Near the harbor, Mykonos’ archaeological museum gives visitors the chance to see an expansive collection of Greek pottery. The works date from the prehistoric period to the late Hellenistic and show fine examples of Greek ceramic craftsmanship. Most of the pieces come from the island of Rheneia and date to the 5th century B.C. There is also Cycladic pottery that dates to the Geometric period as well as a 7th-century B.C. pithos depicting scenes from the capture of Troy.
Pottery work first appeared in the Aegean region more than 5,000 years ago. The first pieces of ceramic ware were functional and mostly undecorated. By 3,000 B.C., potters had begun to introduce geometric designs, and in the islands of the Cyclades – of which Mykonos is a part – craftsman added designs inspired by the blue waters that surrounded the islands. Over the next millennia, pottery-making techniques became more sophisticated, and figures – sphinx, griffin, lions – were introduced into the designs. By 620 B.C., the black-figure technique began to work its way into ceramic craftwork, and figures from Greek mythology appeared on vases and jugs. Red-figured pottery slowly evolved over time, and the figures became more natural, less stiff and exaggerated.
The legacy of Greek pottery has left us with a fascinating array of shapes and sizes once used both for utilitarian tasks and decoration. The Greeks made tall, doubled-handled amphorae to store wine and olives, and short, vase-like lekythoi to keep the oil for funerary offerings. There were three-handled hydria used as water jugs and large-mouthed kraters for mixing water and wine. You`ll see some of everything at the museum.
It’s difficult not to cultivate a taste for the graceful Grecian earthenware. Visit the many shops that dot the island to find your own pieces to take home.