Cyclades

The Cyclades.—In these islands we find traces of absolutely the earliest fabrics known in the history of Greek pottery, but later finds of painted vases are comparatively rare. Mycenaean pottery has been found in the islands of Amorgos, Delos and Rheneia, Kythnos, Seriphos, Sikinos, Syros, Thera, and Melos. Other finds recorded are from Paros and Antiparos (early fabrics), Keos, Kimolos,Kythnos, Siphnos, and Syros; a remarkable Ionic vase in the Louvre, found in Etruria, has also been attributed to an island fabric, that of Keos, and another at Würzburg to that of Naxos. The chief finds of “Cycladic” or pre-Mycenaean pottery are those from the volcanic deposits of the island of Thera  (see p. ), which, from the circumstances of their discovery and the geological history of the island, are supposed to date back beyond 2000 B.C. They are painted with vegetable patterns in brown on a white ground, and have chiefly been excavated by the French School during the years 1867–74; a few are in Athens, but the majority are in the Louvre or the Sèvres Museum. In the superincumbent layers Mycenaean and Geometrical pottery came to light, and a fragment of a large Melian amphora with the so-called Asiatic Artemis, now in the Berlin Museum (No. 301), is stated by Ross to have come from this island. The same traveller saw here large πίθοι with painted subjects of early character and similar smaller vases, also some with black figures, in a private collection. More recently (in 1900) excavations made in the Acropolis cemetery by German archaeologists yielded a large quantity of pottery, chiefly Geometrical in character, extending from the eighth to the middle of the sixth century B.C.

The vases found in Melos  amount to a considerable number, of different ages and styles. Recent excavations by the British School on the site of Phylakopi brought to light large quantities, not only of Mycenaean, but of pre-Mycenaean remains, including pottery. Mr. Thomas Burgon's collection included many B.F. and later vases from Melos, now in the British Museum; they are mostly small and unimportant. Ross also saw painted vases in Melos. The island is, however, chiefly celebrated for a class of early vases, few in number, but of exceptional merit, which have mostly been found in the island, and so are known as “Melian” amphorae (see below, p. ). Recently, however, large numbers of fragments of similar pottery have been found at Rheneia, opposite Delos, and it is possible that Delos was the centre of the fabric, not Melos, as hitherto supposed. They date from the seventh century B.C.Among the finds of later date from Melos, by far the most noteworthy is the Louvre Gigantomachia krater.

Turning now to the eastern group of Aegean Islands, known as the Sporades , we begin with Lesbos , where many fragments of B.F. and R.F. vases were found by Mr. Newton during his Vice-Consulate. From epigraphical evidence it seems probable that many of the early B.F. fragments found at Naukratis (see below) should be attributed to a Lesbian fabric, but this has not so far been established. Vases have also been found in Tenedos and Chios.

Next we come to Samos , an island always renowned in antiquity for its fictile ware. The Homeric hymn to the potters is addressed to Samians. It was, however, in Roman times that its renown was especially great, and its connection with a certain class of red glazed wares has caused the name of “Samian Ware” to be applied indiscriminately but falsely to all Roman pottery of that kind. Finds of pottery have, however, been few and far between. The British Museum possesses a lekythos of the B.F. period in the form of a sandalled foot (Plate XLVI below), which Mr. Finlay obtained here. More recently Dr. Böhlau excavated some early cemeteries, and found a considerable quantity of pottery of the “Ionic” type, which enabled him to establish a Samian origin for certain wares of the sixth century. Kalymnos  was explored by Mr. Newton in 1856, but has yielded little beyond plain glazed ware, and the same may be said of Kos, although the latter was famed in antiquity for its amphorae and culinary vessels. The small islands of Telos Nisyros Chiliodromia , and Karpathos  have been explored at different times by Ross, Theodore Bent, and others, and have yielded vases of a late R.F. period, corresponding to the later Athenian fabrics, several of which are in the British Museum. Messrs. Bent and Paton have also found pottery of the Mycenaean period in Kalymnos and Karpathos; and similar remains are reported from Kos .

PLATE XLVI
Plate XLVI

Greek Vases Modelled in Various Forms (British Museum).
1, 6, Sixth Century; 2, 4, 5, Fifth Century; 3, Fourth Century.