AEGEAN: [Cyclades] [Crete] [Minoan] [Mycenaean] See also: [Art Periods] [Greece] [Art History (index)] [TIME LINE] (brought to you by Acme Time Conveyor Products) [Cyprus] (art & language refs as well) [Cypriot Script/Language] On this page: {Intro} {The Usual Suspects} (art thingies) {Religion} {Chronology}



Here is a general map of the area. Note the location of Macedonia (where Cleopatra was born - many miss this reference on trick questions).
This map (unfortunately tourist trades are not guided always by the study of ancient peoples and their arts) give a bit more info...
The so-called Cycladid Islands consist of over 25 islands off of the South-East coast of Greece in the area where the Mediteranian Sea (to the South and West) and the Aegean Sea (mostly directly to the north, slightly to the east) meet. The islands are primarily identified by things found there and include the following islands (listed North to South) and listed after it are key finds. Syros - "the frying pan" Paros Naxos Keros - "figure of a woman", "Seated harp player" Melos Thera (and the site known as Akrotiri) Again it is important to remember the "Theran Hypothesis" that about 1450bce an island volcano on Thera exploded. There is ancilliary evidence from ground extracts from Ireland and California (among others?) that the date of the explosion could be as early as 1630-1620bce. This introduces a slew of about 200 years into dating of *any* artifacts in the region. The only recourse is if there are artifacts that were traded with (eg) the Egyptian Empires of the Middle and New Kingdoms; thus ranging from the 12th down to the 18th dynasties. In such cases, the objects *may* have some documentation in the more accurately dated Egyptian histories. According to The Saskatchwean Museum of Antiquities, The sculpture produced by the artisans of the Cyclades islands was very unique compared to the art being produced by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. These sculptures, commonly called Cycladic idols, were often used as grave offerings, which points to the obvious role of religion in society. All of the idols were made of Parian marble. -[
Downloaded 2008.01.31 at 8:11 pct]- As well the Cycladic Museum in Greece offers this:


The following images are well-known in Art History, and these are primarily downloaded from the Cycladic Museum in Greece. (alt text is from the same site) -[]- "Clay vessel with a single handle and incised decoration of wavy lines and circles. Such designs on pots of this type have been thought to allude to the sea or have celestial symnbolism. This example, one of the best surving is almost 21 cm in diameter. White kolin (white china) has been used to ephasise the incised pattern work. 2800-2300 BCE, Clay, Catalog # Col. No. 971." "Seated Figurine. The man, with elongated head and long, relief nose (which is now chipped away) recalls the folded-arm type of female figurines from the same period. The statuette (15 cm high) is entirely carved out of a single piece of marble: the daring protrusion of the right arm, the man's entirely separated legs and the realistic rendering of the stool are good indications on an artist confident in his [sic] skills. 2800-2300 BCE, White marble, Catalog number Col. No 286." And one of the most common found artifacts.... "Female Figure. Stanidng at 1.40 m, this masterpiece of Cycladic sculpture may qualify as a statue. It follows the standard type, with the arms folded over the abdomen and the long feet, soles slopping downwards. It is because of the latter feature that some scholars assume that the figurines were meant to be reclining rather than standing." "The only difference between this large statue and its [sic] smaller 'sisters' is that the figures ears are rendered in relief, as two curved crescents along the elongated head. 2800-2300 BCE, white marble, Catalog # Col. No. 724." This image is similar to that as the one in Stokstad; which she gives with a height of 63.4 cm. The text on the museum site is interesting as well: The majority of Cycladic Figurines show women, nude with the arms folded over the belly. We do not know whether they were meant to show mortals or deities, or even whether the Islanders venerated a number of deities, like the later-period Greeks, or simply worshipped one "Mother Goddess". In this case, the figurines may have been conceived as representations of the Goddess, or companions to her. As Stokstad points out: The Cyclades, especially the islands of Naxos and Paros, had ample supplies of a fine and durable white marble. ... These figures are often found lying on graves. To shape the stone, sculptors used scrapers and chisels made from obsidain from the island of Melos and polishing stones of emery from Naxos. The introduction of metal tools may have made it possible for them to carve on a larger scale, but perhaps because the stone fractured so easily, they contnued to limit themselves to simplified sculptural forms. [Stokstad, P. 132] REF: Stokstad, Marily (2002). Art History - 2nd Edition, Volume 1. Harry N. Abrams, Inc, Publishers, ISBN 0.8109.0610.4, LCCN N'5300.S923'2001 btw: the Seated Harp Player is (as of this writing 2008.02.01) in the collection at the Metro of New York. well worth the trip to see. The various sites have such poor renderings of it, i'm tempted to hoist Stokstad, Vol.1 onto the scanner. But, her book should be avail to you in your local library. If not, pls email me. Finally, as Suzanne Hill points out on the web site: -[]- According to the Getty Museum, much of the modernist reverence for Cycladic figures is “based on a misconceived aesthetic premise” that they are abstract works of art pared down to minimal representational forms: flat, pure, and white. The original appearance of the figures was much more complex. Details like eyes, eyebrows, hair, even garments, were brightly painted onto the figurines and have been worn away by time. For instance, the figures were originally decorated with red, black, and blue designs to indicate facial features, jewelry, body paint, or tattoos (some of the details remain on this figure). -[Evidence of Painted surfaces]- Some-what splotchy patterns not un-like using a piece of cheese cloth with some wheat-paste and dobbing (but not tampierre) at the surface of the face. Letting it dry and the resulting mottled surface would be a cool rendering of the moon's craters in low-relief. Hmmm, pretty sketchy. Has some sort of chemical analysis been done on the coatings? Nota that as technologists this would be a good thinking problem to find out something about the object in the least intrusive manner. I would suggest either Ramann scattering in the I/R and U/V or else atomic absorption spectroscopy using a tunable molecular laser basing the spectrum on possible substrates. But, alas; i, digress. What strikes me most directly is the like of writing. We are told (by various sources, and certainly not by Stokstad) that these "were a pre-literate" socieity. Probably along the same lines that 20th century humans thought the Olmec to be aliterate as well. However, the areas in question suffer from their direct accessiblity and of course the numerous treasures both cultural and minerological. Perhaps sone day we will find the Cyclaedian equivalent of the Rosetta Stone and with the key to the Cypriotic mystery as well. -[Cyprus]- Regardless, as always, we must stand in awe and wonder at the achievements of the past - ever mindful that our actions do them justice and that life on the earth shall not perish. -- Frank (still working on my new decimal point cloning technology ;) --42--

The Usual Suspects

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google: "cycladic art" -[
Saskatchewan Museum of Antiquities]- -[Museum of Cycladic Art in Greece]- And special thanks to the Ministry of Travel... (for the maps!) -[Maps of Milos, Greece]- and -[The Cyclades]- -[]- -[]- [Back to the TOP of this page]