ART1204 Ancient Aegean Art

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ART1204 Ancient Aegean Art

  1. 1. The Art Of The Ancient Aegean The  Cycladic  &  Minoan  Civilizations   Art  Appreciation   Professor  Will  Adams  
  2. 2. The Ancient Aegean
  3. 3. The Ancient Aegean v The  ancient  Aegean  world   was  comprised  of  three   distinct  geographic   cultures:   1.  The  Cycladics:  Based  on   the  Cyclades  Islands  at   the  mouth  of  the  Aegean   Sea.   2.  The  Minoans:  Based  on   the  large  island  of  Crete.   3.  The  Mycenaeans:  Based   on  mainland  Greece’s   Peloponnesian   peninsula.   1 2 3
  4. 4. The Cycladic Culture
  5. 5. The Cycladic Culture v  The  Cyclades  are  islands  in   the  south  Aegean  circling  the   island  of  Delos.     v  During  the  Early  Bronze  Age   (c.  3200-­‐2100  B.C.E.)  pottery,   marble,  and  metal  goods   were  produced  there  that   wound  up  in  grave  sites.     v  Among  these  are  the  marble   female  figurines  that   inspired  20th  century  artists.     v  Later  in  the  Bronze  Age,  the   Cyclades  showed  influence   from  Minoan  and  Mycenaean   cultures.  
  6. 6. Cycladic Art STANDING  FEMALE  FIGURE   C.  2700  BCE   MARBLE   v  Figurines  of  this  type  have  been   found  almost  exclusively  in  tombs.     v  Although  it  was  first  believed  that   these  so-­‐called  "idols"  represent   deities,  they  probably  should  be   interpreted  more  broadly  as   representations  of  "femaleness."     v  The  geometric  shapes,  the  position  of   the  arms  across  the  abdomen,  and   the  close-­‐set  legs  with  dangling  feet   are  distinctive  and  may  appear   strikingly  modern  to  the  viewer   today.    
  7. 7. Cycladic Art MALE  LYRE  PLAYER   C.  2700  BCE   MARBLE   v  The  islands  of  Naxos,  Paros  &  Keros   were  renowned  for  their  figurines.     v  Their  sizes  range  from  a  few  inches  to   almost  life-­‐size.   v  In  style,  they  are  strikingly  abstract,   utilizing  geometric  shapes  &  flat   planes  to  render  the  human  body  in  a   schematized  manner   v  Although  austere  today,  figurines   were  originally  painted  in  bright   colors,  probably  in  order  to  give  the   figurines  individual  identities.    
  8. 8. The Minoan Culture
  9. 9. The Minoan Culture v  The  story  of  European  civilization   really  begins  on  the  island  of  Crete   with  a  civilization  that  probably   thought  of  itself  as  Asian  (in  fact,   Crete  is  closer  to  Asia  than  it  is  to   Europe).     v  Around  1700  BCE,  a  highly   sophisticated  culture  grew  up   around  palace  centers  on  Crete:   the  Minoans.     v  The  Minoans  produced  a   civilization  oriented  around  trade   and  bureaucracy  with  little  or  no   evidence  of  a  military  state.    
  10. 10. The Minoan Culture v They  built  perhaps  the   single  most  efficient   bureaucracy  in  antiquity.     v This  unique  culture,  of   course,  lasted  only  a  few   centuries,  and  European   civilization  shifts  to   Europe  itself  with  the   foundation  of  the   military  city-­‐states  on   the  mainland  of  Greece.  
  11. 11. Minoan Homeland: Crete v  On  the  island,  the  climate  is   comfortable  and  the  soil  fertile;  as  an   island,  it  was  isolated  from  the   mainland  of  Asia  Minor,  the  Middle   East,  and  Egypt.   v  Being  an  island,  resources  were  limited.     v  As  the  population  began  to  thrive,  it   also  began  to  increase,  and  it  is  evident   that  the  resources  of  the  island  became   increasingly  insufficient  to  handle  the   increased  population,  so  the  Cretans   improvised.     v  Some  migrated,  populating  other   islands  in  the  Aegean  Sea  like  Thera   (modern  day  Santorini,  Greece).  
  12. 12. Minoan Migration & Trade v  In  doing  so,  they  took  their   growing  civilization  with  them   and  spread  Minoan  culture,   religion,  and  government  all   over  the  Aegean  Sea.     v  For  this  reason,  the  Minoan   culture  is  also  called  the   "Aegean  Palace  civilization."     v  But  the  Cretans  who  remained   turned  to  other  economic   pursuits  to  support  the   growing  population;  in   particular,  they  turned  to   trade.    
  13. 13. Minoan Timeline: First Palace Period: 2200 - 1700 BCE v  In  this  period,  political  power   began  to  be  centered  around   kings.     v  As  a  result,  the  first  large   palace  centers  came  into   being.     v  So  far,  excavation  has   revealed  four  large  palaces   on  Crete  at  Knossos,   Phaistos,  Malia,  and  Zakros.     v   The  buildings  are  arranged   around  a  central  court  and   have  fine  facades  of  closely   fitted  stone  blocks  with   monumental  entrances.  
  14. 14. The First Palace Period: The Palace At Phaistos: C. 1700 Bce v  Phaistos  is  Minoan  palace  site   situated  on  a  hill  with  a   commanding  view  of  the   Mesara  Plain  to  the  south  and   west.     v  It  is  in  the  fertile  Mesara  valley   that  is  surrounded  by  mountain   ranges  and  the  plain  extends   south.   v  During  Minoan  times,  Phaistos   was  a  very  important  city-­‐state,   being  the  second  largest  city   after  Knossos.  
  15. 15. The First Palace Period: The Palace At Phaistos: C. 1700 Bce
  16. 16. Phaistos In Mythology v  According  to  mythology,   Phaistos  was  the  seat  of  King   Radamanthis,  brother  of  King   Minos.     v  The  city  also  participated  in  the   Trojan  War  and  was  an  important   city-­‐state  in  the  Dorian  period.     v  Phaistos  continued  to  flourish   during  Archaic,  Classical  and   Hellenistic  times,  but  was   destroyed  by  the  Gortians  during   the  3rd  century  BCE.  
  17. 17. The First Palace Period: The Palace At Phaistos: C. 1700 BCE v The  Old  Palace  was  built  on  the  site  at  the  beginning  of   the  second  millennium,  c.  1900  -­‐  1700  BCE.   v Twice  it  was  severely  damaged  by  earthquakes  and   rebuilt  so  three  distinct  phases  are  visible  to   archaeologists.     v It  is  believed  that  the  first  two  phases  of  the  Old  Palace  of   Phaistos  constitute  the  oldest  Palatial  buildings  in  Crete.     v Other  finds  at  the  site  include  thousands  of  seal   impressions  and  some  tablets  containing  the  oldest  form   of  written  European  language:  Linear  A  script.   v Linear  A  has  so  far  defied  all  attempts  at  decipherment.    
  18. 18. The Palace At Phaistos: The Second Palace v  When  the  Old  Palace  was  finally   destroyed,  almost  certainly  by  an   earthquake,  a  new  palace  was   built  on  the  site.     v  Fortunately  for  us,  the  builders  of   the  new  palace  did  not  destroy  all   traces  of  the  old.     v  Some  of  the  old  palace  can  still  be   seen,  especially  in  the  north-­‐east   corner,  but  much  of  the  Old   Palace  remains  are  accessible   only  to  the  experts.  
  19. 19. The Palace At Phaistos: The Central Courtyard
  20. 20. The Palace At Phaistos: The King’s Megaron (Throne Room)
  21. 21. The Palace At Phaistos: The Queen’s Megaron (Throne Room)
  22. 22. The Palace At Phaistos: The Theater Space v  From  the  Upper  West  Court,  a  staircase   leads  to  the  theatre  area,  with  its  eight   rows  of  seats,  each  one  22  meters  long   on  the  Lower  West  Court.     v  On  the  north  side  of  the  theatre  there  is   a  retaining  wall  for  the  Upper  Court  and   below  this,  the  tiered  seats  overlooking   the  Lower  West  Court.     v  The  court  is  traversed  diagonally  by  a   raised  causeway.     v  On  the  east  side  of  the  causeway  are  six   circular  pits.     v  These  are  thought  to  have  been  for   grain  storage.  
  23. 23. First Palace Period: Pottery & Workshops v  The  gorgeous  Kamaresware   pottery  dates  to  this  period   and  the  style  is  named  after   the  cave  of  Kamares  where  it   was  first  discovered.     v  Kamaresware  is  pottery  with   polychrome  motifs  of   rosettes,  spirals  and   hatching  vibrantly  painted   on  a  shiny  black  background,   and  was  produced  in  a   variety  of  vase  shapes.  
  24. 24. First Palace Period: Pottery & Workshops v The  workshops  also   produced  fine  vases  and   vessels  of  stone  and   faience;  seal  stones  of   precious  or  semi-­‐precious   stones,  with  hieroglyphics   &  dynamic  natural  scenes;   elegant  weapons  and   tools;  vessels  of  bronze  or   silver;  jewelry  of   marvelous  technique,  as   well  as  miniature   sculptures.  
  25. 25. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE v  Magnificent  new  palaces   were  built  upon  the  ruins  of   the  old  ones.     v  The  cities  around  them   expanded.     v  Many  lords  in  rural  villas   controlled  areas  in  the  same   way  as  the  feudal  lords  of  the   Middle  Ages.       v  Their  ships  carried  both  the   products  of  Minoan  and   other  societies  throughout   the  Aegean  and  Eastern   Mediterranean  to  trade.  
  26. 26. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE v  The  new  palaces  were  multistoried   and  more  complex.     v  They  had  great  courtyards  with   grand  porticoes,  broad  staircases,   processional  paths  and   monumental  entrances.     v  Many  rooms  could  be  opened  for   air  circulation  and  sunlight  to   enter  via  pier  and  door  partitions,   making  the  rooms  quite  bright  and   pleasant  in  the  summer.     v  Benches  and  thrones  were  found   in  royal  rooms.  
  27. 27. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE   v  There  were  many  interior  light  wells  to  allow  light  in  through  all  levels  of   the  palace  via  the  roof.     v  Bathrooms  and  water  supply  and  drainage  systems  allowed  for  a  easier   style  of  life.     v  Sections  of  the  palaces  were  royal  quarters,  sacred  areas  (pillar  crypts,   tripartite  shrines),  audience  and  banquet  halls.       v  Large  areas  of  these  palaces  were  set  aside  as  storage  areas   (magazines),  and  workshops  also  existed  within  the  palaces.     v  Wonderful  fresco  paintings  decorated  the  walls  with  fresh,  lively  scenes   in  an  array  of  colors.       v  Gypsum  was  a  common  building  material  used  for  wall  siding  and  floors.     v  The  Marine  Style  of  pottery  developed  with  flowing  elements   including  stylized  octopuses  and  seaweed.    
  28. 28. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE
  29. 29. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE   v  When  Sir  Arthur  Evans  began  his  excavation  of  Knossos,  he   uncovered  one  of  the  richest  finds  in  all  of  modern  archaeology.   v  Although  he  was  not  the  first  to  excavate  at  the  site,  it  was  to   be  Evans  who  uncovered  the  Knossos  Palace  and  brought  to   light  a  hitherto  unknown  civilization.   v  The  basic  excavation  of  the  site  took  four  years  and  for  the  rest   of  his  life  Evans  continued  working  on  the  site,  reconstructing   and  building,  often  in  an  attempt  to  preserve  the  remains  from   the  weather  to  which  they  had  been  exposed  for  the  first  time  in   3,500  years.     v  The  palace’s  first  occupation  lasted  1900  -­‐  1700  BCE   v  Following  an  earthquake  in  1700  BCE,  then  repaired  and   reoccupied  until  around  1500  BCE.  
  30. 30. Minoan Timeline: Second Palace Period: 1700 - 1500 BCE  
  31. 31. The Palace at Knossos: The Grand Staircase Horns  of  consecration   atop  the  palace  walls.  
  32. 32. The Palace at Knossos: The Central Court
  33. 33. The Palace at Knossos: The Dolphin Sanctuary v  Near  the  Hall  of  the  Double   Axes  is  the  Dolphin  Sanctuary,   which  Evans  assigned  as  the   Queen's  Apartment  (Megaron).   v  The  area  takes  its  name  from  a   Dolphin  Fresco  which  was  found   here  in  pieces,  although  it   probably  fell  from  the  floor   above  during  the  destruction  of   the  palace.   v  A  replica  of  the  fresco  now   adorns  the  north  wall.  
  34. 34. The Palace at Knossos: The Throne Room v  On  the  West  Side  of  the  Palace  is   one  of  the  most  famous  of  rooms   unearthed  by  Evans:  The  Throne   Room.   v  With  its  low  ceiling  and  lack  of   windows  it  was  separated  from  the   Central  Court  by  an  anteroom.     v  The  throne  is  placed  along  a  side   wall  facing  across  the  room.  On   either  side  of  the  throne  there  are   stone  benches  and,  in  front  of  the   throne,  a  stone  basin.   v  Its  walls  are  decorated  with   pastoral  frescoes  of  the  Cretan   countryside.  
  35. 35. The Palace at Knossos: The Frescoes of Crete v  The  type  of  painting  that  decorates  the   walls  of  Knossos  is  referred  to  as  fresco   (meaning  “fresh”  in  Italian).   v  When  the  walls  were  constructed,  they   were  covered  with  a  smooth  layer  of   plaster.   v  To  create  the  frescoes,  pigments  were   mixed  with  water  (the  vehicle),  and  lime  (a   drying  or  curing  agent).   v  Next,  the  pigment  mixture  would  be   applied  to  the  still-­‐damp  plaster  wall.   v  As  a  result,  the  pigment  was  absorbed  into   the  wall  as  it  dried,  creating  an  incredibly   durable  image.   v  This  is  now  referred  to  as  buon  fresco   (“true  fresco”)  technique,  as  opposed  to   applying  pigment  to  an  already-­‐dry  wall   (fresco  secco).  
  36. 36. Minoan Religion v  The  Minoans  gave  thanks  for  their  beautiful  land  by  worshipping  a  small   number  of  gods  and  goddesses;  their  main  deities  represented  the  male  and   female  aspects  of  life.     v  They  worshipped  them  on  mountains,  in  temples  on  the  ground  and  in  caves.     It  was  believed  that  gods  and  goddesses  could  live  in  tress  and  columns   because  these  linked  the  earth  and  the  heavens.   v  The  Goddesses:   §  The  main  deity  is  still  the  Mother  Goddess,  who  is  portrayed  in  different   forms  such  as  the  Snake  Goddess.     v  The  Bull  was  also  worshipped  as  a  powerful  symbol  of  male  fertility  beside  her.       v  Deities  were  worshipped  in  sanctuaries  of  the  palaces,  various  dwellings,  the   peak  sanctuaries,  and  in  sacred  caves.    
  37. 37. Minoan Religion: The Snake Goddess: c. 1600 BCE v  The  Snake  Goddess’s  representation  as   a  ceremonial  leader  in  Minoan  religion   may  indicate  that  Minoan  culture  was   matriarchal.   v  The  Goddess  was  created  using  the   faience  technique,  in  which  beach  sand   is  low-­‐fired  to  create  am  opaque  glass-­‐ like  silicate.   v  Additionally,  she  may  be  a  fertility   figure,  as  the  emphasis  on  her  bare   chest  indicates.   v  It  isn’t  clear  whether  she  represents  a   priestess  or  a  goddess,  as  figures  easily   identifiable  as  gods  or  goddesses  are   not  found  in  Minoan  cities   v  The  snakes  she  grasps  are  associated   with  both  female  and  earthly  fertility,   not  evil.  
  38. 38. Minoan Religion: The Bull-Leaping Fresco: c. 1450 BCE
  39. 39. Minoan Religion: The Bull-Leaping Fresco: c. 1450 BCE   v  This  controversial  fresco  of  bull-­‐leapers   comes  from  Knossos.     v  It  is  generally  thought  that,  imported   from  the  Egyptian  tradition,  the  pale   figures  are  women  and  the  dark  figure  is   male.   v  Usually  referred  to  as  "bull  jumping,"   the  event  appears  to  have  involved   grasping  the  bull  by  the  horns  and  then   flipping  backwards  over  the  animal,   landing  behind  it.     v  This  would  have  been  a  very  dangerous   undertaking  and,  if  the  full  were  indeed   a  sacred  animal  in  Crete,  would  have   had  religious  significance.     v  The  placement  of  the  people  may  show   either  three  stages  of  the  bull-­‐leaping,  or   the  women  as  attendants  while  the  male   alone  leaps  over  the  bull.   v  It  is  thought  that  both  men  and  women   participated  in  the  contests,  perhaps  to   show  their  worthiness  as  aristocrats.   v  It  has  also  been  argued  that  the  white   figures  are  boys  before  initiation  and  that   there  is  no  gender  implied  in  the  basic  form:   hourglass  body,  slim  waist,  round  hips,  and   broad  shoulders;  details  like  color,  hair,   jewelry  and  costume  providing  the   gendering  details.     v  Additionally,  the  bull  was  probably  offered   as  a  sacrifice  after  the  bull-­‐leaping  contest.  
  40. 40. Minoan Writing v  Three  types  of  picture  writing  have   been  discovered  in  ancient  Crete.   v  Unfortunately,  the  writings  have   told  us  very  little  about  the  Minoan   way  of  life.       v  Linear  A:    This  type  of  writing  has   been  found  in  many  places  in  Crete.     Most  examples  are  scratched  on   clay  tablets  but  there  are  some   samples  engraved  on  metal.   v  In  order  to  be  able  to  translate   Linear  A  we  will  probably  have  to   find  a  bilingual  text.    
  41. 41. Minoan Writing: The Phaistos Disc: c. 1700 BCE v  This  15  cm  disc  is  an  early  example   of  moveable  type  for  printing.   v  Europeans  did  not  use  this   technique  again  until  the  1400’s  CE.   v  Previously  it  had  been  thought  that   the  Chinese  had  invented  moveable   type.     v  The  Phaistos  Disc  is  remarkable   because  its  45  different  figures  are   not  scratched  on,  but  pressed  in.   v  An  individual    block  was  made  for   each  pictograph.   v  The  same  block  was  pressed  into   clay  whenever  that  particular  sign   was  needed.  
  42. 42. Minoan Timeline: Volcanic Eruption: 1450 BCE v  All  of  the  centers  of  the  Second   Palace  Period  were  destroyed  around   1450  BCE.       v  The  terrible  volcanic  eruption  of   Thera  (Santorini)  had  large  impacts   on  Crete  depending  on  how  the  ash   fell,  but  did  not  have  enough  effects   to  destroy  the  palaces  or  the  Minoan   way  of  life.     v  The  eruption  of  Thera  may  have   destroyed  some  coastal  towns  and   shipping,  and  would  have  depressed   the  economies  of  the  eastern   Mediterranean  though.   v  Terrible  palace  destructions  did   happen  though  (probably  through   earthquake).  
  43. 43. Minoan Timeline: Volcanic Eruption: 1450 BCE   v  Life  resumed  only  at  the  palace  at   Knossos,  which  was  reconstructed   and  served  as  the  residence  of  a   new  Mycenaean  rulers  from  the   mainland.     v  Their  presence  is  inferred  by  the   appearance  of  the  very  archaic   written  Greek  language  of  Linear  B   and  by  the  appearance  of    Palace   Style  pottery.   v  Changes  were  made  in  the   arrangement  of  the  palaces,  and   the  Knossos  Throne  Room  and   many  surviving  frescoes  date  from   this  period.  
  44. 44. The End Of The Minoan Civilization v At  around  1400  BCE,  the  Mycenaean   civilization  from  mainland  Greece  began  to   gain  control  of  the  weakened  Minoan  Crete.   v As  a  result,  the  Minoans  were  engaged  in   increased  warfare.   v They  subsequently  abandoned  their   indefensible  palaces  in  favor  of  settlements   higher  in  the  mountains.   v These  provided  the  Minoans  with  greater   natural  protection  from  invasion.  

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