Even at cursory glance, the diversity and wealth of intellectual and artistic activity on Crete from the distant past to the present day cannot fail to impress. The course of culture was far from continuous and uniform periods of intellectual and artistic activity often went into decline, only to be succeeded by times when creativity flourished.

Each period in the island's long history moulded its own cultural paradigms, which were often very different from those of the previous era. This is evident, for example, in the naturalistic orientation of classical antiquity as compared to the transcendental nature of Byzantine art. This very feature is one of the most alluring traits of Cretan history.

Kamares ware fruit bowl, 1750 (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)
Drawings from a manuscript of "Panoria" by Georgios Chortatzis (Axioni Chapel, Glyfada, Athens)
"The Last Supper", 16th century (Michail Damaskinos, St. Catherine of the Sinaites, Heraklion)
"Saints Peter and Paul", 1605 - 1608 (Domenicos Theotocopoulos, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm)
Score of a work by F. Leontaritis (The British Library, London)
Clay statue of a women's ritual dance, 1350 - 1100 (Heraklion Archaeological Museum)