Morris and Peatfield used this ring as their typological image for their altered states of consciousness hypothesis, whereas Gimbutas considered the image to provide evidence for the continuity of bee-worship and honey-rituals from Neolithic European cultural horizons down to the Aegean Bronze Age. Vasilakis considered this ring to exemplify Minoan dance circular dance rituals. Rehak considers this ring to show some kind of rite pertaining to young adult women, rather than an epiphany scene.Which makes this a good introduction to the subject of Minoan and Mycenaean signet rings, wonderful little things that seem charged with meaning, if only we could figure out what it is.
silphium, revered in the ancient world as both an aphrodisiac and a means of birth control.
they insisted that it is genuine.
On the remarkable gold signet-ring, known from the place of its discovery [Mycenaean Pylos] as the 'Ring of Nestor', the scenes of initiation into the after-life are divided by the trunk and branches of a Minoan 'Tree of the World'. Here there can be little doubt...that the plant, the shoots of which spring forth from the trunk to give shade to the lion guardian of the realms below, must be identified with the same 'Sacral Ivy' that climbs the rocky steeps in this cycle of wall paintings....May we not perhaps go even farther? This conspicuous spray - with its green leaves picked out, as we see them in the fresco, by the bright orange outline of the sacred emblem - springing from the hoar and barren trunk of the tree that here seems to stand on the borders of the Minoan Underworld, might it not itself have possesed some mystic power? It is impossible not to recall the Golden Bough, which, when plucked by Aeneas, opened for him the passage to Avernus. But ever, as one was torn away, another branch of gleaming gold sprang in its place.While Evans was convinced that the ring was genuine, many have been just as convinced that it was a fake. In the 1950s the Ashmolean Museum took it out of the display case and hid it away in a back room. But then in the 1990s the ring came back into favor with scholars and went back on display in the Ashmolean; today its status remains disputed. Archaeologists tend to doubt the ring's authenticity. On the other hand comparative mythographers mostly believe in it, because they think it includes information about the ancient strata of European myth to which no forger would have had access in 1924. I think the very weird subject matter argues for authenticity; if you wanted to sell Arthur Evans a fake ring, wouldn't you choose a theme he already believed was important in Minoan art, like the bull dancing ring? Why dream up this bizarre mishmash of Norse, Egyptian, and Minoan imagery? If it is genuine it adds another chapter to the worldwide mythography of the world tree, with a monster at its root and divine kingdoms in its branches.
More rings from the tombs in Pylos! The top two are both thought to represent goddesses, the second one shown on a mountaintop with birds.