The wooden idol was the first to burn – the xoanon.
Seismic shocks made oil lamps overturn.
Instantly the timber shelves caught fire,
as did the garments of the hierophants.
Three of those trapped in the blaze
had already been sacrificed.
One priest made a bid to flee,
clutching a jug of human blood,
but both were crushed by the debris
the earthquake had dislodged from Juktas.
Blood collected from the youth
trussed like a sacrificial beast
had been intended to appease
the wrath of gods that threatened Crete.

Since then, how many innocents have died,
worldwide, in the name of causes misidentified?

Anemospilia – Cave of Winds –
disclosed its secrets recently.
In the shrine were found charred bone,
earthenware and slabs of stone;
the feet of the god-effigy, intact,
like pots fired in a kiln, because
such wooden Bronze Age idols
stood on feet of clay.


The earthquake that struck parts of Crete in the first part of the 17th century BCE destroyed Minoan palaces and the shrine at Anemospilia on Mt Juktas, preserving evidence of human sacrifice that had probably been performed in a bid to avert the disaster.

Jena Woodhouse


Recent residencies and retreats include Anam Cara (Ireland) and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig (Ireland); The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (Greece) and the British School at Knossos (Crete, Greece) – all in 2017. A current interest and focus is Bronze Age women and their lives, and an ongoing interest involves the possibility of an interface where archaeology meets poetry and contemporary life.

© 2018