Rock-crystal spool-shaped objects have been found in several sanctuaries and burials in Asia Minor, the Aegean islands, in Aegean Thrace and in the Western Black Sea, dating primarily to the Archaic period. These small objects are usually semi-transparent with an average height of 1 to 2 cm and a diameter of 2 or 3 cm. They consist of a central cylindrical component, framed by two disks of different diameter, and can be divided into two categories, depending on whether they have a solid or a pierced (“open”) cylindrical section. The interpretation of these crystal spools remains problematic, as none of the hypotheses set forth so far has been accepted by the academic community. In the past, they have been explained as magnifying lenses, miniature vessels, supports, hair-decoration, gaming pieces, furniture-elements, and earrings. A fresh study of the geographical dispersal of these crystal spools and their archaeological context supports their interpretation as ear-studs, while highlighting at the same time their association with the female sphere and cult practices in honor of Artemis. In addition, a joint examination of rock-crystal spools and those made of other materials enhances their Ionian origin and brings forth a wide-reaching religious network of the Archaic period.
© 2018-2020 National and Kapodistrian University of Athen, Department of History and Archaeology.