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Image of the famous Minoan bull leaping fresco. It used to decorate a room at the Palace of Knossos, now detached and exhibited in Herakleion Museum. It was made during the second Millennium BC. (Neopalatial period). During the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Crete both man and woman held equal social status. The fresco depicts a man and two women participating in the same dangerous sport such as the bull-leaping. This was not a sport for the squeamish. A bull would charge headlong into a line of jumpers. Each jumper, when the bull was right on the top of them, would grab the horns of the bull and as the bull lifts forcefully shakes up his head, the athlete would then use the impetus to vault over the bull in an acrobatic somersault. The most difficult stunt, was while the bull running the athlete had to land on the bull's back and with another somersault to land on his feet behind the bull. In Minoan art always the men's skin is depicted reddish- brown while the women's is white. Image 2 is a reconstruction of the bull leaping sequence. To perform such a dangerous stunt the athletes had to undergone strong mental and physical training. Bravery, agility and skill needed to avoid the deadly horns of the bull. The athletes had to synchronize their movements with the charging bull. Accidents and deaths were often. They didn't kill the bull after the game as it was sacred to them. It was considered a noble sport, practiced by the palatial youth not at the Palace courtyard as was believed but at fenced designated plaza.
November 1st, 2011
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