Given the region’s proximity to the sea, it is not surprising that much of Aegean art depicts water motifs, most often portrayed in an abstract manner. A great number of Cycladic works feature human figures modeled with a strong emphasis on geometric shapes. These statuettes are abstract and have often been described as the inspiration for many modern and contemporary abstract artists.
At Knossos, a great “palace” structure was discovered with much of its artistic furnishings still in tact. It is difficult to demise as to the exact function of the structure–whether it was the seat of regional power, a center of commerce or a place of worship, or perhaps a combination of all three. This building lacks a strong defense system, which is most likely a proclamation to the Aegeans’ seafaring military prowess. Depictions of flora and fauna found here express a playful yet reverent view of nature.
Minoan art features an abundance of pottery that ingeniously marries the forms of the particular vessel with the shapes of animals often depicted on their surfaces.
On the mainland, Mycenaean art and architecture highlights a significantly stronger emphasis on military and defense. There is a definite influence of Minoan culture, especially in the megaron structures that borrow from the “palace” at Knossos. Strong corbeled arches that can withstand attacks are employed in Mycenaean cities, and vaulted corbeled arches are utilized for tombs.