Two great cultures—the Minoan civilization and the Mycenaean civilization—had developed complex and delicate art forms. Before 1000 B.C. invasions of Dorians and other barbarian tribes from the north laid waste the earlier Aegean cultures. While there was not the definite cultural break once envisaged by archaeologists, the chaotic conditions caused by the invasions produced at first a decline in artistic production and then a slow transformation into a new art. A geometric scheme with linear patterns replaced the curvilinear designs and naturalistic representations of the Mycenaean age. When human and animal life was again represented, the forms assumed were schematized and formal. The pottery of the late geometric period (c.900–700 B.C.) is characterized by two-dimensional stylized patterns, effectively designed but bearing little relation to nature. Between 700 and 600 B.C. this geometric style gave way to new interest in representation, and Asian influence encouraged the use of floral and arabesque designs and the adoption of Asian monster and animal themes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.