Aegean & Mediterranean
3000 B.C. - 100 B.C.
The Mediterranean Sea was the main shipping and travel route of the ancient world. The Aegean Sea is the portion which is located between Greece and Turkey. The Aegean Islands encompass the North Aegean Islands, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and Crete, among others. The Aegean Islands were home to a great many Bronze Age cultures including the previously mentioned Cycladic and Minoan civilizations.
One such civilization was that of the Mycenaeans (1580-1120 BC), whose jurisdiction extended to Crete from mainland Greece. The Mycenaeans were first brought to light through the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. The Mycenaeans built palaces in the same manner as the Minoans and also communicated in Linear B; they also gradually adopted Minoan fresco themes and techniques. They crafted pottery and metal vessels often decorated with military motifs.
The Mycenaeans settled the island of Cyprus, in the southeastern end of the Mediterranean, very early in their expansion, c. 1600 BC. Further Greek settlement occurred c. 1000 BC. The Cypriots were thereafter ruled by many of the ancient world’s powerful civilizations, including the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Ptolemies, and the Romans.
3000 B.C. - 2000 B.C.
The Cycladic civilization of the Aegean Sea flourished at about the same time as the early Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations and is considered the forerunner of the first truly European civilization in Greece. The sculpture produced by the artisans of the Cyclades was unique compared to the art being produced by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. These sculptures are commonly called Cycaldic idols. Probably the most striking characteristic of Cycladic sculpture is its geometric, two-dimensional nature, which has a strangely modern familiarity.
2700 B.C. - 1450 B.C.
The Minoan civilization was based on the island of Crete during the Bronze Age. The capital of the Minoan culture was situated at Knossos, a site excavated by Sir Arthur Evans after 1900. During their most developed stages, the Minoans built great palaces, employed languages called Linear A and Linear B, and produced fine frescoes and pottery, much of which depicted marine and agricultural themes. It is believed that between 1500 and 1450 B.C. the decline of this civilization was caused by an earthquake and the eruption of the volcanic island of Thera.