Jewellery in the Prehistoric Aegean
|Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC)
Throughout the second phase of the Bronze Age in Greece jewellery-making continued to progress, with the appearance of new types of ornaments and the development of more sophisticated techniques. This is most striking on Crete with its high civilization, marked by the founding of the first palaces. The Minoan workshops with their advanced technology produced jewellery of remarkable skill and sensitivity, such as the famous gold pendant with a pair of bees or wasps, from Chrysolakkos, Mallia (fig. 4). This culminating achievement of the goldsmith's art bears witness to a knowledge of such difficult techniques as granulation and filigree. Renowned too are the gold ornaments from the so-called 'Aegina Treasure'. Most probably of Minoan provenance and dated to the l7th - l6th centuries BC, this treasure includes beads and pendants of gold combined with semi-precious stones such as sard, rock crystal, amethyst and green jasper, gold rings and earrings, sheet gold in different shapes and gold diadems with repousse decoration. Impressive are the earrings and the large pendants with elaborate designs alluding to oriental models.
|Fig 8 Gold discs with repousse decoration from Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 18, 14, 4). Second half of 16th century BC.|
Other jewels known from different regions of Crete, mainly tombs at
Knossos and in the Mesara region, encompass a variety of types, such as ear-
rings, bracelets, pins, rings and beads of semi-precious stones.
Jewellery is rare on the Greek mainland in the Middle Bronze Age, due to temporary interruption of economic and cultural developments that began in the preceding period. Only towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age did jewellery comparable to that of Crete appear, almost exclusively of funerary provenance. The best known examples were found in the royal Shaft Graves of Grave Circles A and B at Mycenae, and are more characteristic of the Early Mycenaean period (figs 5-10).
|Fig. 9 Gold earrings from Shaft Grave III of Grave Circle A at Mycenae. (Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 61). Second half of 16th century BC.|