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The exhibit

Archanes, Burial Building 6. 2000 - 1900 BC

Seals were used for accounting purposes, to control the production and distribution of goods and to certify transactions. This multi-sided bone seal was a funerary offering found in Burial Building 6 at Archanes Phourni. It is an impressive example of the so-called “Archanes Script”, a writing system with pictorial elements found on seals and sealings in Crete in the early centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. The uniqueness of this seal lies in the fact that it has fourteen sealing surfaces, two of them bearing incised signs of the Archanes Script. These signs are also found in the Minoan scripts developed in the following period, Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A. One of the signs is the double axe, a diachronic symbol of the Minoan civilisation with ideological significance. The other sealing surfaces depict pictorial images, such as a human figure holding a basket, a leg, or various animals, which may also have been writing signs. The “Archanes Script” was first identified on seals from the cemetery of Archanes Phourni, but it has also been found in other parts of the island. The survival of Archanes Script signs in Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A is the strongest evidence in support of the view that the two main Minoan scripts of the Protopalatial period arose from a common ancestral writing system.
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