Minoan Octopus Jar

This replica Minoan octopus jar is part of our Classics Centre collection.

This particular style is called a "stirrup" jar, because of the inverted stirrup-shape of the handles. Its fluid octopus design is typical of the Late Minoan period (1500BC). Marine motifs, like the octopus, work well on a variety of vase shapes, because their shapes are simple, irregular and sinuous and translate well to two-dimensional representation.

The Late Minoan period reached a high point in foreign expansion and vigorous economic activity. The pottery of this period is characterised by an exuberant joy in nature; the motifs are naturalistic and there is a great sense of movement. There is no three-dimensional illusionism; the impact of the painting comes from the shapes of the motifs and their relationship to the vessel’s shape and contours. The marine style is also characterised by the desire to fill every available space with some ornamentation.

The original of this piece, found in the palace at Knossos, is in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Heraklion on Crete and dates to ca 1500 BC. There is a similar one in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.


Minoan Snake Goddess

Our replica Minoan Snake Goddess is part of our Classics Centre collection.

These figurines, depicting a woman holding a snake in each hand, were found in Minoan archaeological sites in Crete. The first two of such figurines (both incomplete) were found by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans and date to the neo-palatial period of Minoan civilization, ca. 1700–1450 BC. Evans called the larger of his pair of figurines a "Snake Goddess", the smaller a "Snake Priestess"; since then, it has been debated whether Evans was right, or whether both figurines depicts priestesses, or both depict the same deity or different deities.

The figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the figurine appears as "the goddess of the household". They are made of faience, a technique for glazing earthenware and other ceramic vessels by using a quartz paste. This material symbolized in old Egypt the renewal of life, therefore it was used in the funeral cult and in the sanctuaries. After firing this produces bright colors and a lustrous sheen. It is possible that they illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women: a tight bodice which left the breasts bare, a long flounced skirt, and an apron made of material with embroidered or woven decoration.


Phaistos Disc

Our replica of the Phaistos Disc is part of our classics centre collection.

The Phaistos Disc consists of fired clay and is about 15 centimeters in diameter. It was found on 3 July, 1908 during excavation of the Minoan palace of Phaistos, near the south coast of Crete. The disc is one of the most famous Bronze Age finds and one of the great mysteries of Mediterranean archaeology. It contains over 240 spirally arranged human, animal and plant motifs that were printed with individual stamps. Its sophisticated manufacturing technology with movable type is in direct contrast to the uniqueness of the find. The use of reusable stamps only makes sense if used several times or even frequently. Practically everything that concerns the disc is controversial; this even includes the orientation of the writing and the language used.

The Minoan Civilisation flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC on the island of Crete and surrounding islands. The civilisation was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. It has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe.

The term "Minoan" refers to the mythical King Minos. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos (the largest Minoan site). According to Homer, Crete once had 90 cities.


Replica Corinthian Helmet

This type of helmet is known as a 'Corinthian helmet' by archaeologists because the goddess Athena is shown wearing it on Corinthian coins from its period of use (7th - 3rd Century BC). This style of helmet was also frequently featured on the decorative vases. 

This replica helmet was created based on an original Italo Corinthian style helmet that can be seen in the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford (more detail here). The original has a large hole in the temple, presumably the result of battle. This helmet was created especially for the Museum and Iris Classics Centre at Cheney by Matt Lukes at Fabrica Romanorum. At some of our events, members of the public are able to try this helmet on!