The transition from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (EBA) in Crete (Greece), with special reference to pottery
The transition from the Neolithic to the EBA in Crete is best illustrated through the pottery sequence of the island. Crete is a large self-sufficient island of the Mediterranean and for the best part of the Neolithic era kept aloof from the rest of the Aegean. The EN I to LN pottery is very homogeneous and is characterised by a rather conservative typology. In the LN II and the FN periods a combination of internal factors, such as improvements in pot firing techniques and a taste for innovation from within the system, led to the invention of new types of decoration and a strong tendency for mass production. These developments took place at Knossos and Phaistos, the two main settlements of the island with a fully developed mixed agricultural economy. The other LN/FN sites -mainly caves- do not demonstrate the same creativity and variety in pottery styles. Their pottery assemblages are rather monotonous in typology and of lower quality. This difference may well derive from the different types of economic exploitation practised in the various environments. Nevertheless, there are sufficient typological links between Knossos and Phaistos and the other sites to substantiate the typological and cultural homogeneity of the island as a whole. In the EBA (EN I) a major innovation appears with the sudden introduction of painted pottery. At the same time, each major geographical area of the island develops its own individual pottery styles. Despite the apparent discontinuity between the Neolithic and the EBA, which led to the formulation of various invasion theories, lines of continuity can be followed up and have to do with the improvements in pot firing and mass production. Affinities and communication with the Aegean are now stronger and more intensified, but do not Justify a cultural break. The Cretan EBA pottery has its own unmistakable character and identity. All in all, the transitional period seems to be rather short and coincides with the last phase of the Neolithic, the FN.