4. The Bronze Age city of Akrotiri (on Santorini) exhibits aspects of both worlds: though the structures exhibit the irregular shapes associated with Minoan architecture, many pithoi and jars are decorated in the spiral motif common in Cycladic designs. Objects included vases, marble figures, jewelry, daggers, and blades. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. The Cyclades returned to some degree of regional importance in the Archaic and Classical periods, particularly the city-states on the islands of Delos and Naxos. Breasts appear as small protuberances on the chest; the abdomen is often swollen. Hope you’re gonna love it! Upon studying these figures, I too was captivated by the fact that we do not actually know for certain what their purpose was. Although we discovered these artifacts that once belonged to people who must have had some of the same fears and dreams and loves we did, the people of these figures seem so far away. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies, the Cyclades were generally on the Athenian side but there were instances of dissent, perhaps most famously on the island of Melos which had actively supported the Spartans and so was attacked and defeated by Athenian forces from 417 to 415 BCE. During this period, there emerged an awareness of danger; though seaside settlements remained, some were located at the tops of steep hills. Finds of spindle whorls are evidence of weaving craft and pottery finds are abundant, usually of dark vessels with decoration by incisions or white paint designs. Doumas, Christos (ed. Both the quantity and the quality of grave goods increased during this period. The oldest site (the small island of Saliagos) was occupied around 5000 BCE. 1. Would you be so kind as to tell me where you found that data? In the 1960s, Christos Doumas's excavations led to his definitive work on burial customs. The shape of certain vases copied specific prototypes, and decorations were used to achieve a more faithful rendering of the prototype. An ovoid head with carved facial features, including ears, sits atop an elongated neck that typically takes up a full third of the figure's total height. Most writers who have considered these artifacts from an anthropological or psychological viewpoint have assumed that they are representative of a Great Goddess of nature, in a tradition continuous with that of Neolithic female figures such as the Venus of Willendorf. Fewer male figurines have been found; in contrast to the women, whose defining characteristic are their folded arms, these men are depicted engaging in their trades and sitting upright. 187.) Naturalistic figures are small and tend to have strange or exaggerated proportions, with long necks, angular upper bodies, and muscular legs.. Fitton, J. Lesley, Cycladic Art (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. The first archaeological evidence of organised communities in the, Distinctive minimalistic standing marble figurines are produced in the, Evidence of town planning and more sophisticated, Evidence of settlement destruction and abandonment across the, Athens removes and prohibits further burials on. The fame and fortune do, however, come with some negative consequences. Tools were made from bone, stone, shell and obsidian and include axes of emery. Thus, as a prehistoric archaeologist, I welcome your ideas. They were produced in the Cycladic islands (whence the name) in the southern Aegean for a few centuries around the middle of the third millennium BC. Less than half of them were discovered in systematic archaeological excavations; many others made their way directly from illicit digs into the international art market. Emile In general, the hair and eyes are painted; sometimes lines appear on the cheeks. Further discoveries could potentially alter our understanding of the figurines and Early Cycladic society at large, because archaeologists have based their hypotheses on the evidence available to them. With the ends of her legs being smoothed and rudimentary feet carved at the stumps. The islands had a distinctive culture in the early and middle Bronze Age and regained regional importance during the Archaic and Classical periods. Although there are a number of different figurine types, probably representing different periods and locations of production, our example is a typical one, of the type known as "canonical". // February 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Log in to Reply. On Amorgos there are lots of cemeteries and many of them contain figurines. People began thinking that the Cycladic figurines were a universal reference to humanity. Late in the period, new shapes appear, e.g., globular spouted jugs, one-handed tankards (Kastri group) and footed jars (kraters, in the Amorgos group.). Cist graves were lined with stone slabs or orthostats and were trapezoidal in plan. These natural resources led to a certain prosperity which lasted throughout the Bronze Age and which may be divided into three distinct phases: Early, Middle and Late Cycladic. It’s still likely that these figurines were part of life. Early Cycladic I (3300-2800; roughly: Grotta-Pelos culture, 3300-2700). 3300-2800 Early Cycladic I: roughly: Grotta-Pelos Culture (3300-2700); Cycladic ships bore a high stern post, a low front prow. The distinctive Cycladic culture emerged most fully in the Early Bronze Age, before the Middle and Late Bronze Age cultures (i.e., Minoan Crete and then the Mycenaean mainland) dominated the islands. A word that might get associated with them is “ritual” – but, if we’re honest, that word is quite opaque and doesn’t really get us any closer. The popular theory is that the females were using them as a way to mark important life events, such as puberty, marriage, the birth of a child, etc. Our figurine below, for example, is attributed to the “Bastis master,” whose “stylization of the human body that is elegant almost to the point of mannerism” – according to the MET allegedly). For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. Finally, the last vestiges of the Greek civilization on the islands disappeared when many of the Greek temples were converted into Christian basilica in the 5th and 6th centuries CE. The distinctive "frying pan" pots have been found in settlements and in graves, implying symbolic as well as everyday roles. Stone tools were still common. Perhaps, as was suggested in my section, women had a significant role in the mourning rituals during the Early Cycladic era, a view supported by the vast majority of the figures found in graveyards. As alluded to above, we don’t have very much contextual evidence from the Early Cycladic (3200-2000 BC). Although they hardly appear voluptuous or especially sexualised to the modern eye, most of the figurines are identifiable as women, indicated typically by the presence of breasts and a pubic triangle. Two key questions arise from these fascinating objects: Whom do they depict, and what purpose did they serve? Why are they so numerous? The Plastiras type is the most naturalistic type of Cycladic figurine, marked by exaggerated proportions. Naxos, Paros, and Andros are among the largest, but the islands are generally small. , Suggestions that these images were idols in the strict sense—cult objects which were the focus of ritual worship—are unsupported by any archeological evidence. The local clay proved difficult for artists to work with, and the pottery, plates, and vases of this period are seldom above mediocre. Pottery generally was not fired very well. Sometime between 1650 and 1550 BCE the volcanic crater of Thera exploded in a cataclysmic eruption completely covering in ash the large town of Akrotiri on the island and creating a destructive tidal wave nine metres high which affected sites across the Aegean. They are characterized by U-shaped heads and a deeply incised cleft between the legs. Rectilinear designs were common early, though curvilinear (concentric circles or spirals) dominated later. Personally, I love the cup-bearer because I think it looks like someone having their morning coffee and people watching in the sun. Grape and olive cultivation probably emerged at this time, as did skill in metallurgy. The shoulders were expanded even further from the Dokathismata variety and were quite susceptible to damage as the upper arms and shoulders are also the thinnest point of the sculpture.