4000 years young


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.


A street in the centre of Heraklion.

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 garden. The pillars are similar to those at Knossos, linking the home of the artefacts with the site they came from.

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.


This made me think of Henry Moore.

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.


The more I look at this design the more I wonder if it represents something in nature – leaves, snails, or even a kneeling woman?


Swirls were popular, but must have been difficult to paint so accurately.


The sun or a large flower?

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.


I seem to remember this bowl was metal – bronze? Loved the heart-shaped lip. Such thought and care went into the design of these objects.


Love these long spouts like the beak of some birds.

A civilisation with none of the amenities we take for granted, yet they could produce wonderful items in bronze, clay and metals.


The Minotaur of Greek mythology was supposedly half man half bull, so bulls feature predominantly in imagery.

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.




Another jug with a long spout.

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.


Gorgeous, isn’t it! But I wonder how on earth they made it.


The decoration at the top is like a bird’s wing.


I assume this is marble.


There were a few of these basket-style containers. This one is decorated with flowers and leaves so perhaps belonged to a woman.

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 king and queen obviously and what seems to be members of the daily or court. No idea why they are holding their hands up as if in surrender.


A ceramic trunk, presumably for keeping clothes. You do have to wonder how they made and fired such large items.


This trunk with its intricate design of figures must surely have belonged to the king or queen.

The Minoans even had ceramic baths, and even here they gave rein to their creativity.


A wonderful friendly octopus adorns a ceramic bath covered with designs representing the sea and sea creatures.


Round the inside rim of the bath swim images of fish.

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.


Love his headdress. It looks as if made with coloured feathers.


Three fashionable women.


From her eyes and red lips this woman looks as if she is wearing makeup.


A man gathering something. At first I assumed it was plants, but given his blue colour I wonder whether he in in the sea, and the surrounding plants seaweeds.

I still can’t help being bowled over by what I saw of their civilisation.



About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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5 Responses to 4000 years young

  1. Chris Galvin says:

    I wonder if the king and queen figures are supposed to be celebrating something, or perhaps they are raising their arms in prayer? Interesting how the hands of one figure in the front row are held quite differently from the others. That black vase fragment looks like a coiled construction, but the note seems to indicate that it’s made from raw obsidian, which would have been carved, not hand-shaped. Does the note belong with another piece in the display?
    Like you, I wonder how they fired those trunks and baths. Must have had walk-in kilns.

    • Happy New Year, Chris. Just getting back into things after being laid low with flu.

      I found thee figures fascinating. Some also have feet peeping out from beneath ‘skirts’ while others don’t. I assume the raised hands are some kind of religious ritual as they are all doing it, though as you say not all in quite the same way. Don’t know much about them but certainly got the impression they were sophisticated and creative.

      I think the vase is obsidian. They had axes, very large axes, so presumably would have had tools to carve, and their clothes and jewellery are very fancy and beautifully made, so they obviously valued craftsmanship.The kept many of the large containers stored in an area with holes in the ground. Presumably to keep the contents cool in summer. I don’t remember seeing any kilns or be told about them, but when on a guided tour there is a limit to what you see and the heat makes everyone a bit lethargic. But the amount of very large containers certainly suggests walk-in kilns, presumably wood fired. A fascinating people.

  2. Mama Cormier says:

    What a fantastic place. The older I get the more I appreciate these things. I think the swirls on the vases look like waves from the ocean.

  3. Some of the patterns and designs might give you ideas for your artworks that you’re proding at a great rate. Retirement obviously has opened a creative door for you to step through and explore.

  4. Dorothy, it’s an interesting fact that even the smallest museum, no matter where it is in Greece, has a collection that would make most American museum curators drool. And your post on the Heraklion museum proves the point. As others have said, the King, Queen, and court of the raised arms is a mystery … and a new one for me. Nice photos and post. ~James

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