|In the Cyclades the Early Bronze Age is termed the Early Cycladic period (EC) and has been divided into three sub-phases on the basis of technological advances and developments in the settlement pattern.|
|Early Cycladic I (3200-2800 BC)|
Information from the EC I period comes almost exclusively from cemeteries. Settlement remains are scarce, perhaps because perishable materials were still used for the construction of houses. In contrast, the large number of cemeteries suggests an increase in corresponding habitation sites and thus, in population. During this period, burials were made in simple cist-graves. Pottery was usually decorated using incision. Also in this period, the craft of carving marble starts to develop and the first marble vessels (kandiles, bowls, etc.) and schematic figurines (violin-shaped, spade-shaped) appear. At the closing stages of the EC I period, Cycladic sculptors produced the first naturalistic figurines (Plastiras type). Metallurgy was introduced in the Cyclades but the use of metals – mainly copper – was still limited. There is little contact with other areas of the Aegean.
|Early Cycladic II (2800-2300 BC)|
The EC II period was the height of Cycladic culture. Existing settlements seem to have expanded and new ones were established in previously unoccupied areas, a trend paralleled in Mainland Greece (Early Helladic II period) and in Crete (Early Minoan II period) at this time. A new type of earth-cut grave with a lateral entrance was introduced in the Cyclades to be used for multiple burials. Pottery was painted and new shapes, such as the sauce-boats and the “frying-pan,” dominated the ceramic repertoire. Significant advances were made in metallurgy with the manufacture of the first bronze weapons (daggers, spear-heads) and tools. However, the most characteristic feature of the period was the impressive development of marble carving. During this period, Cycladic sculptors skillfully produced a huge number of abstract and highly standardized female figurines, as well as a number of elaborate vessels. At the same time, contacts with Mainland Greece, Crete, and the north and northeast Aegean increased considerably.
|Early Cycladic III (2300-2000 BC)|
During the EC III period, major changes took place in the Cyclades, the most noticeable being the abandonment of many habitation and burial sites and the construction of fortification walls in several of the surviving settlements. Similar changes have been observed in Mainland Greece and the Anatolian coast at the beginning of this period, possibly reflecting a widespread phenomenon of unrest and instability all over the Aegean. Some scholars interpret these disturbances as the result of migrations and the arrival of new populations in the Aegean. They stress the appearance of new types of pottery and metal artifacts, which seems to have originated in Asia Minor. In the course of this troubled period, the art of marble carving began to decline in the Cyclades, dying out at the end of the 3rd millennium BC.
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