Aegina Mh Iiilh I Ceramic Phases of an Aegean Trade Domain

Wolfgang Wohlmayr

Two distinguishing features mark the urban development of Aegina-Kolonna during the middle phases of the Aegean Bronze Age: the continuous growth of fortification walls around the main settlement and the establishment of an "inner suburb" or inner ring encased by much weaker fortifications (Fig. 1). These are features of a community that was flourishing and that consequently provided for its safety. Given the highly mercantile character of the site, it is not surprising that at the end of Middle Bronze Age (MBA) the settlement at Kolonna experienced further expansion. Evidence of Mycenaean buildings in this sector - northeast of the suburb and the so-called shaft-grave district - has been known for a long time.1

Excavations in the 1980s brought to light several rooms, or better, chambers, outside this inner extension and inclined toward its east wall (Fig. 2). Without a doubt - as attested by ceramic deposits - these chambers have to belong to the latest MBA and to the Early Mycenaean (EM) period. Although the focus of my paper will lie on these ceramics, let us first cast an eye on the architectural remains in this part of Cape Kolonna. The northern boundary of the above-mentioned structures is a Mycenaean wall, one section of which is comparatively well preserved.2 A gate within this Cyclopean-like wall, still visible, was filled in during later Mycenaean times. The EM building complex consists of the above-mentioned gate, a yard opening directly onto a few chambers, and at least one passage parallel to the MBA suburb wall. The complex is evidently a small bastion or bulwark of the Aeginetan settlement.

Upon excavation, the following structures were able to be clearly identified: the Mycenaean north wall, interior sections of the older fortress wall, the blocked entrance, and, backed onto the suburb wall at a lower ground level, the so-called chambers.

In contrast to this "inner suburb" of the town (Kolonna VIII to X), the precise area of which is known, the "outer suburb" - the beginnings of town XI - could only be verified in one small, trapezoidal area. One reason for the difficulty is the increase in rock level in the eastern section of this area, which resulted in only parts of the EM houses being covered by subsequent structures. The mighty relics of a later Mycenaean fortress were already, although only sketchily, presented by Gabriel Welter in the 1920s.3 The Mycenaean houses were largely destroyed in later centuries by construction of the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods. Although most remains of the LH I-II period were displaced by building activities of later periods, a small part of the EM settlement has survived in situ.4

Ceramic deposits at Kolonna of MH III-LH I date can be defined as predominantly local: Aeginetan potters' workshops had continued to carry on their exceptional production. The pottery falls into three major classes: a smaller group of pattern-painted vases decorated with one or more paints lacking altogether in luster and which are therefore termed "matt-painted"; a larger group of monochrome, hardly burnished red-, brown-, and black-slipped wares; and finally, unpainted and relatively coarse wares ("cooking pottery"). This spectrum of ceramics, collected under the term "Aegina Gold-Mica-Fabrics", is characterized by a distinctive form of mineral temper that includes gold mica.5

My investigations are based upon the following criteria. Which characteristic types and shapes of vases can be defined in this area of the excavations? Which shapes and decorative patterns can be identified at Kolonna in the transition between the Middle

1 Bibliography: WELTER 1938; Hiller 1975; WALTER 1993; Kilian-Dirlmeier 1997; Wohlmayr 2000.

2 Wohlmayr 2000, 127, fig. 61.

3 Welter 1925, figs. 3-7; 1926, 432-3; 1929, 185; 1938, 11, fig. 9, 21ff.

4 Evidently the settlement at Kolonna enlarges both to its south and west in EM times. Excavations have uncovered rich ceramic deposits that provide firm evidence of the settlement's flowering at this period.

5 Bibliography: Dietz 1991, 8 ff.; Maran 1992, 179ff.; ZERNER 1993, 39-56.

Thouria Wall
Fig. 1 General plan of the north-eastern part of Kolonna excavations

and Late Bronze Age? What are the invariable characteristics of this "Aegina ware"? In the following catalogue, I present closely connected finds of ceramics that - with due caution - can be taken to mark two periods of the "outer suburb": the first, connected with the latest MH and very early EM pottery style, and the second, connected with the developed EM style (LH IB) at Aegina.

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