Diameter: 7.500 cm
Height: 4.500 cm
Gift of Sir Arthur Evans
GR 1906.11-12.74 (Vases A 477)
Room 12a: Greece Minoans
Pottery 'Kamares' cup
Minoan, about 1950-1850
From Knossos, Crete
A small drinking cup with red and white stripes
Pottery in this style is called Kamares ware, named after the Kamares cave near to the palace of Phaistos. The cave was apparently sacred to the Minoans, and contained votive offerings that included quantities of such pottery.
The period from the foundation of the Minoan palaces of Crete (1950 BC) to their first major destruction (around 1700 BC) is known by archaeologists as the 'First Palace period'. At this time, this characteristic type of pottery was produced, with red, orange and white painted decoration on a dark background. The Kamares style was often elaborate, with complex patterns on pottery of eggshell thinness. This small drinking cup shows a simple version. Sets of cups and jugs have been found, and it has been suggested that these may have been used in ritual, though Kamares pottery presumably also graced the dining tables of the First Palaces.
Surprisingly, the first Kamares pottery found in excavation came from Lahun in Egypt, and was discovered by Flinders Petrie. It is now in The British Museum.
R. Higgins, The Greek Bronze Age (London, The British Museum Press, 1977)