Ancient Mediterranean

Digital Project

Minoan ship

Cat. No.





Central Crete


Diam.: 1.6-2 cm


Lenticular black steatite seal, slightly elliptical. Bored slightly out of axis.

Accession Number

Oxford Ashmolean Museum AN1938.958


Basch 1987: 101, C11; Casson 1971: 33, fig. 47; CMS VI, 654, Kat.Nr. 468; Gray 1974: 16, nr 9; Kenna 1960: K106; McGrail 2001: 112, fig. 4.1; Wedde 2000: 345, no. 956

Crescentic hull with pointed extremities. The hull is decorated with 14 parallel oblique lines. Two steering oars to the left and 15 oar lines below the hull. Mast amidships with a split yard and boom. The yard is lowered to the boom, attached by two halyards on each side. To the left and right are stays with pearls attached (dresslines). The dots along the gunwale possibly represent the crew. There are additional sub-circular dots: three above the left yard, three below the left boom, and seven below the right boom. The decoration of the rig with garlands parallels the Theran procession ships.

The seal has been variously dated by a number of scholars: MM I (Kenna 1960: 103); "close of MM II" (Evans 1928: 242); perhaps MM II (Marinatos 1933: 185); MM IIA (Gray 1974: 16, nr. 9); c. 1800 BC (Casson 1971: fig. 47); Mycenaean (Evans 1897: 338). It has since been re-dated by Boardman on the basis of its material and style to LM IIIB (Boardman 1970: 106).

Basch, L. 1987. Le musée imaginaire de la marine antique. Athens: Institut Hellénique pour la preservation de la tradition nautique.

Boardman, J. 1970. Greek Gems and Finger Rings. Early Bronze Age to Late Classical. London.

Casson, L. 1971. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Gray, D. 1974, Seewesen. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.

Hughes-Brock, H. and J. Boardman. 2009. Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel. Band VI. Oxford. The Ashmolean Museum. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Kenna, V.E.G. 1960. Cretan Seals with a Catalogue of the Minoan Gems in the Ahmolean Museum. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

McGrail, S. 2001. Boats of the World: from the Stone Age to Medieval Times. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wedde, M. 2000. Towards a Hermeneutics of Aegean Bronze Age Ship Imagery. Peleus Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Griechenlands und Zyperns, vol. 6. Bibliopolis: Mannheim and Möhnsee.

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  • CMS VI 468

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  • CMS VI 468

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  • CMS VI 468

    copyright icon © Courtesy of CMS Heidelberg Click for fullscreen