During the First and Second Palace Periods, seals and sealings were widely used across Crete as one component of what Dickinson has called “writing-assisted administration” (1994, 305). A dazzling array of seal types and sealing forms are found, their use running parallel to or intertwined with that of the Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A clay administrative documents.
In this paper, I trace two paths of movement in these sealing practices – the first is that of sealings, which could be moved across the landscape attached to physical goods or by themselves as carriers of information, or created in one place to capture information about the movement of other objects. The second is the transfer of sealing practices, and how it might have taken place – this is particularly significant when considering sites that have yielded sealings but not examples of other written documents, and close attention must be paid to the potential for making choices.
Drawing these paths together, it becomes possible, firstly, to nuance the way we map changes in seal use and sealing practices onto changes in social, institutional or administrative spheres, particularly between the First and Second Palace Period, and secondly, to push beyond merely invoking the materiality of these objects or agency of their users to think through the life of seals and sealings as things made to be passed from hand to hand, scrutinised and discussed. Their small size made sealings ideal as travelling objects which could carry information much greater than themselves, but there is still much work to do to understand the practicalities of seal use.