Cycladic Culture and the Bronze Age

During the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, during the Bronze Age, one of the oldest civilizations in Europe developed in the Cyclades. More specifically, the Bronze Age concerns the period from 3200 to 1100 BC, and is divided into Early Cycladic, Middle and Late Cycladic. The Cycladic civilization, however, flourished more during the early Bronze Age (3000-2000).

What favored the development of Cycladic Culture

The reasons that contributed to the genesis and development of civilization in the Cyclades during these ancient times, are the following:

-Σημαντικό ρόλο έπαιξαν οι περιορισμοί του φυσικού τους περιβάλλοντος οι οποίοι ανάγκασαν τους νησιώτες να στραφούν εξαρχής στην θάλασσα προκειμένου να προσποριστούν τα απαραίτητα για την επιβίωσή τους.

-Επίσης σημαντικό ρόλο έπαιξε ο ορυκτός τους πλούτος. Συγκεκριμένα ο οψιανός της Μήλου, η σμύριδα της Νάξου, ο μόλυβδος της Σίφνου, ο χαλκός της Κύθνου και της Σέριφου και, τέλος, η κατεξοχήν πρώτη ύλη των νησιών, το μάρμαρο.

-Of course their particularly privileged geographical position played a leading role in the development of their culture. This is because the islands of the Cyclades are a kind of natural bridge between Europe and Asia, Mainland Greece and Crete. In the 3rd millennium BC, the ships of the Cycladic islands dominate the Aegean and together with the products of the Near East transfer to Europe ideas, technical knowledge, religious perceptions.

-Finally, the mild climate of the area favored the inhabitants and left them undisturbed to create its important culture.

The chronicle of Cycladic Civilization

  • During the 3rd millennium BC, in the Cyclades islands, each settlement seems to have developed independently and there was no kind of central government. Initially the settlements are formed near the sea or on the slopes of low hills.
  • Later and around 2300 BC. some settlements are fortified like Agia Irini in Kea, some are destroyed and rebuilt fortified like Fylakopi in Milos, while others are built on high hills away from the sea, such as Kastri of Syros. All this mobility and restructuring in the settlements reveals some disturbance of life from the presence of new populations, probably coming from Asia Minor. But quickly the islands regain the rhythm of their life.
  • Κατά τη 2η χιλιετία π.Χ. και καθώς οι κυκλαδίτες ταξιδεύουν αρχικά στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα και στη συνέχεια στην Κρήτη, οι οικισμοί τους μεγαλώνουν, τα κτίρια είναι πιο σύνθετα και επιβλητικά. Ο πιο σημαντικός οικισμός αυτής της εποχής είναι το Ακρωτήρι στη Θήρα.
  • Around 1600 BC, some large Cycladic settlements were destroyed by an earthquake. The Cyclades then pass into the sphere of influence of Minoan Crete, which then knew its greatest prosperity.
  • After the destruction of the Minoan palaces, around 1450 BC, the Cyclades are ruled by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, who transmit to the islands the characteristics of their own culture in technology, art and religion.

The unique Cycladic figurines

The unique Cycladic figurines

Τα περισσότερα ειδώλια βρέθηκαν μέσα σε τάφους και ορισμένα σε σπίτια, ιερά και οικισμούς. Το αρχαιότερο Κυκλαδικό ειδώλιο βρέθηκε στο Σάλιαγκο, ένα νησάκι μεταξύ της Πάρου και της Αντιπάρου.

From time to time various views have been expressed about their importance. They have been interpreted as substitutes for human sacrifice or as images of respected ancestors, as psychopaths and even as toys for the dead to play with. Another interpretation wants the figurines figures, similar to the heroes and nymphs of the Greek pantheon. It has been mostly claimed to depict the divinity of Fertility

The stone figurines of the Early Cycladic period were made almost exclusively of marble. High quality white marble deposits abound in many Cycladic islands. However, from the research that has been done, it seems that as the main sources of marble, they used Naxos and Keros, and to a lesser extent Paros and Ios.

Cycladic or Cycladic type figurines were sometimes made of other materials, such as green and black stones, limestone, pumice, white tuff, slate, green steatite, shells, animal bones, ivory, flint, lead, copper, copper and clay. and wooden figurines, although no examples of the species have survived. The use of these materials may be due to the lack of marble in one area or to the greater familiarity of home craftsmen with other materials. However, oyster and clay figurines have also been found on islands such as Naxos, where marble abounds.

The sculpture of these years will contribute to the evolution of the Greek sculpture of antiquity, while the stylization and the abstract dimension that distinguishes them will be a basic aesthetic model of the artistic avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Other characteristic findings of the period

The clay pots of the period, which have various shapes, are decorated with simple linear designs. Extremely sculpted marble vessels, paintings, goblets and animal-shaped vessels, marble weights have also been found. Some metal objects, such as bronze tools and weapons, lead figurines but also symbolic objects, such as frying pans, which are decorated with engraved patterns reminiscent of the sea, stars and female fertility.

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