Minoan craftsmen produced stone vessels at Mochlos from the 3rd millennium BC until the middle of the 2nd millennium. Produced by hand, using a hollow reed as a drill, a wooden bow, and an abrasive like emery to do the actual cutting, a technique originating in Egypt, they were time-consuming projects that required patience and considerable expertise.
The results included several masterpieces of Minoan art, including the vessels of banded limestone from Prepalatial Tomb VI below.
Early Minoan Stone Vases from the Prepalatial Cemetery (Seager 1912)
The Neopalatial town was littered with stone vase fragments, like the stone lid remains above, and vessels might continue to be used for centuries before they were broken and discarded. A stone alabastron, made of breccia and dating to the EM III-MM I period (c. 2000 BC), was found in situ on a bench in the Artisans’ Quarter in the very room where artisans were making stone vases in the LM IB period (c. 1500 BC). It was nearly 500 years old when it was placed on the bench, and its context in a stone-vase making workshop of family artisans suggests that it was an heirloom passed down for generations by family members and not an ordinary antique. “It was a constant reminder of ancestral skills and the debt that its owners, also stone vase makers, owed to those who had gone before. It suggests that the knowledge of how to make stone vases was passed down from one generation to the next” (Soles 2019).
Stone vase production in the Artisans’ Quarter with stone alabastron heirloom (Soles 2019)
EM III-MM I Alabastron (Mochlos IC, p. 37)