Ancient Greek World


"Perfect was as important an idea to the Greeks as forever was to the Egyptians."
- Janson's

Iktinos, Kallikrates, and Karpion, The Parthenon (view from the west), Akropolis, Athen, 447 - 438 BCE.











"Greek" History

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
Dark Age
1150 - 750 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.











harp player

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











Linear A
Linear A (round tablet) and Linear B











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, c. 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.











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












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











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











Ancient Aegean

Scholars have long debated how and why Minoan civilization fell.

One popular theory is that it fell into decline due to catostrophic multi-decade climate change prompted by a massive volcanic explosion on Thera.