Seal Engraving in the Aegean Bronze Age. Questions of Technique

Lectures  /  CriticalThinking  /  17 Jan 2019
Published: 11.01.2019

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A Lecture by a research team from the Institute for Classical Archaeology, University of Heidelberg, and a workshop by Akis Goumas. The Corpus of Minoan and Mycenaean Seals (CMS) is a long-term project aimed at the systematic collection of all known Aegean seals and seal impressions. This project was initiated in Marburg and carried out there from 1958 to 2011, after which it moved to the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg in December 2011.
The Aegean gems of the 3rd and 2nd millennium b.c. are among the most important and impressive testimonies of the prehistoric cultures of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. Thousands of engraved gems from soft and hard stones, as well as metal rings with embossed scenes, have come to light in the Minoan and Mycenaean palaces, villas, shrines, tombs and other contexts. They had not only practical, but also aesthetic and symbolic value and were used as seals (for marking goods and controlling administrative processes), insignia, amulets, jewellery and prestige objects. Many seal patterns are not only masterpieces in miniature format, but also valuable sources of information about nature, religion, society, economy and administration of Bronze Age societies.

Since 2011, an international research group at CMS Heidelberg has devoted itself to the full spectrum of artistic and social dimensions of Aegean gems. Of central importance is the analysis of technology and craftsmanship. Archaeologists examine finds from workshops, examine traces of tools on seals with the aid of modern visualization techniques, search for ethnographic parallels in pre-industrial societies, and conduct experiments with materials and techniques that were already available in the Bronze Age.

The visit to Idar-Oberstein and Trier is part of this research project. The group would like to learn more about traditional techniques of seal cutting in exchange with experts, present our work to date, discuss the numerous scientific challenges of experimental archaeology and, last but not least, explore the potential of fruitful cooperation with other scientific disciplines and craftsmen.

Four consecutive presentations in the following order:
  • Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos: Introduction to the CMS at the Insititute of Classical Archaeology, University of Heidelberg.
  • Dr. Maria Anastasiadou: History, Works and Aims of the CMS.
  • Dr. Nikolas Papadimitriou: Introduction to Bronze Age Seal Engraving Techniques.
  • This is followed by a practical demonstration of Bronze Age tools and basic tecniques by the experienced cratsman and researcher of ancient technologies, Akis Goumas.

Venue: Hochschule Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein, Gemstones and Jewellery Department.
When: Thursday, 17 January at 18:30 h.

The Lecture is in English.
Lecture approx: 30min. A practical presentation of bronze age tools and techniques approx. 30 minutes.
The Lecture is free; guests are welcome!

Additional information:
- Corpus der Minoischen und Mykenischen Siegel (CMS) ιntro 
CMS publications
CMS at facebook

Further readings download here.