In Pre-palace Crete, pottery was the sector in which technological advance was most marked. Four new pottery styles have been distinguished in the first phase (EMI):
- The Pyrgos style, which consists of black or grey, or pattern-burnished vases, continuing the Neolithic traditions. The basic shapes are the chalice, the cup, the double or triple vase, globular pendant vases, small jugs, and conical cups.
- The Ayios Onouphrios style, which has painted vases and new shapes. The decoration consists of linear motifs in dark brown or brownish red paint against a light burnished slip. The main shapes are the jug, the amphora, the pyxis, and the kernos, either single or multiple.
- The Lebena style, which is similar to the preceding one, with decoration of linear motifs executed in white paint against a brown or light brown surface. Most of the pottery comes from tombs. Plastic vases imitating animals, birds, objects, etc., are found in all these styles.
During the second phase (EM IIA-B) of the Pre-Palace period, the pottery styles of the previous phase evolved further and were improved. During the first sub-phase the Ayios Onouphrios and Lebena styles continue to be found, but new styles now predominate:
- The Koumasa style, which evolved from the Ayios Onouphrios style, though with more complex, distinctive shapes and decorative motifs organised more systematically into systems of lines, upright and inverted triangles, lozenges, ‘butterflies’, and so on.
- The Fine Grey Ware style, which has incised linear motifs (triangles, semicircles) on a smooth surface. The main shape was the pyxis.
- The characteristic style of the second sub-phase was Vasiliki ware, one of the most impressive Minoan pottery wares in terms of its technique and decorative effect. The vases have bold shapes: jugs with beaked spouts, ‘teapots’ with long spouts, ‘milk-jugs’, and semiglobular cups. The surface of the vase was covered with thick slip and then unevenly fired in a controlled manner, producing a mottled effect. Towards the end of the phase, white paint was also used, but did not become predominant until the following phase.
In the third phase (EM III-MM IA) new styles made their appearance, again derived from earlier styles.
- The characteristic style of this period was the White style, which evolved from Vasiliki ware. The vases have black burnished surfaces, with the decorative motifs executed in white to off-white paint: curvilinear motifs, garlands, guilloches, rosettes, and spirals. Typical shapes are the jug, the teapot, and the cup. The white style was at first thought to be local to east Crete, but it has been shown also to have been produced in other regions.
- Towards the end of the period, the Early Polychrome (Pre-Kamares) style made its appearance, with the addition of a third colour, red or orange. The main shapes are the teapot and the goblet.
- The Barbotine style, with its rough surface also appeared towards the end of the period.
- Alongside these styles, the tradition continued of the Bichrome style, used in pithoi with trickle decoration; this style is first found during the previous phase at Myrtos.
Dr Andonis Vasilakis