Pottery production and consumption in Early Iron Age Crete: The case of Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita) (Articolo in rivista)

  • Pottery production and consumption in Early Iron Age Crete: The case of Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita) (Articolo in rivista) (literal)
  • 2009-01-01T00:00:00+01:00 (literal)
Alternative label
  • Anna Lucia D'Agata; Marie-Claude Boileau (2009)
    Pottery production and consumption in Early Iron Age Crete: The case of Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita)
    in Studi Micenei ed Egeo Anatolici; CNR, Roma (Italia)
  • Anna Lucia D'Agata; Marie-Claude Boileau (literal)
Pagina inizio
  • 165 (literal)
Pagina fine
  • 202 (literal)
  • 51 (literal)
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche; British School at Athens (oggi University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia (USA). (literal)
  • Pottery production and consumption in Early Iron Age Crete: The case of Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita) (literal)
  • Recent years have seen a marked increase in interest in the Early Iron Age of Crete (Fig. 1), focusing on sites which flourished in the centuries of the so called Dark Ages through to the emergence of the city-states dating from the 8th century BC onwards. Excavations at Knossos, Eleutherna, Thronos Kephala, and Kavousi, and surveys at Vrokastro and elsewhere bear witness to this renewed interest. Still, our understanding of regionalism within Crete in this period remains poor2, partly because ceramic studies of Early Iron Age material have mostly concentrated on the stylistic development of fine decorated wares from funerary contexts as an aid to chronological studies. Local developments of, and interactions between, sites and regions can be documented more precisely through the study of pottery technology, production and circulation with the application of analytical techniques3. Here we present the first detailed assessment of Early Iron Age pottery production and consumption from Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita). Using mainly ceramic petrography, it sets out to establish the compositional reference fabric groups for the local coarse, semi-fine and cooking pot productions, and to identify nonlocal fabrics. Results of the integrated petrographic and typo-chronological data shed light on issues of clay paste technology, diachronic patterns of local production and consumption, provenance of non-local pottery and, more generally, on the relationship between Thronos Kephala and the other communities of west-central Crete. Greek-Italian excavations at the site of Thronos Kephala, generally identified with Minoan su-ki-ri-ta and the forerunner of the Classical polis of Sybrita, have uncovered a settlement which was continuously occupied from the 12th to the 7th century BC4. The settlement (Fig. 2), situated on the summit of the hill of Kephala on the south-western slopes of the Psiloritis and at the northern end of the valley of Amari, was founded in LM IIIC Early, just after the collapse of the Late Bronze Age system of autonomous polities, and was destroyed in the course of the 7th century BC. The excavated area consists of three sectors: the north and the south plateaux, and a central area close to the hilltop, linking the two plateaux. In the central area more than 40 pits dug in the bedrock have been unearthed. The remains of the settlement include, on the north plateau, Building 1, 2, 3, and the large, and later, Building B1; on the south plateau, Building A1. The pits constitute a defining feature of the settlement on Kephala, unparalleled on such a scale anywhere else in Crete. The central area, being occupied by the pits, remained substantially untouched by later constructions up to the Roman period. The way in which the pits were filled in indicates that they were the outcome of ritual behaviour practised by the inhabitants of the Kephala uninterruptedly from the 12th to the 9th century BC, and the awareness of their existence seems to have persisted throughout the following centuries. To judge from the materials collected in the pits themselves - mainly including pottery, animal bones, and organic remains - this behaviour involved the careful burial of the remains of the preparation and consumption of food, and to a lesser extent the manipulation of liquids. In other words we are dealing with structured deposits reflecting specific deposition modalities. The pits contained the remains of collective meals which took place on Kephala between the 12th and the 9th century BC and which were invested with a ritual value. These collective meals may be seen as the forerunner of the syssitia, one of the most important institutions of the Cretan poleis in the Archaic period. The ceramic material from the pits is domestic in nature, and includes fine, coarse and kitchen ware. Being prevalently closed contexts, the ritual pits of the central area also correspond to a sort of horizontal stratigraphic sequence ranging in time from LM IIIC to late Protogeometric. The archaeological evidence from Thronos Kephala includes numerous indications which show how during the Dark Ages the embryo of practices which proved crucial for archaic Cretan society, such as meals taken in common, was already to be found here. The investigation of this site constitutes an integrated project for reconstructing the socio-economic processes which during the Dark Ages transformed a small hilltop settlement in one Cretan polis from the Archaic period5. The questions addressed in this study deal essentially with issues of provenance and technology of coarse-grained pottery. Thin-section petrography using a polarising microscope was thus chosen as the most appropriate analytical technique. The analysis was carried out at the Fitch Laboratory and following the methodology proposed by Whitbread6. A total of 200 pottery samples were selected for thinsection petrography, representing the range of macro-fabrics (Fig. 3), vessel types, vessel size, typo-chronology and depositional contexts (Table 1) at Thronos Kephala. Refiring tests were conducted so that variations in clay colour due to ancient firing conditions were eliminated. A second phase of the project on the geochemistry of 12 clays and 75 samples of semi-coarse to semi-fine wares by neutron activation analysis is currently underway. (literal)
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