Cycladic Art

The Permanent Collection of Cycladic antiquities consists of rare artefacts including the enigmatic "Keros Hoard", among others

The Museum of Cycladic Art houses one of the most complete private collections of Cycladic art worldwide, with representative examples of figurines and vases, tools, weapons, and pottery from all phases of the distinctive Cycladic island culture that flourished in the central Aegean during the Early Bronze Age (third millennium BC). 

Marble carving is the most characteristic product of Cycladic culture, and the abstract forms of its figurines have influenced several twentieth and twenty-first century artists, such as Constantin Brancusi, Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Ai Weiwei. 

Although Cycladic marble figurines and vases appeal to the modern viewer for their almost translucent whiteness, their creators loved colour and used it liberally on these objects for both practical and symbolic reasons.


The Cycladic Art Collection is set on the first floor of the building of the permanent collections and opened in 1986. It includes a large number of high quality marble figurines and vases, some of the earliest bronze objects in the Aegean pottery everyday and ritual use, etc. most of which are placed in the 3rd millennium BC 

| Highly sculptured marble bottles, plates, cups and zoomorphic vessels,
| Marble standards,
| Metal objects, such as bronze tools and weapons, leaden figurines and a small silver vessel,
| Symbolic objects such as frying vessels, which are decorated with incised motifs reminiscent of the sea, the stars and female fertility,
| The so-called "Treasure of Keros".

One of the most important objects exposed here is the NG 724 female figurine Early Cycladic II period, with a height of 1.40 meters. This makes it the second largest in the world and known as "Vase Pigeon" (NG 329), held also prominently in the report, is the largest and most complete example poppet plate sculpted birds have been found to date.



Marble figurines are the most elegant creations of Cycladic art. They usually represent nude female figures with the arms folded above the abdomen, slightly flexed knees and a barely uplifted backward-slanting head. This type has been dubbed “canonical” by specialist scholars, because it accounts for the overwhelming majority of figurines sculpted in the Early Cycladic II period (2800-2300 BC), when Cycladic art was at its zenith. The “canonical” type subsumes several varieties, which have been named conventionally after the find-spot where they were first identified. Some early figurines, on which the above traits are not fully developed, are called “pre- canonical”, while a series of late figurines with degenerated characteristics are referred to as “post-canonical”.

In addition to these rather “naturalistic” creations there are several examples in which the female figure is represented in a highly schematic manner. The best-known among them is the “violin-shaped” type, thus called for obvious reasons.

The male figure is rarely represented in Cycladic art, primarily in the form of musicians or warriors and only exceptionally in the standing “canonical” type.

Last, a small number of unusual examples represent groups of figures.

The provenance of most Cycladic figurines is unknown, since they have been unearthed by illicit diggers. The majority of those recovered through systematic archaeological excavations come from graves, which has led many scholars to interpret them as objects of religious or ritual use. However, the fact that only a small number of Cycladic graves contained such figurines, in combination with the discovery of some figurines in settlements or other non-funerary contexts suggest that their function may have been more complex and varied.  








Peggy Sotirakopoulou

Nikos Papadimitriou
MCA curator

Maria Toli

Kathleen Kemezis 

Trainee graduate archeology (2006)


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