We were in the centre of Heraklion in Crete. Our bus had dropped us here so we could wander the streets and take in the atmosphere or visit the Archaeological Museum to see artifacts from nearby Knossos prior to our visit to the site.
We had come prepared, so rather than waste time eating in a café, we lunched sitting on a bench beside the Archaeological Museum. Had we known, we could have gone into the Museum and sat in their garden to eat our sandwiches and salad but then we rather like watching people out shopping or strolling.
The Museum is modern, light and airy, made from materials that complement their collection. And as it was the end of the season it wasn’t too busy, though we did occasionally have to be creative in finding ways to photograph objects.
Luckily photography was allowed as long as flashes weren’t used. As we had a limited amount of time and much to see I ran around snapping everything I could to have a record of vases and containers that had me gasping in delight.
Nearly 4000 years old and yet many of the items looked fresh and modern in their designs and colours. In some of the portrayals of animals and people I even got a glimpse of a sense of humour in they way they had been drawn.
A civilisation with none of the amenities we take for granted, yet they could produce wonderful items in bronze, clay and metals.
It wasn’t only decoration of items that enthralled me, it was also the way they decorated themselves. Jewellery was here in abundance, made from coloured stones, gold and other materials. Necklaces were obviously an important fashion item, along with bracelets and earrings to add that extra touch to, going by the frescoes, lavishly patterned clothes. And there were clasps to hold those fancy items of clothing closed.
Recently, when recounting my surprise at the designs to a group of people, one, a male musician, said it wasn’t surprising for they were the same people as we are, and their creative instincts would have been the same. I realised he was of course right.
Creativity has threaded itself through the entire human race from the earliest of times. Though the materials used to express that creativity may have changed over the eons, from painting on cave walls to computer graphics, the urge and need to express the world as we see it, to embellish it and ourselves, has not changed.
The Minoans even had ceramic baths, and even here they gave rein to their creativity.
Upstairs in the Museum we admired the remains of frescoes from Knossos, their colours still surprisingly vibrant, showing a proud, confident people who had a close relationship with animals and the world around them, and who appreciated beauty and good design.
I still can’t help being bowled over by what I saw of their civilisation.