The early Greek world 3200–450 BC

Case 1: The Greek Bronze Age 3200-1100 BC

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The Cyclades 3200–2000 BC

The Cyclades are a group of rocky islands that lie between mainland Greece, Crete and the west coast of modern Turkey. In this period the islands were the home of a highly creative people, expert carvers of marble vessels and figurines.

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The Minoans 3000–1450 BC

The Minoan civilisation was based on the island of Crete. ‘Palaces’ like Knossos played an important part: these were large building complexes combining administrative, agricultural and religious functions. The Minoans did not speak Greek and their language has not been deciphered, but clearly they were exceptional artists and craftsmen, and through trade their influence spread throughout the Aegean and beyond.

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Phylakopi 2900–1100 BC

Architecture, wall-paintings and pottery excavated at the settlement of Phylakopi on Melos have revealed strong connections with Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece. The Minoans may first have come to Melos in search of obsidian, which was used for tools and weapons until bronze became more widespread from around 2000 BC.

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The Mycenaeans 1600–1100 BC

The Mycenaeans dominated the Greek mainland in the Late Bronze Age. Their name comes from the site of Mycenae in the north-eastern Peloponnese, and inscribed records show that they wrote and spoke in Greek. The Mycenaeans were strongly influenced by the Minoans and built palaces similar to theirs. Around 1450 BC, Mycenaean influence extended across the Aegean to include Crete, connecting to pre-existing trade links with Egypt, Italy and the Near East.

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The Fitzwilliam Museum : Early Greek world3200-450 BC

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