Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2011

25 April 2011

The Middle Minoan Three-Sided Soft Stone Prism. A Study of Style and Iconography

Maria Anastasiadou

The Middle Minoan Three-Sided Soft Stone Prism. A Study of Style and Iconography

City: Darmstadt/Mainz

Year: 2011

Publisher: Philipp von Zabern

Series: CMS Beiheft 9

Description: Hardback, 2 vols, 802 p., 25,5x19 cm; Vol. I: 485 p., 134 figures, 1 map, 1 table; Vol. II: 317 p., 131 plates


The study examines the Middle Minoan three-sided soft stone prism – hereafter referred to simply as prism. 625 examples of these seals known to date serve as the basis for the research. The goals of the study are twofold: firstly to assess the place of the prism in soft stone MM glyptic; and secondly, to examine and analyse prism iconography.

The study first defines the characteristics of the prism and examines its distribution and dating. Following that, 10 style-groups are discussed which have been detected among the prisms and to which also belong seals of other forms. The most important style-groups are the Malia/Eastern Crete-Steatite Group, the Mesara Chlorite Group, and the Central Crete Ornamental Group, all of which can be connected with different regions of Crete. Α remarkable difference in the numbers and iconography of the prisms represented in Eastern Crete and those found in Central Crete is noted as a possible indication that the two societies fulfilled some aspect of their needs in a different way. This could perhaps suggest that the stylistically different prisms were serving the needs of different sociopolitical systems.

The core of the book is the chapter devoted to the iconography of the prisms. The devices are divided into motifs, which are defined as those representations which cannot be broken down into their constituent elements in a meaningful way, and composite devices, being patterns put together of other devices. Both motifs and composite devices are classified in a typology. There follows a discussion of the ways in which the compositions are put together, the nature of the images met on the prisms, and their relationship to the images encountered on contemporaneous hard stone seals. A section is also devoted to the process of the creation of new devices and another to the iconography of the prisms coming from the Seal Cutter’s Workshop in Malia.


Volume I

Vorwort der Herausgegeber [xi]

Acknowledgments [xiii]

General abbreviations [xvii]

Transliteration of the Greek [xxi]

Illustration credits [xxii]

Introduction [1]

Topic and objectives [1]
State of research [2]
Structure of the work [12]
Organisation of the work [13]

The MM three sided soft stone prism [16]

Shape [16]
Material [31]
Tools and techniques [37]
The process of manufacture [47]
‘Trial’ pieces [48]
Assessing the quality of workmanship [49]
Distribution, dating, and find places [50]
The Seal Cutter’s Workshop at Malia [59]

Style groups [63]

Malia/Eastern Crete steatite prisms [63]
Prisms with EM III/MM I influences [115]
Mesara chlorite prisms [120]
Dawkins prism [137]
Phaistos agrimi prism [138]
British Museum prisms [141]
Platanos prism with the cable devices [143]
Kalo Chorio and Psychro prisms with the cable devices [143]
Platanos ornamental prism [147]
Central Crete ornamental prisms [148]

Iconography [160]

Devices [160]
Composition [327]
The images [341]
Iconogenesis [358]
The iconography of the prisms which come from the Malia workshop [365]

Conclusions [370]

Appendix 1: Contexts [379]
Appendix 2: Find places [385]
Appendix 3: Discussion of four pieces excluded from this study [396]
Appendix 4: Overview of the function of the devices [399]
Appendix 5: Ornamental schemes [403]
Appendix 6: Overview of the devices [404]
Appendix 7: Kinds of devices [418]
Bibliography [436]
List of illustrations [451]

Concordances [459]

Names of the devices and device numbers [459]
Catalogue and CMS/other publication number [466]
CMS and catalogue number [472]

Index [478]

Volume II

Catalogue [487]

Plates [671]


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