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                                            Early and Middle Bronze Age - Neolithic Art
Cycladic jar



The Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 B.C.) is characterised by the spread of metal, the use of which is already known in the Final Neolithic or Chalcolithic period. The Northeastern Aegean, the Cyclades and Mainland Greece are home to specific cultural groups during this period.
Initially the way of life in all aspects continues along the lines of its Neolithic predecessor. The general development of the second phase of the period (2700-2200 B.C.) leads to the creation of organised settlements, the construction of monumental buildings and a controlled economy with the accumulation of goods and the use of seals. This is the time of the first urban development, communication between settlements and commerce by sea with the shipping of metal objects, Melian obsidian and fine pottery throughout the Aegean.

In the Northeastern Aegean, Poliochni in Lemnos and Troy in Asia Minor become prominent as strong proto-urban centres.To this same period belong the graves of Leukas in the Ionian Sea, with their rich funerary equipment. In Mainland Greece, Boeotian Orchomenos beside the Kopais lake, Lerna in the Argolid and Aegina are among the important centres of this time  -for the well-known Neolithic sites such as Sesklo and Lianokladi we have less evidence. In Attica there are many small but important settlements such as Raphina, Askitario and Ag. Kosmas. The imported objects found in these settlements provide evidence of their habitual communication with the Cyclades.

  The development observable during the second phase of the Early Bronze Age comes to an end during the third and last phase of the Period (2200-2000 B.C.). Evident are destructions, the abandonment of settlements and a general disorganisation that has been traditionally associated with the incursion of new populations. The Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 B.C.) is characterised initially by an economic and cultural decline,as can be seen in the poor remains of the settlements and in the poverty of the burials. It is a time of re establishment and by the middle of the period, development is evident. The growth in population and consequent necessity of further cultivation of the fertile land leads to the appearance of new settlements in opportune places. The most important of these have bronze workshops. Graves are now supplied with bronze weapons and jewellery of gold, bronze and semi-precious stones, in addition to pottery. The pottery of the period, for the most part wheel-made, comprises two main categories Minyan ware and Matt Painted.

Toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the richly provided tombs of Mainland Greece bespeak the rise of anumber of ruling groups. The influence of the advanced culture of Minoan Crete, the importation of luxurious and beautifully worked vessels and weapons, the spread of new ideas and techniques is to bring about basic changes that are observable in all levels of life and art. The end of the Middle Helladic Period is marked by social change rather than by catastrophe. It is the time of the Shaft Graves at  Mycenae and the new warrior aristocracy which introduces us to the Mycenaean period.              




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