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A MINOAN BLUE CHALCEDONY TABLOID SEAL WITH THREE SWANS
A MINOAN BLUE CHALCEDONY TABLOID SEAL WITH THREE SWANS
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A MINOAN BLUE CHALCEDONY TABLOID SEAL WITH THREE SWANS

LATE PALACE PERIOD, CIRCA 16TH CENTURY B.C.

Details
A MINOAN BLUE CHALCEDONY TABLOID SEAL WITH THREE SWANS
LATE PALACE PERIOD, CIRCA 16TH CENTURY B.C.
¾ in. (1.9 cm.) long
Provenance
Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965), Rome, acquired and brought to Switzerland, late 1930s; thence by continuous descent to the current owners.
Literature
J. Boardman and C. Wagner, Masterpieces in Miniature: Engraved Gems from Prehistory to the Present, London, 2018, p. 5, no. 2.

Lot Essay

Minoan artists delighted in portraying the world around them, as seen on frescos, vases and gems. The three swans on the gem presented here are naturalistically depicted, one with its wings raised, as if alighting on water. Similar swans are found on two green jasper lentoids, one from Knossos and one from Mirabello, both now in Oxford (see pls. 94 and 95 in Boardman, Greek Gems and Finger Rings), and also on a fresco from Hagia Triada, Crete.

This exceptional Minoan gem is sculpted from blue chalcedony, a form of microcrystalline quartz, now weathered to white in places. The source of this stone is thought to have been Anatolia, thus indicating the trade networks that existed throughout the ancient world during the Bronze Age. The back of the stone displays horizontal facets, an unusual feature.

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