Classics Lecture 4

Classics Lecture 4 - Lecture 4 Arthur Evans and Crete Myth...

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Unformatted text preview: Lecture 4 Arthur Evans and Crete: Myth and Mythology (I) Mediterranean travel has Crete ideally placed, particularly with regard to the Greek mainland, the Aegean islands, and Egypt. Greek & Turkish shoreline has thousands of bays & promontories; the many islands are submerged peaks of a large network of mountains Introducing major sites: Palaces: Knossos, Phaistos, Mallia, Zakro; Villas, Town sites, other palaces: Ayia Triada, Gournia, Palaikastro, Archanes, Chania Satellite image showing topography White Mtns Mt. Ida Mt. Dikte Relative & absolute chronology • Coming up with relative chronology can be straightforward • Converting this into an absolute chronology can sometimes be daunting • Old Palace Period • MM IB-II • c. 1925-1725 BC • New Palace Period • MM III-LM IB • c. 1725-1450 BC • LM II = the period of the Mycenaean domination of Crete, which is sometimes referred to as “Third Palace Period” 14501380/75 BC Knossos: Where it all began, the first “Minoan” site to be discovered: the grand-daddy of them all Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941) Greatest extent of Minoan Knossos about 75ha (4ha = palace) Estimated population: 12,000 Knossos Palace: about 135 x 135m (excluding West Court) Arranged around central court: about 50 x 25m; Grand façade facing onto West Court; Entrances court Main façade of the palace fronts onto the west (indented trace) Mt. Juktas “Theatral Area” Historical values • Hitherto unknown prehistoric civilization • One of the earliest complex societies in Europe • The earliest written syllabic script in Europe • Extensive foreign relations • Advanced technology • And what, precisely, is a “Palace”? • Medieval sense (Victorian Palace) • Center of an urban nucleus • Cultic/religious center Large urban nucleus Phaistos (excavated by the Italian School) controls the rich Mesara plain and aligned with Mt. Ida Phaistos: Important for Old Palace, which was about 120 x 120m (only slightly smaller than the Palace at Knossos), around a central court (46.5 x 22.3m) Mallia (excavated by the Ecole françaises d’Athènes). Second Palace period (note Central Court, storage areas, etc.); Central Court (48 x 23m) (Kato) Zakro (in east Crete) Palace & town. Excavated by Nikolaos Platon Plan and views of the Minoan town at Gournia with palace at lower right. This is the most extensively excavated Minoan lowland town. Most prosperous during Late Minoan I (1550-1450 BC) Ayia Triada Aerial view of the Villa complex at Ayia Triada, which is Second Palace Period. What appears to be a Megaron was built over the villa in the Third Palace Period, and this is contemporary with the stoa complex at the northern sector of the site Classical/Hellenistic Stoas Stoa of Attalos in the Athenian Agora (2nd century BC) Whether or not the Ayia Triada stoa functioned as a stoa remains unknown • Reconstruction drawing of the “ship-sheds” at the port of Kommos near Ayia Triada • This stoa-like building has been interpreted as a compound of ship-sheds whose long rooms open on to the sandy beach • Third Palace Period (c. 1450-1375 BC), i.e. Mycenaean period, contemporary with the stoa at Ayia Triada Kamares style pottery of the Old Palace Period (1st wheelmade pottery on Crete) Kamares Ware continues into MM III, with the beginnings of the New Palace Period, but in Late Minoan I it is replaced by a very different pottery style. Late Minoan IA (1550-1500 BC). Floral Style (new dark-on-light) Late Minoan IA (1550-1500 B.C.) Pattern Style Late Minoan IB (1500-1450 B.C.) Marine Style (Palaces destroyed) Right: Gournia Late Minoan II (1450-1400/1375 B.C.) Palace Style (associated with Mycenaean phase) Other aspects of Minoan material culture: Begin in EM, under Egyptian influence LM there are a variety of shapes & are put together from complex composite parts (common at Zakro) Important series of rhyta (ritual vases) made of soft stone in various shapes with scenes in low relief, popular in Crete c. 1500-1450 BC • • • • The so-called “Peak Sanctuary” rhyton Made of chlorite (often referred to as serpentine) From the Palace at Kato Zakro, Second Palace Period Depicts a tripartite peak sanctuary surmounting a broad stair, with double horns along the roof lines, and what appear to be altars in the foreshortened front court, set in a mountain landscape with wild goats and birds. The stone vessel was probably gilt One important aspect of Minoan religion is the outdoor nature of much of the activity, but often with a focus on a tripartite shrine, whether on a mountain or in the central court. Peak Sanctuary Rhyton from Zakro “Harvester Vase” • Ayia Triada Villa A • “Ostrich-egg shaped” • Black steatite (lower part made separately does not survive) • 27 males in all led by an older figure, perhaps priest; all masterfully placed in a small field • Depth of field (perspective) • 21 of the younger males carry “hoes” or “willow-shoots” or “winnowing fans,” with what appear to be bags of seed suspended from their belts • They are led by an older, longhaired, male wearing a large cloak with pine-cone pattern & carrying a long stick Older man at left; toward the end of the procession one man turns to shout at another, who is pushing his way forward In the center of the procession: • A singer with a “sacred rattle” • Followed by a choir of three • Clay votive rattle (seistrum or sistrum) from Archanes (restored with two wooden rods) • Various theories explaining iconography: • 1) Harvest festival • 2) Sowing or plowing festival • 3) Processional dance • 4) Triumphal march of warriors • 5) Two processions, one led by the leader with cloak, the other by the sistrum holder: “response & call” march-song Bull’s head rhyton from the Little Palace at Knossos carved from a block of black steatite (serpentine), with horns originally of gilded wood, eyes of inlaid rock crystal and jasper (& realistically painted), and nostrils of mother-of pearl (the horns and much of the head are modern restorations). Ca. 1550-1500 BC. Main spout through bull’s mouth Gold, silver, and bronze plate (note various shapes); bronze vessels from Archanes; gold cup from Knossos Gold repoussé-decorated pommel for a Minoan sword depicting an acrobat performing within the circular field. From the Palace at Mallia (MM III, c. 1600 BC) Bronze figures cast by the cire perdue (lost wax) technique in the typical “worshipping” pose, all wearing normal costume for their sex, c. 1500 BC Left: Bronze “adorant” from Ayia Triada. Right: Rethymnon (16th century) Elephant & hippo ivory • Surviving carved ivories from Crete are rare (many from the Mycenaean mainland: either Cretan or Mycenaean) • Tusks found at Phaistos & Zakro • Elephant ivory comes from North Syria, where the Syrian elephant was extinct by the 9th or 10th centuries BC (or later) • Hippo ivory could have come from Egypt, though it is possible that hippo were also in some of the larger rivers of North Syria • Tusks from Ulu Burun shipwreck Ivory acrobat (bull-leaper), with gold inlays, from the Palace at Knossos (LM IA: 1550-1500) Chryselephantine (gold & ivory) statuette from Palaikastro referred to as a “kouros” (left as preserved; right as reconstructed). Late Minoan IB 1500-1450 BC Details of the pieces of the Palaikastro ivory “kouros” Faience (pre-glass/early synthetic material) plaques found in the excavations at Knossos showing Minoan houses (15th century B.C.) Faience statuettes of the snake goddesses (or the snake goddess & her attendant) from the Temple Repositories at Knossos, c. 1600 BC Faience plaques • • • • • • From Knossos, c. 1600 BC of goat-&kid, cow-&-calf Faience, also known as Egyptian faience or glazed composition Core of quartz grains cemented together & covered with true vitreous glaze (precise technique not known) Described as the “first conscious essay in the production of a synthetic material” Originates from western Asia but took root in Egypt in the 4th millennium BC First made in Crete in EM II (c. 2500 BC): small beads, but it really took off in the 18th century BC Jewelry of precious & semi-precious stone, with love of naturalistic iconography in miniature (potnia theron, mistress of the animals between two griffins; pair of bulls; lioness attacking bull): Seal stones of the Neopalatial period from the Palace at Knossos Right: LM gold earrings covered with granulation EM pendant from Chrysolakkos (Mallia), and other (LM) jewelry continuing the tradition of filigree & granualation But it is really the engraved gemstones in which we find all the characteristics of Minoan art (both in stone and in gold) Gold signet ring from the tomb at Isopata, near Knossos, showing a religious scene that may represent an ecstatic ritual dance in an outdoor setting and an “epiphany” of a goddess, c. 1500 BC (the Epiphany Cycle) Ring from a tholos tomb at Phourni, Archanes (1600-1500 BC) Examples taken from various gold rings showing floating “spikes,” “eyes,” and “rays.” Note Master Seal Impression with floating “leg & four dots” Correlations: “large snake” = Hydra; “leg & four dots” = Ursa Major; “floating person” I = Orion; “floating person” III = Bootes & Corona Borealis Minoan Frescoes • Painted walls had a long history in Crete • EM houses (eg Vasiliki) were plastered & painted, usually red or brown • In the First palaces there is little, but enough to show that wall were decorated with ornamental designs painted in plaster • But it is not until the era of the Second Palaces, after 1725/1700 BC, that surviving paintings are at all common, and of these the vast majority were made between 1550 and 1450 BC (a few are earlier & a few later) • Technique: Minoan frescoes are not true fresco, i.e. the buon fresco of the Renaissance, where the pigments were applied directly to the wet plaster • They are more akin to fresco secco, where the pigments were applied to the plaster after it had dried • A mixture of lime, or an organic binding agent such as albumen, garlic, gum arabic, or whatever, added to the pigments would have enabled them to adhere to the plaster Relief frescoes • Occasionally, the scene to be painted was modeled in very low relief in the plaster, which gave a slight, but nevertheless real, threedimensional effect • Classic case the charging bull from the North Entrance Passage • As for the colors in use, these included black (carbonaceous shale), white (hydrate of lime), red (haematite), yellow (ochre), blue (silicate of copper), & green (blue & yellow mixed) • More recent analysis has shown even more complex compounds Charging bull fresco The surviving material comes primarily from the Second Palace at Knossos & Thera • There are a few frescoes from Ayia Triada, at Amnisos, and on Melos, but very little from the Palaces of Phaistos & Mallia • The latest group of frescoes date from the later stages of the Palatial period, sometimes referred to as the Third Palace Period, and here we find the noticeable rigidity and monumentality of Mycenaean influence • Apart from this latest group, there is little clear stylistic development, and many scholars tend to group them by subject • Often, frescoes were framed by bands of geometric patterns above & below • The style is the first truly naturalistic style to be found in European (&, as many believe, in any art). It includes the two chief Cretan characteristics: • 1) Reproduction of natural forms in a vivid & impressionistic manner • 2) Ability to fit the painting to the area to be decorated • Most are poorly preserved and many are as much the work of the restorer than of antiquity A classic case in point is the celebrated Priest King fresco, which is very fragmentary (note two different reconstructions) Alternative reconstruction Another classic case of the restorer’s art, is the “Saffron Gatherer” or “Blue Monkey” Fresco from Knossos as originally restored & as amended. Left: Blue Monkey fresco from Akrotiri (note animals in their natural setting) Essentially, the surviving frescoes may be grouped under two broad categories: • • • • • • • • • 1) Scenes from nature 2) “Palace life” Subjects from nature include: Pictures of the flowers such as those from Amnisos: Three walls of the room each had a separate subject: 1) Lilies (left) 2) Irises 3) Plants in a stone vase Other nature scenes include charming & lifelike studies of birds, monkeys, a cat stalking a pheasant, & a leaping roebuck We often find closely related iconography on a variety of media Dolphin Fresco, Queen’s Megaron, probably originally from the floor of the storey above Detail of the Flying Fish Fresco from the site of Phylakopi on the island of Melos, Middle Cycladic, c. 18th-17th century BC Two naturalistic studies of birds – Left: Detail from the Partridge Frieze from the Caravanserai (c. 1500 BC); Right: Blue Bird Fresco from the House of the Frescoes, northwest of the Palace at Knossos (c. 1550 BC) Left: Cat Stalking Pheasant Fresco from Ayia Triada. Right: Dancer from the Queen’s Megaron at Knossos, spinning so rapidly that her long curls fly out on either side of her head, but with her we begin the other category: “Palace Life” Among the most common are the processional frescoes, many of which include life-size or over life-size figures (from the south entrance passages) Some of these are completely modern reconstructions, such as this from Knossos In addition to the larger frescoes, there are a whole group, largely fragmentary, of miniature frescoes showing scenes of Palace life (cf. Thera). “Grandstand” Fresco from Knossos (Second Palace Period) with Tripartite Shrine & “Horns of Consecration.” The broad strip below marks out a courtyard (Central Court?) filled with people (note sizes) Another detail (note the stairs, columns, figures of different sizes, or status, or human vs. supernatural, geometric borders) Another miniature fresco from Knossos: Sacred trees & “dancing in the grove” (cf. West Courts) But many of the most famous Palace Life Frescoes date to the so-called Third Palace Period (LM II: 1450/1425-1390/1375 BC), and display Mycenaean influence. Left: “Camp Stool” Fresco depicting groups of seated men/women drinking from chalices that look Mycenaean; Right: “Captain of the Blacks” (note “Nubian” cap) One of the most celebrated frescoes of the Third Palace Period is this well-preserved head of a female, Higgins: “the exquisite lady known as La Parisienne.” Context unknown, but also thought to be part of the Camp Stool Fresco. She featured extensively in Fellini’s Satyricon Perhaps the most celebrated of all frescoes is the “Toreador Fresco,” found in the northern half of the east wing & fallen from an upper floor. Male (& female?) acrobats shown turning somersaults over the backs of charging bulls This is what Evans & many others have argued for: We find the same iconography in other media, including the gold ring in Oxford bought by Evans at Archanes & the bronze group thought to be from Rethymnon The Ayia Triada sarcophagus made of limestone and decorated with various religious scenes in fresco technique, c. 14th century BC. It was found in a tomb near the “Villa” at Ayia Triada. All four sides have self contained scenes Each end shows two “goddesses” in a chariot, one drawn by goats (right), the other by griffins (left). Note the elaborate bands of framing ornamentation Ayia Triada Sarcophagos • On one side (top) votive offerings (figures of bulls, ship) are brought to a deity (cf. Archanes xoannon), often referred to as the dead man in front of his tomb • At the other end (top) a musician (lyre), and women with buckets, one pouring liquid (blood); note double axes surmounted by birds • Opposite end all face one way. An aulos player and three women approach a table on which lies a trussed bull, with two calves below. In front, a women in ceremonial dress makes an offering at an altar • Beyond, a double axe & bird, as well as shrine with tree (& horns of consecration) Skeleton of a slaughtered horse (center) as found in Tholos Tomb A at Archanes, similar to the ox on the Ayia Triada sarcophagos. Right reconstruction of part of the tomb showing parts of sacrificed animals (here clearly associated with the dead) ...
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