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									                  THE AEGEAN AND THE ORIENT:

       Seals provide us with a corpus of material having unique advantages for the study of
intercultural exchange. Seals were designed to be small, pierced, and easily portable. For
reasons of security, identity, status and adornment, they traveled with their owners or users,
their impressions marking containers and documents related to the exchange of goods. Seals
come in distinctive shapes, styles, and materials that can be associated with specific cultural
areas and preserve for us an enormous corpus of images, giving insights into local and foreign-
inf luenced styles and iconographic themes. Many were made of semi-precious gemstones, the
carving of which increased in the Near East and was accomplished in the Aegean in the second
millennium BC.1 The magical properties attributed to seal materials as well as the cultural
messages embedded in their imagery — enhancing their prestige value — may have been
understood, at least in part, in foreign contexts. Indeed, many imports were considered
worthy of burial with their new possessors.
       Seals and sealings ref lect intercultural exchange in various political, social, and
economic circumstances — and had a combination of practical, artistic, and social values
invested in them. They brought into the Aegean not only technological advances but possibly
status symbols representing foreign value systems and a host of new images which in some
cases may have provided new ways of visualizing the supernatural and possibly introduced new
religious concepts. Mary Helms has written about the significance of acquired goods and
ideas and the role of the trader/traveler in traditional societies: “Acquisitional acts...become
dynamic expressions of the quality of the acquirer’s association with” the “powerful (foreign)
domain” and “long distance traveler/traders...obtaining intangible or tangible expressions” of
this power, also attain “honor and prestige.” For the ruler, as accumulator of society’s
prosperity,”the act of acquisition in itself becomes a mark of exceptionality, exclusivity, ability
to control, and allows the cultivation of a kingly image.”2
       Such ideas seem relevant to the deeper understanding of seals and interconnections in
the ancient world, but in this short paper, I will only review some of the data providing
evidence for imports, inf luences, and shared sealing practices, and allude to some clues for
understanding their significance and impact — such as context, distribution, physical
appearance, and condition.


       While Aegean seals are rare in foreign contexts, there are some notable examples. There
is the rather undistinguished Mycenaean seal found in the Uluburun shipwreck, that may have
belonged to a merchant onboard.3 One other seal, known only from a painted representation,

*     The contents of this paper are a distillation of my doctoral dissertation of the same name, written in 1986,
      which has been revised for a publication now in preparation.
1     See L. GORELICK and J. GWINNETT, “Minoan versus Mesopotamian Seals: Comparative Methods of
      Manufacture,” Iraq 54 (1992) 57-64, for a discussion of the introduction of hard stone seal technology.
2     M. HELMS, Craft and the Kingly Ideal. Art, Trade, and Power (1993) 101, 130, 165; 151, for a discussion of the
      role of gemstones in this process.
3     G. BASS, “A Bronze Age Shipwreck at Ulu Burun (Kas): 1984 Campaign,” AJA 90 (1986) 284-85, ill. 20;
      unengraved agate lentoids, on the other hand, may have been workshop materials: G. BASS. C. PULAK, D.
      COLLON, and J. WEINSTEIN, “The Bronze Age Shipwreck at Ulu Burun: 1986 Campaign,” AJA 93 (1989)
      6-8, fig. 11.
302                                             Joan ARUZ

is a blue cushion-shaped stamp of early Late Minoan type4 — worn on the wrist of a bull leaper
on a Tell el-Dabca fresco fragment (Pl. XXXIa). This acrobat, like other professionals such as
specialized craftsmen, musicians, smiths, physicians and diviners, may have traveled the
Mediterranean — in association with or as a dependent of a royal court.5
       The number of foreign seals found in the Aegean is considerable. These seals travelled
in a variety of circumstances not always easy to decipher from the archaeological record, found
either alone, with other imports, or even in seal hoards, and in varying conditions from
pristine to f lawed or unfinished. Some of these imports may have had profound inf luence,
particularly on the forms of early Aegean seals.
           The rim sherd of an Early Helladic pithos from Euboea (Pl. XXXIb) bears two
impressions of what I believe is an Anatolian metal stalk-handled seal (Pl. XXXIc); this seal
may have come to the Aegean in connection with Anatolian settlements in Euboea at the end
of EH II. Long-stemmed seals from Lerna and Lenda on Crete may in fact imitate the foreign
       The more usual imports to the Aegean consist of scarabs and cylinder seals from Egypt
and the Near East, occurring in isolated examples throughout the Bronze Age but also in some
clusters during specific periods and at certain sites. Two Syrian-style cylinder seals were found
in burials at Mochlos. One of them is an Early Bronze Age cylinder that may have been valued
particularly because it was made of silver;7 the second is a north Syrian style hematite cylinder
of late 19th-early 18th century BC date, found in a disturbed tomb with EM-MM IB pottery.8
       Other small clusters of foreign seals were found in southern and central Cretan burials
at sites such as Lenda, Archanes, and Platanos. In Tholos IB at Platanos, three scarabs and
one Old Babylonian cylinder seal (Pl. XXXId) were found along with numerous Minoan seals.9
       During the Late Bronze Age, a number of scarabs of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiyi
entered the Aegean and were found in 14th to 13th century BC contexts on both Crete and
the Greek mainland. The one most closely datable to the reign of this pharaoh, with a
nontraditional inscription, was part of a necklace from a LM IIIA(1) chamber tomb burial at
Sellopoulo near Knossos.10 Other examples were also discovered in Anatolia, the Levant, and
Cyprus — where at Enkomi a scarab of Tiyi was found along with a silver ring of her son and
a Minoan seal.11 The range of find circumstances for Amenhotep III-related material makes
it possible to consider alternatives to the attractive theory of Eric Cline that a single diplomatic
visit brought these objects directly from Egypt to Greece.12
       One other cluster of foreign glyptic material consists of mass-produced “common style”
Syro-Mitannian cylinder seals that had a wide distribution in the Near East. They were found
in Late Aegean tombs on Crete and the Greek mainland. Made of vitreous paste with

4     See, for example, J. BOARDMAN, Greek Gems and Finger Rings (1970) pl. 58-63, no. 60 depicting acrobats,
      made of blue chalcedony.
5     See discussions in HELMS (supra n. 2) 34ff; C. ZACCAGNINI, “Patterns of Mobility among Ancient Near
      Eastern Craftsmen,” JNES 42 (1983) 245-64.
6     CMS V no. 37; CMS II1 no. 221.
7     J. ARUZ, “The Silver Cylinder Seal from Mochlos,” Kadmos 23 (1984) 86-88.
8     CMS VS 1B no. 332.
9     Minoan seals: CMS II1 255, 257-62, 265, 268-82, 284-89, 292-303, 305, 307-312, 314-21, 325-31, 335-43, 345-
10    For references, see CLINE, SWDS, 147, no. 128; Idem, “Amenhotep III and the Aegean: A Reassessment of
      Egypto-Aegean Relations in the 14th Century B.C.,” Orientalia 56 (1987) 12 n. 53, where he compares this
      example with the ones from Mycenae and Ayia Triada, and notes other Egyptian parallels.
11    A. MURRAY, A.H. SMITH, and H.B. WALTERS, Excavations in Cyprus (1900) 54, pl. iv; B. JAEGER and R.
      KRAUSS, “Zwei Skarabäen aus der mykenischen Fundstelle Panaztepe,” MDOG 122 (1990) 154 ff.; for the
      continued use of Tiyi rings and scarabs in the Amarna period, see W.M.F. PETRIE, Scarabs and Cylinders with
      Names (1917) 164, pl. 35: ring of Tiyi at Amarna, where she may have taken up residence after the death of
      her husband or during a possible period of co-regency; J. ARUZ, The Aegean and the Orient in the Second
      Millennium B.C.: The Evidence of Stamp and Cylinder Seals (Ph.D. 1986) 641 ff.
12    SWDS, 39 ff.
                         THE EVIDENCE OF STAMP AND CYLINDER SEALS                                               303

schematic designs, these imports may have had some specific significance for their Aegean
owners, somehow connecting them to the long-distance acquisition of goods.13
      A large number of seals, representing a variety of cultures, travelled together on the
Uluburun ship. Some are in “common styles,” ref lecting a level of production similar that of
the Syro-Mitannian group. They include the Mycenaean seal and one scarab that is probably
Cypriot14 — perhaps belonging to merchants on board rather than being collected goods.
Other seals, however, are made of precious materials, such as a gold Egyptian stamp with the
name of Nefertiti and a rock crystal Kassite cylinder with gold caps.15
      Seals then may have been the focus of long-distance trade, acquired for their material
value. Two famous treasures that contain a wealth of lapis lazuli cylinder seals and other
precious objects, either in fine condition or as workshop materials, come from Middle Bronze
Age Tôd and Late Bronze Age Boeotian Thebes.16 The seals in both cases represent a wide
span of cultures and styles, and range from pristine to poor condition, some examples
reworked and some Theban cylinders uncarved. A number of pieces in the Tôd Treasure look
like Mesopotamian or Syrian temple inventory.17 The Treasure probably came to the Nile
Valley over time and by various routes as consignments for the Egyptian crown — representing,
according to a dedicatory inscription, “what foreigners and explorers... had delivered.”18
      The Theban hoard has been associated with mechanisms of transfer such as booty, gift
exchange, and commerce. Most impressive are the Kassite seals, one inscribed with the name
of a high official of the ruler Burnaburiash. To Edith Porada they represented booty from
Babylon that the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I subsequently sent as a gift to Thebes.19
However, the diversity of the material, including a number of seals that were made or recut on
Cyprus, probably indicate that both the route and the means of exchange were more complex.
In addition to lapis lazuli, the Theban hoard was rich in agate, in the form of Mycenaean seals
and beads.20
      In the Near Eastern world, recutting was a widespread phenomenon that helps us to
track the travels of seals in space and time.21 Particularly in the case of lapis lazuli, seals were
reused rather than discarded, and personalized by removing old inscriptions and adding new
designs — testimony to the high value of this material which in one ancient text is said to
bestow power and divine favor on its owner.22 A number of Theban lapis lazuli seals were
recut in Cypriot style.23 Similarly, an Ur III lapis lazuli cylinder from Ashur was recut with an
Anatolian bull god worship scene — which somehow made this seal more appropriate for use
by an Old Assyrian merchant in karum trading activities.24
13    I. PINI, “Mitanni-Rollsiegel des ‘Common Style’,” Prähistorische Zeitschrift (1983) 114 ff.; B. SALJE, “Sceaux-
      cylindres proche-orientaux du Bronze récent trouvés dans l’aire égéenne,” in A. CAUBET (ed.), De Chypre à
      la Bactriane. Les sceaux du Proche-Orient ancien (1997) 252ff has suggested — controversially — that some of
      these seals were actually made in the Aegean in imitation of Levantine originals.
14    I thank George Bass, Cemal Pulak and James Weinstein for the possibility to examine this piece; in a text
      prepared for its eventual publication, I have compared it to images on stamp seals from Cyprus and tablet
      impressions from Ras Shamra.
15    BASS, PULAK, COLLON, and WEINSTEIN (supra n. 3) 13, 17 ff., figs. 24-25, 29, 30; in his paper for this
      conference, George Bass referred to the Nefertiti seal as gold scrap.
16    N. PLATON and E. TOULOUPA, “Oriental Seals from the Palace of Cadmus: Unique Discoveries in
      Boeotian Thebes,” Illustrated London News (November 28, 1964) 859-61; E. PORADA, “Cylinder Seals Found
      at Thebes in Boeotia,” Archiv für Orientforschung 28 (1981/82) 1-70.
17    E. PORADA, “Remarks on the Tôd Treasure in Egypt,” in M. DANDAMEYEV et al.(eds.), Societies and
      Languages of the Ancient Near East. Studies in honour of I.M. Diakonoff (1982) 290-91.
18    G. POSENER, “Syria and Palestine c. 2160-1780 B.C.,” in CAH I/2A (1971) 543-44.
19    PORADA (supra n. 16) 68-70: the Kassite cylinders alone (including unworked lapis lazuli of the appropriate
      size) weighed one mina, suggesting this possibility.
20    PLATON and TOULOUPA (supra n. 16); CMS V nos. 672, 674-76.
21    See D. COLLON, First Impressions. Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East (1987) 120 ff.
22    See H. PITTMAN in collaboration with J. ARUZ, Ancient Art in Miniature (1987) 11.
23    PORADA (supra n. 16) 14-15 no. 3, for example.
24    J. ARUZ in P.O. HARPER, E. KLENGEL-BRANDT, J. ARUZ and K. BENZEL (eds.), Discoveries at Ashur on
      the Tigris: Assyrian Origins (1995) 60 no. 41.
304                                               Joan ARUZ

       Some seals imported to the Aegean also appear to have been customized for use by their
new owners. A gold inlaid glazed steatite Egyptian scarab has a “linked scroll” pattern on the
base, surrounding a garbled inscription with a mixture of Aegean and Egyptian-type signs.
This added inscription was probably the work of a Minoan carver.25 Another reworked
foreign seal is a lapis lazuli cylinder with gold caps, discovered at Knossos (Pl. XXXIe-f). The
original third millennium seal of Ebla type was probably reworked in Syria or Anatolia in the
early second millennium BC, with faint traces of the earlier design still visible. One bull
crossing behind a lion, however, is not fully explainable in Near Eastern terms. Its large frontal
head may have been recut on Crete over one of a Near Eastern human-headed bearded bull —
the beard transformed into the elongated Minoan muzzle placed directly above the foreleg
with no neck transition. The seal was further beautified with a rather unique set of granulated
gold caps, probably made in Crete, restoring it as an impressive piece of jewelry.26
       The lavish attention paid to this seal marks it as a prestige item, and the appreciation of
its rare blue material may represent the transmission of Near Eastern values to Crete. It is one
of a number of foreign seals — like the Sellopoulo scarab — that were worn as jewelry in the
Aegean.27 While such evidence in no way represents any systematic use of foreign seals, it is
interesting to consider that in the Near Eastern sphere, as we learn from the work of Michelle
Marcus, imported Assyrian seals may have been worn by an elite class at the site of Hasanlu in
Iran, as emblems of authority bestowing prestige and social group affiliation on the seal
       Some imported seals that arrived in a f lawed or unfinished state may still have conveyed
prestige or status — linking their owners with long-distance activities. In some cases, as with
the cylinders found in burials at Platanos (see Pl. XXXId) and Herakleion Poros,29 these seals
bear significant images of Near Eastern royal and divine figures. The Platanos seal was made
in eastern Syria or Mesopotamia in the 19-18th c. BC. The Poros seal was probably produced
in the early 17th century BC and comes from a well known Levantine workshop that may have
been situated at Byblos.


      Inf luences30 — which can be detected in seal shape, imagery and style — provide a rich
source for the study of cultural interaction. Inf luences represent the active role of Aegean
patrons and craftsmen in making artistic choices from a range of foreign forms — and have
the potential to provide further insights into the more elusive aspects of Aegean society.
Perhaps the most profound foreign inf luence on the Aegean seal occurred at its very inception
with the selection of the stamp seal (see Pl. XXXIg-h for Aegean examples with Near Eastern
parallels). This is the seal type that persisted in Anatolia but was supplanted by the cylinder
seal in the more Mesopotamian-inf luenced parts of the Near Eastern world. Whereas the
exact circumstances surrounding the introduction of Aegean seals remain unclear, similar
innovations elsewhere are easier to document.

25    CMS VIII no. 151; ARUZ (supra n. 11) 504-505; J. PHILLIPS, “Reworked and reused Egyptian jewellery,”
      VI Congresso Internazionale di Eggitologia. Atti I (1992) 498, who seems to suggest that the gold inlay was also
      an Aegean addition.
26    For a fuller discussion of this piece, see J. ARUZ, “Syrian Seals and the Evidence for Cultural Interaction
      between the Levant and Crete,” in I. PINI and J-C. POURSAT (eds.), CMS Beiheft 5. Sceaux minoens et
      mycéniens (1995) 6 ff.
27    See PHILLIPS (supra n. 25) 497-500.
28    M. MARCUS, Emblems of Identity and Prestige: The Seals and Sealings from Hasanlu, Iran (1996) 2.
29    D. COLLON, “The Green Jasper Cylinder Seal Workshop,” in M. KELLY-BUCCELLATI (ed.), Insight
      through Images. Studies in Honor of Edith Porada (1986) 58 no. 5, 62, 63; ARUZ (supra n. 26) 3-4.
30    G. HERMERÈN, Influence in Art and Literature (1975) defines this term: “when the work of one culture that
      has the opportunity for contact with another culture is significantly changed by the presence of artistic
      markers that can be attributed to the second area, this should constitute a case of inf luence.”
                        THE EVIDENCE OF STAMP AND CYLINDER SEALS                                            305

      Two historical moments illustrate the inf luence of Near Eastern seal shapes abroad —
the Uruk expansion of the late 4th millennium BC and the Assyrian mercantile expansion into
central Anatolia in the early 2nd millennium. Among the Near Eastern finds in the elite
burials of predynastic Egypt are imported seals — not only introducing this phenomenon to
the Nile Valley but stimulating local cylinder seal production at the time that it was first
adopted in Mesopotamia.31 In central Anatolia, cylinder seals came into use from about 1920-
1740 BC as part of the apparatus of doing business among the foreign merchants who
dominated commercial life of the karum districts. The native predilection for the stamp seal,
however, soon reappeared.32
      In the Aegean, we find that forms used in the Aegean early and middle Neolithic
periods, particularly in Macedonia and Thessaly, such as the foot-shaped and conoid stamping
devices, also came into widespread use in Anatolia — the only Near Eastern area west of
Mesopotamia in which the (non-scarab) stamp seal tradition remained strong. Anatolia then
may provide the immediate source for the transmission of these types into Greece in the Early
Bronze Age.
      Some conoids were made of metal. A lead example found at Tsoungiza near Nemea (Pl.
XXXIIa) is nearly identical in form and design with a copper conoid from Thermi on Lesbos
(Pl. XXXIIa). The east Aegean (or Anatolia itself) is a likely place of origin for the Tsoungiza
      On Crete, Syrian inf luences are stronger, but cylindrical seals were used for stamping
rather than rolling, with designs only on their bases. In a few rare instances, however, the
Near Eastern stamp cylinder seal form, with designs on cylinder and base, was adopted. Two
extraordinary Aegean examples come from Archanes. One shows the integration of the Near
Eastern seal form with an Aegean motif executed in Minoan style to achieve spatial depth (Pl.
XXXIIb). On the other we see the conversion of the loop-handled cylinder into a multiplicity
of stamp seal faces (Pl. XXXIIc).
      In certain regions — particularly in south central Crete — we have a conf luence not only
of imported scarabs but of Cretan scarab and scaraboid seals made of a soft white material
and bearing Egyptianizing imagery.34 Animal-shaped seals from the burials of the Mesara —
such as the series of baboons (as well as frogs, f lies, and lions) — allude to the zoomorphic
seals of the Nile Valley and the Levant (see Pl. XXXIId from Crete and Byblos).
      Seals themselves may have been transmitters of foreign imagery. A well known loop-
handled cylindrical stamp seal, reported to come from Amorgos, resembles Syrian seals with
dot-circle designs, as well as Anatolian metalwork and pottery impressions from Tarsus,
Palestine and the Greek mainland with circle and chevron patterns.35 While its find context
is uncertain, this seal is made of Cycladic island green stone (Pl. XXXIIe) and, as first noted
by Frankfort, the tangent lines that connect the circles create a quasi-spiraliform pattern.36
      An Egyptian scarab from Platanos (see Pl. XXXId) bears an engraving of the goddess
Taweret, who was transformed into the Minoan Genius. This is one of the numerous foreign
fantastic creatures that enriched the corpus of Aegean images. Others include the griffin,
31    See J. ARUZ, “Siegel als Zeugnis des kulturellen Austausches,” in Mit Sieben Siegel versehen. Das Siegel in
      Wirtschaft und Kunst des Alten Orients (1997) 139.
32    See ARUZ (supra n. 31) 141-42.
33    K. BRANIGAN, “Early Aegean Metal Seals and Signets,” SMEA 17 (1976) 157-66; D. PULLEN, “A Lead Seal
      from Tsoungiza, Ancient Nemea, and Early Bronze Age Sealing Systems,” AJA 98 (1994) 36 ff. (the only
      other early lead seal presently known in the Aegean is from Naxos); for metal analyses of Thermi material
      but not including the copper alloy seal, see Z. STOS-GALE, “The Origin of Metal Objects from the Early
      Bronze Age site of Thermi on the Island of Lesbos,” OJA 11 (1992) 155-75; F. BEGEMANN, E. PERNICKA,
      and S. SCHMITT-STRECKER, “Thermi on Lesbos: A Case Study of Changing Trade Patterns,” OJA 14
      (1995) 123-35, with comments by N. GALE in OJA 15 (1996) 113-20.
34    I. PINI, “Ein Beitrag zur Chronologischen Ordnung der Frühkretischen Siegel,” Pepragmena tou D Diethnous
      Kretologikou Proedriou A:2 (1981) 421-33; Idem, “Zehn frühkretische Skarabäen,” Pact (1988) 23-II.1 99 ff.
35    For references to this piece, see J. ARUZ, “The ‘Aegean’ Pottery Impression from Troy II B,” Kadmos 25
      (1986) 166 n. 7.
36    H. FRANKFORT, Cylinder Seals (1939) 301, pl. XLVI v.
306                                             Joan ARUZ

which derived from early second millennium Syria or Syrian-style representations in Anatolia
as seen on an incised plaque in the Metropolitan Museum (Pl. XXXIIf). This is one of the
Pratt ivories associated with the site of Acemhöyük.37
       In scenes of males and females approaching a seated goddess, on the gold rings
produced in the Aegean world, we may have a distant ref lection of the Near Eastern
“presentation scene.” On rings from Mycenae and Tiryns (Pl. XXXIIg-h), cosmic symbols may
further allude to the Near Eastern scene, in which a sun disk in a moon crescent generally
appears. The Tiryns ring shows a procession of Minoan genii carrying ewers to a seated
goddess — their function as libation bearers controversially attributed by Machteld Mellink to
Anatolian inf luence.38
       Seal imagery may represent layers of interaction that, at least by the late Middle Minoan
period, f lowed in both directions across the Mediterranean. On a well-known scene of
procession to a seated deity on a Syrian-style hematite cylinder seal (Pl. XXXIIIa) we see two
broad-shouldered young warriors with Minoan-looking long hair, wasp-waists, and garments.
They approach an enthroned and armed deity whose feet rest on a lion and behind whom is
a rampant griffin.
       I have elsewhere compared this scene with a painting from Thera and with images on
Minoan seals,39 while the style of the bodies and hair recalls Egyptian representations of the
men of Keftiu. The youths also resemble figures of hunters, warriors and athletic performers
on Syrian seals, in which a looser, possibly Aegean-inspired style contrasts with the static
imposing figures of deities and royalty that usually dominate the field on Syrian seals of the
       The fuller integration of Aegean and oriental features into new “intercultural” styles,
however, comes later — during the 14th century BC. Images on seals such as an agate lentoid
(Pl. XXXIIIb), suggest that many new stylistic and iconographic elements appearing on
“Cypro-Aegean” seals were created by Late Minoan artists.41 This seal, placed by John
Younger in his Rhodian Hunt group, may provide key evidence for the transmission of Minoan
motifs to Cyprus through Rhodes — perhaps in the wake of the fall of Knossos, when Cretan
artists may have sought work abroad and Cyprus enjoyed growing contacts with the eastern
Mediterranean world.
       A hematite cylinder seal (Pl. XXXIIIc) in the Yale Babylonian collection was allegedly
found near Ugarit. The compositional schemes are oriental and the postures of the animals
are dramatic but less dynamic and vital than in Aegean scenes — one only has to look at the
suckling lioness aloof from her cub.42 The craftsman, however, exhibits a sensitivity to the
Minoan treatment of organic form; the closest stylistic parallels for the elegant animals with
dramatic body curves are in the “Rhodian Hunt Group.”
       For another comparison of Aegean and intercultural style glyptic, one can juxtapose two
seals from Thebes with related themes, one (Pl. XXXIIId) a native work in agate and the other
(Pl. XXXIIIe) an intercultural style seal by the Yale master — who probably worked on Cyprus.
One wonders if the former was inspired by the latter and generally about the impetus to create
seals of intercultural style.43
37    See also J. ARUZ, “Crete and Anatolia in the Middle Bronze Age: Sealings from Phaistos and Karahöyük,”
      in M.J. MELLINK, E. PORADA, and T. ÖZGÜÇ (eds.), Aspects of Art and Iconography: Anatolia and its
      Neighbors. Studies in Honor of Nimet Özgüç (1993) 38-39.
38    M. MELLINK, “Anatolian Libation Pourers and the Minoan Genius,” in A.E. FARKAS, P.O. HARPER, and
      E.B. HARRISON, Monsters and Demons in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (1987) 68-71; for an alternate view,
      see J. WEINGARTEN, The Transformation of Egyptian Taweret into the Minoan Genius: A Study in Cultural
      Transmission in the Middle Bronze Age (1991) 9 n. 36.
39    ARUZ (supra n. 26) 14-15; Eadem, “Imagery and Interconnections,” in Hyksos Egypt and the Eastern
      Mediterranean World, 41-42.
40    ARUZ (supra n. 39) 36-39.
41    J. ARUZ, “Cypriot and ‘Cypro-Aegean’ Seals,” in A. CAUBET (ed.), De Chypre à la Bactriane. Les sceaux du
      Proche-Orient ancien (1997) 271-88.
42    ARUZ (supra n. 41).
43    See discussion in ARUZ (supra n. 41).
                        THE EVIDENCE OF STAMP AND CYLINDER SEALS                                            307

      The problematic relationship between art, cultural identity, and ethnicity and the roles
of craftsman, patron and program or message are relevant to the subject and have been
explored in the work of Margaret Cool Root in connection with so-called “Graeco-Persian”
intercultural styles that developed nearly one thousand years later.44 One impression of a seal
used by an inf luential man in the court of Darius the Great has been used to demonstrate links
to older Iranian traditions, but the scene seems also to exhibit features that we would associate
with images on Aegean seals and the Greek gems that they inspired.45

Sealing Practices

      Turning to the subject of the foreign inf luences on Aegean sealing practices, one notes
that the few impressions of foreign seals in the Aegean most likely represent imported
cylinders used on Crete. In the case of a sealing from Ayia Triada, a cylinder — probably from
Anatolia — was stamped not rolled on the reverse of a sealing with a Minoan impression.46 On
the other hand, the Cycladic-type impression on the neck of a jar from Troy IIb — judged by
Blegen to be of Aegean fabric — probably indicates trade, perhaps the export of an Aegean
commodity in a specially marked container to the Troad.47 This is one of many pots stamped
or rolled with seals directly on their rims, handles and bodies, and sometimes also incised with
numerical-type marks — representing shared practices in the Aegean and the Orient.
      Much work has focused on similar Aegean, Egyptian, and Near Eastern clay locking
devices for doors and various types of containers — indicating that sealing as an administrative
tool was introduced to the Aegean in the Early Bronze Age, and continued to develop in
succeeding phases.48 Our knowledge of these types is greatly enhanced by the Egyptian
evidence, where sealed doors, wood boxes with pegs and knobs, papyrus documents, and
pottery jars survive intact.49
      One can also point to shared sealing processes, such as co- or counter-sealing50 (Pl.
XXXIIIf, an example from Lerna), and the possible use of seal imagery to convey information.
Patterns of repeated elements on some Near Eastern sealings have been interpreted as
meaningful marks.51 Repeated motifs with varied elements — some signlike as in Pl. XXXIIIf
— are also characteristic of sealings from Phaistos and central Anatolia.52
      Both in the Aegean and Anatolia there are impressions of seals (some of petaloid form)
with signlike elements surrounded by spiraliform motifs (Pl. XXXIIIg) recalling inscribed
stamp seals used later, during the Hittite Empire period. As both distinctive seal shapes and

44    M.C. ROOT, “Circles of Artistic Programming: Strategies for Studying Creative Process at Persepolis,” in A.
      GUNTER (ed.), Investigating Artistic Environments (1990) 115-39; see also C. NYLANDER, Ionians in
      Pasargardae. Studies in Old Persian Architecture (1970) 16 ff.
45    ROOT (supra n. 44) 115, 130; Eadem, “From the Heart: Powerful Persianisms in the Art of the Western
      Empire,” Achaemenid History VI (1991) 19-22; see also ARUZ (supra n. 31).
46    ARUZ (supra n. 26) 11, fig. 8a.
47    See ARUZ (supra n. 35) 164-67.
48    See J. ARUZ, “Seal Imagery and Sealing Practices in the Early Aegean World,” in P. FERIOLI et al. (eds.),
      Archives before Writing (1994) 211 ff.; J. WEINGARTEN, “Three Upheavals in Minoan Sealing
      Administration: Evidence for Radical Change,” in T.G. PALAIMA (ed.), Aegean Seals, Sealings and
      Administration. Aegaeum 5 (1990) 105 ff.
49    W. BOOCHS, Siegel und Siegeln im Alten Aegyptens. Kolner Forschungen zu Kunst und Altertum 4 (1982); see
      also J. ARUZ, “The Sealings of the Middle Bronze Age: A Preliminary Look at Lisht in Egypt,” (in press).
50    For Multiple Sealing systems, see J. WEINGARTEN, “The Sealing Structure of Karahöyük and Some
      Administrative Links with Phaistos on Crete,” Oriens Antiquus 29 (1990) 18; Eadem, “The Multiple Sealing
      System of Minoan Crete and its possible antecedents in Anatolia,” OJA 11 (1992) 25-37.
51    F. HOLE, “Symbols of Religion and Social Organization at Susa,” in T.C. YOUNG, P.E.L. SMITH and P.
      MORTENSEN (eds.), The Hilly Flanks and Beyond: Essays on the prehistory of southwestern Asia presented to
      Robert J. Braidwood (1983) 318 ff.; H. PITTMAN, The Glazed Steatite Style: The Structure and Function of an
      Image System, Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University (1990) 392-402.
52    ARUZ (supra n. 48) 222 ff.; Eadem (supra n. 37) 41 ff.
308                                          Joan ARUZ

designs were used to indicate governmental, official and personal seals (for instance, the
shield-shaped stamps of government departments in Egypt),53 one should also look for similar
differentiations within the Aegean corpus.
      To conclude — any understanding of seals and interconnections must first rest on a
corpus of carefully defined Aegean and oriental seal styles that allows for the correct
identification of imports and inf luences. The challenge of grasping the complexities and
significance of the interaction that they ref lect must firmly rest on the foundations of such an

                                                            Joan ARUZ

53    See S. SMITH, “Administration at the Egyptian Middle Kingdom Frontier: Sealings from Uronarti and
      Askut,” in T.G. PALAIMA (ed.), Aegean Seals, Sealings and Administration. Aegaeum 5 (1990) 199 ff.
                      THE EVIDENCE OF STAMP AND CYLINDER SEALS                                           309

                                       LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Pl. XXXIa     Wall painting (drawing) from Tell el-Dabca: M. BIETAK, Avaris. The Capital of the Hyksos. Recent
              Excavations at Tell el-Dabca (1996) pl. v.
Pl. XXXIb     Pithos sherd from Euboea with seal impression: CMS V1 no. 202.
Pl. XXXIc     Stalk-handled seal from Alishar Höyük: H. VON DER OSTEN, The Alishar Höyük Seasons of 1930-
              1932. OIP XXXIX, Volume II (1937) 417 fig. 478 c1824.
Pl. XXXId     Foreign seals (modern impressions) from Platanos Tholos B: CMS II1 nos. 267, 283, 306, 332.
Pl. XXXIe-f   Lapis lazuli cylinder seal and modern impression from Knossos: CMS II2 no. 29.
Pl. XXXIg     Ridge-handled stamp seals from Epidauros (and modern impression), Lerna, and Ras Shamra
              (drawing); cylinder seal (modern impression) from Telloh with eagle motif: CMS VIA no. 366;
              CMS V no. 35; H. DE CONTENSON, “Le niveau Halafien de Ras Shamra. Rapport préliminaire
              sur les campagnes 1968-1972 dans le sondage préhistorique,” Syria 50 (1973) 28, fig. 12; A.
              PARROT, Glyptique mésopotamienne (1954) pl. 1, 8-10.
Pl. XXXIh     Gable seals from Crete (and drawing) and Kültepe: CMS II2 no. 215; N. ÖZGÜÇ, Seals and Seal
              Impressions of Level IB from Karum Kanish (1968) pl. 34:3.
Pl. XXXIIa    Metal conoids from Tsoungiza (and modern impression) and Thermi (drawing): CMS V 1B no.
              128; BRANIGAN (supra n. 33) 158, fig. 1.
Pl. XXXIIb    Ivory stamp-cylinder seal from Archanes: J. SAKELLARAKIS, Praktika (1976) fig. 218.
Pl. XXXIIc    Ivory stamp-cylinder seal variation from Archanes: CMS II1 no. 391.
Pl. XXXIId    Zoomorphic seals from Crete and Byblos (drawing): J. BOARDMAN, Greek Gems and Finger Rings
              (1970) pl. 4; O. TUFNELL and W. WARD, “Relations between Byblos and Mesopotamia at the
              end of the Third Millennium B.C.,” SYRIA 43 (1966) fig. 104.
Pl. XXXIIe    Green stone stamp cylinder seal and modern impression from “Amorgos:” O. HÖCKMANN,
              “Appendix 3: Grave D at Kapros on Amorgos,” in THIMME (ed.), Art and Culture of the Cyclades
              (1977) pl. 453.
Pl. XXXIIf    Incised ivory plaque: Metropolitan Museum, Gift of Mrs. George D. Pratt, in memory of George
              D. Pratt, 1936, 36.152.7: photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.
Pl. XXXIIg    Gold ring (modern impression) from Mycenae: CMS I no. 17.
Pl. XXXIIh    Gold ring (modern impression) from Tiryns: CMS I no. 179.
Pl. XXXIIIa   Syrian cylinder seal (modern impression) in the Vienna Museum: ARUZ (supra n. 26) fig. 11 (Aruz
Pl. XXXIIIb   Aegean agate lentoid (modern impression): CMS IX no. 20D.
Pl. XXXIIIc   “Cypro-Aegean” cylinder seal (modern impression) in Yale Babylonian Collection: ARUZ (supra
              n. 42).
Pl. XXXIIId   Aegean agate cylinder seal and modern impression from Thebes: CMS V no. 675.
Pl. XXXIIIe   “Cypro-Aegean” cylinder seal (modern impression) from Thebes: PORADA (supra n. 16) 21 no.
Pl. XXXIIIf   Lerna sealing: photo courtesy of Ingo Pini (CMS V no. 109).
Pl. XXXIIIg   Minoan stamp seal (modern impression) and Karahöyük sealing (drawing): CMS X no. 53; S. ALP,
              Zylinder und Stempelsiegel aus Karahöyük bei Konya (1968) 179 fig. 79.
310                                            Joan ARUZ

Discussion following J. Aruz’s paper:

J.L. Crowley: I very much enjoyed your talk. Thank you, Joan. I’d just like to go to the griffin for the
       moment. So you happily locate its origin somewhere in Mitanni or Anatolia?

J. Aruz: In the early second millennium, I would say Syria. But in this period of time in central Anatolia,
       we have Syrian traders who used Syrian-style seals on tablets. We thus have many images of
       Syrian-style griffins in Anatolia, as well as in Syria, so one cannot be certain of the direct route
       by which this motif traveled to the Aegean. Such is the case with the Acemhöyük ivory; that
       incised griffin image comes from central Anatolia, although it is in Syrian style.

A.B. Knapp: You raised an issue, or at least mentioned the work of Margaret Cool Root, of the
      relationship between culture and ethnicity. I wonder if you would just elaborate a little bit on
      either what she thinks the relationship between ethnicity is or, better, what you think ethnicity

J. Aruz: Well, this was one of the subjects for future research. (Laughter). However, she has written —
       and perhaps you know her work as well — a number of articles on the problem of the overly-
       Hellenocentric view of Persian art. In attempting to redress the balance, she has tried to
       distinguish what is essentially Persian and what is Greek. It’s a very difficult proposition when
       one has regions in between, such as Anatolia, and western Persian styles, and eastern Aegean
       styles, and so on to contend with. There is one case that is often brought up in the discussion
       of the Persian period, and that is the tomb of Petosiris in Egypt, in which Achaemenid-type rhyta
       are represented as being produced by Egyptian craftsmen. This has been used to prove that
       ancient craftsmen could make anything. Possibly at that period of time, and maybe earlier, it was
       true. However, we do not know what those rhyta actually looked like. We do not know whether,
       if one actually saw the original manufactured product, something in the style would tell us that
       this was made by a foreigner — an Egyptian using a Persian shape. So I think it’s a complicated

A.B. Knapp: Could I just then ask, so, in other words, what we define as “Minoan” or “Canaanite” may
      not really be Minoan or Canaanite. Would you agree with that statement?

J. Aruz: No.

A.B. Knapp: Oh, you wouldn’t? Well, then, can you please answer my question and give me your
      definition of ethnicity?

J. Aruz: I cannot go into definitions of ethnicity here, but in my work I try to define as clearly as I can
       the stylistic traits that may be associated with ethnic or rather cultural or regional groups. What
       I recognize as being Minoan is an object made in Minoan style. In the attempt to determine such
       stylistic traits, I have been inspired by the work of Carl Nylander, again working in the first
       millennium. In his analysis of Achaemenid sculpture, he talks about a general underlying
       structure in the style of a work of a specific cultural area — an underlying structure that may
       identify the tradition in which the craftsman worked. On some Syrian seals that I have studied,
       one may have more than one stylistic variation on a single seal — where there is a combination
       of imagery familiar from Mesopotamian art with a looser style and compositional scheme that
       seems to have Mediterranean f lavor. However, on such works (generally dating around the 18th-
       17th centuries BC), the underlying stylistic “structure” or approach is still Syrian and therefore
       such seals can be attributed to Syrian workmanship. When one comes to the “Intercultural Style”
       of the 14th century BC, I really think that in this case we have craftsmen who are working in
       (combining) more than one tradition. Such subtleties — that perhaps can give us clues regarding
       questions such as cultural identity or ethnicity — can only be gleaned, however, from a careful
       analysis of the work of art — a point that I would like to stress.

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