This dissertation undertakes a historical and contextual approach to the examination of the ownership of hard stone seals from the Late Bronze Age Greek Mainland. It also investigates the Mycenaean reception of this great artistic tradition, since, after a long break during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1700 B.C.), seal engraving was re-introduced to the Greek mainland through contacts with Crete.
For the first time, the contextual associations of one hundred and forty-one hard stone seals from sixty-two burials and burial assemblages of the Late Bronze Age Greek mainland are systematically and diachronically examined. The wealth of these funerary contexts is used to define the economic and—accordingly—possible social status of the individuals who owned the seals and it is carefully evaluated on the basis of five different sets of criteria (five different patterns of artifact combination), which may correspond to five different levels of wealth (Wealth Groups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: very poor, poor, average, rich, very rich). The seals are also carefully examined and analyzed in respect to their morphology (shape, material), iconography, and engraving style.
Elite (rich or very rich), average, and poor or very poor burials and burial assemblages or male and female burials and burial assemblages are studied comparatively in respect to their typical finds, associated hard stone seals (number, shapes, materials, iconography, engraving styles) and possible diachronic and/or regional differences. Evidence for Cretan seals or heirlooms and for seals that might have been special commissions is looked for; since they might have operated as status-enhancing objects, particular attention is paid to the examination of their associated burials or burial assemblages.
Although the great influence of Cretan glyptic can be seen throughout the different phases of the Late Bronze Age, seals that could be identified as works of native, Mycenaean engravers are treated separately and their differences are highlighted, in search for possible Mycenaean innovations and features of Mainland character. Especially the study of collections of seals from intact burials is particularly enlightening for our understanding of Mycenaean taste and aesthetic standards.