Ancient Greece: A Sketch of Its Art, Literature & Philosophy Viewed in Connexion with Its External History from Earliest Times to the Age of Alexander the Great

By H. B. Cotterill | Go to book overview

pigment. The 'Early Minoan' pottery (c. 3000-2000) is somewhat thick, but finely glazed and painted and often decorated with the so-called 'spiral' pattern. Many 'beaked' jugs belong to this period, towards the end of which wheel- made ware seems to appear.1 The 'Middle Minoan' pottery (c. 2000-1500) is richly polychrome, beautiful in form and of wonderfully delicate consistency, like the finest porcelain. The decoration is both geometric and naturalistic--flowers, sea-plants, and marine animals, such as the polypus, being favourite designs. (For this and the beautiful Kamáres ware see Fig. 33 and List of Illustrations.) In the 'Late Minoan' era (c. 1500-1400), although fresco-painting, carving, metalwork, and plaster-moulding give evidence of a high degree of civilization, pottery shows manifest signs of decadence.

(2) Much archaic pottery of what is called the Mycenaean type (although it is very doubtful whether Mycenae itself was the chief, or even an important, centre of export) has been found in Rhodes and many other Aegaean islands, in Cyprus, Egypt, and Sicily.2 The earliest specimens resemble the Neolithic Cretan pottery, being black or monochrome, with incised lines filled with white pigment; then we find dull, lustreless colours, geometric or spiral patterns, and pot-bellied forms; then lustrous yellowish glaze, more graceful shapes, designs imitated from flowers, sea-plants, and marine animals, as in Middle and Late Minoan ware, and sometimes we have rude effigies of horses and men. (See plate facing p. 8 and Fig. 33, and the Mycenaean 'Warrior Vase,' Fig. 8.) A very characteristic example of the 'Mycenaean type' is the false-necked amphora shown in the plate facing p. 8.

After the advent of the Dorians and the disappearance of Cretan and Mycenaean civilization there is a Dark Age in the history of Greek ceramics. Between the latest pottery of the

____________________
1
The date of the invention or introduction of the potter's wheel is much disputed. It is generally placed "towards the end of the Bronze Age" (c. 1200?). In Cyprus and the Aegaean islands all the pottery of c. 2500 to 1500 seems to be hand-made. The wheel is mentioned by Homer ( Il. xviii. 600).
2
The 'Hissarlik' (Trojan) type is again somewhat different. (See Fig. 33.)

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