Channel: Ancient Light
Description: The ancient Cycladic culture flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea from c. 3300 to 1100 BCE. Along with the Minoan civilization and Mycenaean Greece, the Cycladic people are counted among the three major Aegean cultures. Cycladic art therefore comprises one of the three main branches of Aegean art.
Stepping stones across the Aegean, the Cycladic islands were early settlement sites for migrants. The islanders developed a significant culture centuries before the emergence of the great Bronze Age civilizations of Crete and the Greek mainland. The distinctive marble figurines produced on various islands represent some of the most beautiful artifacts of the period, even as their original significance remains a mystery.
The Cyclades lie in the southwestern Aegean, east and southeast of Attica, and north of Crete. The name is derived from their apparent arrangement in a circle around the sacred island of Delos. Marble is the dominant feature of the islands; most are part of a submerged, mountainous land mass made of metamorphic rock. A few volcanic islands (e.g., Thera and Melos) represent exceptions. The islands are not rich in natural resources, nor are they very fertile. The development of olive cultivation made them more productive.
The island system ranges from Thera in the south to Andros in the north. Delos and Paros are among the central islands. Naxos, Paros, and Andros are among the largest, but the islands are generally small. Early Cycladic settlements probably included about a few dozen people; no island could support more than a couple of thousand inhabitants. The meager size meant that eventually the Cyclades would be unable to compete with growing cultures on Crete and mainland Greece.
Published: September 20, 2017 7:35 pm