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Minoan Marine Ware: Celebrating or Propitiating Grandmother Ocean?

Marine ware is one of the more striking styles of ceramics created by the Minoans of ancient Crete. Vessels such as the one above (image CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons) evoke the motion and beauty of the many fascinating creatures that live in the Mediterranean Sea. Minoan potters made marine ware vessels in a variety of different shapes and sizes, featuring a handful of fascinating sea creatures.

The jug above shows argonauts, a.k.a. paper nautiluses, along with the coral-and-seaweed background that appears on most marin eware. The females of this fascinating type of deep-sea octopus secrete a papery egg case that looks very much like a nautilus shell. Interestingly, the better-known nautilus mollusk was named after the paper nautilus and not the other way around. Minoan sailors and traders must have encountered these fascinating creatures on their voyages around the Mediterranean.

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