History Of Cretan Pottery

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10th-12th CENTURY

Second Byzantine Period, 961-1205

Very few excavations concerning this period have taken place in the Cretan countryside, and those that have are generally very limited. It is supposed that between 800 and 961 AD the major economic decline in the Great Island, as Crete is known, and the Arab Occupation caused a reduction in the production of all kinds of goods including pottery. During this period we find unglazed and undecorated earthenware vessels with thick sides, which have been burnished with a pebble while the clay is still wet. From the fragments of pottery found, we conclude that simplified forms of the First Byzantine Period, with their roots in antiquity, continued to be made.

In the 10th to 12th centuries, the rural pottery found is locally produced and similar to that of previous centuries, with the increasingly common appearance of glazed ware imported from Byzantium with the characteristic decoration of the time. During the 12th century, Cretan biscuit ware (pottery that has been fired once but not glazed) was refined and certain forms emulated Aegean prototypes widely circulating in the Byzantine Empire. At the same time, locally-produced open glazed vessels with a short wide foot appeared, in monochrome dark brown or dark green. These probably had a ritual function, as their sherds are found in the environs of old churches.

There have also been chance finds of vessels from Egypt and Libya.

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