Rare Finds

Rare FindsPotteryMetal ObjectsJewelryStone ObjectsOther


Siteia Museum

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.

For publication see J.S. Soles. 2016. “Hero, Goddess, Priestess: New Evidence for Minoan Religion and Social Organization,” in E. Alram-Stern, F. Blakolmer, S. Deger-Jalkotzy, R. Laffineur and J. Weilhartner, eds., METAPHYSIS, Ritual, Myth and Symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age, Aegaeum 39(Proceedings of the 15th International Aegean Conference ), Leuven-Liège, pp. 249-251.

The article can be accessed HERE.


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.

For publication see J.S. Soles. 2007. “Saevus Tridens,” in P. Betancourt, M. Nelson, and H. Williams, eds., Krinoi kai Limenes, Studies in Honor of Joseph and Maria Shaw (Prehistory Monographs 22), Philadelphia, pp. 251-255. 

The article can be accessed HERE.


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.

For publication see J.S. Soles­. 2011. “The Mochlos Sistrum and its Origins,” with A. Giumlia Mair, “An Appendix on the Composition of the Mochlos Sistrum,” in S. Ferrence and P. Betancourt, eds., Metallurgy: Understanding How, Learning Why: Studies in Honor of James D. Muhly (Prehistory Monographs 29), Philadelphia 2011, pp. 133-146. 

The article can be accessed HERE.

Cylinder Seal

Siteia Museum 8540

A Syrian cylinder seal made of hematite, was found in a badly disturbed house-like tomb dating to the Protopalatial Period, Tomb Lambda, the only tomb of its date found in the excavation.  It dates to the late 19th – early 18th century BC and unlike many Near Eastern cylinder seals in the Aegean arrived at Mochlos close to the time of its manufacture. It depicts a male figure approaching an enthroned god. He offers a hare in his left hand and raises his right hand as a sign of adoration. The god offers him alabastron in return. It is a cosmic scene and the sun and the moon are depicted in the sky above. For publication see C. Davaras and J.S. Soles. 1995. “A New Oriental Cylinder Seal from Mochlos. Appendix: Catalogue of the Cylinder Seals Found in the Aegean,” Archaiologike Ephemeris 134 [1997], pp. 29-66.

The article can be accessed HERE.