Abstract

The purpose of this study is both to propose a new classification system for the pottery of the Late Helladic I period (c. 1700-1600 B.C.) in the northeastern Peloponnese of Greece and to examine the impact such a system has on the chronology of the period commonly known as the "Shaft Grave Period." The majority of ceramic studies concerning LH I pottery focuses almost exclusively on Mycenaean Decorated despite the fact that the vessels of this ware comprise a tiny fraction of pottery assemblages. The existence of the remaining wares, often simply labeled "the other wares," has been known for over a century, yet many excavation reports either exclude them entirely or include them in chapters concerning Middle Helladic pottery without discussing their LH I date. This neglect may result, in part, from the lack of a standardized nomenclature for these wares as well as a defined typological framework in which to place them. This study redresses this problem by providing such a framework.

This study also addresses the effect the new classification system has on the chronological definitions of MH III, LH I, and LH IIA, the "Shaft Grave Period." The first phase of the Mycenaean sequence, LH I, is heralded by the appearance of Mycenaean Decorated according to the conventional view. This study demonstrates that two other wares also first appear in LH I - Mainland Polychrome Matt-Painted and White on Burnished Dark. Furthermore, these two wares appear only in LH I in the northeastern Peloponnese. Along with the earliest examples of Mycenaean Decorated, their presence dates any context to LH I. Therefore, rather than a single criterion for defining a LH I context, three now exist. When the proposed classification system is applied to certain areas at the sites of Asine, Lerna, and Mycenae, the efficacy and advantages of the system become markedly evident. For Asine, methodological concerns with previous schemes indicate that a new system is needed. At Lerna, the dates of cist graves either are independently corroborated or re-dated to LH I. Finally, the system demonstrates that certain burials from the graves in the two grave circles at Mycenae date unequivocally to LH I.

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