Minoan Pottery

The very first flowering of civilization in Greek lands took place in Crete, an island lying to the south east of the Greek mainland. The civilizations of the island of Crete made some truly remarkable contributions to both Greek and Western European civilizations.

Cretan cup featuring ornamental design
950 BC. National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Minoan oinochoe in the marine style
1300 BC. Archaelogical Museum of Heraklion, Greece.

From the years 2600 BC to 1500 BC, the island of Crete was the center of a wondrous civilization. "Minoan" (after the legendary King Minos) was the name given to the Cretan culture during the Copper and Bronze Age.

The creating and building of pots is an art form first developed in Neolithic times. The need for pots arose when the food gathering peoples became food producing peoples. The cultivation of cereal crops meant that the produce had to be stored for future use, in baskets or pots.

Cretan pseudostomos, used for pouring wine at feast tables
About 1200-1100 B.C. Archaelogical Museum of Heraklion.
Minoan sharp bottom amphora
About 1500 B.C. Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Greece.

The Minoans were one such society whose knowledge of simple pottery blossomed into magnificent art forms.

"At the height of his power, the Minoan potter went directly to nature for his inspirations. His designs are full of grace and exuberance Reeds, grasses and flowers adorn his vases: the life of the sea is represented with astonishing fidelity."

Harriet Boyd Hawes (early excavator of Crete)