The Self-Possessed: Framing Identity in Late Minoan Glyptic
AuthorTully, C; Crooks, S
EditorBorgna, E; Caloi, I; Carinci, F; Laffineur, R
Source TitleMNHMH / MNEME Past and memory in the Aegean Bronze Age
University of Melbourne Author/sTully, Caroline
AffiliationSchool of Historical and Philosophical Studies
CitationsTully, C. & Crooks, S. (2019). The Self-Possessed: Framing Identity in Late Minoan Glyptic. Borgna, E (Ed.). Caloi, I (Ed.). Carinci, F (Ed.). Laffineur, R (Ed.). MNHMH / MNEME Past and memory in the Aegean Bronze Age, (1), 43, pp.749-752. Peeters-Leuven.
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2021-12-31
A group of Late Minoan signet rings fashioned in precious metals and engraved with complex and evocative iconographic schemes appears to depict ‘nature’ or ‘rural’ cults enacted at extra-urban sanctuaries, and may have functioned as inalienable possessions implicated in the expression and maintenance of elite identities during the Aegean Bronze Age. The images on the ring bezels depict human figures in association with epiphanic figures situated in settings characterised by the presence of trees and stones, columnar shrines, stepped altars, openwork platforms, tripartite shrines and sanctuary walls, perhaps involving occasional rites and the erection and dismantling of temporary cult structures which can themselves be viewed as architectonic replications of rural cult sites and natural forms. Just as the fabric of these rings and the artistry and technical skill of their production were of restricted accessibility and controlled distribution, we may infer that so, too, the rites, places and activities recorded on these rings were socially restricted. Possession of these distinctive and desirable objects of economic, cultural and symbolic value may have signified access to, involvement in and mastery over such rituals, the special status of the owner delineated and broadcast through the circulating media of clay sealings, advertising their special relationship with forces and places within nature. Over time the personal and cultural memory, knowledge and associations accumulated within these rings may form histories or biographies of the rings themselves, implicating the identities of their past and present owners, and of the wider community. In this way, they can be understood as inalienable possessions, objects invested with authority and authenticity that in turn authenticate the status of their owners. These enduring symbols draw the past into the present, instantiating cultural and cosmological ideals which classify and objectify social relations through referencing the past. Thus these rings function as mnemonic devices, palimpsests of memory, association and affect which store and transmit information about spatially and temporally disbursed places, people and events, memorialising and broadcasting elite association with the (super)natural world and forming part of the material affordances of the world of things which recursively produce, reiterate and transform identities through ecologies of practice: the past mediated in the present through memory materialised in objects.
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