Minoan Jewelry and Seals

Jewelry made with gold and semi-precious beads have always been popular in Keftiu (since the Early Minoan period). The earliest pieces were influenced by Babylonian styles, which reached Keftiu via Syria. Most early jewelery came from thin strips of gold that was cut into shapes and lightly embossed. The first diadems were decorated with designs formed by raised dots. There were also hair ornaments shaped like flowers and leaves. The naturalism of the simple hair pins are remarkable. Pendants typically had leaves, sprays, axes, and cones hanging from chains, and various shaped beads made from gold, rock-crystal, amethyst, carnelian, steatite, and faience. One golden pendant has two bees heraldically arranged around a honeycomb. Circles hang from each bee and from the center of the design. Another early golden pendant has a kilted nature god with a long-necked water bird in either hand. Five circles hang from the bottom of the pendant. Bead combinations included alternating rows of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. Amethyst, rock-crystal, and green jasper were also used. Gold rings could be inlaid with lapis lazuli and could include designs with double axes, reef-knots, and hoops. They could also be made out of gold-plated bronze or bronze. Filigree, decorating gold with fine golden wire, and granulation, using small grains of gold to decorate the gold, was used in Keftiu after a time (after 2000 BC). Filigree and granulation arrived in Keftiu from Babylon via Syria.

Seals are of course used to mark lumps of clay, which when dried show who owns an item. They can also be used to keep an item from being tampered with. Seals began in Babylonia, where they take the form of engraved cylinders which were rolled over the clay, and in Kemet, where stamp-seals were used. Keftiu has followed the model of Kemet (since the second Early Minoan phase 2500 - 2200 BC) and uses stamp-seals. The seals of Keftiu come in the form of beads or pendants that can be worn on the wrist. Gold signet rings appeared later (1700 BC) but they were often so small that they have to be hung on a cord anyhow. Before the period of the Palaces, seal-stones were made from soft stones, such as bone, ivory, and steatite. Seals took the form of cones, pyramids, buttons, flasks, cubes, cylinders, monkeys, lions, dogs, and birds. The designs on the seals included geometrical patterns, humans, animals, ships, and (from 2000 BC), hieroglyphs. The seals were cut with copper knives.

By the time of the First Palaces, hard stones were used, such as rock-crystal, amethyst, red and green jasper, carnelian, chalcedony, and agate, althoughs steatite continued to be used. The seals were cut with the cutting-wheel and the tubular drill. The seals took the form of three- (or sometimes four-) sided prisms, signets, and disks with flat or convex faces. The scarab form was experimented with but did not take hold. Designs included geometrical patterns, animals, and hieroglyphs. Black haematite was used for seal stones by the first part of the Second Palace period and steatite fell out of use. Seal stones shaped like lenses, almonds, and flattened cylinders now appeared. The designs were executed with a wonderful realism. Religious scenes, people, animals, architectural facades, and hieroglyphs wee common designs. The hieroglyphs were now merely decorative, since the script was no longer used.

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Created before July 2005
Last Updated November 30, 2009