Pendant from the Aegina treasure

Step 9 of 10

Mystery discs

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Last, but certainly not least, we turn to the five pendant discs suspended from the bottom of the pendant, decorated with raised dots around the edges and in the center. These form the most important argument for a Minoan origin of the pendant (and of the whole of the Aegina treasure). These discs occur on a couple of objects within the treasure (Figs. 25-26). In general, very few parallels exist for jewellery with pendants in this way. The few that do exist are probably Minoan.R. Higgins, ‘The Aegina Treasure reconsidered’, The Annual of the British School at Athens 52 (1957), p. 42-57; R. Higgins, The Aegina treasure, an archaeological mystery (London, 1979).

Firstly, the famous bee jewel from Mallia on Crete (Fig. 27). As the name suggests, it depicts two bees. Three pendant discs, very similar to ours, hang from the bottom. The techniques used in this pendant are a little more advanced than the ones used on the Aegina treasure, but nevertheless these two pendants are very similar. We could use this as an argument for a Minoan origin of the Aegina pendant. The bee pendant is more refined than the Aegina one, but that could very well be the difference between a palace workshop and a local workshop of a Cretan on Aegina (or on Crete and exported to Aegina).

The second is a sheet gold pendant of a goat, which was also found on Crete (Fig. 28). This pendant has three suspended discs as well. The way in which these discs are suspended from the main pendant is also very similar to the discs on our pendant, and this technique is very interesting in itself. The discs have an elongated tail, which was then wound around itself to make a loop. This suspension method is very specific, and can also be seen on the Cretan goat pendant, as well as other Minoan or supposedly Minoan objects. The same method is used to make loops at the end of a few diadems from the Aegina treasure (Fig. 29), as well as a diadem found on Aegina, separately from the treasure. R. Higgins, ‘A gold diadem from Aegina’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies 107 (1987), 182.

These discs seem to be quite iron-clad evidence for a Minoan origin of the pendant. However, scholars in favor of the Levantine theory would suggest that all of these supposedly Minoan objects actually originate from the Levant as well.R. B. Koehl, ‘South Levantine Middle Bronze Age gold-work in the Aegean’, in ΠΕΠΡΑΓΜΕΝΑ Ι’ ΔΙΕΘΝΟΥΣ ΚΡΗΤΟΛΟΓΙΚΟΥ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΟΥ, Τομοσ Α1:ΠΡΟΪΣΤΟΡΙΚΟΙ ΧΡΟΝΟΙ, (ΧΑΝΙΑ, 2011), 189-208.

What the discs are meant to depict is largely unclear. It has been suggested they are sun symbols, but this is very unsure.