Aegean Art
Cyclades, Minoan, and Mycenaean
Unit Concepts
1. Aegean civilization was roughly
contemporary with Mesopotamian and
Egyptian civilizations.
It was thought to be mythological until 1870.
It was a forerunner to the Greeks.
It was composed of the Cycladic, Minoan, and
Mycenaean styles.
Aegean Map
Homer’s Myths
Homer wrote of mythical ancient
Greeks who were heroes.
He wrote the Iliad about
Agamemnon, Achilles, Helen, and
Paris. He also wrote The Odyssey
about Odysseus’s journey home.
It was all thought to be
mythological until archaeologists
found the ruins for Ancient Troy.
Famous Archaeologists
Heinrich Schliemann
Sir Arthur Evans
He was a businessman
until the age of 36, when
he decided to become
an archaeologist.
Became interested in Med.
seals while at Oxford and
went to Crete to learn
He discovered the ruins
of Troy and helped
uncover ruins in ancient
Mycenae, perhaps the
city of Agmemnon.
Bought the property and
uncovered the ruins of
ancient Knossos. Named it
the Minoan culture after
King Minos.
Cyclades refers to a group of
islands just to the east of
Crete. They look like they’re in
a circle, thus the Cyclades.
Inhabitants were sailors,
fishermen, and traders. No
evidence of writing, but we
have pottery, metalwork, and
Most famous artwork are the
marble idol sculptures. Very
simplified, geometric shapes.
Assumed that they are objects
of worship.
Minoan vs. Mycenaean
Minoan Culture
Myceanaean Culture
Open culture. Traders
and fishermen. Colorful,
happy, lively works of art.
Very military and warlike.
Myths are about war: the
Beautiful palace, but built
for beauty and freshness,
not for protection.
Built citadels and tombs.
Architecture was built to
protect from invasion, not
for beauty.
Conquered by
Forerunners to the ancient
Volcanic island that erupted
around 1500 B.C.
In the ashes, a flourishing
culture was exposed. They
had winding streets and nice
houses, even indoor
plumbing. Most comfortable
living conditions.
No bodies. Must have
Boxing children
Have similar look to Minoan
frescoes. Very lively and active
figures. darker skin for the
males. Curvilinear and
dynamic. But without the wasp
waists of Crete.
Ship fresco
Mycenaean Architecture
Mycenaeans were fighters. So
much of their architecture were
citadels. They would choose a high,
rocky hill, and built a fortress on top.
There would be living quarters, etc.
The focus of the citadel was the
megaron, Greek for large room.
Most of the citizens would live in
small mud brick houses. Then,
when under attack, they would
retreat to the citadel.
The megaron was
the throne room.
The basic plan for a
megaron was pretty
simple. A large
open room with four
columns in the
center with a
circular hearth.
Lion Gate
The citadels were cut out of
massive, irregular blocks of hewn
stone. The Greeks called the
walls Cyclopeans, because it
seemed that it had been placed
there by giants.
They would use post and lintel
construction for doorways, usually
with a triangular space on top.
This one has two lions protecting
the entrance.
A tholos was a
beehive tomb. It’s
made by corbeling
stones on top of each
other, with each one
slightly on top,
overlapping the one
below it.
A dromos is the long
walkway leading to
the tomb.
tomb of clytemnestra
Clytemnestra was
the wife of
Agamemnon, who
murdered him
when he returned
from Troy.
Once body was
inside the tholos,
the triangle and
door were blocked
in with bricks.
funeral Mask
In many of the tholos uncovered,
wonderful objects were uncovered
such as this funeral mask.
It is thought that these masks
would secure a person’s identity in
the afterlife.
Although stylized, this definitely
was modeled after a specific
This particular mask has been
mistakenly called the Mask of