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Strata: What Is It?

A. Chalcolithic grave marker

B. Phoenician foot massager

C. Minoan sistrum

D. Sumerian abacus

E. Arabian dream-catcher

Answer: C) Minoan sistrum

A common musical instrument in Egypt, the sistrum was used to accompany singing and dancing. When a musician would shake the metal sistrum, the instrument’s discs would hit against one another and the loop, creating a vigorous rhythmic sound. This clay sistrum, measuring 7 by 2 inches, was found along with five others in a burial cave on Crete, at the remote inland site of Haghios Charalampos. It is dated to 2100–1700 B.C., during the period of Minoan settlement on the island. It is not clear whether this sistrum was in fact used to make music or whether it was a symbolic copy of a metal sistrum, perhaps created solely as a ritual funerary object. What is clear from finds like this one is that Egyptian culture exerted a strong cultural influence on the Minoan civilization of Crete.

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