Broadly speaking, there are two main types of Minoan kilns, which seem to be of different dates. The first type comprises structures that are hemispherical or circular, with or without a stoking channel; these generally date to LM III. The second type, normally found in Neopalatial contexts, comprises those with multiple parallel channels leading out from a firing pit; these function as cross-draft kilns, with the draft being drawn across the firing chamber.19 In plan, this second type is rather like a hand, with the palm representing the firing pit and the fingers the channels. The Kommos kiln belongs to this second type, of which there are single examples in Crete at Gouves,20 Aghia Triada,21 Kato Zakros,22 Kokkino Froudi,23 Mochlos,24 Phaistos,25 and Vathypetro,26 as well as four examples at Knossos.27 The number of channels in these kilns varies from two to five. One of the problems in the past has been that it was usually unclear what actually had been fired in such kilns, for few wasters (with the exception of the Aghia Triada kiln) and no pottery dumps have been reported in connection with them. It has been suggested variously that pottery, lime, and even faience, glass, or metals may have been produced within them.28 The use of the Kommos kiln is made clear by the pottery within it, by the pottery dump outside of it, and by wasters nearby. No traces of lime or metallurgical debris were found within it.29
How the upper portion of the kiln and the pottery to be fired within it were arranged, however, remains uncertain, although some proposals can be made. First, one of the wall tops between the channels (Fig. 14 at a), is,
as mentioned earlier, covered by a uniformly smooth coating of clay plaster. We assume that the other wall tops terminated in a similar manner. On this basis one can argue that the pottery was simply placed on the wall tops between channels, or else spanned the channels, since there was probably not an upper floor or grate such as that proposed for the kiln from Aghia Triada, where a partial grate was found,30 and as shown in the restoration by the Italian excavators in Figure 22:b.
It is possible, however, that some of the rough stone slabs recovered from the channels (Fig. 20) spanned them, as in the LM III kiln at Stylos (Fig. 23).31 Also, some of the fragmentary coarse terracotta slabs or bats recovered from the kiln (C 10052, C 10073),32 as well as some pithoi (below, 58), basins (54, 55), and large bowls (27), could have temporarily spanned the 0.25 m gaps, with other pottery stacked on top of them. Nevertheless it is curious that no spanning elements were found in situ, if they had been left in place by the potters, especially in the undisturbed area where the plastered upper wall (see above) is preserved intact. Also, since clay imprints were not found on the tops of the channel dividers, any terracotta or stone slabs placed there were apparently not stabilized by clay as were the slabs in the Stylos kiln.
At least some of the small stone slabs mentioned above were probably once built into the clay and rubble roof of the kiln.33 While there is only indirect evidence to show that the kiln was "roofed," this must have been the case, as the analyses presented here show that the process of oxidation-reduction-oxidation was used certainly for the dark-painted vessels, as discussed below in Chapter 3. Such close control of the atmosphere of a kiln is not possible in one with an open top, perhaps covered only by broken sherds. The provision of an aperture at the eastern end of the roof would have guided the draft from west to east over the kiln load. Such a design makes much more efficient use of heat than do up-draft kilns.
Concerning the roof itself, while no definite fragments were found, the interior of the kiln above the channels was covered with a 0.10 m-
Figure 24. Restored view of kiln from northwest. G. Bianco v j V
34. Similar deposits of red-brown clayey soil have been found in Minoan kilns at Zakros (Platon 1977, p. 346) and Vathypetro (Marinatos 1952, p. 272), as well as in the Iron Age kiln at Torone (Papadopoulos 1989, p. 17). Both Platon and Papadopoulos have interpreted the reddish soil as remains of the collapsed superstructure.
thick layer of reddish and light brown clay,34 and it is reasonable to suggest that this clay layer, as well as some of the reddish and brown clay fragments and stone found within the channels, is from a dome. The upper fills of the channels and the clayey layer in the firing pit included some earlier sherds, dating to MM IB/II, MM III, and early LM IA, as well as a worn lustrous dark-on-light patterned fragment (C 10307), which are not likely to have been part of the firing load (see below). Some of these may have been part of the superstructure; others could have been used as spacers separating the vessels being fired. Moreover, on the basis of the red clayey stratum found outside the kiln, the types of pottery found within it, and joins between that pottery and the pottery found within the kiln, it is argued below that here also may be remains of the dome, scattered to the sides of the kiln after the superstructure collapsed and the resulting accumulation had been leveled. The joins between the pottery in the kiln and that outside it suggest to Van de Moortel (Chapter 2, below) that part of the last firing load was removed and discarded on the kiln dump.
One must also inquire whether there was an intervening wall between firing pit and channels. There probably was not, for the western ends of the channels are so well preserved that part of such a wall would surely have been found had it ever existed. For that reason the roof shown in Figure 24 is made high enough on the west to accommodate the stoker/ potter and high enough on the east for the stacked pottery, as well as for the potter who would enter the chamber to place and, later, remove the pots.35 It seems clear that there must have existed a closeable vent on the eastern end of the kiln that would draw the draft through the kiln and could be sealed during the reduction phase of the firing cycle.36
From the kiln design, its pottery, and the analytical work presented below in Chapter 3, it is possible to reconstruct the steps that were likely followed in firing the pottery in this kiln.
Thrapsano (Voyatzoglou 1984, figs. 14-17) and Kentri (Blitzer 1984, figs. 18-3, 4).
37. Recent work by Jeffrey Soles and Costis Davaras at Mochlos, on the Cretan mainland, has revealed an industrial area including two small LM IB kilns, both with firing pits "full of olive pits, a fuel which is still used in kilns today" (Tomlinson 1995, p. 68); see also Soles 1997, p. 427.
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