Saturday, November 18, 2006

Who were the Cyclades?

Who's asking: Claire Bea, Montreal, QC

Ordinarily I don't answer questions for people who are doing their homework, but this one is only tangential to a paper Claire's writing about traffic in stolen antiquities. She came across a reference to someone as the world's leading expert in Cycladic culture, and had never seen the name before.

I wasn't familiar with it either, so we consulted Claire's brother Chris, who happens to be writing his own big paper on certain aspects of ancient Greek history.

He was kind enough not to mock us when he explained that the Cyclades are not people, they're a group of islands in the Aegean sea. The largest and best-known of these is Naxos. They were the home of a sophisticated Early Bronze Age civilization that, among other things, carved distinctive idols out of native white marble. The Cycladic civilization, which combined elements of both the Anatolian and Helladic cultures, was superceded by the Minoan culture that rose around 2700 B.C.

Cycladic idols, which resemble modern sculpture, have been looted from archaeological sites and sold on black markets around the world. Because they were removed from their original locations, archeologists may never fully understand their purpose or meaning. As if that weren't enough reason never to buy anything advertised as a "Cycladic figurine," many of the works now on the market are fakes. You can see examples of the real thing here.


JIM LAMB said...

I knew that. Sailed by those islands many times. Maybe I will set foot on one someday. Right now my next expedition will be to the lesser antillies, another island group that I've been all around but never gotten ashore.

I've finalized my plans for the next two months and will be posting my schedule on my blog shortly.

Anonymous said...

now see, if I wasn't afraid of you at this point, I'd comment--oh well

AnswerGirl said...

Comments are always welcome -- corrections are too, but by e-mail!

Anonymous said...

"He was kind enough not to mock us when he explained that the Cyclades are not people, they're a group of islands in the Aegean sea."

I think he was *way* to kind to the dummies. I mean, last time I checked they had encyclopedias in the library. People should try having a looky in them before even *thinking* about typing crap on the internet, hehehe.

AnswerGirl said...

Possibly, but cowards who leave anonymous comments on strangers' blogs should know the difference between "to" and "too," as well.

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