THE PETRAS EXCAVATION IN CRETE

UNVEILING MYSTERIES, UNDERSTANDING JEWELRY

Interview with Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou, Archaeologist and Director Emerita of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. By Loukia Richards

All images in this article are published with kind permission of Petras excavations archive.
Photos by C. Papanikolopoulos.

Bronze seal ring, 1900 BC.





Archaeologist and Director Emerita of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Dr. Metaxia Tsipopoulou talks to SMCK Magazine about the Petras excavation on Crete, a life project revealing four thousand years of history. A source of inspiration for contemporary jewelers, the project spans 37 years and must be completed.


Gold beads ca 2200 BC. / ca 2600 BC. / ca 2600 BC.

SMCK: Which material and which techniques did Minoan jewelers used? Are there characteristic motifs in different eras or throughout the whole period?

MT: Adornments were made of various materials, from shells or pebbles to precious metals, gold, silver, semiprecious stones, and ivory. Silver was imported from the Cyclades, gold from Egypt, bronze from Cyprus, and semi-precious stones from Syria. Most jewelry excavated in Crete is of local production, especially produced in highly specialist, usually palatial work- shops. Most raw materials – bronze, gold, silver, ivory, semi- precious stones – are imported from the Aegean (silver), Egypt, (gold, stones), Cyprus (bronze), or Syria (hippopotamus ivory).

SMCK: What differences do we see in the placement of jewelry and other valuable objects in the tomb from the excavation in the Byzantine cemetery and why?

MT: The Byzantine cemetery also excavated was dated to the 12th and 13th centuries AD. This was established on top of the ruins of the Minoan palace and served a small community. They had the opportunity to acquire pottery from various parts of the Aegean but were not accompanied in their graves by any jewelry or coins. The only ornaments found were two iron buckles in a grave of a young woman.

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