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– 4974

Frying-pan with incised representation of a ship. From the cemetery at Chalandriani on the island of Syros (Early Cycladic II (2800-2300 BC).

Őaterial: Clay Length: 0.28m (including handle) National Archaeological Museum, Room 6

The purpose of these vessels with a forked handle is uncertain. It has been suggested that they functioned as mirrors, if they were filled with water, or drums, if they were originally covered with skin, and even as primitive navigation instruments. Since they were primarily grave gifts, a ceremonial or religious use cannot be ruled out.
On their undecorated side there is an upright rim. The other side is covered with incised and impressed motifs. A pubic triangle appears near the handle. Over the remaining area run spirals, which apparently symbolize the sea and which surround a ship. This abbreviated rendering suggests the distinguishing features of the first ships to sail the open sea in the Aegean. Such vessels are long, with a high prow and a low bow with a ram. Although some are single-oared, others possess twenty oars on each side. All lack sails. The fish on top of the prow, acting as a vane, facilitated seafaring. The basic difference between the flat vessels that connected the Phoenician and Egyptian coasts and those of the Cyclades was that Cycladic ships possessed the keel.
The appearance of ships in the decoration of these pots attests the vital role of navigation in communication and trade in the Cyclades. In the third millennium B.C., the islanders of the Aegean reached the coasts of Asia Minor and continental Greece. Their vessels facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas.