ancient aegean cultures aegean art: cycladic, minoan mycenean aegean art: cycladic, minoan mycenean
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Ancient Aegean Cultures
Aegean Art: Cycladic, Minoan Mycenean
Cycladic Cultures3000-1000 bceStepping stones across the Aegean, the Cycladic islands were early settlement sites for migrants who developed a significant culture centuries before the emergence of the civilizations of Crete and Mycenae.Cycladites developed shipping and traded with mainland Greece, the coastal areas of Asia Minor and with the western Mediterranean, from the Neolithic period. The development of olive production helped in self-sufficiency.They buried their dead in box -shaped tombs of a trapezoidal shape, in circular ones, and in chambers carved on the rock. The dead were buried uncremated, in contracted positions. Bodies were accompanied by objects used in daily life: vases, marble figures, jewelry, daggers, and blades.Cycladic History
CycladicTombsTop: Cist grave of the Gotta-Pelos culture. Middle: Two-storeyed grave of the Keros-Syros culture. Bottom: Corbelled grave of the Keros-Syros culture, of the type found on Syros
Types of Cycladic Figurines
Abstraction Cycladic Influence on Modern Art
Constantin BrancusiAmedeo Modigliani
Zeus and EuropaFor stories and images pertaining to the myths of the founding of Crete, the Minotaur and the labyrinth of Deadalus, go to: Greek Mythology: CreteKarl Plattner The Rape of Europa
The MinoansZEUS EUROPA HELIOS PERSEMINOS PASIPAHAE POSEIDONS BULLCIRCEDIONYSUS ARIADNE THESEUS PHAEDRA MINOTAUR2 sons
The AtheniansAETHRA - - - - AEGEUS ----- MEDEA ----- JASONMEDUS 2 sons HIPPOLYTA ----THESEUS ----- PHAEDRAHIPPOLYTUS 2 sons
NEOLITHIC PERIOD (6000- 2600 B.C.)Archeological excavations in Crete indicated that the island had been inhabited since 6000 BC . Neolithic ruins were found in Phaestos, Knossos and Sitia, where the first settlements were formed by farmers and stock-breeders. People lived in slate houses and caves such as the caves of Ilithia, Stravouitis, Ellinospileo, Trapeza Lasithiou, etc. Excavations brought to light pottery, weapons, tools, blades made of bone or stone and offerings to the goddess of fertility.
PREPALATIAL PERIOD (2600-1900 B.C.)The extensive use of copper resulted in growth of the population and commercial activity The islands geographic location, the fertile ground and the long periods of peace favoured the development of a glorious civilization. The pre-Palatial period is divided into three periods In the first period, copper has not fully substituted stone and clay (utensils) and communication with the nearby areas is limited. The second period is characterized by growth in fishing, farming and shipping acctivities, as well as the trade of tin.The third period is known for the improvement of construction techniques, while new products are used, such as precious stones, elephant bone, from Egypt and gold. The various seals, from that period, are beautiful works of art.
PALOPALATIAL PERIOD (1900-1700 B.C.)In 1900 BC the first palaces were built in Crete, including the magnificent palaces of Knossos, Malia and Kato Zakros. The settlements around the palaces had organized watering, sewage and street systems. The periods economy was based on agriculture and thrived on trade, as indicated by finds from Crete that have been located in Egypt as well as Cyprus. The end of this period comes after a strong earthquake in 1700 BC, which destroyed most of the palaces.
Plan for the Palace at Knossos
Palace at Knossos
NEOPALATIAL PERIOD (1700- 1450 B.C.E.) The palaces were restored and the Neo-Palatial Period, the thriving years of the Minoan civilization, was inaugurated. The palace was the center of the economic, social and religious life. The locals were mostly occupied with shipping and wine and perfume oil trade, as well as with farming, pottery and weaving, although not in a large scale. The class of merchants, manufacturers and priests commanded respect, second only to the King who was worshipped as a High Priest, along with the Goddess of Fertility. The artistic production: pottery, painting, seal-making, lithotomy, miniatures and jewels. Women played a prominent role in the Minoan civilization. In about 1450 BC, the cities and palaces of the Minoan civilization were swept away by a tidal wave, caused by a volcanic eruption in the island of Thera, while extensive fires demolished everything.
Hieroglyphics:The Phaistos Diskca. 1600 bce
POSTPALATIAL PERIOD (1450-1100 B.C.E.)The Myceneans (Achaeans), exploiting the destruction of the Minoan civilization, occupied Knossos and established a strong dynasty. According to tablets written in Linear B script, the Myceneans soon took control of the island. The economy was still based on trade with nearby Egypt and Asia Minor, but change is evident in art and daily life. All ceramics, bronze objects, jewels etc., testify to the coexistence and influence of the two populations on one another, for a long time. In 1300 BC another strong earthquake destroyed the last remains of the Minoan civilization, including the palace of Knossos. According to historians, in 1200 BCE, Crete had a powerful fleet that raided the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. In the early 11th cent. BCE, European tribes descended on Crete from the North.
Later goddessesGoddess with a Cone and Horns of Consecration. 1400-1200 BC. Bird Goddess. 1400-1200 BC. Goddess with Poppy-headed Pins. 1350 BC.
Leonardo da Vinci, Leda Leda and the Swan
A sudden blow: The great wings beating still Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed By the dark webs, her nape caught in the bill, He holds her helpless breast upon his breast. How can those terrified vague fingers pushThe feathered glory from her loosening thighs? And how can body, laid in that white rush, But feel the strange heart beating where it lies? A shudder in the loins engenders there The broken wall, the burning roof and tower And Agamemnon dead. Being so caught up, So mastered by the brute blood of the air, Did she put on his knowledge with his power Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
-- William Butler Yeats
Helen and MenelausFor stories, images and background about the Mycenaens/Achaens and the TrojanWar, see:Greek Mythology: Troy
The Spartans Tyndareus Leda ZEUS King of SpartaCastor PolluxClytemnestra ---- Agamemnon Menelaus ---- Helen ---- Paris King of King of Prince of Mycenae Sparta Troy
The TrojansPRIAM ------ HECUBAHECTOR -- ANDROMACHE PARIS POLYXENA CASSANDRALAOMEDONTROSmany othersAstyanax
Aeschylus525-456 bceTHE ORESTAEIAAgamemnonThe Libation BearersThe Eumenides
According to the most likely tradition, they owe they name to the notional circle which they appear to form around the sacred isle of Delos. The Cyclades have exercised a powerful charm since ancient times, even though access to them then was not particularly easy. This was the birthplace of one of the Mediterranean 's most important civilizations, one which took its name from the islands: the Cycladic civilization (3000-1000 BC).
The civilization which covers all of the third millenium BC and was developed in the Cycladic islands is the so-called Protocycladic civilization. The factors contributing to its development were: a) The mild climate of the Cyclades, which are very accurately characterized as the "Riviera of Greece".b) Their geographical position, a natural bridge between Europe and Asia.c) The development of shipping and therefore of trade, and d) The self-sufficiency they had in spite of their limited land area. This civilization developed in three major phases. The first was from 3200 to 2800 BC and is called the Civilization of Pylos (Clay), from the homonymous site on the island of Melos. The second is from 2800 to 2200 BC and is the Civilization of Keros-Seros and the third from around 2200 to 2000 BC. many archaeologists, both Greek and foreign, have excavated and studied it. The most systematic excavator was the great Greek archeologist Christos Tsountas who carried out a multitude of excavations in tombs and in settlements, and distinguished the character of the Cycladic from the rest of the civilizations. The settlements were located in coastal sites and in the beginning were without walls and guarding measures. But later, because of fear of pirates, the Cycladites moved into the interior, settled n the hills with sharp hill-sides and fortified themselves with walls and towers. Then, when the Minoan civilization predominated they moved back down to the coastal areas. They lived in simple, straight-lined or curved houses in fortified settlements. The walls were made of mud and stones, the roofs were lightweight, made of reeds and branches, the interior was of plaster varnishing and, because of the mild climate or even because of firewood shortage, there was no hearth. They buried their dead in box -shaped tombs of a trapezoidal shape, in circular ones and in chambers carved on the rock. Their religion consisted of a mixture of superstitions and magic. The excavations and research have shown that the Cycladites already had trade relations with mainland Greece, the coastal areas of