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What did they do with seals? Wearing


But, Genius, ok, I thought a bit about what you told me last time... So, I am now wondering, why did they have seals? What did they do with them?

Good question Fritz! Look, as far as we can deduce from the evidence, they were using them in two basic manners. One was to wear on the body (see the wrist of the bull-leaper here!) as jewels, charms or also status symbols. 

Status symbol? What do you mean?

Well, look at this signet ring from Tiryns in the Peloponnese. It is manufactured in gold and it has an impressive representation that involves four of my cousins (Minoan Genii) presenting jugs to a seated figure on the bezel. This figure must have been a very important person, perharps even a god, since it receives offerings from fantastical creatures. The ring with this image is magnificently impressive, not only because of its precious material and religious imagery but also because of its size and elaborate technique of manufacture!


Look, its bezel is 5,6 cm long and 3,5 cm wide, you would not simply wear this as a jewel on a day out with your friends. It would be really bulky and heavy on the finger. It must have been used in special occasions in order to impress by its qualities, similar to rings with elaborate precious stones today! They are meant to show status and wealth!

A ok, I think I get it... What about charms? How can we know that seals may have also been used as charms?

Well, look at this soft stone seal for example. Its engraving is to a great extent worn away, probably from wearing on the body. We suspect, however, that it continued to be worn while in this state, despite it not looking that attractive. This could be suggested by its intensively abraded stringholes, which may have opened like this from friction with the string in which it was worn. If this is true, then I imagine that this seal did not primarily function as a jewel meant to ornate by its beauty, grace or high material value. It would be more an object personally important to its owner who attributed other qualities to it! Perharps it was an amulet of some kind or a charm!


Aha! Like the little pomegranate I am wearing in my neck, it was given to me by my mother and it is my good luck charm! I will never take it off my neck!


Ok, but what about the second use of the seals? You said they were two main functions, as far as we can tell...

Ach, Fritz! But sealing of course!

Aha.... Hmmm... Why? How? What?

Ach, you are a bit impatient my friend! I will tell you all about sealing next time, ok? I now have to go check out a new video about the technique of granulation in gold objects in Mycenaean times!

Ok, ok, I will be waiting for the new lesson!

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