Prehistoric Aegean

Writing Center
**Alternative Credit Opportunity** During each class, your task is to write at least one question that could be used on the upcoming exam. The questions you write should be relevant to what we talked about in class, as well as the assigned readings. Questions can be multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching, or short answer essay. To earn credit, quetions must be serious, well written, and rigorous, as they may be used on the actual exam. You may earn credit for up to ten questions, each worth one point, that will be applied to your test score as regular credit (rather than extra credit). Test questions applying to Exam 2 must be turned in by Wednesday, October 28.
Reproduction of 'The Ladies in Blue' fresco, from the Palace at Knossos, Minoan, ca. 1525 - 1450 BCE.











"Greek" Cultures

Ancient Aegean

Helladic -
ca. 3000 BCE - 1050 BCE
Bronze Age
mainland, including Mycenaean culture
Cycladic -
ca. 3000 - 2000 BCE
Cycladic and adjacent islands except Crete
Minoan -
ca. 2000 - 1200 BCE
Hellenic -
ca. 1050 - 400 BCE
Iron Age
quintessential Greece
Hellenistic -
323 - 30 BCE
Greek culture at its farthest reaching influence
Ancient Aegean











woman from Syros
figure from Amorgos
Cycladic figures
Figurine of a woman, Syros (Cyclades), ca. 2600 - 2300 BCE. Marble, 1' 6" high.
Figure from Amorgos, (Cyclades), ca. 2500 BCE. Marble, height 30".
Cycladic Figures ca. 2500 - 2200 BCE.











Woman of Willendorf and Venus of Lespuge
Woman of Willendorf and the Venus of Lespuge,
Mammoth ivory, Height 7 13/16".











harp player

Male harp player, so-called Orpheus, from Keros (Cyclades), ca. 2600 - 2300 BCE. Marble, 9" high.











Heinrich Schliemann
Helen and Menelaus
Heinrich Schliemann
Attic red-figure krater, ca. 450–440 BCE. Menelaus (right) drops his sword, captivated by Helen's (center) beauty while Eros (flying) and Aphrodite (left) watch the scene.


More on the excavation of ancient Troy











Minoan Civilization
ca. 1600 BCE - 1200 BCE


Greek word "labrys" = double axe


Plan of the Palace of Minos, Knossos, Crete.
Aerial view of the palace at Knossos, ca. 1700 - 1370 BCE.











Theseus Slaying the Minotaur

Red- Figure Amphora depicting Theseus Slaying the Minotaur, 460 BCE.











Bull Rhyton

Bull's-Head Rhyton. Palace complex, Knossos, Crete. New Palace Period, c. 1550 - 1450 BCE.
Steatite with shell, rock crystal, and red jasper, the gilt-wood horns restored. Height 12".











Throne Room, Palace at Knossos
Minoan civilization is said to have ended twice
  • Old Palace period abruptly ended in 1700 BCE
  • Grand structures probably destroyed by earthquake and ensuing fire
  • Rebuilding began soon after 1700 BCE, New Palace period
  • Golden age of Crete
  • “Era when the first great Western civilization emerged.” – Gardner's Art Through the Ages
Throne Room, Palace at Knossos, Crete. c. 1700 - 1370 BCE.











Artist's Reconstruction of Palace at Knossos

Artist's Rendition of Palace at Knossos, Crete, ca. 1700 - 1370 BCE.
The palace complex was excavated and restored by Sir Arthur Evans 1897 - 1941.











East wing from stairwell in the residential quarter of the Palace at Knossos

East wing from stairwell in the residential quarter of the Palace at Knossos, Crete, ca. 1700 - 1370 BCE.











Queen's Megaron
Queen’s Megaron exhibits characteristic qualities of Minoan art:
Marine life predominant motif
Queen's Megaron, Palace at Knossos, Crete, ca. 1700 - 1370 BCE.











Old Palace Period
New Palace Period
Kamares War jar
Marine Style octopus fank
Kamares Ware jar, from Paistos, Crete, ca. 1800 - 1700 BCE. 1' 8" high.
Marine Style octopus flask, from Palaikastro, Crete, ca. 1450 BCE. 11" high.











Toreador Fresco

Bull Leaping or Toreador Fresco, from the Palace at Knossos, Crete, ca. 1400 - 1370 BCE. 2' 8" high.











Modern Day Bull Leaping in Spain


Minoan Bull Leaping


Bulls and Bull Leaping in the Minoan World











Toreador Fresco
Egyptian and Mesopotamian Influences:
  • Profile view
  • Prominent eyes
  • Females distinguished by lighter colored skin
Bull Leaping or Toreador Fresco, from the Palace at Knossos, Crete, ca. 1400 - 1370 BCE. 2' 8" high.











Snake Goddess

Snake Goddess from the Palace at Knossos, Crete,
ca. 1600 BCE. Faience, 1' 1.5" high.











Egyptian vs. Minoan
The Palette of King Narmer. ca. 3000 - 2920 BCE. Slate, height 25".
Harvester Vase, Hagia Triada, Crete. c. 1650 - 1450 BCE. Steatite. 4 1/2" diameter.










look and feeling of permanence and stability
visual delight, exploration of the world
visual result
controlled lines, regulated subject matter, unwavering artistic style
rhythm, liveliness, joy, looser form and composition
Landscape with swallows fresco from Akrotiri, Thera, ca. 1650 - 1625 BCE.











Bronze Age Greece

Scholars have long debated how and why Minoan civilization fell.

Likely catostrophic multi-decade climate change due to massive volcanic explosion on Thera.