Artifacts

  • Pyxis

    The ivory pyxis is one of the rarest finds in the history of Minoan archaeology. Dated to the LM IB period, it depicts a Minoan religious scene showing the epiphany of the Minoan Goddess sitting beneath an olive tree shrine, extending a lily to an approaching individual, possibly a male ancestor figure who in turn leads another male and two females, potentially priestesses who both wear flounced skirts. Within the pyxis, eighty amethyst beads accompanied an assortment of carnelian, lapis lazuli, and glass paste beads that made up at least two necklaces.

    Trident

    The trident is an LM IB bronze fishing tool that was both functional as well as symbolic. In later periods of Greek history, the trident becomes the symbol of Poseidon, the god of the sea, but during the Minoan period, it certainly symbolized the Minoan familiarity with the sea and its resources. This trident preserves its rivet hole for mounting it on a pole, the barbs for keeping its quarry on the trident after it is thrown, and a separate rivet, from which a rope might have been attached, for pulling the tool and prey back into the boat or onto shore.

    Sistrum

    The sistrum is a musical instrument most likely produced locally but of an Egyptian inspiration. Because the Minoans frequently voyaged to Egypt during the Neopalatial period, it is likely that they actually saw a sistrum in use during an Egyptian religious festival. This could have influenced them to add it to their own repertoire of instruments, as seen on the Harvester Vase in the Heraklion Museum. The instrument was likely used like a maraca with the sound of a tambourine.
  • Octopus

    Dating to the restructured society of the Mycenaean period, the Octopus jug was found within the tomb of the telestas, the governor of the Mochlos region at the time. His roles included the summoning of people for public works projects as well as the collection of taxes and the leading of ritual. The Octopus jug was “killed” before it was placed in the tomb, meaning that the handle and spout were broken off before its deposition and not included in the burial. This action symbolized the end of the individual’s time in the position of authority, and, with it, the end of the use life of the vessels through which he exercised his role.  

    Rhyton

    The rhyton is a container that is used during ritual activity that is usually filled with fluids that are intended to be poured out in a ceremonial libation. It would be poured out into cups or possibly onto a kernos, a stone surface with small circular indentations on the surface. The conical rhyton, seen here, was a symbol of Minoan society and was even found depicted in the wall frescoes of the tombs of the Egyptian temple treasurers Rekhmire and Menkheperreseneb.
  • Cleaver

    The cleaver is a bronze cutting tool from the Mycenaean period composed of copper and tin. In the modern world, we use a cleaver for meat processing. However, in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts, the purpose was not so clear. Some archaeologists have proposed that they were used as razors because of their extremely thin blades while others have insisted that they were in fact used for chopping meat.

    Fishhook

    A fish hook is a modest utilitarian object, but it is also a critical element in a Bronze Age toolkit, especially in nautical Minoan culture. Though there are far more extravagant objects found at Mochlos made of gold, silver, bronze, and ivory, none capture the daily life of an average Minoan sailor or fisherperson quite like a simple fishhook, remarkably similar to any hook found on the end of fishing poles around the world today.

    Dagger

    Dating to the restructured society of the Mycenaean period, the dagger, along with the Octopus jug,was found within the tomb of the telestas, the governor of the Mochlos region at the time. His roles included the summoning of people for public works projects as well as the collection of taxes and the leading of ritual. The dagger was “killed” before it was placed in the tomb, meaning that the blade was broken in the middle before its deposition. This action symbolized the end of the individual’s time in the position of authority, and, with it, the end of the use life of the vessels through which he exercised his role.  

    Ingot

    The oxhide ingot, named because of its shape, was the standard by which copper was shipped around the Aegean during the Late Bronze Age. Originating in Ugarit, this example is only a half ingot, but its presence at Mochlos speaks volumes about Minoan and East Mediterranean trade. The symbol shown in the accompanying image is that of a Bronze Age rudder. This symbol was also found on oxhide ingots from the Ulu Burun shipwreck 200 years after the date of the deposit in which the half ingot was found. This shared iconography implies that it is possible that the same family of merchants were active in the area for multiple centuries.
  • Necklace

    This necklace consists of 28 intact mold-made, light blue faience beads in the shape of heart shaped lily leaves that accompanied a single gold amulet bead. They preserve two piercings on each end by which they were strung on the necklace. This is another example of the splendor found within the Mycenaean cemetery at Mochlos. The faience beads were composed of silicon, copper, iron, and calcium with trace amounts of magnesium, cobalt, nickel, and zinc.


    Gold Ring

    This gold-plated copper ring was found in a Mycenaean tomb, and though the contents of the bezel were lost, it is still a magnificent example of the jewelry found within the tombs during this period. Whatever was set in the ring, most likely shell, ivory, or semiprecious stone, was likely removed from the ring before it was deposited, as no object of the same ovoid shape was found within the unplundered tomb.
  • Stone Lids

    These stone lids were found in various houses from the island and consist of five green serpentinite lids in addition to two purple limestone and yellowish white tufa examples. Based off the different diameters of the lids, it is likely that they were used for objects ranging from bowls to jars. Also, though these lids were found in Mycenaean deposits, it is likely that the lids were actually produced during earlier eras.

  • Larnax

    During the LM I period, Minoan burial practices remain poorly understood. However, during the following Mycenaean period, cemeteries again gain prominence in Crete. One of the most popular burial styles is the chamber tomb in which the dead are buried in these burial containers, known as larnakes. The Mycenaean cemetery at Mochlos is full of chamber tombs and larnakes of this same type.  The form of these ceramic containers is based on the Egyptian wooden linen chests. They were both undecorated and richly decorated with abstract patterns, octopuses and scenes of hunting and cult rituals.

    Boat Model

    The boat was an essential element of Minoan culture, depicted in everything medium from clay to semiprecious stone sealstones to gold signet rings. This example is from the Prepalatial period when the Minoans were just beginning to establish themselves as a significant influence in the Aegean trade network. It symbolizes their ability to acquire both quotidian raw materials such as obsidian as well as prestige materials like gold, silver, copper, tin, ivory, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and amethyst.