Long-time readers might recall that I tend to these my Christmases. This year I got really into Minoan and Mycenaean culture and shaped my festivities accordingly.
The Minoans and Mycenaeans are the two groups we know a good deal about from early Bronze Age Greece. The Minoans (who occupied Crete) flourished from about the 27th to 15th century BC. Their mercantile, bull-worshipping culture was rediscovered in the 20th century and they are most famous for their exquisite "palaces" (which might not have functioned quite as we understand the term). These opulent structures were often decorated with beautiful frescoes. Their culture was beset by some catastrophe, possibly an earthquake, in about 1450BC. The later Mycenaeans resided on the Greek mainland and inherited a good portion of Minoan culture. Their shorter period of influence ran from 1600-1100BC. This is the era of the Homeric sagas. It is now accepted that these old tales have a significant basis in reality and the soldiers of the Iliad and Odyssey were Minoans who mounted a punitive expedition into what is now Turkey. The Mycenaeans built fortified cities and strange, 'beehive' shaped tholos tombs before their culture was destroyed by some event.
The more I learn about them, the more I am fascinated by these two cultures. Their rich visual and architectural history combined with the mythic proportions of the Mycenaean heroes is very inspiring. My Ancient Greek reenactment is focused on a later period - the 5th century BC (known as the 'Classical' century) but I find myself increasingly drawn to its antecedents.
The photos below are shots of a decoration I made in December. It features tiny Minoan bull heads made from Fimo. I used the gold variety of the clay for the main head and neck, and red for the horns. As someone who is used to painting sculptures, it was novel to use polychromed materials which needed no further embellishment!