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Transport Stirrup Jars of the Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean

Transport Stirrup Jars of the Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean

Halford W. Haskell
Richard E. Jones
Peter M. Day
John T. Killen
Volume: 33
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: INSTAP Academic Press
Pages: 340
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    Transport Stirrup Jars of the Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean
    Book Description:

    The transport stirrup jar was a vessel type used extensively in the Late Bronze Age III Aegean world. Found in a variety of contexts, the type was used both to transport and to store liquid commodities in bulk. The peak of the production and exchange of this jar corresponded with the time of economic expansion on the Greek mainland. On Crete, stirrup jars appeared at most major centres on the island. Their presence in large numbers in storerooms indicates the movement of commodities and the centralised storage and control of goods. The broad distribution of stirrup jars at coastal sites in the eastern Mediterranean and their presence in the cargoes of the Uluburun, Gelidonya, and Iria shipwrecks clearly shows their role in the extensive exchange networks within the Aegean and beyond. Because they represent significant Aegean exchange, tracing their origins and movement provides information regarding production centres and trade routes. This study concentrates on determining the provenance of the jars and the subsequent tracing of exchange routes. The fully integrated research design is an interdisciplinary, collaborative archaeological project that embraces typological, chemical, petrographic, and epigraphic approaches in order to shed light on the jars' classification and origin. The results of the chemical and petrographic work constitute primary parts of the study. By establishing the origins and distribution of the jars, these vases are placed within their historical context. The identification of production centres and export routes is critical for a full understanding of the economic and political conditions in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

    eISBN: 978-1-62303-006-3
    Subjects: History, Archaeology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. List of Illustrations in the Text
    (pp. xi-xii)
  2. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Halford W. Haskell, Richard E. Jones and Peter M. Day

    The transport stirrup jar (SJ) was a vessel type used extensively in the Late Bronze Age III Aegean world (Ill. 1.1). Found in a variety of contexts from domestic deposits to cargoes in ships’ holds (and only rarely in tombs), the type was used both to transport and to store liquid commodities in bulk. The peak of the production and exchange of this jar type was in Late Bronze (LB) IIIA:2–IIIB, corresponding to a controversial period on Crete and to the time of economic expansion on the Greek mainland. On Crete, SJs can be considered a regular component of...

  4. 2 Typology
    (pp. 9-22)
    Halford W. Haskell

    In this chapter, the SJs analyzed in this study are assigned to typological groups. After an introductory section on the development of SJ design, the bulk of the chapter is devoted to defining typological groups.

    As coarse wares, transport SJs do not lend themselves to close dating, and ideally dates should be derived from fine ware context pottery. Certain chronological trends can, however, be established, and we deal briefly with development of the form during the period under consideration here—namely, Late Bronze III (for the chronological development from Middle Minoan (MM) III to LM/LH IIIA:1, see Haskell 1985, 224–...

  5. 3 Scientific Backgound and Aims of the Analyses
    (pp. 23-28)
    Richard E. Jones and Peter M. Day

    Laboratory-based study of coarse ware stirrup jars (SJs) has a long history, spanning over forty years from the first application of chemical analysis to prehistoric Aegean pottery by Catling, Richards, and Blin-Stoyle (1963). During this time, all aspects of the process of provenance determination—from sampling strategies to techniques of analysis, from data treatment to the framework of interpretation—have altered greatly. This is not just a matter of record in the history of the discipline, but of great relevance, as the SJs have become the cause célèbre of physico-chemical analysis of Aegean ceramics, relying heavily on one or more...

  6. 4 Chemical Analyses
    (pp. 29-40)
    Richard E. Jones

    The two basic criteria for selection were to sample SJs as extensively and intensively as possible, according to the circumstances of availability and accessibility. In practice, the sampling strategy varied from site to site: where the number of examples at a given site was limited—say, fewer than 10—effort was made to sample all of them, irrespective of type. At sites where the SJ finds were more numerous, there was room for some selectivity. At Thebes, specific ISJs were sought, as well as some balance between the main decorative classes, DoL (including octopus) and LoD, while attention was paid—...

  7. 5 Petrographic Analyses
    (pp. 41-78)
    Peter M. Day

    The analysis of transport SJs, especially those inscribed with the Linear B script, has become the cause célèbre of Aegean prehistoric pottery analyses, often being considered a test case for the effectiveness of the techniques used. Reflecting prevailing methodologies, most early work on these vessels was based on chemistry, but as early as 1968, Raison published some basic petrographic analyses carried out by Bouchard (VIP, 233–240). Riley included SJs in his consideration of Late Bronze Age Aegean fabrics and published a groundbreaking study (Riley 1981) whose implications perhaps were not fully appreciated at the time.

    One of the present...

  8. 6 Interpretation of the Chemical and Petrographic Data
    (pp. 79-86)
    Richard E. Jones and Peter M. Day

    Having formed sample groups according to both their chemical composition and their petrography, a comparison of the two is needed in order to progress to an archaeological interpretation. Clearly the variability found in the jars has its source in both their provenance and in aspects of their technology. It is these entangled strands of ceramic composition that need to be teased apart wherever possible. Chemical analysis produces a consistent picture of broad groups; some of these are indicative of a particular provenance, but others represent a common composition that may originate in more than one source area. In contrast, their...

  9. 7 Chemistry, Petrography, and Typology: Geographical Associations
    (pp. 87-90)
    Halford W. Haskell, Richard E. Jones and Peter M. Day

    It has been our aim in this study to determine provenance and shipment of Aegean transport SJs through an integrated study embracing typological, chemical, and petrographic approaches. In this chapter, we bring together these separate approaches in order to move toward assignments of provenance.

    It turns out that there is a high degree of correlation among groups established independently on typological, chemical, and petrographic grounds, enabling us to integrate our approaches with some ease and confidence. There is, to be sure, variation in the degree of certainty in provenance attributions of individual pieces. This variability can be attributed to a...

  10. 8 The Linear B Inscriptions
    (pp. 91-108)
    John T. Killen

    In this chapter, I discuss the relationship between the results of the chemical and petrological analyses described elsewhere in the study and the Linear B inscriptions which a number of the vessels carry. The discussion follows the same pattern as my earlier discussion of the same topic (in WCISJ, 85–92), which was based on the more limited material then available. I begin by listing the material, site by site, in the groups produced by the chemical analysis. I then comment on:

    1. The extent to which the groupings produced by the chemical analysis (which nearly always yields results comparable with...

  11. 9 Chronology and Power
    (pp. 109-124)
    Halford W. Haskell

    In this chapter and the next, our findings are placed into their archaeological and historical contexts. It is possible to associate SJ groups with broad geographical areas and therefore to draw certain conclusions regarding the historical significance of the production and export of the form.

    In this chapter, we begin with a discussion of sites and chronology represented by the jars of our analysis program. This is rather full, the reasons for which should be self-evident. In assessing the significance of the production and movement of the form, an understanding of the find contexts themselves is essential. The dates of...

  12. 10 Trade
    (pp. 125-132)
    Halford W. Haskell

    This chapter is concerned with the mechanisms of the trade of SJs, and the political and economic implications of trade patterns. In assessing the movement of SJs, one must consider possibilities that run the gamut from a minimalist view of Bronze Age trade (e.g., Snodgrass 1991), to tramp-style merchants, to directed commerce (command economy). One must also take into account such issues as who controlled this industry (palatial officials, semi-independent entrepreneurs, and/or independent merchants), the purpose(s) for which jars were produced and exported, the natures of the sites that were engaged in this industry and their relations (both political and...

  13. 11 Catalog
    (pp. 133-152)

    The following is the catalog of analyzed pieces. The catalog is comprised primarily of SJs, but it also includes other pieces inscribed with Linear B (indicated by superscript LinB), miscellaneous “oatmeal” sherds (indicated by superscriptm), and plugs and caps (indicated with #, and with cross-references to associated stirrup jars). The organization is alphabetic, by the abbreviation for the findspot, in this chapter and in the figures and plates. (Chania and Karpathos can be found under their abbreviations KH [Khania] and PIG [Pigadia], respectively.) Following each findspot location, in parentheses, is the number of pieces analyzed from that location.

    Catalog numbers...

  14. Appendix A. LM/LH III Transport Class Stirrup Jars
    (pp. 153-158)
    Halford W. Haskell
  15. Concordance 1. Sampled ISJs and Other Linear B Vases Ordered by Inscription Number
    (pp. 177-180)
  16. Concordance 2. ISJs and Other Linear B Vases Ordered by Catalog Number
    (pp. 181-184)
  17. Index of References to Sampled Pieces in Chapters 1–10
    (pp. 185-190)