Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 February 2010

Agency matters: Seal-users in Pylian administration

Georgia Flouda Oxford Journal of Archaeology 29 (February 2010): 57-88.


This study aims to provide insights into the patterns discernible in the Pylian sealing practices with regard to the identity of the seal-owners involved. The focus is on reassessing the problem of the function of glyptic imagery and on testing the working hypothesis that differences in the subject matter of the seal devices used to produce the seal impressions may have reflected the hierarchical status of the Pylian seal-owners. On the basis of context, typology and iconography it is suggested that the heirloom signet rings impressed upon the direct object sealings and the combination nodules from the Archives Complex as well as upon a set of hanging nodules from the Northeastern Building designated offices within the Pylian administrative system. In the case of the open irregular string nodules from the Northeastern Building, the Wine Magazine and the Southwestern Building, it is argued that they mainly reflect a system of receipts. Last but not least, the example of a gold ring impression reproducing key palatial iconography is used to demonstrate that the seal devices should be interpreted as visual symbols that acquired their meaning through convention. One of the mechanisms through which the rings and the seals would have been differentiated and associated with individual offices or other institutions was possibly the way specific symbols were embedded within the composition of image.


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