The Minoan and Mycenaean Pottery Part 8

31 Aug

The Minoan and Mycenaean Pottery Part 8



Kamares ware are a distinctive type of Minoan pottery produced in Crete during the Minoan period, dating to Middle Minoan 1A  (ca,2100 BCE) By the Late Minoan 1A period (ca. 1450 or the end of the First Palace Period). The designs are typically executed in white, red and blue on a black field Typical designs include abstract floral motifs. Surviving examples include ridged cups, small round spouted jars and large storage jars, on which combinations of abstract curvilinear  designs and stylized plant and marine motifs are painted in white and tones of red, orange, and yellow on a black background. The Kamares style was often elaborate, with complex patterns on pottery of eggshell thinness. Sets of jugs and cups have been found and it has been suggested that these may have been used in ritual. However, it is also thought that the exquisite Kamares wares would have been used in the Palaces.

Kamares Ware Jar c1800 – 1700 BC

Kamares Ware Stirrup Jar  Middle Minoan  (Marine Style )


The painted parallel – line decoration of the Agios Onouphrios Ware, was drawn with an iron-red clay slip that would fire red under oxidizing conditions in a clean kiln, but under the reducing  conditions of a smoky fire turn darker without much control over colour which would range from red to brown.. A dark on – light painted pattern was then applied.

Early Minoan Round Bottom Jug Agios Onouphrios Ware


Vasiliki pottery includes a reddish – brown wash applied early to mimic stone vases. The mottling was produced by even firing on the slip- covered pot, with the hottest areas turning dark. There is also a style painted in a creamy white over the reddish – brown wash applied all over the body. The first example of Vasiliki Ware are to be found in Crete during during the Early Minoan 11A period, but it is in the next perio, Early Minoan 11B that it becomes the dominant form among the fine wares throughout Eastern Crete and Southern Crete

Vasiliki White Style Teapot c 2300 – 2000BC


The major form of this ware was the chalice, in which a cup combined with a funnel – shaped stand, could be set on a hard surface without spilling.As the Pyrgos site was a rock shelter used as an ossuary, some think it may have been for ceremonial use. This type of pottery was black, grey and brown, burnished and decorated with incised linear designs, possibly in the attempt to imitate wood.

Pyrgos Ware Chalice Early Minoan

It seems that these were the most exquisite popular pottery shapes and decorations and were made at the Palace workshops, whereas the more mundane pottery was most likely locally made.

In the Late Helladic 1-11A pottery is distinguished by the use of more lustrous paint than their predecessors, whereas in the Middle Helladic period matt paints were used on Middle Helladic shapes.

Late Helladic 111A2 Krater Lustrous painted

Late Helladic Palace style Amphora

Late Helladic Kylix Cup

There is some question with regard to how much of the pottery of Early Mycenaean age, relies on Minoan pottery for both their shapes and patterns. For at least the first half of the seventeenth century BC there is only a small amount of all pottery produced that is in the Minoan style.

Pottery in the Late Helladic 1 (c1675 – 1650 – 1600 -1550 ) varies  somewhat in style from one area to another. Due to the influence of Minoan Crete, the further south the site, the more the pottery is of Minoan style. Some of the matt painted wares from the Middle Helladic period carry on into the Late Helladic period

Middle Helladic Matt Painted Vase.

In the Late Helladic 11A (c1600-1550  –  1490 – 1470 BC) there seems to be an increase in uniformity in the Peloponnese in both painting and shape. However,  Central Greece is still recognized as Helladic pottery, showing little Minoan influence. By this time the matt painted pottery is less common.

During Late Helladic 111A1 ( 1435 – 1405  –  1390 – 1370BC) many changes occur.  The transformation from Goblet to Kylix whereby the goblet lengthens its stem and in this period, the stirrup jar becomes a popular style.

In Late Helladic 111A2 (c 1390 – 1370   1320 – 1300BC), The stirrup jar, piriform jar and alabastron are mostly found in tombs. The kylix becomes the dominant shape of pottery found in settlements during this period, while the deep bowl becomes the most popular decorated shape during the Late Helladic c 111B (c 1320 – 1300 – 1190 BC)  although, for unpainted wares the Kylix is still the most produced

Late Helladic Piriform Jar

During the Late Helladic 111B1 there were two sub – phases, characterized by the presence of both painted deep bowls and Kilikes and in the Late Helladic 111B2 there is an absence of decorated Kylix and deep bowl styles develop in rosette forms.

Late Helladic 111B Deep Bowl

It is unknown how long each sub-phase lasted, however, by the end of the Late Helladic 111B2 the palaces of Mycenae and Tyrins and the citadel at Midea had all been destroyed. The palace of Pylos was also destroyed at some point during this time, but it is impossible to tell when in relation to the others the destruction took place.

It seems that the ceramic shapes and decorations discovered during this final period, show that the production of pottery was reduced to little more than a household industry, suggesting that this must have been a time of decline in Greece. Today, however, the reproductions of these exquisite forms and decorations  of the Minoan and Mycenaean pottery, still holds its popularity throughout the world as it did in ancient times.

This is my final post for the Minoan and Mycenaean Pottery  shapes and decorations

For those of you who were interested in this fascinating subject from ancient times, I hope you enjoyed.

Thanks for reading.




Posted by on August 31, 2020 in Uncategorized


12 responses to “The Minoan and Mycenaean Pottery Part 8

  1. dorannrule

    September 7, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    They are all stunningly beautiful and you should be commended for your depth of study of the time periods.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ritaroberts

    September 7, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks you for your kind comment Dora.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rosana Rodriguez

    September 12, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Very, very beautiful! It’s amazing how well-preserved the pottery is.


    • ritaroberts

      September 12, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Thank you for your kine comment Rosana, Did you read all the other parts Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 and 7 Just scroll down the page and you will see them.


  4. cav12

    September 13, 2020 at 6:35 am

    Fantastic, Rita! I was fortunate to see many of these at the museum at Heraklion and very grateful that you have shared them here on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ritaroberts

      September 13, 2020 at 5:44 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind comment cav12 I find all periods of the Greek pottery so beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Avedis Kull

    December 11, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Amazing work Rita! I have been studying similar sorts of pottery for a while now and find your detailed representations clear and concise! However, in my own research I have stumbled upon a stone spouted vessel which I am not sure where it can be dated back to! Would you be kind enough to help guide me in my research? Please feel free to reach out through email ( truly appreciated!



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