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Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy

Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy: (ca. 1600-1200 BC)

Gert Jan van Wijngaarden
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 442
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  • Book Info
    Use and Appreciation of Mycenaean Pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy
    Book Description:

    Pottery made in the Aegean during the Late Bronze Age has been found widely distributed in many parts of the Mediterranean. At some four hundred sites outside Greece, Mycenaean dinner and storage vessels, as well as some figurines have been discovered. As such, this class of archaeological artifacts constitutes one of the main sources by which to study Mycenaean trade and interregional contact. However, the role of pottery in international exchange during this period is not properly understood. That role depended on the patterns of consumption in the societies importing Mycenaean pottery. In this book, such patterns of consumption are investigated for the three areas with the largest amounts of Mycenaean pots: the Levant, Cyprus and Italy. For each of these areas, three sites have been selected for a detailed analysis of the cultural contexts of Mycenaean pots on a local level. Variations and similarities between these sites form the basis for a discussion of the cultural significance of this class of material in the region as a whole. The variations in the cultural significance of Mycenaean pottery in these areas show that the meaning of archaeological artifacts depends on the contexts in which they were used, discarded and rediscovered.Amsterdam Archaeological Studies is a series devoted to the study of past human societies from the prehistory up into modern times, primarily based on the study of archaeological remains. The series will include excavation reports of modern fieldwork; studies of categories of material culture; and synthesising studies with broader images of past societies, thereby contributing to the theoretical and methodological debates in archaeology.This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0504-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Part I Introduction

    • 1 The argument
      (pp. 1-8)

      In this book, I aim to investigate the variations in the cultural significance of the imported Mycenaean pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and the central Mediterranean. Such pottery has been widely distributed in almost the whole Mediterranean. This body of material constitutes one of the archaeological sources by which to study relationships between the Aegean and other areas in the Mediterranean. As such, it has served as evidence for Mycenaean colonisation and commercial pre-eminence. The same body of evidence, however, has also been used to dismiss the importance of long-distance trade for the Mycenaean world. In my opinion, such a...

    • 2 Mycenaean pottery in the Mediterranean
      (pp. 9-22)

      The data-set on which this study focusses, consists of Mycenaean pottery in areas beyond the Aegean. Catalogue I presents a list of sites in the Mediterranean where such pottery has been found. Considering the large differences between sites and areas in the intensity of archaeological research and publication, this list should be understood as much a result of archaeological research (including my own) as an indicator of the distribution of Mycenaean pottery.

      Stylistically, the body of ceramic material under study ranges from LH I to LH IIIB2. The absolute chronology of the Aegean stylistic ceramical phases is by no means...

    • 3 The archaeology of trade and consumption
      (pp. 23-30)

      The wide distribution of Mycenaean pottery in many areas of the Mediterranean may be the result of various processes. As has become clear from the discussion in chapter 1, there is little evidence for Mycenaean colonisation on a significant scale. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that Aegean traders or travelling craftsmen deposited personal ceramic possessions in places that they visited, for example as votives in foreign temples. It is also possible that visitors to the Aegean took back pots and figurines as personal souvenirs. However, the quantities of Mycenaean pots at many places in the Mediterranean are too large to be...

  5. Part II The Levant

    • 4 Mycenaean pottery in the Levant: introduction
      (pp. 31-36)

      The Syro-Palestinian littoral, commonly known as the Levant, is now taken up by six modern nation states: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestine Autonomy. This configuration and the political instability in the region over the last fifty years have influenced archaeological research, and any interpretation of distribution patterns in this area is hazardous. This is true also for the distribution of Mycenaean pottery, which has been found at 111 sites, from Charchemish (site no. 133) in Turkey to Tell es-Shari’a (site no. 243) in northern Sinai (Map 6). The concentration of sites visible in the southern Levant is...

    • 5 Ugarit
      (pp. 37-74)

      The sites of Ras Shamra and Minet el-Beida are situated in the Syrian coastal plain, ca. 12 km north of the modern harbour town of Lattakia. Minet el-Beida is the name of a bay near which an urban zone has been excavated, less than a kilometre away from thetellof Ras Shamra, which is located somewhat inland. The sites have been excavated since 1928 by successive French missions, who have continued the research up to the present day.¹ The site at Minet el-Beida was explored from 1929 to 1935. The earliest habitation at the harbour town dates to the...

    • 6 Hazor
      (pp. 75-98)

      Hazor is situated at the foot of the eastern ridge of the upper Galilee mountain range, in the northern Jordan valley, about 16 km north of Lake Tiberias and some 7 km west of the present-day course of the Jordan river. The site has been visited by various archaeological expeditions from 1928 up to the present day.¹ It lies on a mound which has a higher part, referred to as the acropolis, in the south-east, while the vast lower plateau stretches to the north-west (Fig. 6.1). The earliest structures at Hazor have been discovered on the highertellonly and...

    • 7 Tell Deir ‘Alla
      (pp. 99-108)

      Deir ‘Alla is the name of an artificial hill in the central Jordan valley, about 45 km north-west of Amman and 60 km north-east of Jerusalem. Thetellis situated some 5 km east of the present day course of the Jordan river. The site is being excavated by joint Dutch and Jordanian teams since 1960.¹ The oldest finds at Deir ‘Alla date from the Chalcolitic period, but the first true settlement at the site, belongs to the Middle Bronze Age, of which two phases have been discovered.² Since that period, the site appears to have been settled more or...

    • 8 The cultural significance of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant
      (pp. 109-124)

      The detailed contextual analyses of the Mycenaean pottery at Ugarit, Hazor and Deir ‘Alla enable a discussion of the use and appreciation of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant in general. The evidence from other find spots of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant will be discussed here in order to check how representative the conclusions reached for Ugarit, Hazor and Deir ‘Alla are. Before discussing the social groups in the Levant who used Mycenaean pottery, their appreciation of different parts of this class of material and its social significance, I will briefly comment on the repertoire of Mycenaean pots and figurines...

  6. Part III Cyprus

    • 9 Mycenaean pottery in Cyprus: Introduction
      (pp. 125-128)

      That Mycenaean pottery was very abundant in Cyprus was already realised by Furtwängler and Löschke at the end of the 19th century.¹ They mentioned thirty-seven Mycenaean pots and three findspots, while stating that there were many more from the island, scattered over several collections. Furtwängler and Löschke noticed that in comparison to mainland Greece, chariot kraters and decorated flasks were more frequent in Cyprus. Differences in thecorpusof Mycenaean pottery between Cyprus and mainland Greece were also noted by Myres and Ohnefalsch-Richter, who argued for the production of Mycenaean pottery on the island itself.² They were the first to...

    • 10 Enkomi-Ayios Iakovos
      (pp. 129-160)

      Spurs of the southern uplands form an abrupt escarpment in the western part of the Mesaoria, leaving a gap of about 2 km only. Just north of this gap lies the site of Enkomi-Ayios Iakovos, situated some 3 km from the coast. The plundering of tombs seems to have been an important activity at the site already during the 19th century; more systematic research began in 1896, when a team from the British Museum investigated some hundred tombs.¹ Since then, the site has been visited frequently by British, Swedish, French and Cypriot expeditions.² Unfortunately, Enkomi has been inaccessible since 1974...

    • 11 Athienou – Bamboulari tis koukouninas
      (pp. 161-168)

      In the central part of Cyprus, the Mesaoria plain is bordered on its southern side by limestone hills. Athienou is situated in the foothills, in close proximity of both the central plain and mining districts such as Troulli or Sha. The site ofBamboulari tis Koukouninasis situated on a natural hillock, which rises some 2 m above its surroundings. It covers some 2500 sqm which have been excavated down to virgin soil for more than 90% (Fig. 11.1).¹ The lowest archaeological layers which have been attested during these excavations have been assigned to the transitional period MC III-LC I.²...

    • 12 Apliki-Karamallos
      (pp. 169-182)

      On their northern side, outliers of the Troodos mountains reach almost to the coast of Morphou bay. In the valley of the Marathasa river, the plateau ofKaramallosis situated some 8 km from the coast. The altitude of the ancient site is some 300 m and it is situated in a well-known copper region. Archaeological remains have been discovered at various places and the site probably covered the whole plateau.¹ Various finds at the site indicate that some activities must have occurred at the site during LC IIB.² The earliest buildings, however, have been dated to LC IIC and...

    • 13 The cultural significance of Mycenaean pottery in Cyprus
      (pp. 183-202)

      The settlement at Enkomi covers virtually the whole Late Cypriot Bronze Age, whereas the occupation of Athienou and Apliki only took place in the later part of that period. Differences between the conclusions reached for Enkomi and the other two sites may be the result of developments in time. By including evidence from other sites in Cyprus such chronological patterns will become apparent. However, the differences and similarities between these sites may also be related to the variations in the specific roles of these settlements in Cypriot society during the Late Bronze Age.

      Considerable differences have been observed between the...

  7. Part IV The central Mediterranean

    • 14 Mycenaean pottery in the central Mediterranean: Introduction
      (pp. 203-206)

      The fifty-three sites in the central Mediterranean at which Mycenaean pottery has been found are situated in a large area encompassing the Italian peninsula and the two largest islands in the Mediterranean, Sicily and Sardinia (Map 10). Malta and the Aeolian islands are also included. In 1877, L. Mauceri described two amphoroid jars from a tomb near Syracuse which had been found in 1871, without knowing they were Mycenaean.¹ P. Orsi discovered Mycenaean pottery on several Sicilian sites and commented on their historical significance.² The large quantities of Late Helladic pottery in the upper stratum of the site at Scoglio...

    • 15 Lipari
      (pp. 207-228)

      Lipari is the largest of the seven islands in the Aeolian archipelago. On its south-eastern coast, the acropolis, nowadays calledil CastelloorCittáderises to a height of almost 44 m. The archaeological site is situated on top of the acropolis, which is also the historical centre of the modern town (Fig. 15.1). Excavations were conducted at the site in the 1950s and 1960s.¹ They have revealed continuous habitation at the acropolis from the Early Bronze Age until the present day.² During this long period, settlement at the acropolis was continually related to the plain ofcontrada Dianabelow...

    • 16 Thapsos
      (pp. 229-236)

      North of Syracuse, at the Ionian coast of Sicily, the peninsula of Magnisi, ancient Thapsos, is connected to the Sicilian mainland by a narrow strip of land (Fig. 16.1). Archaeological expeditions initially focused on the tombs near the lighthouse in the north, but settlement remains have been excavated as well, near theisthmus.¹ The earliest traces of human activity on the peninsula date to the Early Bronze Age. All of the tombs and most of the settlement remains belong to the Middle Bronze Age, a period in which Thapsos is a Sicilian type site.² A second settlement phase may be...

    • 17 Broglio di Trebisacce
      (pp. 237-248)

      Broglio di Trebisacce is situated 1 km from the coast on a high terrace in the foothills of the Pollino massif at the northern end of the plain of Sybaris. The site is one of more than twenty pre- and protohistoric sites in the hills surrounding the, suggesting that the area was substantially populated from the Middle Bronze Age onwards.¹ Excavations at Broglio began in 1979 and are still continuing.² Even though some Neolithic finds have been made, settlement at the site appears to have begun in the Middle Bronze Age and continued into the Early Iron Age.³

      The site...

    • 18 The cultural significance of Mycenaean pottery in Italy
      (pp. 249-260)

      The distribution of Mycenaean pottery in Italy has been subdivided by Lucia Vagnetti into three broad chronological periods: LH I-LH II, LH IIIA-LH IIIB and LH IIIB-LH IIIC.¹ Even though all three sites which have been discussed in the preceeding chapters cover more than one of these periods, the Mycenaean pottery at each of them is concentrated in specific periods. Most of the Mycenaean pottery at Lipari belongs to the early period (LH I-LH IIIA1); at Thapsos most Aegean vessels can be assigned a LH IIIA2-LH IIIB date, while Broglio yielded predominantly Mycenaean material from LH IIIB and later. The...

  8. Part V Conclusions

    • 19 Variations in the cultural significance of Mycenaean pottery
      (pp. 261-274)

      As is clear from the discussions in chapter 2, the Levant has the most sites with Mycenaean pottery, but the density is highest in Cyprus, as is the absolute number of pots. A common characteristic of the distribution pattern in all areas is that everywhere a large number of sites has produced very few Mycenaean finds, while only a few sites have yielded substantial quantities of it. Several large urban centres along the Levantine coast have produced large amounts of this pottery; however, it also occurs in quantity at sites in the interior of the Levant. This was not the...

    • 20 The role of Mycenaean pottery in Mediterranean exchange
      (pp. 275-280)

      I argued in the first chapter to this book, that supra-regional exchange in the eastern Mediterranean was complex and conducted on various social levels. Many groups of people were involved in these exchanges, among whom were palace-based traders and independent merchants. Considering the complexity of supra-regional trade, the question of who exchanged and transported the Mycenaean ceramic vessels is not the right one to ask.¹ Rather, we should investigate the interest of particular groups in the distribution of Mycenaean pottery in the Mediterranean.

      The motivations which constituted the rationale behind Bronze Age trade in the Mediterranean probably ranged from the...

  9. Tables
    (pp. 281-300)
  10. Maps
    (pp. 301-320)
  11. Catalogues

    • Catalogue I: Sites in the Mediterranean with Mycenaean pottery
      (pp. 323-329)
    • Catalogue II: Mycenaean pottery at Ugarit
      (pp. 330-342)
    • Catalogue III: Mycenaean pottery at Hazor
      (pp. 343-344)
    • Catalogue IV: Mycenaean pottery at Deir ʹAlla
      (pp. 345-345)
    • Catalogue V: Mycenaean pottery at Enkomi
      (pp. 346-375)
    • Catalogue VI: Mycenaean pottery at Athienou
      (pp. 376-376)
    • Catalogue VII: Mycenaean pottery at Apliki
      (pp. 377-378)
    • Catalogue VIII: Mycenaean pottery at Lipari
      (pp. 379-385)
    • Catalogue IX: Mycenaean pottery at Thapsos
      (pp. 386-386)
    • Catalogue X: Mycenaean pottery at Mycenaean pottery at Broglio di Trebisacce
      (pp. 387-394)
    (pp. 397-430)
  13. Index