The role of mycenaean pottery in the material culture of lipari

The three successive strata vary in the extent to which they have produced objects other than the Mycenaean ceramic vessels deriving from international and regional exchange. In the Capo Graziano level, a bead of white-blue glass paste was found in structure 8 XXI.52 An Aegean origin for the glass beads in Italy has been proposed.53 However, a production of glass products within the central Mediterranean cannot be excluded, as is suggested by the evidence for the circulation of glass ingots in the eastern Mediterranean.54 Together with the glass bead from 8 XXI, an amber bead was found, which must have been imported. The same may be said of a decorated comb made of bone ( Fig. 15.7).55 This object is exceptional in comparison with the other items of worked bone found in the same level and an Aegean origin has been suggested. It is more likely that the Lipari comb was produced in the Italian area; however, other bone combs from the Bronze Age are known from the Levant, Greece and the Balearic islands.56 The Lipari comb, then, may be understood as an object associated with an international world. Additional imports at Lipari constitute a few ceramic vessels found in Capo Graziano levels which may have been produced in Sicily.57

The finds mentioned above testify that Lipari participated in interregional exchange during the Capo Graziano period. However, in terms of quantities, the ceramic vessels of Aegean origin constitute imports which were present in relative abundance. We have seen that during the Capo Graziano period Mycenaean pottery was widely available to the inhabitants of Lipari. At the same time, residents living in the vicinity of the exceptional building 8 IV possessed more of this material than others. This indicates that this material was part of consumptive strategies. It seems logical to assume that the fact that these vessels were imported was an important ground for their social significance.

The Milazzese levels at the acropolis of Lipari have produced far fewer objects which may be identified as imports than the previous phase. A number of Appennine vessels imported from the Italian mainland have been found in several structures belonging to these levels.58 However, such pottery is much less frequent at Lipari than in contemporary levels on Panarea and Salina.59 In addition, few metal objects have been found and no objects other than pottery which were clearly imported. Within such a material environment, it is possible that Mycenaean pottery acquired a special significance. Precisely during the Milazzese phase, however, the Mycenaean pottery is widely distributed and an integral part of the local material culture in almost all structures. Apparently, the fact that these vessels were imported did not result in sumptuary restrictions to specific social groups. Even though Aegean vessels during this period may have been highly appreciated for their quality, they do not seem to have been part of social strategies.

In comparison with the previous periods, Mycenaean ceramic vessels were relatively scarce during the Ausonio I period. Other imports dating to this period are a glass bead and one made from amber,

52 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 516.

53 Taylour 1958, 51-52; Vagnetti 1989. See, however, Harding (1984, 87-103), who concludes that most beads of glass/faience in the central and western Mediterranean, as well as in trans-alpine Europe, are local or regional products.

54 Pulak 1988, 14; Vagnetti, pers. comm.

55 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 516, Plate 158: no. 1.

56 For a discussion of the Lipari comb and later examples in the central Mediterranean, see Vagnetti 1986, 211. For the distribution of combs during the Bronze Age, see Tusa 1986, 134-136; Buchholz 1984-1985.

57 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 516.

58 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 171, 176, 179, 183, 187, 205.

59 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 551.

Mycenaean Comb
Fig. 15.7 Decorated bone comb from the Capo Graziano period — After Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, Plate 153: no. g.

which were found in cremation urns on the acropolis.60 In comparison with earlier periods, metal objects were relatively abundant, among which were pins, fibulae and a dagger.61 The metal hoard discovered below hut a III, which comprised a large number of bronze weapons and tools and was initially assigned to Ausonio I, however, probably belongs to the earlier stages of Ausonio II.62 Among the impasto pottery, vessels imported from Sicilia, Sardinia and the Italian mainland have been attested.63 Within such a material environment, Mycenaean pottery is only one class of objects associated with maritime exchange. Sicilian and Sardinian pottery was found associated with the Mycenaean ceramics in the exceptional building p IV. It seems, then, that the restricted distribution of the Mycenaean pottery during the Ausonio I period is related to its imported nature. Apparently, ceramic imports were socially significant and used in sumptuary strategies. The differences between the three periods at Lipari in the appreciation of Mycenaean ceramic vessels appear to be related to the degree to which maritime contacts were significant.

In various periods during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, the Aeolian islands featured a local pottery industry.64 With only a few exceptions, the impasto pottery found in Capo Graziano levels at the Lipari acropolis were produced locally.65 The kiln in cabin 8 XII, in fact, is evidence for local pottery manufacture during this period. In addition, pits have been attested with thick layers of clay, which have been interpreted as containers associated with pottery production.66 In addition to local production, there is evidence for regional circulation of pottery. A wreck dating to the first Capo Graziano phase was discovered in the bay of Lipari and containing a wide range of local ceramics.67 Also, Capo Graziano vessels, in particular pithoi, have been found at Tindari in Sicily.68 However, the impasto

60 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 586.

61 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 583-586.

62 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 733-789; Moscetta 1988.

63 Bernabo-Brea 1979, 583; Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier

1980, 566-568.

64 Williams 1980.

65 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 517-518; Williams 1980. 863-866.

66 Bernabo-Brea 1976-1977, 37.

67 Bernabo-Brea 1978, 36-42; Ciabatti 1985.

68 Cavalier 1970.

pottery from the Capo Graziano settlement on Filicudi (site no. 321) was produced on that island itself and shows substantial typological differences from that found on Lipari.69 This fact suggests that regional exchange of ceramics during the second Capo Graziano phase was of a limited scale. The small number of vessels produced in Sicily found at Lipari during Capo Graziano may be evidence of the same phenomenon.

During the Milazzese and Ausonio I periods, the ceramic repertoire of the Aeolian islands is much more homogeneous than in the preceding period.70 Moreover, the finest ceramics are made of local clay and covered with a slip originating in Sicily, which testifies to a regional transport of clay for pottery production.71 In comparison with the Capo Graziano period, regional pottery exchange seems to have been much more substantial during Milazzese and Ausonio I, as may also be deduced from the larger quantities of pottery imported from the Italian Mainland, Sicily and Sardinia. Notwithstanding the quality and variation of the local impasto, the imported, wheel-made and painted Mycenaean vessels stand out as distinctive, high-quality items. It is possible that it was supplemented to the pottery circulating in regional exchange networks.

Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian islands and the successive settlements discovered at the acropolis are generally larger than their counterparts on the other islands.72 In addition, the Lipari Castello has by far the most strategic position and it is the only location with a continuous settlement lasting from the beginning of the Neolithic until the Iron Age. It is tempting, then, to regard Lipari as a centre in successive systems of regional exchange. The Mycenaean pottery that has been found in smaller quantities on Filicudi (site no. 321), Salina (sites nos. 322, 323) and Panarea (site no. 324), would also appear to fit such a pattern. We need to realise, however, that all settlements on the islands are very small, comprising only a few hundred inhabitants at the most.73 In terms of the sophistication of architecture or the presence of imported goods and metals, there is little evidence for a social-political hierarchy, both within and among the settlements on the islands and the nearby coasts.74

At the site of Vetta della Montagnola on Filicudi (site no. 321), more than eighty Mycenaean finds have been made in levels dating to the Capo Graziano and Milazzese phases.75 Even though such an amount is smaller than that found at the acropolis at Lipari, it should be acknowledged that the latest Mycenaean imports at Filicudi have been assigned to LH IIIA1, while Lipari has produced pottery in later ceramic styles. If we compare the number of finds from Lipari in styles earlier than LH IIIA1, the difference with Filicudi is not substantial.76 The Mycenaean vessels on Filicudi were distributed rather homogeneously among the structures at the site.77 The repertoire of Mycenaean decorated vessels found on Filicudi compares well with that of Lipari. However, an important difference with the acropolis site on Lipari is the presence of substantial quantities of early matt-painted pottery and coarse ware. On this basis, it can be stated that the corpus of Mycenaean pottery on Filicudi is different from that that found at Lipari, especially during the earlier Capo Graziano period.

The excavations at Punta Milazzese on Panarea (site no. 324) have revealed some fifty huts, which

69 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 518-519, 549.

70 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 548-550, 563-565.

71 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 564; Williams 1980, 863-866.

72 Cavalier 1992-1993, 6; Malone, Stoddart & Whitehouse 1994, 176-177.

73 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 509-510.

74 Bietti Sestieri 1997, 475-477.

75 Taylour 1958, 13-16; Vagnetti 1991, 264-279.

76 The Capo Graziano and Milazzese levels have yielded 198 Mycenaean finds, which have either been assigned a stylistical date before LH IIIA1-LH IIIA2 or remain undated.

77 Vagnetti 1991, 286-289.

have all been dated to the Milazzese period.78 Some forty Mycenaean sherds have been found, dating from LH II to LH IIIB and which occurred in twenty huts, with a concentration in cabins X and XI.79 Disturbed levels of the Capo Graziano and Milazzese period were also found near Serro dei Cianfi (site no. 322) on Salina.80 The nearby site of Portella (site no. 323) on the same island, has been assigned to the Milazzese period exclusively and yielded only eight buildings.81 The few Mycenaean vessels, dating to LH IIB-LH IIIA, were found concentrated in cabin F, together with items from at least two necklaces containing beads of stone, glass and faience.82 It is clear that the three chronological periods differ in the extent to which Mycenaean pottery was distributed among the islands.

Given their geographical position, we can assume that maritime contacts have always constituted an important element in the societies of the Aeolian islands. Regional pottery exchange, however, appears to have been relatively limited during the Capo Graziano period and it is possible that the Mycenaean pottery arrived on Filicudi and Lipari independently. During this period at Lipari, Mycenaean pottery was widely used, but some groups among the inhabitants made more use of this material than others. In the Milazzese period, there appears to have been extensive regional pottery exchange and Mycenaean vessels were widely distributed as well. At Lipari during this period, Mycenaean pottery was widely used among the inhabitants of the village and it was not subject to sumptuary regulations. This may have been different, however, on Panarea and at Portella on Salina, where concentrations of this material have been noted. Finally, during the Ausonio I period, exchange between the islands was halted, due to the destructions of the villages on the minor ones. By this time, Mycenaean pottery had become scarce at Lipari and it was monopolised by specific social groups. There appears to have been a correlation between the intensity of regional maritime exchange and the social role of Aegean pottery. Such a correlation is an indication that Aegean contacts were of importance for the scale and scope of regional exchange.83 In addition, it can be stated that their association with maritime trade made the Aegean vessels at Lipari suitable to be part of social strategies during different periods.

78 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1968, 50-70.

79 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1968, 186-189. Structures X and XI also yielded higher quantities of local pottery, indicating that the concentration of Mycenaean pottery in these huts depended on an extensive use here of pottery in general.

80 Cavalier 1957, 9; Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1968, 138-


81 Cavalier 1957, 10; Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1968, 144-148.

82 Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1968, 166-167.

83 See also, Bernabo-Brea 1976-1977, 40; Bernabo-Brea & Cavalier 1980, 695; Bietti Sestieri 1997, 475.

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