Elongated biconvex seal perforated through the long axis. It takes its name from its general resemblance to an almond (the Greek αμύγδαλο). Amygdaloids are, however, symmetrical and most often have two blunt edges perforated by the stringhole. Popular in the Late Bronze Age.
Anthropomorphic seal (P. Yule)
Animal head finial (P. Yule)
Arch-incised class (P. Yule)
Certain formulae of a Minoan script encountered on EM III/MM I seals (e.g. CHIC 042-CHIC 019). P. Yule saw these sign groups as belonging to a separate script which he named Archanes script after the place where seals with these formulae had come to light. However, there is also the opinion is that the signs used on these formulae belong to the Cretan hieroglyphic and the difference between them and the Cretan hieroglyphs, as they are seen on later MM seals, is only a stylistic one.
Archanes Script Group (K. Sbonias)
A group of EM III/MM IA seals cut in bone/hippo ivory/boar’s tusk and showing an association with the Archanes Script by displaying either the formulae connected with it or other motifs often seen in seals with these formulae (e.g. pig/boar, hoofed quadruped). The large majority of these pieces are multi-facial seals.
Band-shaped ring (ARACHNE)
Ring with engraving but not a distinctly separate bezel.
Barrel-shaped (seal) (ARACHNE)
Axially perforated seal in the shape of a barrel with engraving on the cylindrical surface.
Soft material, Mohs , enamel Mohs 7. Raw material provided by the lower (or rarer upper) canines of wild boar. Boar’s tusks are smaller than hippo tusks, their lamellae are finer and not necessarily immediately recognisable. The tusks are trihedral in section and have a trihedral pulp cavity, a characteristic often preserved on seals. Often, the hard enamel is preserved.
Soft material. The term refers to the hard parts of vertebrate skeletons. Bone cut longitudinally shows striations in the form of short irregular lines (nutrient foramina) that bring to mind the texture of wood. When the bone is cut perpendicularly to the nutrient foramina in the interior of the bone minute holes are discerned (Kryszkowska).
Bottle (P. Yule)
Stamp seal resembling a carafe with a stopper.
See Horizontal spindle.
Bedrock composed of angular pieces bonded together in a matrix of a different material (the term refers to structure and not composition). The matrix can be clay, limestone, or pebble and the enclosed pieces any soft or hard stone. The hardness of the stone is defined by the hardness of the enclosed pieces. Most breccias used in Aegean glyptic are medium-hard to hard. Breccia seals can be cut both in the soft and the hard stone technique. The material comes from local sources.
Button (P. Yule)
See Button biconcave.
Button biconcave (ARACHNE)
Button gable-shaped (ARACHNE)
Central Crete Ornamental Group (M. Anastasiadou)
A group of MM II/III seals with ornamental devices built from the combination of centred-circles, dots, and lines.These seals are cut mainly in steatite or soft whitish materials, like paste. Three-sided prisms, Petschafts, and discoids are the commonest shapes. The workshops of these seals will have been located in central Crete.
Hard stone, Mohs 7. Microcrystaline bluish, grayish or milkish variety of quartz. It is often translucent but there are also opaque varieties. It can be evenly coloured or mottled. A chalcedony source has been mentioned in Chios (J. Boardman).
Soft stone, Mohs 2-3. Green, brown or black stone with medium to coarsely grained fabric. When smoothed out or abraded, the surface becomes considerably darker and soapy. When damaged, the original colour of the stone is revealed and small hits appear like speckles of a lighter (the original) colour. Depending on the colour of the stone, its streak can be green, brown, or gray. The stone can be found in the Aegean locally.
Clay stamp (ARACHNE)
Neolithic and Early Helladic Stamp seal made of clay.
Concavo-convex plate (P. Yule)
Concavo-convex vertical plate (ARACHNE)
Concave stamp cylinder (ARACHNE)
Stamp cylinder with concave body.
Hard stone, Mohs 7. Microcrystaline translucent but cloudy orange, red, or brownish variety of quartz. Dark to black clouding is often encountered in the interior of the stone. Imported in the Aegean.
Flat half-ovoid seal with engraving on the base and perforation through the long axis. The term only applies to Egyptian seals.
Cretan Popular Group (J. Younger)
Term coined by John Younger for referring to LM soft stone glyptic.
Diametrically perforated seal in the shape of a cross.
Biconvex rectangular seal with perforation in the long axis. Popular in LB I/II.
Cylindrical seal with engraving in the body and stringhole channel running through the long axis. Cylinder seals are impressed by rolling.
Cypro-Aegean (I. Pini)
A group of cylinder seals which display more or less Aegean iconographic and stylistic traits or influence but Cypro-Oriental Syntax.
Biconvex diametrically perforated seal with round seal face(s). It has a flat-convex or convex seal face and backside. As opposed to the lentoid whose rim is narrow and thickens only at the parts of the profile perforated by the stringholes, the rim of the discoid is uniformly thick along its length. Popular in MM II/III.
Seal in the shape of a double axe.
Stamp seal named after an epaulette (the Greek επώμιον). Epomia have a rectangular base and a flange arching upwards on one side. Popular in EM II-EM III.
Epomion animal head (ARACHNE)
Epomion with an animal head attached on the grip. Encountered in EM III-MM IIA.
Synthetic vitreous substance which consists of a body of crushed quartz, lime, and an alkali and is coated with glaze of the same ingredients. When in half dry state, soft enough to be engraved with the blade.
Figural seal (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal with body formed like a human/human part, animal/animal part, or object.
Figure-of-eight shield (shape)
Flat stamp cylinder (ARACHNE)
Stamp cylinder of a small height.
Soft stone, Mohs 4. The variety used in Aegean glyptic is clear and colourless and, as the stone comes in crystals, it can easily be confused with rock crystal. The hardness and the pattern of fracture which follows the layers inside the stone are the main criteria of differentiation from rock crystal. The mineral was collected from local sources.
Seal whose back is created by the combination of two loop-shaped elements combined tête-bêche such that an S-form is created at the ridge of the back. In ARACHNE, foliate backs are seen as half-ovoids with undulation on the back. The perforation runs in the long axis. Popular in MM II.
A recurring combination of specific signs of a script.
Seal of square or rarer rectangular cross section with four engraved sides and perforated through the long axis. Popular in MM II.
A seal which shows no traces of abrasion or wear and had therefore not been used. Seals that are fresh from the workshop have sharp edges.
Gable-shaped conoid (ARACHNE)
Seal with one seal face and shape reminiscent of a tall gable with rounded edges. Pierced under the top and vertically to its back. Encountered in EM II/III-MM I.
Seal whose shape is reminiscent of a gable with three seal faces and perforation along the long axis. The gable-shaped prism is differentiated from the three-sided prism in that it has two smaller seal faces which constitute the ‘back’ of the seal and a larger one which can be seen as the base. The angle created between the smaller seal faces on the profile of the gable-shaped prism is obtuse in contrast to the profiles of three-sided prisms which have three acute (or rarer two acute and one right) angle. Popular in EM III/MM IA-MM I/II.
Gable-shaped seal (ARACHNE)
Half barrel-shaped (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of half a barrel cut longitunally with engraving on the base and perforation in the long axis. It is differentiated from half-ovoid in that the ends are cut vertically such that flat profiles are created. Popular in EM III/MM I.
Seal in the shape of one half of a conoid split in two perpendicularly to the base. Half conoids are engraved on the base and, in MM II examples, also the longer flat side. The perforation is on the body. Half conoids are differentiated from quarter ovoids in that among the two sides available for engraving, the shorter is always engraved and is thus seen as the base of the seal. Popular in MM II.
Half cylinder (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of half a cylinder cut longitunally with engraving on the base and perforation in the body. Popular in MM II.
Halbzylinder konkav (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of half a concave cylinder cut longitunally with engraving on the base and/or the ends and perforation in the body.
Half elliptical plate (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of one half of an ellipsoidal plate with engraving on one end and perforation on the body. Encountered in EM II/III-EM III/MM IA.
In ARACHNE: Seal in the shape of the half of an egg cut longitudinally with tapering ends, engraving on the base, and perforation in the body. It is differentiated from half-barrel in that its ends are convex. Popular in EM III/MM IA-MM II.
Tools operated by hand to carve soft materials. Knives, points, burins, files/saws and drills.
Stones with hardness Mohs 5 or more. Such stones can only be engraved by fast rotating tools. The hard stones used in Aegean glyptic are agate, amethyst, rock crystal, chalcedony, haematite, jasper, cornelian, lapis lacedaemonius, lapis lazuli, obsidian, and quartz.
A technique developed for engraving hard stones. The tools are operated in the horizontal spindle which generates fast motion. The use of abrasives such as corundum helps with the engraving process. The intaglios of the seals cut in this technique are softer and more uniform that those cut with hand tools. The need to present the seal to the tools lead to the development of convex seal faces. The technique is mostly used for cutting hard stones but rare cases of its employment on soft stones are also encountered.
Heart-shaped (seal) (ARACHNE)
Seal whose shape is reminiscent of a heart.
Hemicylinder (P. Yule)
See half cylinder.
Hemispherical (seal) (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of half a sphere with engraving on the base and perforation on the body. See also pierce-grip hemispherical.
Hemispheroid (P. Yule)
Soft material, Mohs 2-2.5. The material of hippopotamus tusks (incisors and lower canines). It can be differentiated from bone by the typical layer structure on its surface (lamination). When the tooth is cut perpendicularly to the lamination, it displays a pattern similar to that of growth rings on trees.
Hollow stamp cylinder (ARACHNE)
Stamp cylinder with hollow central part. Popular in EM II/III.
Oblong stamp seal with slightly curving body which narrows towards the rounded top such that the shape is reminiscent of a horn. Encountered in EM II/III-EM III/MM IA.
Device used for engraving hard stone seals. It consists of a horizontal cylindrical part supported on two vertical elements. Drills and wheels are attached on one end of the cylinder and perhaps also on its body. An assistant rotates the cylinder to and forth with a bow such that the tools are rotated fast. The seal engraver presents the seal to the tools and moves it accordingly to achieve the desired cuts. The development of convex seal faces after MM II is directly connected with the adoption of the horizontal spindle for engraving hard stones. Developed in MM II.
The engraved surface of a seal.
Hard stone, Mohs 7. Microcrystaline opaque variety of quartz with distinctly matt, somewhat rough surface. The green variety of the stone is the most popular among the jaspers used in Aegean glyptic; the red variety follows. Other jaspers encountered are yellow, yellow and red, grey, black and mottled. The stone is indigenous to Crete.
See horizontal spindle.
Hard stone, Mohs 6 or more. Magmatic rock of volcanic origin belonging to the group of andesite/basalt and composed of dark green matrix with angular light green/yellowish inclusions. Found only in Krokaie near Sparta.
Biconvex diametrically perforated seal whose shape resembles that of a lentil/lense. It has a round convex seal face and back side. As opposed to the discoid whose rim is uniformly thick along its length, the rim of the lentoid is narrow and only thickens at the parts of the profile perforated by the stringholes. Popular in the Late Bronze Age.
Medium-hard stone, Mohs <5. Miscellaneous sedimentary calcitic macrocrystaline stones of various colours with a white streak. Among them, varieties with a yellowish to light grey colour can be defined as pebbles, i.e. abraded stones from river transportation or the surge of the sea. Varieties with an intensive colour or polychrome veined patterning can be identified as marble. Some green, red, and black stones resemble in colour and texture jaspers but they are softer.
Mainland Popular Group (J. Younger, A. Dickers)
A group of LH IIIA2/IIIB soft stone seals connected with the Mainland. Characteristics of this group are the lentoid shape, the use of dark-coloured steatite, freehand engraving, and a limited repertoire of stylized representational but also ornamental devices.
Malia Steatite Group (M. Anastasiadou)
A group of MM II seals cut in steatite and coming from workshops connected to Malia and eastern Crete. Characteristic of the group are deep flat-based intaglios cut with a blade, little or no care for disguising tool marks, and a summary way of rendering the motifs. The representational element predominates but ornamental devices and hieroglyphic inscriptions are also encountered. The group is clearly connected with multi-facial seals its clear Leitform being the three-sided prism.
Stones with hardness Mohs 3.5-4.5. They can, with difficulty, be engraved with the soft stone technique but are most often engraved by tools operated on the horizontal spindle. The medium-hard stones used in Aegean glyptic are breccia and the so-called pseudo-jasper. Medium-hard stones are indigenous to Crete.
Mesara Chlorite Group (M. Anastasiadou)
A group of MM I/II seals with round seal faces cut in chlorite. Floral and ornamental motifs predominate on these seals but when representational motifs are encountered they consist mainly of the depiction of a single hoofed quadruped. Three-sided prisms, buttons, and pears are the most common seal shapes. The workshops of these seals were located in the Mesara.
A scale measuring the hardness of stones by reference to ten minerals with a known hardness from 1-10 where 1 is the softest (talc) and 10 the hardest (diamond).
Egg-shaped seal with perforation in the long axis.
Parading lions/Spiral Complex (P. Yule)
A group of EM III/MM IA seals cut in hippopotamus ivory. The majority of the pieces belonging to this group are stamp cylinders. Characteristic of the group are animal rows outlining one seal face. The animals can be lions, which give the group its name, goats, scorpions, or spiders. Spirals often decorate the second side of these seals and leaves are also common. The seals of the group are closely connected with the Mesara and Archanes.
Soft material, Mohs 1-2. Soft malleable mixture cimposed of one or more powdered minerals (in case of the 'White Pieces' possibly steatite, talc, or Meerschaum), some artificial substances, and a binding agent. It would have been engraved when partially (hardness of leather) or fully dry. Seals made of paste would have been originally glazed.
Pendant (seal) (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal with perforation at the top which, as opposed to the pierce-grip seals, is not morphologically differentiated from the body of the seal.
Stamp seal with round seal face, distinctly articulated midsection, and perforation at the top. Petschafte are elaborated versions of pierce-grip seals. Popular in MM II.
Pierce-grip seal (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal with perforation at the top which is morphologically differentiated from the rest of the seal body by means of a neck or eyelet.
A group of hard stone amygdaloids previously falsely dated to the Late Bronze Age but now dated to the mid 6th century BCE. Seals of this group have a relatively crude shape, bulgy profiles, and a vertical groove in the profile. Their iconography is representational with winged hybrids predominating and other animals constituting the remaining repertoire.
Clay stamp used for impressing cloth, skin, bread, or pottery. Pintaderas were in use in the area of the west Mediterannean since neolithic times. In Aegean terminology, the term refers to neolithic stamps made of clay or soft stone.
Plano-convex button (P. Yule)
Planoconvex plate (ARACHNE)
Planoconvex seal (ARACHNE)
Axially perforated seal with three or more sides which can serve as seal faces. As a rule, the sides of the prisms have the same shape and size. Encountered are three-, four-, six-, and eight-sided prisms. Middle Minoan prisms have flat seal faces which are all engraved with different motifs. Late Minoan and Late Helladic examples most often have convex seal faces and can have one or more unengraved seal faces. Late Helladic examples can display the same or very similar motifs on all seal faces.
In all seals with the exception of the stamp seals the sides meant to carry the stringholes are designated as profiles.
Medium-hard stone, Mohs 4-5. Conventional designation for a certain kind of limestone similar in its appearance to jasper but softer. It occurs in brownish red, green, and black varieties and has a relatively rough texture. Most pseudo-jaspers are cut in the hard stone technique. Pseudo-jaspers come from local sources.
Quarter ovoid (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of a quarter of an ovoid with engraving on the base and perforation on the body. Quarter ovoids are differentiated from half conoids in that among the two sides available for engraving, only the longer is engraved and is thus seen as the base of the seal.
Quatrefoil (seal/P. Yule)
Rectangular block (ARACHNE)
Rectangular plate (P. Yule)
Reel (P. Yule)
Ring (P. Yule)
Ring-shaped seal (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal with a hoop of small diameter and a ‘bezel’ bearing engraving. Ring-shaped seals were probably meant for hanging as the diameter of their hoops is too small to fit a finger. Popular in EM II/III.
Ring-shaped seal animal (ARACHNE)
Ring-shaped seal with a hoop which takes the form of an animal. Encountered in EM III/MM IA.
Cylindrical seal with ornamental devices in the body meant for impressing patterns on objects, such as pots, for decorative purposes. The surviving rollers are made of clay, are larger than the average Aegean seal, and most of them are not pierced. When they have a stringhole channel, this runs through the long axis. Encountered in the Neolithic and Early Helladic periods.
Seal with shape reminiscent of a dung beetle but abstracted such that many of the individual characteristics of the animal's anatomy, such as the legs, are hardly or not at all differentiated. Engraved on the base and pierced above it.
Soft stone, Mohs 3-4. Stone characterized by the parallel orientation of its fine to medium grained fabric (schistosity) and flat splitting patterns. Mostly encountered are green and grey varieties with high proportion of mica (glimmer). The stone was collected from local sources.
Small portable object with engraving on one or more sides and, as a rule, perforation used for hanging/mounting. Most seals are made of stone but others cut in organic or vitreous materials, metal, paste and clay are also encountered. Aegean seals were used for impressing clay but also for personal adornment.
The side(s) of a seal bearing engraving.
The term can refer to: a. the ancient impression of a seal or, b. a lump or shaped piece of clay bearing (an) ancient seal impression(s).
Soft stone, Mohs 3-4. Greenish-grayish or brownish microcrystalline stone with mottling (inclusions of a softer material) of a lighter colour. The surface is shiny and feels lightly greasy. The stone was collected from local sources.
Soft material. The distinct layers on the surface of the spondylus should not be mistaken for the lamellae of the ivory.
Signet (P. Yule)
Signet ring (ARACHNE)
Ring with an engraved bezel.
Materials with hardness Mohs 1-3. Soft materials can be engraved easily with hand tools. The soft materials mostly used in Aegean glyptic are soft stone, bone/boar’s tusk/hippo ivory, metal (gold, silver, lead, bronze, tin, iron), and paste. Clay and on some occasions perhaps paste and faience/frit would have been engraved while still malleable.
Stones with hardness Mohs 1-3. Soft stones can be easily engraved with hand tools. The soft stones mostly used in Aegean glyptic are steatite, chlorite, schist, serpentine, sepiolite, fluorite, calcite, and alabaster. All soft stones are indigenous to Crete.
A technique developed for engraving soft materials. The tools are operated by hand and are presented on the fixed seal. For cutting the harder soft stones some abrasive, such as powdered stone might have been used (e.g. serpentine). The intaglios of the seals cut in the soft stone technique are often deeper and more anomalous than those cut in the hard stone technique and display tool marks. The technique is mostly used for cutting soft stone but rare cases of its use for cutting medium-hard stones are also encountered.
Spherical seal (ARACHNE)
Seal in the shape of a sphere and perforation at the body.
Soft stone, Mohs 1-2. Stone composed for the most part of talcum and encountered in yellowish, green, brown, and black varieties. Steatites have a characteristically soapy/greasy surface and are easily penetrated with one cut. Cretan steatites leave a white streak when rubbed against black cardboard. The stone was collected from local sources.
Four sided-prism with one half displaced horizontally with regard to the other. Encountered in MM II.
Stamp seal in the shape of a stepped pyramid and perforation on top.
Channel piercing through the seal and used for hanging/mounting it.
Telephone receiver (ARACHNE)
Seal whose shape is reminiscent of a telephone receiver with engraving on the two ends and perforation on the ‘handle’.
Upside-down with regard to each other (head-to-tail).
Seal of triangular cross-section with three sides which can serve as seal faces and perforation through the long axis. As a rule, the sides of the prisms have the same shape and size. Middle Minoan three-sided prisms have flat seal faces which are all engraved with different motifs. Late Minoan and Late Helladic examples have convex seal faces and can have one or two unengraved faces. Popular in MM II.
Truncated cone (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal in the shape of a truncated cone, engraving on the base, and perforation in the body. Popular in MM I and MM II.
Truncated cone concave (ARACHNE)
Truncated cone with concave body, engraving on the base, and perforation in the body.
Truncated pyramid (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal in the shape of a truncated pyramid and perforation on the body.
Vertical plate (ARACHNE)
Stamp seal in the shape of a thin plate with engraving on one end and perforation on the body. Encountered in EM II/III-EM III/MM IA.
Wegde-shape seal (ARACHNE)
White Piece (I. Pini)
A group of EM III/MM IA seals cut in soft materials. Most of these seals are engraved in some kind of paste and have a whitish/beige to light/medium gray colour. Originally they would have been glazed and have had a blue colour. Some steatite seals without glaze are also grouped with the White Pieces on stylistic grounds. The White Pieces constitute a homogeneous stylistic group produced in workshops located in the Mesara and perhaps close to the verge of the Asterousia mountains.
Zoomorphic seal (P. Yule)