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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Development of the “Mainland” Style in Early Mycenaean Glyptic

The glyptic of the Early Mycenaean period of mainland Greece initially follows the artistic tradition of Neopalatial Minoan Crete. Lentoid and almond-shaped seals are extensively used for sealing purposes well through the Mycenean era, while Mycenaean seals and gold signet rings -especially those found in the Shaft Graves at Mycenae – are exclusively used for their own artistic merit as jewellery and not for bureaucratic purposes. The thorough examination of the iconography used on this artistic production has led to the conclusion that a distinct, purely “mainland” glyptic style was gradually been developed around the Late Helladic period, which exhibits the following characteristics:

a. The overall treatment of human figure and its position both in space and in intaglio representations show the stylistic weakness and the technical inconsistency of the Mycenaean engravers.

b. The development of a genuine “Mycenaean” epic tradition and religious ideology that are reflected in scenes depicting battles, duels and religious rites.

c. The use of motifs that symbolize the Mycenaean idea of the celebration of death by means of war and hunting scenes in which the military and hunting equipment is stressed.

d. The appearance of a female, military in character, deity who adorns a number of seals, signet rings and fresco fragments as well.

e. The number of collections and accumulations of Late Helladic -and Mlnoan- seals from excavated graves (Mycenae, Vapheio) and cemeteries (Medeon) proves that the Mycenaean elite regarded many glyptic items as valuable objects, “heirlooms” so to speak, and exceptional artistic creations.