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Minoan Pottery - A History Lesson
Part Three

Level: Middle School, High School
Grades: 6-12 | Age: 11+ | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.com]
Part One >> Part Two >> Part Three

Minoan Pottery Part Three:

Minoan potters were restless and inventive craftsmen who were never content to stick with one style of pottery for very long. In fact, various archaeological digs have shown us that the Minoan artist was constantly changing the shapes and styles of his creations. These changes in pottery decoration help to tell archaeologists and art historians something about the feelings of the ancients who created these functional artworks.

In addition to telling a great deal about the people and their feelings, pottery can be an invaluable dating tool. Potsherds occur in large quantities on any archaeological site. Virtually indestructible, these potsherds act as a guide for dating. Naturally, the potsherds found in the lower levels of a site are the earliest in date and the next levels are later and so on. Things made of wood, leather, skins or cloth may rot or perish, but pots remain.

Pottery can also show archaeologists the contacts between prehistoric cultures or, in later times, the extent of a civilization's trade routes. Pots (or pithoi) containing oils and ointments, exported from 18th century BC Crete have been found on the mainland of Greece, on Cyprus, the Age an Isles, along the Syrian Coast and in Egypt, showing the wide trading contacts of the Minoan peoples.

The Minoan artist was both a realist and a sentimentalist. He was inspired by the life of the seashore. He collected shells, he peered down from his fishing boat through the clear water at the writhing octopus and he delighted to see the grace of the dolphin and the flying fish. With this free and naturalistic way of thinking and living, the creative Minoan was unlike most of his contemporaries in the Bronze Age world. He liked to portray vital nature and natural vitality.

With a true instinct for beauty, the Minoan potter created wondrous works of art.


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