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The exhibit

Malia, Chrysolakkos. 1800 - 1700 BC

This pendant in the shape of two bees facing each other is a masterpiece of Minoan miniature art, combining different techniques. It was found in the cemetery of Chrysolakkos at Malia and is dated to around 1800 BC. It depicts two bees with open wings facing each other, joined at the head and stinger. They are holding a disc between them, probably a honeycomb, while the round object in their mouths is thought to be a drop of honey. The discs hanging from the joined stingers and the wings are decorative elements, as is the tiny cage containing a loose bead on the insects’ heads. The back of the ornament is a flat of gold sheet. It has been skilfully made using four different techniques: filigree, granulation, repoussé and incised decoration. The use of gold, a valuable material, and the technical and aesthetic quality of the pendant are evidence of the prosperity of the ruling class in Minoan Crete during the period of the First Palaces. The pendant is a condensed depiction of honey production. Honey and wax were important elements of the Minoan economy, as demonstrated by other relevant finds and laboratory analyses of organic residues. Bees also appear to have played an important part in Minoan religious ideology, as symbols of fertility and rebirth.
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