Aegean Art
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Aegean Art 2000-1000 BC. The Artist as Record Keeper. New Vocabulary: Idol Megaron Fresco. Aegean Civilizations flourished before Greek Civilization Includes Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean cultures Written about in Homer’s Iliad and from Greek myths

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Aegean Art 2000-1000 BC

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Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

Aegean Art

2000-1000 BC

The Artist as Record Keeper


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • New Vocabulary:

  • Idol

  • Megaron

  • Fresco


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Aegean Civilizations flourished before Greek Civilization

  • Includes Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean cultures

  • Written about in Homer’s Iliad and from Greek myths

  • Knowledge of these cultures is a lot less than of Egypt and Near East

  • No aid from written records

  • Linear B- 2000 BC developed in Minoan culture-usually palace inventories and records- has not helped decipher religion and art


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Cycladic Art- 2600-1100 BC

  • Have left hardly any trace apart from modest stone tombs

  • Large marble idols buried with the dead-earliest life-sized sculpture of the female form

  • Idols are nude female figure with arms folded across the chest-hints of sexuality

  • Were painted (traces of color found)

  • Have not seen anything like it before- not like earlier fertility figures

Cycladic Idol, 2500-1100 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Minoan Art -

  • Culture named by an archeologist after legendary King Minos

  • Very fractured style- as if sudden change came to the civilization more than once- external forces?

  • But artwork reflects a culture that is peaceful and playful with no hint of threat

  • Until 2000 BC. Still living at Neolithic level- then created an urban civilization with palaces and trade (with Egyptians)

  • Most information comes from Knossos, the Palace of Minos- vast enough to survive in Greek legends as the home of the Minotaur

  • Did not speak Greek or worship Greek Gods- WERE NOT GREEK!


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

Palace of Minos, Knossos, Crete c.1500 BC

  • Carefully planned, sprawling palace- includes storerooms, ceremonial rooms, living quarters, theaters, grand courtyard

  • Includes intricate plumbing system

  • Minoan columns are similar to Greek Doric, but have wide top, narrow base


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

The Queen’s Megaron, Palace of Minos, Knossos

  • Rulers were probably not ruler-gods like Near East and Egypt

  • Military subjects are absent from the art

  • First real fresco-painted on wet plaster


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Little known about religious life

  • Centered on sacred places

  • Chief deity was female snake goddess

  • No temples, lacked cult statues

  • Few religious subjects in art

  • Snakes associated with male fertility

  • Secular looking- fashion

  • Crete has few snakes, so the snake idea was probably imported- but no snake goddesses have been discovered outside of Crete

Snake Goddess c.1600 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

The Toreador Fresco, C. 1500 BC

  • Marine life is seen in all artwork- fluid movement is more important than drama

  • Shows a game, not a bull fight- two of the figures are female-figures are Minoan style-pinched waists

  • playful like dolphins-

  • Bull is a sacred animal

  • Ambiguous meaning- not sure if one scene, or three different actions


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Pottery-

  • Newly designed potters wheel!

  • Relationship between shape and decoration

  • designs drawn from plant and animal life- fish, shells, octopuses- very similar to the wall paintings- flowing and rhythmic

  • Swirling lines are reminiscent of the sea

Octopus Vase, c.1500 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Slim, muscular men carrying farming tools-first real depiction of muscles in action

  • Narrative not as important as the rhythm

  • Energetic and physical

  • Humorous in nature-figures are singing and shouting- most animated so far!

Harvester Vase, 1550-1500 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Mycenaen Art- (invaded and occupied Minoan culture)

  • Southeast shores of Greek mainland (1600-1100 BC)

  • first thought to have come from Crete because of similar art characteristics, but probably were early Greek tribes

  • Tombs were central to the culture

Treasury of Atreus, 1300-1250 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • 1600 BC, began to build elaborate tombs- buried dead on deep shafts covered with beehive structures

  • More elaborate tombs were only found in Egypt from around the same time period

  • Largest known vaulted space in antiquity until the Roman Pantheon (1500 years later)

Interior, Treasury of Atreus


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Alongside royal dead, were masks of gold and silver

  • Similar in purpose to Egyptian death masks

  • Lots of personal equipment found such as vessels, jewelry, weapons

Rhyton in the shape of a lion 1550 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

Vaphio Cup, 1500 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

How do we tell the difference between Minoan and Mycenaen?

Vaphio Cup c. 1500 BC


Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

  • Hilltop fortresses, defensive walls of huge stone-

  • quite unlike Minoan

  • Lions Gate of Mycenae- massive stone relief over doorway-

  • guardians of the gate- tense muscular, symmetrical design suggests influence from Near East

  • Center of the palace at Mycenae was the audience hall called the Megaron- not much remains but looks back to simple house plans of earlier times

The Lion Gate, 1250 BC

  • Hilltop fortresses, defensive walls of huge stone- quite unlike minoan

  • Lions Gate of Mycenae- massive stone relief over doorway- guardians of the gate- tense muscular, symmetrical design suggests influence from near east

  • Center of the palace at Mycenae was the audience hall called the megaron- not much remains but looks back to simple house plans of earlier ti


  • Aegean art 2000 1000 bc

    • There is no Mycenaen temple architecture that remains (or was even suggested)

    • Palaces did contain small shrines

    • Religion was probably influenced by Minoan, Greek- but its hard to figure this out

    • Not sure who this group of deities is

    • The divine child is a popular ancient myth

    • A familiar view of deities is seen here for the first time

    Three Deities, 1500-1400 BC


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