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KE-RA-ME-JA: Studies Presented to Cynthia W. Shelmerdine

Dimitri Nakassis
Joann Gulizio
Sarah A. James
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: INSTAP Academic Press
Pages: 336
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The title of this volume, ke-ra-me-ja in Linear B, was chosen because it means “potter” (Κεράμεια, from Greek κέραμος, “potter’s clay”) and combines two major strands of Cynthia Shelmerdine’s scholarship: Mycenaean ceramics and Linear B texts. It thereby signals her pioneering use of archaeological and textual data in a sophisticated and integrated way. The intellectual content of the essays demonstrate not only that her research has had wide-ranging influence, but also that it is a model of scholarship to be emulated.

    eISBN: 978-1-62303-357-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. List of Tables in the Text
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. List of Figures in the Text
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Dimitri Nakassis, Joann Gulizio and Sarah A. James
  4. Biography of Cynthia W. Shelmerdine
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Susan Shelmerdine
  5. Bibliography of Cynthia W. Shelmerdine
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    • CHAPTER 1 Late Helladic I Revisited: The Kytheran Connection
      (pp. 3-16)
      Oliver Dickinson

      It is a particular pleasure to offer what is essentially a pottery study to Cynthia, because our long friendship began in the potshed of the Nichoria excavation, when she arrived in 1972 to join Cindy Martin in helping me process and study the pottery.* Nobody could have asked for more willing or better-tempered assistants. Now Cindy, alas, is no longer with us, but Cynthia and I have continued a scholarly and personal friendship that has, I hope, benefited both of us. In deeply felt appreciation of this, and in reciprocity for her entertaining and informative contribution toAutochthon(Shelmerdine 2005),...

    • CHAPTER 2 Wine, Women, and Song … The LH IIIA:2 Kylix at Petsas House, Mycenae
      (pp. 17-32)
      Kim S. Shelton

      Too many years ago, in the office of my undergraduate adviser, I fell in love with the orderly, serious, “good neighbors,” the Mycenaeans, rather than the fun loving, free-spirited, “best party-buddies,” the Minoans. However, the more I got to know the Mycenaeans, from the inside out practically, the more I recognized their whimsy and humor, life-loving and life-celebrating nature. Then I loved them even more. While still a student, I learned about “the best period” of the Mycenaean civilization (“best” being determined on pottery styles of course)—the Late Helladic (LH) IIIA:2 period, and I learned about Cynthia’s “all time...

    • CHAPTER 3 Potted at the Palace: A Reanalysis of Late Helladic III Pottery from the Palace of Nestor by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry
      (pp. 33-40)
      Michael L. Galaty

      Anyone who knows Cynthia Shelmerdine also knows how much she loves Mycenaean pottery, that from Pylos in particular.* And like dust from a sherd, that love has rubbed off on many of us. Cynthia has done a superb job of training a new generation of Mycenaean ceramic specialists, who have sat long hours at the sorting table under her tutelage. For Cynthia, and for many of her students, Bronze Age pottery is beautiful in and of itself—even the scrappy stuff found on survey. But she has rubbed off on us in other, equally meaningful ways. We all understand that...

    • CHAPTER 4 A Very Underestimated Period: The Submycenaean Phase of Early Greek Culture
      (pp. 41-52)
      Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy

      Within the investigation of the early history of Greece,* the so-called Submycenaean period has received minimal attention. Scholars in the field of Aegean prehistory tend to view the transitional phase between Late Helladic (LH) IIIC and the beginning of the Protogeometric (PG) period either as an unimportant appendage to the Mycenaean culture or as an unimportant prelude to the Early Iron Age. Only a few authors, such as Styrenius (1967), have paid attention to the Submycenaean period in its own right, some of them drawn by the chance (or necessity) to study and publish the finds from sites where Submycenaean...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Canaanite Transport Amphora within the Late Bronze Age Aegean: A 2013 Perspective on a Frequently Changing Picture
      (pp. 53-70)
      Jeremy B. Rutter

      Examples of the typically Levantine form of Late Bronze Age shoulder-handled transport and storage amphorae were first recovered from Aegean excavation contexts over 130 years ago (Lolling 1880).* Long branded with the somewhat misleading label of “Canaanite jar” (Grace 1956; Amiran 1969, 138–142), vessels of this type came to play an increasingly significant role in treatments of Mycenaean trade and exchange with the Near East as more and more examples were identified at sites throughout the Aegean (Immerwahr 1971; Blegen et al. 1973; Åkerström 1975; Onassoglou 1979) and on the wrecks of ships making their way into the Aegean...


    • CHAPTER 6 The Emergence of Craft Specialization on the Greek Mainland
      (pp. 73-82)
      William A. Parkinson and Daniel J. Pullen

      Of Cynthia Shelmerdine’s various contributions to our understanding of the prehistoric Aegean, her research on the organization of specialized craft industries in the Mycenaean period, and especially on the manufacture of perfumed oil at Pylos (Shelmerdine 1985), stands out as truly exceptional.* By melding her intimate understanding of Linear B texts with the spatial patterning of artifacts within the palace, Cynthia painted a detailed picture of how exotic raw materials were acquired and combined to produce the perfumed oils. She also demonstrated where this specialized production occurred within the palace, how the process was financed, and how the finished product...

    • CHAPTER 7 Pylos Tablet Vn 130 and the Pylos Perfume Industry
      (pp. 83-90)
      Thomas G. Palaima

      There is no foolproof method for interpreting Linear B texts.* In the early days of Mycenaean studies, of course, there was the famous split between what Leonard Palmer claimed was his “combinatory” or “structural” method and the “lexical” method of John Chadwick, a lexicographer by training and temperament. Palmer claimed that he took special care to understand the significance of the position in which a particular lexical item occurs within the layout of a text before proposing any interpretation of it, while those who adhered to the “lexical” method relied too much on the etymology of a specific term in...

    • CHAPTER 8 Voicing the Loom: Women, Weaving, and Plotting
      (pp. 91-102)
      Marie-Louise Nosch

      Textile production is something of a blind spot on the cultural and economic map of ancient Greece.* Textiles and matters of textile production are often overlooked and neglected in classical scholarship, even though we know that they were a vital part of a producing, consuming, trading, and living society of the past (Forbes 1956). Here I will argue that the making of cloth created a background rhythm of female life in ancient Greece that is both visual and audible if one knows where to see and hear it.

      Mycenaean epigraphical scholarship, in contrast to other specializations, has emphasized the study...

    • CHAPTER 9 Chariot Makers at Pylos
      (pp. 103-112)
      Robert Schon

      Cynthia Shelmerdine’s contributions to the understanding of Mycenaean industrial activity, administration, and the interweaving of archaeological and textual evidence have been seminal.* Inspired by her work on perfumed oil manufacture at Pylos and by a series of discussions that I had with Cynthia when I was a graduate student, I embarked on an examination of the production of Mycenaean chariots at the Palace of Nestor at Pylos. That project explored the nature of chariot manufacture in the polity and documented the way in which palatial authorities used chariots and other crafted items to communicate and materialize their ideology (Schon 1994,...


    • CHAPTER 10 The Minoan Goddess(es): Textual Evidence for Minoan Religion
      (pp. 115-128)
      Joann Gulizio and Dimitri Nakassis

      Minoan religion is one of the most important—and most vexed—topics in the Aegean Bronze Age.* At stake is not only our interpretation of Minoan society and culture but also the impact of Minoan religion on Mycenaean and historical Greek religion. Most studies of Minoan religion rely primarily on archaeological, architectural, and art historical evidence, and they examine the nature of cult equipment, locations of religious activity, and representations of ritual performances (Pötscher 1990; Marinatos 1993). Yet disagreement still exists about whether the Minoans worshipped one or more gods. These studies focus on archaeological and art historical evidence without...

    • CHAPTER 11 Beehives and Bees in Gold Signet Ring Designs
      (pp. 129-140)
      Janice L. Crowley

      As my tribute to Cynthia Shelmerdine for her magnificent contribution to Bronze Age studies, I offer an exegesis on a proposal I first made at the Seal Symposium in Marburg in 1999, that certain small shapes and dots in the designs of Late Bronze Age gold signet rings are beehives and bees.* Now, in the study of Aegean glyptic no topic is so hotly debated as the scenes on the gold signet bezels, and this is understandable because, though the scenes are beautifully detailed, their meaning is so hard to discern. In the Aegean, we lack translatable texts with content...

    • CHAPTER 12 Gifts to the Goddesses: Pylian Perfumed Olive Oil Abroad?
      (pp. 141-162)
      Lisa M. Bendall

      One of the many contributions of Cynthia Shelmerdine’s classic study of the perfume industry at Late Bronze Age Pylos was the demonstration that the palace produced sufficient amounts of this commodity to make it likely that some of it was being traded abroad (Shelmerdine 1985, 151–152).* This point is now generally accepted, even if specific proof remains elusive. Direct evidence for trade is notoriously lacking in the Linear B documentation (Shelmerdine 1998, 291; Bendall 2007, 270–274, 279–282), and while archaeological evidence for the export of olive oil exists in the numerous stirrup jars found throughout the Aegean...

    • CHAPTER 13 Offerings for the Wanax in the Fr Tablets: Ancestor Worship and the Maintenance of Power in Mycenaean Greece
      (pp. 163-178)
      Susan Lupack

      As my offering for Cynthia, I will be addressing a topic that was inspired by one of her own major contributions to Linear B studies—her detailed and comprehensive analysis of the Fr series (Shelmerdine 1984, 1985), which, appropriately enough, predominantly records offerings—those of perfumed oil sent by the palace to the religious sphere.* My offering here is meant to acknowledge that in everything I write, I am always standing on Cynthia’s shoulders. The Pylos Fr series is large, comprising 51 extant tablets (excluding Fr 1255; Shelmerdine 1985, 65–66), all of which are concerned with olive oil. Shelmerdine...

    • CHAPTER 14 “Snakes” in the Mycenaean Texts? On the Interpretation of the Linear B Term e-pe-to-i
      (pp. 179-188)
      Carlos Varias García

      From the discovery of the roughly 240 Linear B tablets in theOdos Pelopidouexcavations at Thebes between 1993 and 1996 until the present, Mycenaean scholars have been fascinated by these texts and have engaged in a vigorous discussion of their nature, starting with the religious interpretation proposed by the editors (Aravantinos, Godart, and Sacconi 2001).* Among the new Mycenaean vocabulary attested in these inscriptions, there is a group of seven words that the editors interpret as names of sacred animals who were recipients of offerings. One of the most interesting ise-pe-to-i, a term which, complete or restored, occurs...


    • CHAPTER 15 The Development of the Bronze Age Funerary Landscape of Nichoria
      (pp. 191-208)
      Michael J. Boyd

      The site of Nichoria in east central Messenia, discovered and excavated by the University of Minnesota Messenia Expedition (UMME) during the 1960s and 1970s, is one of the few well-published Bronze Age sites in the region, and it has exercised considerable influence on the development of theories concerning the rise of the Pylian kingdom and the role of secondary sites within it. Most critical have been the identification of Nichoria withti-mi-to-a-ke-eby Cynthia Shelmerdine, who was part of the excavation team and published the Late Helladic (LH) IIIA:2–IIIB:2 pottery (Shelmerdine 1981, 1992), and subsequent diachronic analyses of the...

    • CHAPTER 16 The Varying Place of the Dead in Pylos
      (pp. 209-222)
      Joanne Murphy

      This paper presents the results of an ongoing project that constitutes a reexamination of the artifacts and excavation notebooks of Carl Blegen’s excavation of the tombs around the Palace of Nestor, Pylos.* A common understanding of these tombs is that the mortuary system legitimated the power and status of privileged palatial elites and that chamber tombs and tholos tombs represented arenas of social competition during the rise and zenith of the palatial society. Inherent in these arguments is the assumption that different types of tombs were used at the same time and that the role of the tombs in the...

    • CHAPTER 17 Working the Land: Ka-ma Plots at Pylos
      (pp. 223-238)
      Stavroula Nikoloudis

      It was in Cynthia Shelmerdine’s graduate classes at the University of Texas at Austin that I became increasingly aware of the underlying complexity and multiple, if often opaque, levels of interaction among thedāmos, palace, and religious sector in Mycenaean society.* The present contribution is offered to her as a small token of appreciation for her many years of illuminating work on the Mycenaeans. It explores the nature ofka-malands and the function that theka-ma-e-wemight have served in the sociopolitical and economic organization of Late Bronze Age Pylos.

      Ka-maland and the holders of such land, the...

    • CHAPTER 18 “Re-excavating” the Palace of Nestor: The Hora Apotheke Reorganization Project
      (pp. 239-248)
      Sharon R. Stocker and Jack L. Davis

      From 1991 to 1995, the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP), of which Cynthia Shelmerdine was a codirector and founding member, investigated surface archaeological remains on the Englianos ridge and in the area around it (Davis et al. 1996; Davis, Bennet, and Shelmerdine 1999; Davis, ed., 2008). In a season devoted exclusively to study for publication of finds from fieldwork, Cynthia suggested that we look in the storerooms of the Museum of Hora for ceramic finds similar to those of the Middle Helladic (MH) period from PRAP that Sharon Stocker was preparing for publication with Yiannos Lolos. Cynthia had previously worked...


    • CHAPTER 19 The Birth of Administration and Writing in Minoan Crete: Some Thoughts on Hieroglyphics and Linear A
      (pp. 251-260)
      Massimo Perna

      In this paper, I attempt to explain the origin of administration and writing in Crete, but especially I would like to honor a scholar whose studies have exerted a strong influence on Mycenology. I devoted several years of study to the fiscal system of the Mycenaean period, and I found Cynthia Shelmerdine to be not only an expert reference on the subject but also a rare human being and a sensitive person.

      Before turning to the topic of the birth of writing in Crete, I briefly touch upon the birth of administration. At least four centuries separate early elementary administrative...

    • CHAPTER 20 Signs of Writing? Red Lustrous Wheelmade Vases and Ashkelon Amphorae
      (pp. 261-270)
      Nicolle Hirschfeld

      One important question about Bronze Age potmarks is whether they are signs of writing.* An affirmative answer has significant implications for our understanding of how widely a script was used within and between communities. This essay discusses two instances for which the claim of writing on ceramics has been made: Red Lustrous Wheelmade (RLWM) pottery and the “inscriptions” found at Ashkelon. In both cases, the question is whether the marks incised into these vases are to be identified as signs of the Cypro-Minoan script. The answer is important in the first instance for our understanding of the diversity and specialization...

    • CHAPTER 21 O-no! Writing and Righting Redistribution
      (pp. 271-282)
      John Bennet and Paul Halstead

      For more than half a century, redistribution has occupied center stage in scholarly analysis of Mycenaean (palatial) political economy.* While awareness of the “otherness” of palatial economy is rather older (Keramopoullos 1930; Alexiou 1953–1954), the decipherment of Linear B established as orthodoxy the view that Mycenaean palaces were essentially redistributive centers. In the words of Moses Finley’s much cited review of the first edition ofDocuments in Mycenaean Greek(Ventris and Chadwick 1956), the decipherment revealed “a massive redistributive operation, in which all personnel and all activities, all movements of both persons and goods … were administratively fixed” (Finley...

    • CHAPTER 22 Two Personal Names (Dative me-to-re-i and o-po-re-i) and a Place Name (Directive me-to-re-ja-de) in Mycenaean Thebes
      (pp. 283-292)
      José L. García Ramón

      The formme-to-re-iin the new Theban tablets (Fq) is unanimously considered to be the dative (dat.) of a man’s name (MN), belonging to one who is mentioned as a recipient of barley and flour.* The nominative (nom.)me-to-re, attested at Knossos and Pylos, makes clear that the name is surely a stem in *-es-.

      The dossier ofme-to-rehas been recently enlarged by the formme-to-re-ja-de, attested in a fragmentary tablet from the Odos Hagion Apostolon (Aravantinos, Godart, and Sacconi 2006, 8–9), the directive form of a place name (PN)me-to-re-ja.* This form is surely connected withme-to-re,...

    • CHAPTER 23 Considering the Population Statistics of the Sheep Listed in the East–West Corridor Archive at Knossos
      (pp. 293-304)
      Richard Firth

      The sheep tablets from the East–West Corridor archive at Knossos form a substantial part of the total archive recovered from the palace. Jean-Pierre Olivier (1988) has shown that it is possible to compare the totals of sheep from individual wool flocks with overall totals found in the Dn series. This comparison indicates that the sheep archive is reasonably complete. Therefore, it is worthwhile trying to analyze these tablets in greater depth.

      The analysis of the sheep tablets has already been the subject of numerous papers (e.g., Killen 1962, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1969, 1993; Olivier 1967, 1972, 1988; Halstead 1990...

    • CHAPTER 24 Homer and Mycenae: 81 Years Later
      (pp. 305-312)
      Carol Thomas

      The invitation to participate in a Festschrift in honor of Cynthia Shelmerdine coincided with the use of her newly publishedCambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age(Shelmerdine, ed., 2008) in my senior and graduate level course on pre-Classical Greece. As expected, the 75 students in the class judged it excellent as did I. Reflecting on the broad focus of Professor Shelmerdine’s interests—from Mycenaean Greece to Homer and from archaeology to written sources—brought an idea for my contribution to this Festschrift.

      Homer and Mycenae have been connected since antiquity, generally arousing heated debate. The knowledge base for discussion...