Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


21 February 2014

Form, Function and Context of the Triton Shells in Minoan Culture

Julia Binnberg Archaeologischer Anzeiger 2013/1: 1-30.


In the very first excavations on the island of Crete the shells of triton snails were found. Over the years they were joined by numerous imitations made of stone, clay and faience whose exact function was initially unclear. By comparison of the morphology and the find contexts and by examination of the role of triton shells in Minoan art an attempt is made to identify what function the shells had in Bronze Age culture. It becomes apparent that in most, though not all, cases they possessed a ritual connotation and consequently can be seen as part of shrine inventory. It turns out moreover that the triton shells probably fulfilled a variety of functions according to the situation, the material or the form. As a result of the investigation we can conclude that they were used as amulets, votive gifts, shell trumpets, rhytons, libation and household vessels as well as status symbols.


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