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Classical Archaeology Lecture 2: Minoan Culture

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Spencer Pope

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September 17, 2013 Lecture 2 – Minoan Culture Introduction  Minoan – modern academic name, not derived from the culture itself  Crete – home to the Minoans  Aegan Sea – bordered by Turkey, Greece, and Crete Minoan “Pre-Greek” Civilization  Minoans were direct predecessors of the Greek o Direct development o Similar culture  Both recognized & worshiped their Gods  Pottery  Gender roles; hierarchy  Cannot be classified as Greeks because they did not use the Greek language New Palace Period  1700-1450 BC  Brought down by earthquake c.1450 BC  Apex of wealth and power of the Minoans  Flourishing of Minoan culture o Development of ―palaces‖ as centers of religious, political, and economic power  Designed to be operational  ―Beating heart‖ of Minoan community  Palaces found at: Knossos, Phaistos, Mallia, and Zackros The Four Palaces  Minoan culture was a single, unified civilization  There was not one single unified government, but a collection of antonymous entities  Each palace was the capital of its own state  Apalace represents only a small part of the community o Merely a hub of activity  Officials of wealth resided in them Architectural Similarities – Shared Features 1) Central courtyard with a ratio of 2:1(twice as long as it was wide) 2) Warehouse/Storage for goods 3) Western entrance (principle entrance) 4) Theatrical areas o Centers for congregation 5) Pillar Crypt/ Ritual Space 6) Minoan Hall Central Courtyard Knossos  Well articulated  Made for gathering & spectacle  Warehouse of the West side o Stored agricultural goods (barley, nuts, olive oil, wine) o Kept for economic reasons o Goods collected from the countryside, and slowly sold back to the community Pithos  Ceramic storage vessel (plural is pithoi)  Under a meter to 2 meters high  Shows the importance of manufacturing Pillar Crypt Zackros  Small, enclosed space used for religious rites  Basement/sem-basement, enclosed with little provisions for windows  Small, dark, and uninviting  Functional in terms of religion  May have been related to initiation rites—individual is separated o Go in w/ one status, come out w/ a new one  Designed to emulate an aspect of a natural environment TheatricalArea Knossos  Steps leading nowhere, designed for gathering/seating  Communal aspect of the palace  2 most frequented site today in Greece  Pits (sacrifice) Phaistos  3 circular pits for sacrifice o Sacrifice entombed with the earth and the Gods  Minoan religion was contractual; based on an exchange of favours: give something to the Gods receive something in return (i.e. pregnancy, prosperity, victory) Minoan Hall  Large, rectangular room  Has a light-well o Open space o Allows sunlight o Combines both the natural world and the private, enclosed world  Possibly had an administrative use/ was an office space  Pier & Door Partition o Pier = post o Open when desired and closed when desired o Would have been made of wood MinoanArchitecture  Open, airy and inviting o Light-wells, frescos (coated w/ plaster and painted; key element of design)  Cut Stone blocks o Orthogonal or ashlar blocks – rectilinear solid o Limestone o Walls built at level  Wooden beams and posts (tree trunks) o Horizontal, wood beams o Used to create doorways Palaces and Society  Functioning of ―Palaces‖: o Political: impressive (monumental) architecture complex, indicating the seat of power (ruling elite). Residential space not given a priority. o Economic: 1) storehouse for redistribution of agricultural goods 2) site of metal smiths and artists o Religious: rites (both public [theatrical space] and private [pillar crypt] performed at palaces)  More than a royal residence ClassicalArchaeology  Acombination of archaeology, art history, and history (myth) Sources of ClassicalArchaeology Historians and Travelers Historians th  Herodotus = Greek Historian, 5 c. BC o ―father of history‖ o ―historia‖ – investigation  Thucydides = Greek Historian, 5 c. BC o Staple for historical stvestigatists  Livy = Roman Historian, 1 c. BC – 1 c.AD o Put all of roman history into one volume o Reflects on his own culture Travelers nd  Pausaniusst2 c.AD (Guide Book)  Strabo, 1 c. BC (Geograapher Literary Sources Mythohistory – folklore & history Greek Epic  Illiad and Odyssey attributed to poet Homer  Epic follows the tradition of oral poetry; folklore that the Greeks did not differentiate from factual history  Events of c.1200 BC, recorded c.800 BC  Homer codified an oral tradition, marking the transition from pre-history to historical The Iliad  Recounts events during the Trojan War o Battle of Greeks vs. Trojans (Troy in Asian Minor) o Especially the anger ofArchilles, Greek hero The Odyssey  Recounts events of Greek hero Odysseus returning from Greece to Troy Iconography  An analytical technique  The study and interpretation of the subject matter of visual arts = deciphering visual language of the artists  We use it all the time, everyday  Contextualizes visuals within Greek culture  Emblem = identifying clues (poses, physical attributes) GreekArt Males – Dark tones, figures Females – Light, white tones Kanthoros  Wine vessel “La Parisienne”  Knossos  Elegant lady; flowing hair  Name is modern  Steady draftsmanship  Highly articulate  Exagerra
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