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Bob Hook

I think it is always a challenge when we take a small sampling of artifacts and begin to expand our critiques to characterize societies over a thousand years. The architecture at Mycenae in Peloponnese, Greece can be defined as an easily defended position meant to house the leaders. It was built on a hill and commanded a view of the valleys surrounding it. The Lion’s Gate entry was meant to convey a sense of power and the thick walls provided protection from invaders.
The Mycenaean culture was on a trade route. Artifacts and cultural appropriation like the Minoan styled column on the Lion’s Gate, indicate that they did trade with both the other cultures. This trade brought both great wealth, and cultural exchange but also the threat of being conquered. I see Mycenaean culture as having to expend more treasure and energy in a conflict in order to protect their society.
The Minoan society function in a more idyllic atmosphere. The cultural luxury of not having as great of a concern for defense allows the citizens to focus on art and the celebration of life and the environment. This is easily seen in several different mediums. The Kamares ware vessels are decorated beyond what is functionally needed to be a utilitarian vessel. A great example is the Octopus Flask, c.1500-1450 BCE, is decorated with an impressive rendering of an octopus encompassing the flask itself. In fact, there is a sense of joy from this artifact indicated by the almost whimsical face. Another example that indicates this cultural harmony can be discovered in the Minoan Bee Pendant that celebrates nature utilizing gold and many artistic techniques. Peace and prosperity often allow cultures to place special emphasis on everyday items elevated to the level of art.