’Mycenaean imports and figurines made in Mycenaean tradition from the Greek-Swedish excavations at Khaniá’,

in Encounters with Mycenaean figures and figurines: papers presented at a seminar at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 27-29 April 2001, edited by Ann-Louise Schallin in collaboration with Petra Pakkanen, 2009



Mycenaean imports and figurines made in Mycenaean tradition from the Greek-Swedish excavations at Khania

Marie-Louise Winbladh


Mycenaean influence in Crete from mainland Greece, was much stronger in the west than on the rest of the island from the 14th century B.C. onwards. Pottery, small finds and details in the architecture, indicate Mycenaean presence. The most important evidence, however, was the use of the Mycenaean writing Linear B in the 13th century B.C.

During the Greek-Swedish Excavations 1970–1987 at Khania in western Crete, fragments of many terracotta figurines were found in mixed contexts and scattered all over the area.[i] Only five imported figurines, or possibly seven, have been found at Khania, which does not seem to be a very large number. Further, 13 figurines have been made in a more or less Mycenaean tradition. But compared to other sites on Crete, the GSE figurines constitute a most important contribution to our knowledge about Minoan-Mycenaean Crete. No other single site in Crete has so far yielded so many Mycenaean figurines, either imported or locally imitated.


The joint Greek-Swedish Excavations (GSE) were carried out in 1970–1987 at Khania in western Crete, in the Kastelli area, close to the old Venetian harbour. The finds show that the site was inhabited from Neolithic times down to the Geometric period (before 3000 to c. 700 B.C.), with a chronological gap of c.400 years between the end of the Late Minoan period and the Late Geometric period. The main purpose of the excavations was to investigate the Minoan settlement from the Bronze Age period in Crete.

This settlement or town probably corresponds to ancient Kydonia, which is mentioned on clay tablets from Knossos with signs in Linear B. The Minoan town is most probably located under the modern town of Khania.

The modern habitation at the site, which cut into the earlier remains, caused many problems. The stratification was much disturbed by Venetian wall foundations, and finds of an earlier date were often found in later deposits. Levels from LM IIIB/C were sometimes found directly under Venetian buildings. Moreover, many of the Middle Minoan walls had been removed before the construction of the LM I houses.

The most important remains with the best preserved architecture date from the LM I–III periods. The walls of four houses, dated to the 16th century B.C., were uncovered together with pottery and other finds, showing that Kydonia was quite a significant place, indeed, a major cultural centre in Late Minoan Crete. The town was perhaps even the capital and administrative centre for the western part of the island.

The four houses were probably a part of the town, with blocks of houses separated by streets and squares. House I was almost completely excavated.

The findings from the Greek-Swedish Excavations revealed that at least five successive layers at Kastelli with architecture from the LM III period overlaid the LM IB destruction level. The remains of architecture and pottery showed that the town was continuously inhabited from the LM I period. The Bronze Age settlement of Kydonia is one of the few sites in Crete to provide evidence of continuous habitation in the following LM II period, when some of the ruined LM I rooms were resettled.

Below follows a short presentation and a description of all the Mycenaean imports and some of the figurines made in a Mycenaean tradition. There is also a note about a head, which probably belonged to a Minoan figure of considerable size.The figurines and figure are referred to here with numbers which correspond to Figs. 1–16 and the excavation numbers are given in the captions.


Mycenaean imports from the Argolid

Twelve of the figurines found during the excavations were analysed by Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES) in the 1980s by the Fitch Laboratory in Athens in order to determine the provenance. Five of the figurines had a clay composition similar to that of the Peloponnese (Figs. 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9), and were therefore attributed to the Argolid.[ii] Two more were most probably made in the Argolid (Figs. 2 and 8) as well, but are not analysed.[iii] The Mycenaean figurines were found in Late Minoan II to Post-Minoan levels. Only in the LM IIIA2–IIIB level were there no imported figurines. All the Mycenaean figurines derive from pits except for one that was found in situ. Seven figurines are of local manufacture, according to the OES analyses, but are made in a Mycenaean tradition.

The rest of the figurines are not analysed. They were either manufactured in a Mycenaean tradition or seem to be Minoan: some of the latter were made in the local Kydonian workshop. Most of the fragments derive from pits in a LM IIIB2 level. Four figurines, from the LM IIIA2/IIIB1 and LM IIIB2 settlements, were found in situ.


The LM II–LM IIIA1 period at Khania

This level yielded one Mycenaean and one probable import from the Mainland. A Mycenaean figurine of the Proto-Phi type (Fig. 1), with stem and part of the lower body preserved was analysed.[iv] The body was probably originally discoid, with plastic arms folded across the waist. The right hand with three painted fingers was placed on the stomach. The thick, columnar stem has a flaring base. The figurine was manufactured in a buff to pinkish clay with a hard grey core and light brown-buff slip. Lustrous, but very worn dark brown-reddish paint is used for the decoration. The figurine has a natural waist, thick, diagonal and wavy lines on the front of the body and part of vertical, wavy stripes on the back. Vertical, wavy, irregular lines are painted down the stem. The fragment is most probably of LH IIIA date. It was found in a pit in a burnt stratum with a LM IIIA1 context.

The other figurine (Fig. 2) is most probable a chariot horse of Wavy Type 2 with the front quarter and part of neck preserved.[v] The front legs are represented by one thick form, divided horizontally by a painted line. One side of the figurine is very roughly made: it is unpainted and chipped. It seems to have been attached to another quadruped. On the other side, the body is decorated all over with wiggly lines. It is made of light reddish-brown, fine and hard clay with light brown slip. Decoration is made in dark, reddish-brown to purplish lustrous paint. The figurine was not analysed, but it is most plausibly a Mycenaean import and of LH IIIA2 date. It was excavated in a large pit in Rubbish area SE in a burnt stratum and in an almost entirely LM IIIA1 context.


The settlement of LM IIIA2–LM IIIB1 date

Pottery and small finds found on the floors belonging to each building and even details in the architecture indicate Mycenaean influence in level 4, of LM IIIA2–LM IIIB1 date. During the reoccupation, new buildings were erected on the site in the late 14th and early 13th century B.C. (LM IIIA2–IIIB1) and resulted in two building complexes. The architecture now was quite different from the LM I buildings. The new houses were single-storey buildings without stairs and constructed of stone. Only in some cases were the old walls reused as foundations for later buildings. Most important is one building complex with nine rooms (House I). One of the main rooms (E) had a fixed circular hearth of Mycenaean type, which was a new element. This room was built on top of Rooms H and C in House I from the 16th century B.C. In this area, three successive floors were found, with a round hearth belonging to each one of the floors. They were built like the Mycenaean hearths on the mainland with a circle of stones filled in with earth and covered with stucco. Similar hearths are found only in the megara (main rooms) of the Mycenaean palaces on the mainland.


The LM IIIB2 level

The LM IIIB1 buildings were destroyed by fire, but the settlement was immediately rebuilt. New rooms were constructed, while some from the preceding period were reused. The architectural remains correspond to those from the preceding LM IIIA2 and LM IIIB1 levels. The fixed Mycenaean hearth continues in use in Room E, which was re-used from the preceding period.

Another hearth was excavated in Room K in the western part of the area. The surface of this hearth was found at the same level as the surrounding floor. These two hearths have more or less the same construction, built with a circle of stones filled in with earth on a bedding of slab stones and broken potsherds, all covered with clay.

The majority, or ten, of the figurines from the settlement of LM IIIB2 date come from pits, mostly in the northern part of the excavated area. Two fragments were found in constructions and further two in situ. Three of the figurines were Mycenaean imports and six seem to have been made in a Mycenaean tradition.

One of the analysed figurines is small and of a very unusual shape (Fig. 3). It is probably a rough version of the Tau-type and it was almost certainly attached to a vase or a chariot group.[vi] It is broken off at the “base” and its arms are folded back. The pinched face has large, applied eyes. The clay is light grey and the slip, pale grey to greenish. The decoration is black, dull and very worn. The head was formerly painted all over. Down the edges of the body there are painted bands, and irregular diagonal lines across the front. Three broad, diagonal lines are painted below the barred plait on the back of the figurine. Absence of breasts is common on chariot groups. Most probably the figurine is of LH IIIA2/LH IIIB date. It derives from a pit in the eastern part of Room A and was found in a mixed deposit in a LM IIIA/B context. An interesting parallel is offered by a figurine from Laconia, which seems to be a forerunner of the Phi-type, and has a very similar decoration.[vii] The Rhodo-Mycenaean vases are decorated with small female figures on the rim, which, however, mostly have their arms folded in front and were attached to vases related to funerary ceremonies.[viii]

A locally made and rather roughly modelled and decorated quadruped (Fig. 4), was found close to the previous figurine. Only one leg remains, which is broken at the base. Dull, reddish-brown to black colour is used for the single band of paint on each side of the body, for the spine band down half of the back and for the stripes down the legs. The casual character of the animal makes it uncertain what species it is meant to represent. It is most certainly to be placed in the late LM IIIB period or later because of its careless execution. This figurine was found in mixed deposits in a construction in the E part of Room A in a mainly LM IIIA/B context. Both figurines were found very close to where a door is supposed to have existed, leading from Room A to Space P.[ix]

Two figurines were found in situ close to the hearth in Room E. One of them is a figurine of the Proto-Phi or Phi A type (Fig. 5), which was analysed and probably made of Argolid clay[x] (see below for the other figurine found in situFig. 6). Only the head and part of the upper body are preserved. The forehead and the right side of the face are chipped and the plait is broken off. The pinched face has painted, plastic eyes. The figurine is made of light brown, hard clay and has a light brown slip. Dark reddish brown to red lustrous paint is used for the decoration. The head is painted all over. Eyes and mouth are painted and there is a neckband at the front and partly preserved, thick, vertical, wavy lines on both sides. The figurine seems to be of the ordinary Phi A type of LH IIIA date and of Mycenaean tradition, although the plait is rare. It was found on a stucco floor in Room E and very close to the LM IIIB2 hearth, reused from LM IIIB1 and on the same level. The bottom of the LM IIIB2 hearth was the surface of the upper and second LM IIIB1 hearth. The floor level was very well stratified and the figurine was situated between the pebble floor (below) and the clay floor (above). Room E was reused from LM IIIB1 and had three floors, each of which had a hearth. The two lower hearths belonged to LM IIIB1 and the upper hearth was of LM IIIB2 date. Many terracotta figurines were found during the excavations at Khania, but only these two were found in situ. One of them turned out to be imported from the Argolid on the mainland. One of them was made of clay consistent with Argolid clay. The settlements of both periods also yielded local figurines, and many were made in a mainland tradition and of types known in the Argolid.

At Khania there is evidence for strong continuity between LM IIIA/B and LM IIIB. LM IIIA/B walls were reused and in some cases rooms were cleared and reoccupied.

A Spine Type I animal (Fig. 7) of the standard Mycenaean type was also analysed.[xi] It derives from the middle layer of a dump/pit in a rubbish area, in the northern part of the excavation. Only the left hindquarters are preserved. The figurine is made of light grey clay with greyish-white slip. The body is cylindrical and elongated and furnished with an applied, hanging, plastic tail. Only the outlines of the decoration in dull, black colour are preserved. The figurine originally had a central spine band with thick rib lines, parallel and vertical, extending around the stomach. Vertical stripes are painted down the legs and tail. Based on the late LM III A/ early LM IIIB contextual pottery, the figurine should be dated similarly.

The LM IIIC period

Most of the LM IIIB2 settlement was destroyed by fire but re-built and almost all the rooms of the preceding settlement were re-used.

Six figurines were found in level 2, LM IIIC. One of them is the stem and part of the lower body from a figurine (Fig. 8) of probably the High-Waisted Psi type.[xii] The figurine is made of light brown to buff, hard, fine clay and has a buff slip. The columnar and thin stem has a flaring base. Purplish-dark brown and lustrous paint is used for the decoration. A natural waistline is painted on both sides and three vertical bands go down the stem. Although the figurine was not analysed, it is most probably a Mycenaean import and of LH IIIB (early/middle) date, as is shown by the type and decoration.[xiii] It was found in a levelling deposit below the floor and in a LM IIIA–B context (Space P).

The later building activities on the site during the Roman, Venetian and Turkish periods destroyed much of the LM IIIC settlement. Some walls from these otherwise poorly preserved ruins were re-used, but there were also constructions of new buildings.

Postminoan levels

The remains of the Proto-Geometric and later levels were mostly destroyed during the construction of the medieval fortress and town of Khania. Fragments of 13 terracotta figurines were found in the unstratified Post-Minoan levels. One of them was a fine figurine (Fig. 9) of probably the Phi B type, as is indicated by the plastic and barred plait. Only part of the stem and lower body is preserved. The figurine was analysed and considered to be an import from the Argolid.[xiv] It was manufactured in light brown, fine and hard pinkish clay and has a buff, almost lustrous slip. The body was probably originally discoid and has a plastic strip at the back of the body down to the waistband. The strip is decorated with horizontal dashes, which most probably indicates a barred plait. The bulbous stem contracts downwards. The figurine is decorated with lustrous reddish-brown to orange paint. Painted stripes down the edges of the body probably represent strip arms. Diagonal lines are painted across the front of the body and irregular vertical lines on the back. The figurine has a natural waistline on both sides and two broad, vertical and slightly wavy bands down the stem front and back. The figurine is probably of LH III A2/LH IIIB date. It was found in a pit of the late Turkish period, which contained Turkish, Venetian and some Minoan pottery.

Two figurines from Mycenae offer good parallels. One of them has a circular body and the thin stem is decorated with a few broad, vertical bands.[xv] A Psi figurine from Kallithea (Aigion) is also very similar to the Khania piece and of a LH IIIB1 date.[xvi]


Some of the figurines made in Mycenaean or/and Minoan tradition

The settlement of LM IIIA2–IIIB1 date

In this level seven locally made figurines in a Mycenaean tradition were excavated. One is the head and upper body of what seems to be a figurine of the Transitional type (Fig. 10).[xvii] The figurine has angular and irregular shape, applied eyes and plastic arms folded over the chest. The head is flattened and has a projection at the back which could represent a polos. Head and nose are painted. Two diagonal lines form an irregular V sign on the back. Several fingerprints are visible on head and part of body. The irregular shape of the figurine is probably due to the fact that it was attached to a chariot or seated in a throne. The figurine is analysed and probably local and of LM IIIA2/LM IIIB1 date. It was found in a small pit below the pebble floor of Room A, House I, in a LM IIIB1 context.

A headless quadruped body (Fig. 11) of a probable bovine is presumably of the Linear Type 2.[xviii] The figurine is rather roughly modelled, with fragmentary legs, neck and a hanging plastic tail, which is broken off. It is made of light brown and fine clay with light brown slip. The figurine has a neckband and four horizontal bands along the body in reddish-brown slightly lustrous paint. It is probably of LM IIIA/B date. It was found in a deposit between Buildings I & II, NE of the reused LM I wall and in a LM IIIB1 context. In the whole area the pottery noted was mainly early LM IIIB.

A small head with pinched face and applied eyes (Fig. 12) has a small projection at the back, which could represent a polos.[xix] The head is solid painted back and has a band around the face, painted nose and two bands on the crown in reddish-brown lustrous paint. It could presumably be dated to the LM III A/B period. The figurine derives from a small deposit in the NW corner of the courtyard and in a LM IIIA2 context. The pottery was mainly of LM IIIA date.

The LM IIIB2 level

Seven figurines from this level are of local manufacture, according to the OES analyses, but are made in a Mycenaean tradition.

A rather roughly modelled quadruped with linear decoration (Fig. 4), was found in mixed deposits in House I, eastern part of Room A, and in a mainly LM III A/B context.[xx] Another figurine is possibly of the late Psi type[xxi] in a rather careless execution. Only the headless upper body and part of the solid stem remain (Fig. 13). Plastic breasts are worked into the body. The figurine is made of light reddish-brown, hard and semi-fine clay and has light brown slip. The decoration is irregular and rough, founded on the straight line and made in reddish-brown and slightly lustrous paint. The arms project at a slight angle and are accentuated by painted, horizontal bands. Between them an irregular pattern of dots perhaps indicates a necklace. Above the broad waistline on both sides there are irregular vertical stripes. Painted stripes occur also on the underside of the arms. One arm is broken and one breast chipped off. This figurine was analysed and is to be considered as a locally made figurine of the late Psi B type, although it seems to have some parallels from Amyklai of the Late Psi D type.[xxii] The date is probably LM IIIB/III C. It was found in a pit in a rubbish area in the northern part of the excavation. The context was mainly LM IIIB.

The head and neck of a Phi A type figurine (Fig. 6) is the other fragment found in situ.[xxiii] Like no. 5 (Fig. 5) it was found in a floor deposit in Room E, close to the hearth (see above). The head is elongated and flattened with a projection at the back and has no plait. The big eyes are applied and the nose is pinched. It was manufactured of soft, fine buff clay with a light brown-buff slip. The paint is greyish-black to red and very worn. There are broad, horizontal bars on top of the head, which probably had painted features. There are also two broad neckbands. The figurine is of LM IIIA/B date (IIIB2?) and was found in a LM IIIA/B context. The projection at the back of the head could be compared to the headdress of four dancing women from the Late Minoan town at Palaikastro, which dates to the LM III period, but also to a female figurine of Minoan type found in Khania.[xxiv]

Another small and delicate head (Fig. 14) probably belonged to a figurine of the Phi A type.[xxv] The bare head is birdlike with pinched nose and applied eyes. It is made of light reddish-brown fine and hard clay with light brown to pink slip. Eyes and nose are painted in reddish-brown lustrous paint. There is a blotch on the left cheek of the figurine, a band round the head and three wiggly lines on the crown. The head is probably of LM IIIA2–LM IIIB1 date. It was found in an accumulated deposit in the courtyard area in a mainly LM IIIB context.

Only the thick, roughly modelled stem (Fig. 15) is preserved of a figurine of the Phi type.[xxvi] The stem, which is hollow half-way up, has a flaring base. The clay is light brown and hard and the slip is light brown. There are faint traces of dark brown and dull paint. The stem is covered all over with vertical bands, almost invisible. The figurine could also possibly be of the late Psi type because of the crude modelling of the stem. The dating is plausible but is probably LM IIIB2. It was found in Room K in the floor packing and very close to the bedding of the hearth, in a mainly LM IIIB context. The figurine could possibly be compared with a figurine of the late Psi type, with a late Psi body and Proto-Phi stem from Amyklai.[xxvii]

During the years 1964–1969, excavations were carried out near the Hagia Aikaterini Square by the Archaeological Service, under the direction of Y. Tzedakis. They have revealed interesting finds which offer some parallels to the Mycenaean imported figurines of the later GSE excavations. Two plots near the Agia Aikaterini Square were investigated in 1968. In one large pit two figurines made in the Mycenaean tradition were found, both of LM IIIA date. One is a bovine quadruped of the Wavy 2 type, and the other a Proto-Phi type figurine.[xxviii]

In 1969, the pit was fully excavated and an early Phi type figurine, of LM IIIA date, was found. The figurine has one arm placed under the chest and the second across the back.[xxix] Two further figurines (not illustrated) of an early LM IIIA date and probably of the proto-Phi type were found.[xxx] A LM IIIA–B figurine of the kourotrophos type was found on the Panayiotaki building site as a stray find.[xxxi]


A Kydonian Lady?

The fragment of a large head (Fig. 16, Mus. no. 5783) probably belonged to a medium-sized female figure, most plausibly with a ritual function. Only the upper part of the face remains, which was approximately one third of its natural size.[xxxii] The head has bulging eyes, eyebrows in relief and sharp, protruding nose. The fragment is broken off below the eyes and nose and at the start of the crown. The lower part of the head, on the level of the eyes, seems to have been wheelmade and attached to the upper, handmade part (made by coiling?). The head was manufactured in the local Kydonian workshop in buff to light orange, hard, gritty and semi-fine clay. The slip is buff-orange and the paint reddish-brown and lustrous. The eyes, eyebrows and nose tip (below) are painted. On the upper right side of the gently convex forehead there is a band of paint. Between the forehead and the crown of the head, an extra pad of clay has been added to strengthen the junction, as has a protruding edge on the inside. Finger striations are visible on the forehead, produced when the coroplast used his hand to smooth the surface and to apply the wash. Our head seems to have been made in a Minoan tradition and is of excellent Minoan manufacture. The head is to be dated to the LM IIIB/C period. It was found in Rubbish Area North, in the middle layer of a big dump and in a LM IIIB context, including a fragment of an inscribed stirrup jar with Linear B inscription.

The head was perhaps made in the same tradition as the well known representations in terracotta of household goddesses of considerable size and from the LM III period. The execution of the head makes it less probable that it was manufactured as an anthropomorphic rhyton. It could, however, also have belonged to a well-known type of clay figurine, formerly believed to be a so-called sphinx.

Since an anthropomorphic figure can represent a votive, a worshipper or possibly a deity (less probable), its final function must be deduced from the context. Our head was found in a pit, thus out of context. But it was most probable a female figurine, perhaps an attendant of a household goddess, or protectress of the town, and it may have served its function in a domestic shrine, not yet found.

When turning to Mycenae and a definition of the large monochrome figures from the Cult Centre,[xxxiii] these can be seen as an anonymous group of cult officiants or celebrants in service of the deity, rather than representations of deities.[xxxiv] Perhaps the figures were also carried in procession and set up on a bench in a small cult building.[xxxv] The figures from the Temple Complex at Mycenae have been considered as goddesses of different ranks, deities on a higher stand being more important. Other large terracotta figures from. i.e. Phylakopi and Tiryns (Unterburg) are defined as cult statues, likewise standing on bases or a bench.[xxxvi]

As has already been stated, many medium-sized terracotta figures from the LM IIIC period have been found during excavations in Eastern and Central Crete. They are, however, all smaller in size, not so elaborately decorated and both the execution and clay are comparatively coarse. An exception is the figures from Aghia Triada. Many smaller statuettes from different sites can also be included for comparison of decoration and possible function.

A very interesting group of material from the Regione dei Saccelli at Aghia Triada offers some parallels to the GSE piece. Very striking is the rhyton in the shape of what is probably a female head.[xxxvii] This head likewise has a sharp protruding nose and large bulging eyes with eyebrows in relief. The eyebrows, eyes, ridge of the nose and very small mouth are painted in light brown on a light buff ground. Likewise interesting is the group of so-called fantastic animals consisting of standing figures in clay with a human head and an animal body. Very similar–although smaller in size–is the head of the well known clay figurine, formerly believed to be a so-called sphinx and dated to advanced LM IIIC. The diadem on its head and the decoration of the animal makes it probable that the figure was linked to a cult or the performance of a rite.[xxxviii] The head from a figure or a plastic vase, found at Psychro, could also be placed into this group.[xxxix]

It remains to define the function of the GSE head, made in a Minoan tradition but in use in an area of strong Mycenaean influence. Since the head was not found in its original location, it is impossible to define its exact function. As has often been stated, it is not a matter of course that the large statues and figures should be interpreted as cult images–their function must be deduced from the context[xl] and the sanctity of a statue did not depend on its size.[xli] The preserved height of the GSE head is 0.107 m and the probable height of the complete head would have been about 0.15 or 0.16 m, if compared to other statues of the same group. If we look at some of the complete Minoan or Mycenaean statues, it seems that the head is about 1/6 or 1/5 of the whole figure. Thus, it would seem probable that our Kydonian figure would have been at least 0.75 m in height. If, however, the head once belonged to a “fantastic animal” of the Aghia Triada group, it would have been at least 0.5 m in height. The preserved height of the well-known Aghia Triada “sphinx” is 0.243 m. When the figure was complete it would have been about 0.35 m in height. Compared to the “sphinx”, the GSE terracotta would have been very large. The conclusion would be that our head belonged to a figure of considerable size and importance and with a ritual function, whether public or private is difficult to define. The size and manufacture of the head makes it more probably a female figure, rather than an animal or anthropomorphic rhyton, which, however, cannot be excluded.

The figure was probably used in the cult of the household goddess, which may have been practised in a separate room functioning as a sanctuary. The rites could also have been performed in the ceremonial areas of a presumable Minoan-Mycenaean palace at Kydonia. The Kydonian figure was most probably a votive–not a statue representing the divinity. The cult might have been performed by a mixed Minoan-Mycenaean population in a basically Minoan town.



The Mycenaean presence in Crete during LM III can be traced through physical remains as pottery, architecture, language and possibly tombs. Mycenaean influence on West Crete and the Minoan town of Kydonia is well established from LM IIIA onwards. One of the most significant finds of the LM IIIB period in Kydonia was the big fixed hearth in Room E, House I, which was in use throughout the LM IIIB period. Very close to the hearth were found two terracotta figurines. One is of local manufacture (Fig. 6) but most probably made in Mycenaean tradition (only the head is preserved). The other (Fig. 5) was imported from the Greek mainland and was plausibly made in LH IIIA. In House I, Room K, another figurine was found in the bedding of a hearth. This locally made figurine (Fig. 15), made in Mycenaean tradition, is most probably of LM IIIB date.

Another two figurines were found close to a door or entrance in Room A, House I. One of the terracottas is a Mycenaean import (Fig. 3), while the other is locally made (Fig. 4).

During the excavations of the Unterburg at Tiryns, Mycenaean figurines were likewise found close to the hearth in the megaron.[xlii] The find spot of these figurines would indicate a Mycenaean presence at Kydonia. At Tiryns on the mainland some of the Mycenaean figurines were placed in the same way. Many figurines were also found close to or in the vicinity of doors or door openings in the area of the Unterburg at Tiryns.[xliii] According to the excavator Kilian, these figurines were supposed to have an apotropaic and protective function. Mycenaean pottery was imported to many sites on Crete, at least to the western part of the island. Shapes and decoration influenced the Minoan pottery in the different regions. Mycenaean traits have been detected in the architecture, i.e., in Aghia Triada, Knossos, Malia, Makryialos, Archanes, Chamalevri and Kydonia. Linear B writing on tablets and on stirrup jars also bears witness to Mycenaean presence. But Mycenaean figurines, imported or locally made, seem to be very unusual or to appear sporadically. Single figurines have been found at Aghia Triada, Atsipadhes, Phaistos and Knossos[xliv] and figurines influenced by the Mycenaean Phi- and Psi-shapes have been found on different sites but not to a large extent. Figurines from Vasilika-Anogheia and Tylissos show resemblances to the Mycenaean Psi-type, but could also have been made in the same tradition as the figures with uplifted arms.[xlv] A late Psi-figurine in the Giamalakis Collection (deriving from Lasithi or Gazi) and another from Phaistos are very similar to some of the Psi-figurines from Tiryns Unterburg.[xlvi] Numerous terracotta figurines of human or animal shape have been found in sanctuaries and settlements of the LM III period, but they are of pure Minoan manufacture. Old excavations at Khania yielded many female figurines made in Minoan tradition, with bell-shaped skirt and polos.[xlvii] Some have a pose that recalls the Mycenaean figurines of Tau-shape and of early date, with the hands on the breast.

Perhaps the imported figurines were used by the Mycenaeans only, while the native population had to be content with the copies? The Minoans were influenced by the mainlanders’ habits since local figurines were also placed close to hearths (Figs. 6 and 15) and doorways (Fig. 4). The big figure has both Minoan and Mycenaean prototypes.

The fact that a great many Mycenaean figurines were found in the Khania excavations would perhaps indicate that mainland Mycenaeans coming to Crete preferred to live in Kydonia. Unfortunately most of the figurines, both the imports and the locally made, are found in pits or dumps. But they derive from a thriving Minoan-Mycenaean settlement and had certainly been used by a mixed population of Minoans and mainlanders before meeting their final destiny in a Kydonian pit.


Marie-Louise Winbladh

Kattgränd 10




List of illustrations

Fig. 1. Figurine no. 1 (GSE 74-TC 001) is a figurine of the Proto-Phi Type. Analysed: Mycenaean import. H.: 0.054. LM II–IIIA1 level.

Fig. 2. Figurine no. 2 (GSE 77-TC 056) is most probably a chariot horse of Wavy Type 2. Not analysed. Plausibly Mycenaean. L.: 0.064. LM II–IIIA1 level.

Fig. 3. Figurine no. 3 (GSE 71-TC 006). Small figurine of probably the Tau Type. Analysed: Mycenaean import. H.: 0.049. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 4. Figurine no. 4 (GSE 71-TC 001). Body of headless quadruped. Linear Type 2 of very simplified form? L.: 0.069. Analysed: Locally made. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 5. Figurine no. 5 (GSE-73 TC 017). Head and part of body of a Phi A Type figurine. H.: 0.042. The fragment was found very close to the hearth. Analysed: Mycenaean import. It was probably manufactured in the Argolid, presumably in the LH IIIA period and then imported to Kydonia. LH IIIB2 level.

Fig. 6. Figurine no. 6 (GSE-73 TC 036) was found on the floor deposit, close to the hearth. Analysed: Local manufacture. H.: 0.03.

Fig. 7. Figurine no. 7 (GSE-73 TC 038). Spine Type animal. Analysed: Mycenaean import. H.: 0.063. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 8. Figurine no. 8 (GSE 77-TC 032). Stem and part of lower body from a figurine of probably the High-Waisted Phi Type. Not analysed. Mycenaean import. H.: 0.053. LM IIIC level.

Fig. 9. Figurine no. 9 (GSE 73-TC 013). Part of lower body and stem from probably a figurine of the Phi B Type. Analysed: Mycenaean import. H.: 0.053. Post-Minoan level.

Fig. 10. Figurine no. 10 (GSE 70-TC 014). Probably a Transitional figurine. Analysed: Locally made. H.: 0.054. LM IIIA2–IIIB1 level.

Fig. 11. Figurine no. 11 (GSE 77-TC 049) is a headless quadruped body of probably a bovine, presumably of the Linear Type 2. Analysed: Locally made. L.: 0.058. LM IIIA2–IIIB1 level.

Fig. 12. Figurine no. 12 (GSE 77-TC 065). Polos (?) head. Analysed: Locally made H.: 0.031. LM IIIA2–IIIB1 level.

Fig. 13. Figurine no. 13 (GSE 73-TC 016) is possibly a figurine of the Late Psi Type. Analysed: Locally made. H.: 0.048. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 14. Figurine no. 14 (GSE 77-TC 030). Figurine of possibly the Phi A type. H.: 0.022. Analysed: Locally made. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 15. Figurine no. 15 (GSE 78-TC 011). Stem from a figurine of probably the Phi type. H.: 0.047. Not analysed. LM IIIB2 level.

Fig. 16. Figurine no. 16 (GSE 80-TC 023. Mus. No. 5783). Part of a large head, from probably a size female idol, locally made in the Kydonian workshop. H.: 0.093; W.: 0.084; Th. of wall: 0.008. Not analysed. Locally made. LM IIIB2 level.



D’Agata 1996             A.L. D’Agata, ‛The Lord of Asine reconsidered: technique, type and chronology’, in Asine III. Supplementary studies on the Swedish excavations 1922–1930, Fasc. I (ActaAth-4o, 45), eds. R. Hägg, G.C. Nordquist & B. Wells, Stockholm 1996, 39–46.

D’Agata 1997             A.L. D’Agata, ‘The shrines on the Piazzale dei Saccelli at Ayia Triada. The LM IIIC material: a summary’, in La Crète Mycénienne. Actes de la table ronde internationale organisée par l’École française d’Athènes (Athènes, 25–28 mars 1991) (BCHsuppl., 30), eds. J. Driessen & A. Farnoux, Paris 1997, 85–99.

Banti 1948             L. Banti, ‘I culti Minoici e Greci di Haghia Triada (Creta), ASAtene 3–4, Nuova Serie (1941–1943), 1948, 50–69.

Bosanquet & Dawkins 1923             R.C. Bosanquet & R.M. Dawkins, The Unpublished objects from the Palaikastro excavations 1902–1906 I (BSA Suppl., 1), London 1923.

French 1971             E. French, ‘The development of Mycenaean terracotta figurines’, BSA 66, 1971, 101–187.

French 1981             E. French, ‘Mycenaean figures and figurines, their typology and function’, in Sanctuaries and cults in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the First International Symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens (ActaAth-4o, 28), eds. R. Hägg & N. Marinatos, Stockholm 1981, 173–178.

Gesell 1985             G.C. Gesell, Town, Palace and House Cult in Minoan Crete (SIMA, 67), Göteborg 1985.

Godart &Tzedakis 1992             L. Godart & Y. Tzedakis, Témoignages archéologiques et épigraphiques en Crète Occidentale du Néolithique au Minoen Récent IIIB (= Incunabula Graeca 93, 1992), Roma 1992, 27–37.

Hallager 1978             E. Hallager, ‘The Palace at Knossos’, SMEA 19, 1978, 17–33.

Hallager 1986             E. Hallager, ‘The Greek-Swedish Excavations at Khania’ in Acts of the fifth international Cretological congress held at Aghios Nikolaos, 25th Sept.–1st October 1981, Heraklion 1986, 139–154.

Hallager 1987             E. Hallager, ‘The inscribed stirrup jars: implications for Late Minoan IIIB Crete’, AJA 91:2, 1987, 171–190.

Hallager 2003             E. Hallager, ‘The architecture’, in The Greek-Swedish excavations at the Ag. Aikaterini Square, Kastelli, Khania 1970–1987 III. The Late Minoan IIIB:2 settlement (ActaAth-4o, 47:3), eds. E. Hallager & B.P. Hallager, Stockholm 2003, 186–194.

Hägg 1996             R. Hägg, ‘The religion of the Mycenaeans, twenty-four years after the 1967 Mycenological congress in Rome’, in Atti e Memorie del secondo congresso internazionale di Micenologia, Roma Napoli, 14–20 ottobre 1991 (= Incunabula Graeca 98:1–3, 1996), eds. E. De Miro, L. Godart & A. Sacconi, Roma 1996, 599–612.

Hägg 1997              R. Hägg, ‘Religious syncretism at Knossos and in post-palatial Crete?’ in La Crète Mycénienne (BCHsuppl., 30), 163–168.

Jones 1986             R.E. Jones ‘Greek and Cypriote pottery. A review of scientific studies’, Fitch Laboratory Occasional paper 1, Athens 1986.

Kanta 1980              A. Kanta, The Late Minoan III period in Crete. A survey of sites, pottery and their distribution (SIMA, 58), Göteborg 1980.

Karageorghis & Stampolidis 1998             V. Karageorghis & N.C. Stampolidis, Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus – Dodecanese – Crete. 16th–6th cent. B.C. Archaeological museum of Heraklion March–August 1998, eds. N.C. Stampolidis, A. Karetsou & A. Kanta, Heraklion 1998.

Kilian 1981             K. Kilian, ‘Mykenischer Kultausübung in Tiryns’, in Sanctuaries and cults in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the first international symposium at the Swedish Institute in Athens, 12–13 May 1980 (ActaAth-4o, 28), eds. R. Hägg and N. Marinatos, Stockholm 1981, 49–58.

Kilian 1988a             K. Kilian, ‘Ausgrabungen in Tiryns 1982/83. Bericht zu den Grabungen’, AA, 1988, 105–151.

Kilian 1988b             K. Kilian, ‘Mycenaeans up to Date, Trends and Changes in Recent Research’, in Problems in Greek prehistory. Papers presented at the centenary conference of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, Manchester 1986, eds. E. French & K.A. Wardle, Bristol 1988, 115–152.

Laviosa 1965             C. Laviosa, ’Sull’origine degli idoletti fittili Micenei’, ASAtene 41–42, 1963–1964, 7–24.

Marinatos 1973              S. Marinatos, Kreta, Thera und das mykenische Hellas, München 1973.

Marinatos & Hägg 1981             N. Marinatos & R. Hägg, ‘Anthropomorphic cult images in Minoan Crete?’, in Minoan society. Proceedings of the Cambridge colloquium1981, eds. O.H. Krzyszkowska & L. Nixon, Bristol 1983, 185–200.

Moore 1986             A. Moore, ‘The large monochrome terracotta figures from Mycenae: the problem of interpretation’, in Problems in Greek prehistory: Papers presented at the centenary conference of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, Manchester 1986,eds. E.B. French & K.A. Wardle, Bristol 1988, 219–225.

Moore & Taylour 1999             A.D. Moore & W.D. Taylour, Well Built Mycenae 10. The Temple Complex, Oxford 1999.

Papadopoulos 1979              T.J. Papadopoulos, Mycenaean Achaea (SIMA, 55), Göteborg 1979.

Pilafidis-Williams 1998             K. Pilafidis-Williams, The Sanctuary of Aphaia on Aigina in the Bronze Age, München 1998.

Rethemiotakis 1998             G. Rethemiotakis, Antropormorfiki piloplastiki stin Kriti, Athen 1998.

Rutkowski 1986             B. Rutkowski, The Cult Places of the Aegean, New Haven & London 1986.

Styrenius & Tzedakis 1970             C.-G. Styrenius & Y. Tzedakis , ‘Chania: A New Minoan Centre’, AAA 3:1, 100–102.

Tzedakis 1969             Y. Tzedakis, ArchDelt 24, 1969, Chron., 428–30.

Tzedakis 1970             Y. Tzedakis, ArchDelt 25, 1970, Chron., 465–467, 473.

Tzedakis 1980             Y. Tzedakis, ArchDelt 35 1980, Chron., 501–504.

Tzedakis & Hallager 1985             Y. Tzedakis & E. Hallager, ‘The Greek-Swedish excavations at Kastelli, Khania 1980’, AAA 16, 1985, 3–17.

Weber-Hiden 1990              I. Weber-Hiden, ‘Die Mykenischen Terrakottafigurinen aus den Syringes von Tiryns’, in Tiryns, Forschungen und Berichte 11, Mainz am Rhein 1990, 35–85.

Winbladh 2000             M.-L. Winbladh, ‘The Terracotta Figurines and the Stone Vases’, in The Greek-Swedish Excavations at the Ag. Aikaterini Square, Kastelli, Khania 1970–1987 II. The Late Minoan IIIC settlement, (ActaAth-4o, 47:2), eds. E. Hallager & B.P. Hallager, Stockholm 2000, 183–184.

Winbladh 2003             M.-L. Winbladh, ‘The Terracotta Figurines and the Stone Vases’, in The Greek-Swedish Excavations at the Ag. Aikaterini Square, Kastelli, Khania 1970–1987 III. The Late Minoan IIIB:2 settlement, (ActaAth-4o, 47:3), eds. E. Hallager & B.P. Hallager, Stockholm 2003, 270–273.

Winbladh forthcoming              M.-L.Winbladh, ‘The Terracotta Figurines and the Stone Vases’, in The Greek-Swedish Excavations at the Ag. Aikaterini Square, Kastelli, Khania 1970–1987 IV. The Late Minoan IIIB:1 and III A:2 settlements, (ActaAth-4o, 47:4), eds. E. Hallager & B.P. Hallager, forthcoming.

Winbladh forthcoming b             M.-L. Winbladh, ‘The Terracotta Figurines and the Stone Vases’, in The Greek-Swedish Excavations at the Ag. Aikaterini Square, Kastelli, Khania 1970–1987 V. The Late Minoan IIIA:1 and LM II settlements, (ActaAth-4o, 47:5), eds. E. Hallager & B.P. Hallager, forthcoming.

*I wish to thank the field director of the Greek-Swedish Excavations, Dr.. phil. Erik Hallager, for giving me permission to publish this material. I am also very obliged to him for his helpfulness and kindness in preparing all the plans and drawings for publication in this article.


[i] Winbladh 2000, 183-184.

[ii] Jones 1986, 230, 465.


[iii] During excavations in 2001 another fragment of a Mycenaean figurine was found in the unstratified Post-Minoan levels. The piece is the upper body from a figurine of probably the Phi A type (GSE 01-TC 017). The fragment is manufactured in light brown clay with a slip in the same colour. The decoration is made in a matt black paint which is faded. Both sides of body have vertical wavy lines, with a vertical line also down the edge of the body. At lower part the start of a stem is visible. This figurine is not analysed but is most probably a Mycenaean import of LH IIIA/B date. The figurine will be published in a forthcoming supplement to GSE I-II.


[iv] Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh forthcoming b; cf. French 1971, pl. 15:b.


[v] Winbladh forthcoming; cf. French 1971, pl. 24:c, no. 39--382.


[vi]   Winbladh 2003, 270, pPl. 143 3rd row from above; Jones 1986, 230, 465.

[vii] Cf. Laviosa 1965, 22, fig. 21.


[viii] Karageorghis & Stampolidis 1998, 95, fig. 8:a-b.


[ix] Hallager 2003, 191; Winbladh 2003, 75, 270, pPl. 145, top row.


[x] Hallager 1978, 19; 1986, fig. 11 left; 1987, 183; Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh 2003; cf. French 1971, pl. 15:a-c.


[xi] Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh 2003, 173, 270, pPl. 145, down left; cf. French 1971, pl. 25:a (50-257).


[xii] Winbladh 2000, 48, 183, pls. 92, 101a:1.


[xiii] Cf. three figurines of the High-waisted Psi type from Mycenae: French 1971, pl. 19:b.


[xiv] Winbladh 2000, 128, 183, pls. 93, 109:a:9; Jones 1986, 230, 465.  

[xv] French 1971, pls. 16:b, 19:a (52-391).


[xvi] Papadopoulos 1979, fig. 277.


[xvii] Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh forthcoming; cf. Pilafidis-Williams 1998, 14, pl. 43, no. 49.


[xviii] Winbladh forthcoming; cf. Tzedakis 1969, 428-430, pl. 435,; Pilafidis-Williams 1998, 54, pl. 49:405 (Linear II animal body, L.: 0.,052,. LH IIIB date); Weber-Hiden 1990, Taf. 51, no. 175.


[xix] Winbladh forthcoming; cf. Pilafidis-Williams 1998, 9, pl. 29:5; Weber-Hiden 1990, 50, Taf. 40:56   ("head from probably a Phi figurine").


[xx] Jones 1986, 230, 465, pl. 6.4(c); Winbladh 2003, 75, 270, pPl. 145, top row; cf. French 1971, 26:a, no. 50-340.


[xxi] Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh 2003, 172, 270, pPl. 143, bottom row.


[xxii] Cf. French 1971, 139, pl. 21:d (20-21); Laviosa 1965, figs. 6, 7, 9, 10.


[xxiii] Hallager 1978, 19; 1986, fig. 11 right; Hallager 1987, 183; Jones 1986, 230, 465; Winbladh 2003, 30, 270, pPl. 144, bottom row.

[xxiv] Cf. Bosanquet & Dawkins 1923, 88, fig. 7; Marinatos 1973, Taf. 138; Rethemiotakis  1998, 46, pl. 18 a-c, 189 (female figurine from Khania with projection at back of head).


[xxv] Winbladh 2003, 108, 270, pPl. 143, top row.


[xxvi] Winbladh 2003 108, 270, pPl. 145, 3rd row from above.


[xxvii] Cf. French 1971, pl. 21:a:6.


[xxviii] Tzedakis 1969, 428-30, pl. 435:,; Kanta 1980, 222.



[xxix] Styrenius & Tzedakis 1970, 101; Tzedakis 1973, 465-467, pl. 408:a-b. 

[xxx] Tzedakis 1970, 466; Kanta 1980, 222.


[xxxi] Tzedakis 1970, 473, pl. 413:a.


[xxxii] Tzedakis 1980, 504, pl. 311:a; Tzedakis & Hallager 1985, 8, fig. 5; Godart & Tzedakis 1992, 36, pl. 27; Winbladh 2003, 166, 270, pPl. 144, top row.    


[xxxiii] French 1981, figs. 10-12; Moore & Taylor 1999, 87-100, 114-118.


[xxxiv] Moore 1988, 219-225.


[xxxv] Hägg 1996, 599-612.


[xxxvi] Rutkowski 1986, 198.


[xxxvii] Heraklion Museum (inv. no. of rhyton-HM 3085. H 0.,094 m). Levi 1931, 617, fig. 649:b; Banti 1948, 62, figs. 54-55; D´Agata 1997, 93, figs. 15-16; Rethemiotakis 1998, 33, fig. 51; Karageorghis & Stampolidis 1998,   51-52.


[xxxviii] Heraklion Museum (inv.no. of "sfinx"--HM 3145. H. of head: 0.,011 m). Banti 1948, 55, figs. 43-44; Gesell 1985, 196, pl. 109;   D´Agata 1996, 40: n.ote. 11, 41, 45; 1997, 93, figs. 15-16; Rethemiotakis 1998, 34, fig. 59.


[xxxix] Heraklion Museum (inv. no. A.M.H. 2181. H.: 0.,010 m, Rethemiotakis 1998, 21, pl. 23.


[xl] Marinatos & Hägg 1983, 190-191.          


[xli] Rutkowski 1986, 235.


[xlii] Kilian 1981, 56; Hägg 1997, 167.


[xliii] Kilian 1988 a, 114, 120-121, 133, 139; Hägg 1996, 608.


[xliv] French 1971, 178-184; Hägg 1997, 167.


[xlv] Rethemiotakis 1998, 41, pl. 80.


[xlvi] Kilian 19888:a, 43, Abb. 44.


[xlvii] Rethemiotakis 1998, 46, pl. 18, no. 6. Similar to GSE 73-TC 036.