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Miniaturizing Meaning: Miniature Pottery on Bronze Age Crete

Dr. Rachel Dewan, Department of Art History at the University of Toronto
Friday, November 12, 2021
12:00-1:00 PM
Often assumed to be ritual votives or toys for children, miniature ceramic vessels in the Bronze Age Aegean have been afforded little thorough study. Their presence at peak sanctuaries, sacred caves, and shrines on Crete has led to their uncritical association with ritual activity, even outside of sacred areas. When miniature pots are found in domestic spaces, they are often dismissed as objects of household ritual or simple toys. Yet miniature vessels, diverse in form and context, are so pervasive in archaeological investigations of Minoan settlements that they merit further comprehensive study. Considered alongside the abundance of small-scale Minoan material culture, including figurines, seals, miniature wall paintings, and models, miniature pottery appears to be one facet of a larger semiotic ideology – one well-versed in the language and power of the miniature.

This talk investigates the use, significance, and meaning of miniature ceramic vessels in settlements on Minoan Crete. By analyzing 504 miniature pots from thirteen sites in central and east Crete, it explores the wide range of miniature types used in the Protopalatial and Neopalatial periods and applies contextual analysis to draw out their meanings and identify two distinct categories within the corpus of miniature pots. By investigating the cognitive effects of miniaturization and applying Peircean understandings of iconicity and indexicality to these objects, the use and significance of Bronze Age miniature vessels are further illuminated, in ritual and beyond.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Livestream / Virtual
Tags: Anthropology, Archaeology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, History of Art, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology Lectures