai of Tylissos. Together we protect and bless Keftiu.”
He raised his cup and turned to face the priestess along with the others.
A priestess originally from Mount Ida, dressed in a purple robe with a gold belt and matching gold circlet, pronounced the invocation. Each person took a sip of wine, anointed the horns with the remainder, and smashed their cup.
One more earth tremble, stronger than the rest, knocked over a basket of cups and ended the observance. Still, Jura had honored Potidas as custom required. He knew the God approved.
He drank one extra cup of wine and smashed it for the many telestai and atomai who neglected their responsibilities. The gods had inflicted the recent spate of earthquakes because the people of Keftiu had forsaken their traditions. Good times had brought lax observances of these important rituals.
Later in the day, he searched his family’s storerooms for a gift to bring Okune, something appropriate for the mother of the woman he wished to marry. Today he selected a pitcher, painted with graceful blue dolphins. He knew that both Okune and her daughter Kitane favored dolphins, and the Keftiu artists had portrayed them so well they almost looked like they were alive and leaping in the waves.
He filled the pitcher with his special olive-blossom honey and sealed it with beeswax. He strapped it to his back for the short walk to the Suramarti villa. That family was the oldest and most revered in the area. Some said that they had settled here even before the gods chose Knossos for the temple site.
“Thank you for the lovely pitcher and your fine honey.” Okune handed the round-bottom pitcher to a servant and took Jura’s hand. “Walk with me and tell me what is on your mind.”
Even though tradition said Kitane would make her own choice, everyone knew Okune was in charge. Okune had already broken tradition by demanding her daughters marry by seventeen or forgo their inheritance. Two daughters had already lost their chance. Jura had to please both Okune and Kitane if he wanted to marry Kitane, and Kitane’s seventeenth birthday was closer every day.
They walked through the vineyard. He began, “Every day I come to visit Kitane, but she is always busy. Yesterday she rebuked me for not removing my shoes, then ran away. Before that, she sat with her ladies spinning. Another day she worked with her father, Radamitu, in his goldsmithing workshop.”