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Cycladic Civilization

The Cyclades Islands of the Aegean Sea were home to the Cycladic Civilization that initially took roots in about 3200 BC and lasted until 1100 BC. The Cycladic Civilization lasted through three distinct eras, classified by historians as the Early Cycladic Period (3200 BC - 2000 BC), the Middle Cycladic Period (2000 BC - 1500 BC), and the Late Cycladic Period (1500 BC - 1100BC).
The history of human settlement in the Cyclades Islands dates back to 4000 BC. Early Bronze Age ruins have been unearthed in many parts of the islands. The existence of a civilized society, however, is a feature of the advent of the Early Cycladic Period in Greece. In about 3200 BC, huts and houses were built on the islands. The settlers seem to have defended themselves against invaders, perhaps the Minoans.

The Idols of Cyclades
The best known creations of the Cycladic Civilization are the Cycladic idols: figurines and effigies depicting, by and large, the female form. Though much variation is seen in the idols of the Early, Middle, and Later Cycladic Periods, they are uniform in their simplicity and beauty.

The idols of the Early Cycladic Era are characterized by the surprising absence of a head or limbs. The flat, rounded forms have long necks and violin shapes. The idols found near Plastiras are an exception and depict the human form in entirety.

The idols evolved in the Middle Cycladic Period. The figures were much larger in size, and the Cycladic artists started to depict lifelike features such as the inclined head. Many of these idols depicted the male form holding musical instruments. The Later Cycladic Period saw further developments in technique. The manufacture of these idols seems to have ended in about 2000 BC.

Most of the idols were made of white marble or local clay. The female figures are believed to represent the aspects of the goddess worshipped by the natives.

Decline of the Cycladic Civilization
The emergence of the Minoan Civilization in Crete and Thera overshadowed the indigenous Cycladic Civilization of the islands. The Cyclades were active seafarers. Their boats were manned by over fifty oarsmen and used for both defense and trade. The Minoans dominated the seas. The Cyclades were unable to take much advantage of the natural disasters that led to Minoan decline, since by that time the Mycenean influence in Greece had become very significant.