Iron Age, Minoan and Bronze Age Decoration
Artistic Styles: Iron Age Britain, Scandinavia, Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete
4th century BC | 12th century BC | 16th century BC.
Perhaps these interconnecting spirals give expression to some deeper-held belief, perhaps that discrete objects, or living people, might be formed from a single thread, or soul.
'Here is a beautiful design from an Iron Age sword handle found at Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, England, in the peat beds around the River Witham,' said Quintin. 'It dates to the fourth century BC. The iron has all corroded away but the bronze work that remains is amazing. The sword might have been thrown into the water as a votive offering from one of the wooden causeways built for the purpose. Imagine this design curled around the sword's handle so that both ends meet.'
'It is lovely,' agreed Miranda, taking the sheet of paper that Quintin had printed out, showing the design depicted as though in bronze wire. 'And here is a cloak-fastener from the Iron Age in Scandinavia, roughly the same age as this sword handle found at Fiskerton,' she said. 'The drawing is from a Scandinavian book illustration published near the turn of the twentieth century. Spirals again. See how it compares with a gold earring from one of the Shaft Graves at Mycenae, from the Mycenaean Bronze Age, a thousand years before?'
'Almost identical!' exclaimed Quintin. 'Look, the two spirals are really one. One piece of wire forms the whole thing. And when it is clasped, this cloak-fastener makes one continuous line without any break at all. I wonder whether they were both love tokens?'
'Perhaps these interconnecting spirals give expression to some deeper-held belief, perhaps that discrete objects, or living people, might be formed from a single thread, or soul.' suggested Miranda. 'After all, the design seems to pervade the whole of western European art in the Iron Age and here it is again, on Mycenaean pottery, and again here, in the Queen's Megaron in the Palace of Minos which Sir Arthur Evans excavated at Knossos on Crete, dating to the Minoan Bronze Age. Perhaps it depicts an underlying unity to things that seem fragmented.'