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The exhibit

Malia. Houses west of the Palace. 1800 - 1700 BC

The luxury swords and daggers found at Malia were mainly intended as display objects rather than weapons for actual use. Their elaborate manufacture, often combining precious materials such as gold and ivory, and the impressive decoration of the hilt and bronze blade made these emblems of status, rank and authority for the members of the palatial hierarchy. The bronze dagger in the display case is a typical example. It is a short sword with elaborate decoration revealing the skill and ingenuity of the Minoan artisan. The wooden hilt, which is not preserved, was covered with openwork gold foil. The circular holes probably contained multicoloured insets. Traces of gold foil are preserved running down the centre of the blade, while gold rings adorned the two central rivets of the four attaching the hilt. This type of decoration is thought to echo Egyptian influences. This dagger, which was found with other weapons in Quartier Mu in Malia, is the earliest known example of a sword with gold and inlaid decoration. Such elaborate luxury daggers clearly stated their owner’s place in the family and the community. They were symbols of status and authority for their owners, while they may also have served a ceremonial purpose in religious rituals.
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