Width: 6.300 cm
Height: 6.000 cm
Weight: 138.000 g
GR 1892.5-20.8 (Jewellery 762)
Room 12a: Greece Minoans
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Gold pendant from the Aigina treasure
Minoan, about 1850-1550 BC
From Aigina, off the south-east coast of Greece, Aegean Sea
A male figure stands among lotus flowers, his arms outstretched to grasp a goose by the neck with each hand. The animals allow us to identify him as a god. This pose, known as that of the 'Master (or Mistress) of the Animals', is intended to show that the deity subdues the wild animals, and therefore has control over nature. It is more common with a female central figure.
The strange ridged elements with bud-like ends curving up from behind the god are stylised bull's horns. Bulls are common in Minoan religious iconography, and this symbol also confirms the divinity of the male figure.
Though distinctively Minoan, there is Egyptian influence in this piece. Lotus flowers are common in Egyptian art, and the figure stands on something resembling the stylised papyrus boats known from later Egyptian representations.
Technically the pendant is quite simple. It is made of sheet gold, the decoration worked in relief, and the whole backed with a plain sheet of gold. A pendant showing two dogs, technically and stylistically similar to this pendant, has been found at Tell el-Dab'a (ancient Avaris) on the Nile Delta. It must have been imported from Crete towards the end of the eighteenth century BC. This suggests a possible date for the Aigina treasure pendant, and underlines the fact that there were contacts between Crete and Egypt at this time.
R. Higgins, The Aegina Treasure: an archae (London, 1979)
R. Higgins, 'The Aigina treasure reconsidered', Annual of the British School-1, 52 (1957), pp. 42-57