Room 11: Cycladic Islands
Stone vase, known as a kandila
Early Bronze Age, about 3200-2800 BC
From the Cyclades, Aegean Sea
Like the local sanctuary lamps
The Early Bronze Age inhabitants of the Cyclades used their local supplies of fine white marble to make both figurines and a variety of stone vases. This particular shape, with its sea-urchin-shaped body and conical neck and foot, was common in the first (Grotta-Pelos) phase of their culture, between about 3200 and 2800 BC. Hundreds of examples survive, and are called kandila (lamps) by the modern islanders, because of a supposed resemblance to the sanctuary lamps in Greek churches.
The original use of the kandila is not known, but they must have been labour-intensive to produce. It is remarkable to consider that they were made at a time when metals were hardly available in the islands, and tools were made of such materials as stone, wood or bone. Kandiles were more likely to have had a special, perhaps ritual, purpose, rather than an everyday function.
They range in size from about seven to about thirty-seven centimetres in height. They are often very heavy, as they were not fully hollowed and the internal space is relatively small.
J.L. Fitton, Cycladic art, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
P. Getz-Gentle, Stone vessels of the Cyclades (Pennsylvania, 1996)