The onsite distribution of mycenaean pottery

The six entries in Catalogue IV have been found in two buildings only: the easternmost structure with rooms 1-3 and the treasury adjacent to the courtyard (see Fig. 7.2 and Table 7.1).

It is remarkable, especially with such a low number of finds, that in each of these buildings more than one Mycenaean vessel has been found. This indicates that these pots were not used everywhere at the site, but served special functions.

On the basis of the architecture and inventories, the excavators were able to assign different functions to the rooms.16 It is noteworthy that none of our vessels has been found in the cella, which yielded a number of other imports.17 Mycenaean pottery has not been found in the storerooms (Rooms 7

13 Franken 1992. 15 G. Van der Kooij, pers. comm.

14 The 1994 campaign has been reported upon by 16 Franken 1992, 163-165.

Ibrahim & Van der Kooij 1997; the 1996 and 1998 17 Franken 1992, 28.

campaigns have, so far, not been published.

building room easternmost building room 1 room 2 room 3

treasury room 4 room 5 room 6

Table 7.1


and 8) either, which served the cella. This indicates that Aegean vessels were not used during the ceremonies which were practised in the cella, nor were they offered as votives. The functions of Rooms 9 and 10 are not known. However, the nature of the pottery indicates that these were domestic quarters.18 If such an identification is correct, the absence of Mycenaean pottery in these rooms suggests that these ceramics were not part of domestic activities at the site.

The two buildings in the east are comparable to the cella in the presence of luxury objects.19 Two Mycenaean vessels were found in the treasury (cat. nos. 4 and 5); four of our vessels can be associated with the easternmost building. The relation of the easternmost building with the cella and treasury is difficult to assess, but the wealth of finds in this area suggests that it had some kind of official function. In any case, the distribution of Mycenaean pottery at Deir 'Alla clearly shows that the few vessels were restricted to the wealthier, official areas.

From a stylistic point of view, the earliest Mycenaean vessel probably is the squat stirrup jar of cat. no. 3, which can be compared to similar vessels at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt and may be assigned a late LH IIIA2 date (Fig. 7.3).20 The two horizontal flasks of cat. nos. 4 and 5 can be assigned to LH IIIA2-LH IIIB1 (Fig. 7.3),21 while the other three vessels are of LH IIIB types.22 All these vessels were in use at the time of destruction of phase E, which is dated by the cartouche of Queen Taousert after 1186 BC. If the stirrup jar indeed belongs to LH IIIA2, this means that it was more than a century old at the time of its deposition; the two flasks were at least half that age. These finds clearly show that Aegean vessels remained in use long after their manufacture. The occurrence of the LH IIIA2 stirrup jar in direct association with LH IIIB types suggests that the older vessel was not regarded as different.

All the Mycenaean pots in Deir 'Alla are storage vessels. The absence of dinner and ritual vessels at the site is noteworthy, as these types elsewhere constitute a significant proportion of the repertoire of Mycenaean ceramics. Within the general class of storage pottery, two vessel types are present at Deir 'Alla: the globular flask (cat. nos. 4 and 5) and the stirrup jar (cat. nos. 1-3 and 6). The stirrup jar is generally thought to be a container for (perfumed) oil,23 while the globular flask could also hold oil, as

18 These rooms produced mainly kitchen pottery and a variety of utilitarian objects, see Franken 1992, 84-91.

19 Franken 1992, 165.

20 Hankey 1967, 131-132. Leonard (1994, 62 no. 761), however, assigns this vessel to LH IIIB.

21 Hankey 1967, 131-132; Leonard 1994, 88 nos. 1134-


22 Hankey 1967, 132; Leonard 1994, 55 no. 633, 61 no. 740, 79 no. 1199.

23 Leonard 1981, 94; Tournavitou 1992, 190-195; Negbi & Negbi 1993, 324-325.

Fig. 7.3 LHIIIA2 (?) stirrup jar (cat. no. 3) and LHIIIA2-LHIIIB flask (cat no. 4) from phase E — After Hankey 1967, 131 fig. 5: nos a, b.

well as wine or other liquid substances. The spatial distribution of these two vessel types indicate restrictions of use to specific buildings at Deir 'Alla: the flasks were found in the treasury, whereas all the stirrup jars occurred in the easternmost building (Fig. 7.2). This spatial separation is contextual as well, because the two buildings have been assigned different functions. From such a distribution it is clear that Mycenaean vessels were restricted to specific functions.

All the Mycenaean vessels at Tell Deir 'Alla are of fine, decorated ware. Only the LH IIIA2 squat stirrup jar of cat. no. 3 has a patterned decoration (Fig. 7.3): five groups of multiple stem and tongue pattern on the shoulder (FM 19). The other vessels, including the imitation stirrup jar of cat. no. 2005, are decorated with bands and lines only. Apparently, only vessels with simple decoration arrived at the site.

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