Wheel-made pottery was long established by the Bronze Age (ca. 3000–1100 BCE), and utilitarian vessels, decorated or not, were essential to the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. Like later Greek culture, Minoans and Mycenaeans were prolific potters. The earlier Minoan culture was centered on the island of Crete, while Mycenaean Greeks lived on the mainland. Minoans and Mycenaeans were two distinct cultures, with different languages, belief systems, and artistic tendencies. Minoan art, including pottery, has long been described as freeform and naturalistic, often depicting the natural world such as aquatic life. By contrast, Mycenaean art is often characterized as less naturalistic and more standardized in its decoration. Minoans of the Middle Bronze Age had a profound influence on the Mycenaeans of the Late Bronze Age. The consensus today seems to be that seafaring brought Minoans into contact with Mycenaeans around the fifteenth century BCE. We know this because elite Mycenaean tombs from that time suddenly contain Minoan and Minoan-influenced goods. Some suggest Mycenaean elite were collectors of Minoan “antiques.”
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