helens_daughter (helens_daughter) wrote,
helens_daughter
helens_daughter

Writing A Historical Knossos II: Middle Minoan Pottery

Here comes another installment of Minoan pottery types.  Now, I mentioned earlier that I did a lot of research for Knossos.  Among the generous replies from archaeologists like Dr. Colin Macdonald from the Athens School and Dr. Alexander MacGillivray, I sometimes managed to get information from graduate students (henceforth referred to as GS) in Aegean studies.  Our conversations often went like this:

Me: So the people living/working in the Old Palace period at Knossos would have used these cups, right?
GS: Yes, yes.
Me: Thanks. Can I give you a shout out in the book acknowledgments?
GS: NO, NO. DON'T USE MY REAL NAME. I DON'T EXIST. CAN'T LET MY PH.D ADVISOR KNOW ABOUT THIS. THIS IM WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN 10 SECONDS.

Okay, well. I respected his/her/its wishes, but Knossos turned out to be a good book, so he/she/it had nothing to worry about.  Onto the pottery.

The Middle Minoan period saw the introduction of the potter's wheel, the construction of the first palaces, and the spread of Minoan pottery to other parts of the Aegean.  This is when Minoan pottery really gets Minoan.

Middle Minoan IA (2160-1900)

This is the Prepalatial Period at places like Knossos.  Peak sanctuaries like Mount Juktas were at their height during this period, and the first written inscriptions, on seals, date from this time.  Pithoi begin to appear, and, as far as archaeology tells us, Minoan pottery starts to be exported to the Peloponnese.

Spirals and whorls had started appearing on Minoan pots in Early Minoan III (2300-2160), but now with the potter's wheel potters could turn out some very fine pieces, including:

Kamares (MM IA) is named for the cave site where some of the first specimens of this delicate, eggshell pottery were discovered.  This is the first, great, polychrome ware, decorated in red/brown/orange, white, and blue/purple on a black background.  Favorite motifs were abstract floral designs and spirals.  Because they were so delicate, and the quality of the clay much finer than previously used, Kamares vessels were a kind of prestige ware used by the elite; they were used in the first palaces of the Protopalatial Period (1900-1700 B.C.)

1935e84fdbbecb460761519236fd42bb
a0e5a7b16735b3c26a3d963bb1e83912
kamares
MM-065-2-mini-Kamares-jug-750x750
Middle Minoan II (1800-1700 B.C.)

In MM II, Minoan pottery becomes more widespread in the Aegean; it is found in the Cyclades, as well as Egypt and the Levant.

Middle Minoan III A and B (1700-1600 B.C.)

Keep in mind that earlier pottery styles like Kamares continued to be used; the Minoans didn't suddenly stop using older wares on January 1, 1800 B.C.  In fact, Kamares evolved into styles like Patterned and Floral Ware, which was less abstract and took inspiration directly from nature.  This is the Neopalatial Period, when all over Crete sites like Knossos and Phaistos were rebuilt following an island-wide destruction (probably an earthquake) severely damaged the Protopalatial sites.

Patterned Ware (MM III A and B) is an evolution from Kamares, in which we begin to see more realistic natural forms like lilies, palms, and papyrus.  This type of pottery further evolved into the Floral Style, whose motifs also appear in frescoes from the period; the Neopalatial saw the first Minoan-type frescoes.  There isn't much to distinguish these two pottery types, so I've lumped them together.

194da0befd7853cde2f3407a5ed45e91

vaseashmolean
ab657d40882a2649e7976364a9f4dbb1
Next time: the Late Minoan and Minoan-Mycenaean periods, the Marine Style, and the Age of Effloresence.
Tags: archaeology, artwork, knossos, minoans, mycenaeans, phaistos, pottery, writing
Subscribe
  • Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 0 comments