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During the 12th century BCE, Greece and the islands were overrun by a number of primitive tribes from Northern Greece (the Dorians) whose uncultured rule over the next two centuries led to a general collapse of the arts and crafts industry.

Although the Myceneans tried to copy the free-flowing imagery of the Minoans, their efforts were more stilted and less life-like than the originals, although they were mass-produced in large quantities and exported to many neighbouring countries.

The new idiom, which initially appeared on miniature vessels for which Corinth was famous, was known as Proto-Corinthian.

The principal centres of pottery production were Thessaly and Crete. This use of figurative design spread to all areas of ancient Greece except Crete, where abstract motifs continued to prevail.

Minoan pottery had much more sophisticated ornamentation, greater artistry in its designs and use of colour, and was exported widely around the eastern Mediterranean.

An example is Kamares ware, a style from Phaistos, which was made on a wheel and decorated with red and white floral and geometric designs on a black background.

It was on proto-Corinthian vases that the technique known as black-figure was first applied: figures were first drawn in black silhouette and then marked with incised detail. The black-figure style was achieved by applying a clay slip (a mixture of water and clay) to an area on the outside of the pot.

The vessel is then fired in a kiln with oxygen which turns the pot and the slip red.


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