In the trail of dancing lions: iconography and community on early Crete

Author(s): Emily Anderson

Year: 2015


This paper examines the formulation of an early iconographic tradition on late third-early second millennium BCE Crete as a means of gaining insight on the development of a novel scale and variety of community ideology. During this period stamp seals began to be crafted from imported ivory and engraved with figural motifs involving lions, each belonging to a highly distinctive iconography reproduced across the island. These changes coincide with evidence of other social developments, including establishment of new types of ritual site where people from numerous communities gathered. We thus have evidence of a new scale of social life taking form but its character remains difficult to ascertain. Moving beyond examination of symbolism alone, I investigate the innovative practices underlying and supported by the iconographic seals, from their crafting to use/performance. These indicate how people were actively establishing a point of social similarity that transcended the boundaries of local interaction by forging a common signifier of social identity. Moreover, analysis suggests that the seals were produced by itinerant craftspersons, whose travels wore in physical paths between communities that paralleled those established symbolically by the iconography. Through this multi-faceted lens, an ethos of social incorporation and connective distance begins to emerge.

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Cite this Record

In the trail of dancing lions: iconography and community on early Crete. Emily Anderson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396465)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;