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Aegina Treasure

Aegina treasure 02

Aegina Treasure

The Aegina Treasure or Aigina Treasure is an important Minoan gold hoard found on the island of Aegina, Greece. The Minoan civilisation was an Aegean Bronze Age civilisation on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands which flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC. The treasure was discovered in a tomb on the island of Aegina in 1891, although the exact circumstances have never been determined.

The Aegina Treasure is composed of gold jewellery that has been dated to the Greek bronze age between 1850 and 1550 BC. It includes two pairs of earrings, three diadems, a pendant, a bracelet, a gold cup, four rings, plaques and gold strips. There are also five interconnecting golden rings plus beads and necklaces made of a variety of materials including gold, lapis lazuli, amethyst, quartz, cornelian and green jasper. The most elaborate items are a pendant and a pair of earrings.

The pair of earrings is designed with the main body in a hoop with a double-headed snake. Inside are two animals, possibly greyhounds, over two monkeys. Around the circle are fourteen short chains, alternating ending in golden discs and figures of owls.

The pendant seems to represent a Cretan deity in a field of lotus flowers flanked by two geese in a field. The background is composed of two unidentified objects that are considered to be either connected to “cult horns”, the sacred horns of bulls, or potentially composite bows.

Aegina the island where this treasure hoard was found is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece about 17 miles from Athens. During ancient times Aegina was a rival of Athens, the great sea power of the era. During the Minoan period trade, between Crete and Aegean and Mediterranean settlements, was wide-spread and through their traders and artists, the Minoan cultural influence became dominant. The reason for the end of the Minoan period is unclear. Theories include Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece or the volcanic eruption of Thera.

Hoards

A hoard is an archaeological term for a collection of valuable objects or artefacts, purposely buried in the ground, usually with the intention of later recovery. However, hoarders sometimes died or were unable to return to retrieve the hoard. These surviving hoards might then be discovered many years later. Hoards or caches are considered an indicator of the relative degree of unrest in ancient societies.

Other Treasure Discoveries

Reflections

  • The Minoan civilisation was the first civilisation in Europe. Is jewellery one of the marketers of civilisation?
  • Under what circumstances did the owners of this valuable jewellery bury it as part of a hidden hoard? What fear were they fleeing?
  • Are other magnificent hoards consisting of valuable historical objects or artefacts still buried in the ground?

Explore

Aegina Treasure

  • Title:            Aegina Treasure
  • Date:           1850 and 1550 BC
  • Period:       Minoan
  • Findspot:  Aegina, Greece
  • Materials: Gold, lapis lazuli, amethyst, quartz, cornelian and green jasper
  • Museum:    The British Museum

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“Love should never be sacrificed for the sake of some dogma difference.”
– St. Nektarios of Aegina

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Photo Credit: 1) By Einsamer Schütze [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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