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Minoan Snake Goddess figurine c 1600 BCE
The snake goddess has been compared to the Snake-witch picture stone, which shows a woman holding snakes in both hands, from Gotland, Sweden.

Snake Goddess describes a number of figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1600 BCE. By implication, the term 'goddess' also describes the deity depicted; although little more is known about her identity apart from that gained from the figurines. The 'Snake Goddess' figure first discovered was found by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans in 1903. The figurine found by Arthur Evans uses the faience technique, for glazing earthenware and other ceramic vessels by using a quartz paste. After firing this produces bright colors and a lustrous sheen. The figurine is today exhibited at the Herakleion Archeological Museum in Crete. The snake's close connection with the Minoan house is believed to indicate that the goddesses shown in these figures are Household Goddesses.

While the idol's true function is somewhat unclear, her exposed and amplified breasts suggest that she is some sort of fertility figure. The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically.

The image has been adopted by some contemporary feminists and Goddess worshipers as representing the psychic and spiritual power of women.

Other goddesses known to be associated with snakes are

  • The ancient Egyptian goddess Renenutet often appeared in the form of a hooded cobra.
  • The ancient Egyptian snake goddess Meretseger.
  • The goddess Wadjet, associated with the Lower Egyptian sanctuary of Buto.

While the goddess' name is unknown, some have speculated it may have been "Ariadne," since that name may mean "the very holy one," and thus the Ariadne of Greek myth may be the Snake Goddess, "reduced in legend to a folklore heroine."[1]

Popular culture

The snake goddess was featured as part of the 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.

See also

  • Snake worship in Hindu mythology.
  • Gorgon - female monsters with sharp fangs and hair of living, venomous snakes in Greek mythology.


  1. ^ Powell, Barry B. Classical Myth. Second ed. With new translations of ancient texts by Herbert M. Howe. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998, p. 368.


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