Greek Art and Architecture Essays

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Essay #1
The Palace of Knossos, a Minoan mud brick and timber structure on a shallow stone foundation, featuring a central courtyard, was constructed on an acropolis. It was a place for rulers to reside, shrines for religious ceremonies to be worshipped, the industrial production of objects, and administrative duties. Ample hallways, stairways, chambers, and light wells supplemented the ambitiously built structure. There were plenty of columns to mark he four awe inspiring entrance passages.

Four wings, oriented in a north-south direction, surrounded the central courtyard. The east wing featured the residential spaces, a workshop, and a shrine, while the west wing was complete with more shrines, a throne room, storerooms, and a banquet hall. The north wing included a theater area. The south wing featured a separate paved courtyard west of the palace. Inside the Palace of Knossos, plastered walls were painted with color washes. The walls were also decorated with frescos, many of which depicted religious ceremonies.

The Minoans were a people who enjoyed life. Many wine jars were found and it can be noted that women commonly bore their breasts. Long hair and makeup were popular and many festivals and events were held at the 1400 room palace. Nothing was fortified. These people had a love of art, color, and leisure, as depicted in many of the frescos at Knossos.

Minoan art occasionally featured geometric and repetitive forms on walls, floors, and ceilings, but more common were figurative and landscape elements. Often seen were both local and foreign flowers and plants. It is important to mention that no narrative style has been noted and there are no hieroglyphics to decipher the images at Knossos.

An example of a Minoan fresco at Knossos is the Bull Jumping mural, about 24 1.2" in height. One person holds the horns of a bull while another jumps over the animal. This may have been a sporting event, as bulls were an important image, ad may have been sacrificed. Figures in these Minoan works are much more animated than typical Egyptian examples.

A face of a bull with guilded horns, about 12" tall, was found at Knossos. Created from steatite with shell, rock crystal, and red jasper, a white, chalky substance was rubbed into carvings on it to give the illusion of texture and detail. Water or some other liquid could be poured from into the back and out of the bull's mouth.

Unlike the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the Citadel of Mycenae was heavily fortified and featured many entrances. It's famous gate, The Lion Gate, is known for its keystone depicting two of the animal. Though the columns appear Minoan in style, this is a Mycenaean innovation featuring the first example of monumental sculpture in Greek art. This post and lintel limestone entrance is over 9'6" tall.

Also Mycenaean, the Beehive Tomb at the Treasury of Atreus, complete with corbelling, and post and lintel entranceway, and a long walkway. The Treasury of Atreus is a well preserved tholos tomb with a round, corbelled interior roof, cushioned capital columns, and a small chamber. This monument was once highly decorated with paint and sculpture, though this can no longer be seen.

A mask, once thought to depict the face of Agamemnon, though now a disproved theory, was found at the royal tombs of Mycenae. It is the likeness of a man and was used as a burial mask with a less stylized beard and mustache.

Mycenae was full of war and turmoil. A vase, c.1300-100 bc, was dubbed The Warrior Vase for its scene of women bidding farewell to the warrior men. Such a solemn feel seems to typify these times. Other signs of unrest include dagger blades with gold and silver inlay on bronze, representing various animal scenes and people carrying shields, found at Mycenae.

Compared with Mycenae, Knossos appears to be a much more peaceful and artistic society. While both civilizations produced great art, the Knossos versions are more focused on...
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