This discussion pertains to Aegean art the 3rd millennium B.C. It covers continental Greece, the islands and the northwest part of Asia Minor. The entries of Cretan and Mycenaean art are separate. It was during the Neolithic era that the glazed pottery was first designed and made. The vessels for eating and drinking were hand-made and fired, using muted colors with shining overlays. There were very few sculptures done during this era except for some female shapes in stone or terra cotta used for religious purposes.
The early Aegeans learned metalworking through the Indo-European people who migrated to Greece. Beginning in northwest Asia Minor and spreading to outlying areas, the cities of Troy's excavations give us a great picture of the art and architecture of the Aegeans. Archaeologists found furnishings and pottery in Troy. They dated the finds between about 2600 B.C. and 3900 B.C. The architecture of Troy was noble, with citadels surrounded by walls that were tall and wide, built out of stone that was solid, and had bastions and towers on either side, with guarded gates that allowed access to the palace itself. The Aegeans used this design, with some variations, in classic Greek temples. There were many treasures hidden in the walls: jewelry, cups, ornaments, weapons, and bars of gold and silver. The items, crafted with precise workmanship, tells us of the wealth of the civilization. Although the pottery used to eat and drink out of was rough, the Aegeans added molded pieces to the cups, a technique that was unique for the time.
The Helladic civilization appeared on the mainland of Greece after a time. It is unclear exactly where this culture originated. In the beginning of this civilization, the architecture showed much variation, but later, there was little variation until the time of the Mycenaeans. The pottery had elegant decorations, with contrasting color and geometric lines. Cycladic art had some similarities to the art of the Helladic period; however it was also to be more lasting. The Cyclades' designs of marble idols and vases made an important contribution to the history of plastic art. The vases had simple designs with no ornamentation; their beauty depended upon the materials used. Some marble idols appeared to be almost transparent. The Cyclades used the idols for religious ceremonies and funerals, with a few barely noticeable cuts showing symbols of fertility.