Minoan Seals and Sealings

Judith Weingarten

in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873609
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Minoan Seals and Sealings

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  • Classical Studies
  • Ancient Greek History
  • Classical Art and Architecture



More than any other ancient work of art, seals are intimate objects which are literally bound to their owners. In ancient societies, their primary purpose was to secure property—whether in the home or the public arena—and to assign responsibility by means of clay sealings impressed by a specific individual who is identified by the seal's impression. The study of Minoan seals began even before the discovery of Minoan civilization. Long before archaeologists arrived on the scene, Cretan women were wearing “milk stones”—brightly colored Minoan engraved gems—on their breasts or around the neck. These were believed to contain magical powers to ensure the milk of a nursing mother. When Arthur Evans first traveled to Crete in 1894 and visited Knossos he soon began collecting gemstones. Evans's trips to Crete led to the excavations at Knossos and the revelation of the Minoan world.

Keywords: clay sealings; Minoan seals; Minoan civilization; milk stones; Arthur Evans; Crete; Knossos

Article.  4824 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History ; Classical Art and Architecture

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