Stone-engraving and Miniature Art
Significant progress was made in stone-engraving during the New Palace period. The crafts-men worked with hard stones, such as basalt, porphyry, liparite, obsidian, and rock crystal, as well as soft ones like chlorite, steatite, serpentine and a variety of veined marble and alabaster. Different materials were frequently used for different parts of a single artefact. Some objects had relief scenes (Knossos, Ayia Triada, and Zakros), occasionally covered with gold leaf.
An important large group of stone vases was found in the undisturbed treasury of the palace at Zakros. Large-scale works of stone-engraving include the relief zones in the palace at Knossos, the alabaster throne at Knossos, and the anchors carved with relief octopuses. The steatite rhyton in the shape of a bull’s head, and the head of a lioness of alabaster (both from Knossos), and the sceptre handle in the form of an axe and a leopard’s head (Malia) may be counted masterpieces of the stone-engraver’s art. Various materials, such as ivory, bone, metal, faience, and clay, were used to manufacture objects of miniature art: human and animal figurines, pyxides, mirror handles, cosmetic utensils, inlaid ivory plaques, rhyta, little cups, etc. The masterpieces of this category include the faience Snake Goddesses (Knossos), the Acrobat Group (Knossos), pieces of ivory figurines (Archanes), a chryselephantine male figurine and a figurine of a boy (Palaikastro). Some interesting terracotta figurines from tombs at Kamilari depict scenes of the cult of the dead.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis