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May 31, 2017

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The Cyclades

May 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These white marble pieces, captivating with their simplistic and geometric qualities, would not appear out of place in a collection of modern art. Yet, these objects were made over four thousand years ago by people living on a group of islands known as the Cyclades. Although little is known about the people that inhabited these central Aegean islands, archaeology can help piece together a picture of what life may have been like.  What is revealed is a glimpse of a people who produced a stylistically iconic material culture during a time of transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.

 

The people who made these objects inhabited stone floored, clay brick houses in settlements positioned around sheltered, coastal bays. Small settlements surrounded larger, central trading settlements, fortified by gated walls. The small size of the islands not only limited the size of the population, each island only being able to support a few thousand people, but also limited the agricultural prospects of the islands. Despite this, the inhabitants managed to farm grain, grapes and olives as well as goats, sheep. There is also evidence they hunted deer and, of course, fished the surrounding Aegean.

 

What the Cyclades lacked in agricultural prospects they made up for in metallic, obsidian and marble resources. The inhabitants took advantage of these resources. The abundant supply of marble was carved with bone, stone or obsidian to create the prepossessing marble objects such as those seen here at the Museum.  This was a period in which metallurgy technology was developing quickly in the region. The inhabitants of the Cyclades were well positioned to take advantage of their rich iron and copper resources within the growing in