The vases and cups of this fabric, from the delicacy of their forms, the grace of their designs, and the richness of their colour, are among the most notable survivals of Minoan ceramic art. The clay is fine and carefully sifted, and the walls of the vessels are of extreme thinness and delicacy, approaching to that of the finest egg-shell china.
In the sixth metre from the virgin soil indications begin to present themselves of the fact that the Neolithic period is about to draw to a close, for some of the pottery is beginning to assume the shapes which are characteristic of the painted ware of the earliest Minoan period, and in the following metre paint begins to make its appearance as a means of decoration in rivalry with the incision and rippling of the earlier strata.
Seager's work on the Island of Pseira, see 'Excavations on the Island of Pseira, Crete, by R. B. Seager. Excavating outside the area of the palace at Knossos, Dr. Evans opened, on a hill known as Zafer Papoura, about half a mile north of the palace, a large number of Minoan tombs dating from the Third Middle Minoan period onwards.
Its floor was only reached in 1908 by a small shaft at the depth of 52 feet from the summit of its cupola; and as yet the floor remains largely unexplored, and may be expected to furnish valuable information as to the Early Minoan culture.
It was overlaid by a Roman roadway, and an interesting comparison was thus made possible between the Minoan work and that of the great road-makers of later days. The Roman road came out rather badly from the comparison, the earlier construction being superior in every respect.
On the other hand, we now see why the feminism which recurs intermittently in our 'western' world culminates in those phases of its history when that world has been strong enough to close its avenues of intrusion for a while; in the far past which has left us the great goddesses and other matrilineal survivals; in industrial Babylonia; in the Minoan palaces; in fifth-and fourth-century Greece, as Aristophanes joins with Euripides to admit, and Euripides with Plato to advocate; in the Femmes savantes of renascent Europe; in eighteenth-century France, which seemed to itself so impregnable; and in the fin-de-siècle Europe of yesterday, pulling down its barns to build greater.
'Mais, exclaimed a French savant, on his first view of them, 'Mais ce sont des Parisiennes. These fine Court ladies were seated, or perhaps rather squatted, according to the curious Minoan custom, in groups, conversing in the courts and gardens, and on the balconies of a splendid building.
But the rise of the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt marked the beginning of a more stable state of affairs in the Nile Valley, and in this period, which corresponds with Dr. Evans's Middle Minoan II., there are again evidences of touch between the two kingdoms.
As the Minoan road was followed up in 1905, it led the explorers towards an important building in the face of the hill to the north-west. Its exploration was rendered extremely difficult by the fact that its masonry ran right back into the side of the hill, which was covered by an olive wood, beneath whose roots lay a stratum made up of the remains of Græco-Roman houses.
Perhaps it is not too much to hope that when the Minoan script has at length yielded up its secrets we shall be able to comprehend clearly those historical outlines of the rise and magnificence and fall of a great monarchy and culture, which at present have to be cautiously and sometimes precariously inferred from the indications afforded by scraps of potsherd and fragments of stone or metal.