Tiles Decorated with Human Faces

  • Aegean area
  • 14th - 12th centuries B.C.
Catalogue Entry

The stylized profile of a woman's face is shown in relief carving. Even though these small works are extremely thin, with thickness ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 cm, the cheek to mouth area is shown in raised, three dimensional form. There are no holes cut into the pieces and thus they may have been made as inlay materials for small boxes or furnishings, or as decoration set into a medal frame.

These Mycenaean culture beads and decorative panels have been weathered so that they appear today as white or yellowish brown, but originally they would have been cobalt blue glass. Like the pale bluish Mesopotamian glass, this Mycenaean glass was probably made to imitate lapis lazuli. They were cast in open molds with motifs shown on the surface in relief while the back surface is smoothly shaped. Steatite molds have been excavated which were used to make glass objects, as well as gold and faience products. The motifs expressed were all traditional patterns used widely throughout that period's Mycenaean arts. These glass beads were probably prized as rare, high priced jewels and like gold jewelry, probably only affordable by a limited range of people. The beauty of the delicate and highly skilled workmanship on these glass items stands as proof of the high standards attained in ancient glass arts.