Notebook, 1993- APPROACHES - Ancient Greek Culture

Pictured here is the 'Blue Bird Fresco' - one of many images of Minoan Art
located at Ancient Aegean Art [Dr. Rozmeri Basic, Univ. of Oklahoma]


"There is a land called Crete, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water; and therein are many men past counting, and ninety cities." [Herodotus]

"Thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples beyond the art of Phidias and Praxiteles -beyond the splendour of Babylon and Hekatompylos: and from the anarchy of dreaming sleep, callest into sunny light the faces of long-burired beauties." [Thomas de Quincy]

A Bibliography - Late Minoan Painting and other Represenational Art: Pottery, Frescoes, Steatite Vases, Ivories, and Bronzes.

Aegean Prelude - [The Life of Greece, Will Durant] - "There is a land called Crete, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water; and therein are many men past counting, and ninety cities."

Wall Paintings - [Doumas, Christos, Prof. of Archaeology at the Univ. of Athens, Director of Excavations at Akrotiri. Santorini, A Guide to the Island and Its Archaeological Treasures. Athens: Ekdotike Athenon S.A. 1995.]

Ancient Aegean Art [Dr. Rozmeri Basic, Univ. of Oklahoma]

Prehistoric Thera: Akrotiri - Excavations at Thera Vi. [1972 Season]. By Spyridon Marinatos, Prof. of Arch., EM., Uiversity of Athens. Athens. 1974. With 6 Figures in the Text, 112 Plates in Black and White, and 11 Colour Plates with 7 Maps in Spearate Pocket. Athens. 1974. " . . . . One of the principal characteristics of the art of Akrotiri is that the artist had complete command of the space in which he moved unhesitatingly. He infallibly selected a subject suitable for filling the surface offered by the arrangement of the area. Door and window jambs, small surfaces of wall between two such openings, zones which are of necessity created for the opening of cupboards or windows and finally large expanses of wall, always bear the composition best suited to their shape and size. A representation of a pithos plant pot with lily adorned the jambs of the window in the West House . . . . "

The Palace of Minos. [Evans, Sir Arthur] - A Comparative Account of the Successive Stages of the Early Cretan Civilization as Illustrated by the Discoveries. Vol. II: Part II. Town-Houses in Knossos of the New Era and Restored West Palace Section, with its State Approach. New York: Biblo and Tannen:. 1964. ". . . . The egg-like pebbles of the frieze--derived, we may suppose, from cut conglomerate--with their cross striations, are also paralleled by similar examples on fragments from the present deposit. These banded pebbles are a very persistent feature in Minoan Art, which [p. 450] was taken over at Mycenae and elsewhere in Mainland Greece. Throughout we see the same decorative device--originating, it may be supposed, in a very ancient acquaintance with intarsia work--of depicting the face of the stone as if cut in section, which is also so characteristic of Minoan painted borders. Many of the rocks here present the appearance of brilliantly veined agate or of artificially coloured onyx, sliced and polished . . . . From the rocks spring wild peas or vetches--the pods shown simultaneously with spiky flowers--clumps of what seem to be dwarf Cretan irises, blue fringed with orange, and--for varietyÍs sake--rose edged with deep purplish green. To the left, for the first time in Ancient Art, appears a wild rose bush, partly against a deep red and partly against a white background, and other coiling sprays of the same plant hang down from a rock-work arch above . . . . "

Isthmia. - Broneer, Oscar. "Topography and Architecture." Vol II. Isthmia, Excavations by the University of Chicago under the Auspices of The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Princeton, New Jersey: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. 1973. " . . . . At the bottom of the walls was a low dado in the color of the stucco, set off from the painted panels by broad bands in a deep maroon color [Pl. B]. These stripes also run vertically in the corners. On the inside, between the maroon bands and the painted panels, runs a white stripe, ca. 0.008 m. wide. The background, in mottled marine green and a somewhat darker bluish green, is a convincing rendering of water in which fish and crustacea are represented swimming. The largest and best preserved panel on the right, northwest wall, shows five marine animals, preserved in whole or in part [Pl. A, top]. In the upper left corner is the end of a tail in red, apparently part of a lobster. Next to it is a fish of medium size, rendered in two shades of red, with splashes of white. Although the shape is not exactly right, the color is perhaps sufficiently characteristic to indicate that this is likely to have been meant as a barbouni [red mullet], a great favorite in the Greek fish market . . . . " [p. 63]

Tradition and Innovation. - Essays in Minoan Art. Walberg, Gisela. Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp Von Zabern. 1986. " . . . . Minoan art is not commemorative; there are no scenes celebrating victorious kings and armies or showing prisoners of war or their slaughter as in official Egyptian and, to an even greater extent, in Mesopotamian art. But there are also scenes which do not fit into the idyllic Minoan world which is so widely believed in, such as the Knossos Town Mosaic, which seems to have been a siege scene. One of the factors that has contributed most strongly to the idea of Minoan spontaneous joie de vivre is an interpretation of the movement of the figures in Minoan art as dancing or playing. But was it actually the artist's intention to show these figures as dancing? A study of human figures, animals and plants will show that the qualities described as spontaneity and fluidity and the "playful" movements can be linked with the origins of these motifs and are the result of a long Minoan artistic tradition, but usually have little to do with dance or play [Chapter V]. The traditional element is strong in Minoan art, in spite of the fact that creative spontaneity is seen by many as its most characteristic feature . . . . . "

Ancient Greek Culture - History, Myth, Religion, Literature, etc.

M i n o a n s

"In the short time that has elapsed since Sir Arthur Evans effectively rediscovered the Minoans in the early 1900s, the people of bronze age Crete have become familiar figures in our mental landscape of European prehistory. We have come to accept as established and defined a whole string of cultural traits that go to make up the 'Minoan personality'. The Minoans were elegant, graceful people who took an innocent pleasure in displaying their own physical beauty; they were lithe, athletic and enjoyed boxing, wrestling, and bull-leaping; they were intensely refined aesthetes, surrounding themselves with sophisticated architecture and beautiful objects; they were nature-lovers, comissioning frescoes of landscapes full of flowers, birds, and butterflies; they were collectively strong, too, with fleets controlling the seas surrounding Crete, so minimiizing the danger of attack by world-be invaders; they were lovers of peace, the inhabitants of each city-state living in harmony with their neighbours; they were ruled by a great and powerful king of Knossos called MInos. . . . " [Castleden, Rodney. Minoans. Life in Bronze Age Crete. London & New York: Routledge. 1990. p. 1]



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