Workshops And Analytical Control Groups In The Prehistoric Aegean

Analytical research on prehistoric Aegean pottery has concentrated on questions of both provenance and technology, with notable success in its long history of work.1 The study of Minoan ceramics has been an important component of this development, exploiting both elemental and, more recently, mineralogical techniques.2

Provenance studies have generally been based on comparison of the elemental composition of pottery of unknown origin with chemical control groups, sampled to be representative of the products of known centers of pottery production. In reality, however, there are very few locations of production whose existence in the past is certain, although some recent finds have revealed workshop installations.3 Thus, the majority of chemical control groups comprised pottery assumed on archaeological grounds (in terms of both style and spatial distribution) to form a homogeneous group and to have been made in the vicinity of a major center of settlement.

We now know that the assumption that the majority of pottery at a given site is manufactured locally is often unfounded. Indeed, recent work has shown that the production of pottery in Minoan Crete was perhaps concentrated in a smaller number of centers and that distribution from

1. We would like to thank the 23rd

Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, the Conservation Division of the Ministry of Culture, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for permission to sample the material from the kiln for analysis. The analyses would not have been possible without the generous support of the Institute of Aegean Prehistory.

Several people have made important contributions to this paper through their help and advice, some of whom are the coauthors of other work result ing from the analyses. We would like especially to thank J. Buxeda i Garrigos, E. Faber, A. Tsolakidou, E. Kiriatzi, and D. Bacon.

  1. For an account of the history of analytical work on Aegean ceramics, see Jones 1986; also Day et al. 1999.
  2. For the pottery workshop at Zominthos, see Sakellarakis 1989; for the LM III kiln complex at Gouves on the north coast of Crete, see Vallianou 1997; for kilns at Phaistos and Aghia Triada see Tomasello 1996.
TABLE 12. CATALOGUE OF SAMPLES FOR ANALYSIS FROM THE KILN

Sample

Excavation No.

Inv. No.

Context

Surface

Shape

Pottery Cat.

Group No.

95/1

K93A/87B/3:90A

C10577

Kiln channel 1, 2, 3

UP

Basin

54

4

95/2

K93/87B/4:97

C10534

Kiln dump

UP

Basin

55

2a

95/3

K95/97F/3:72

C10533

Kiln channel 3

UP

Conical bowl

28

2a

95/4

K94/95A/3:172

C10167

Kiln channel 2

UP

Side-spouted cup

25

2a

95/5

K93/87B/3:90A

C10567

Kiln channel 1

UP

Bridge-spouted jar

1a

95/6

K94/95A/3:172

C10168

Kiln channel 2

UP

Pithos

57

4

95/7

K94/95A/4:127

C10566

Kiln firing pit

Mono

Bridge-spouted jar

1a

95/8

K95/97F/3:72

C10530

Kiln channel 3

Mono

Conical cup P

1a

95/9

K95/97F/3:72

C10531

Kiln channel 3

Mono

Conical cup P

1a

95/10

K95/97F/3:72

C10055

Kiln channel 3

Mono

Conical cup P

1a

95/11

K93/87B/3:90

C 9917

Kiln channel 1

Mono

Conical cup P

13

1b

95/12

K93/87B/5:107C

C 9945

Kiln dump

UP

Conical cup E

9

1b

95/13

K95/97F/3:72

C 10528

Kiln channel 3

UP

Conical cup C

1b

95/14

K95/97F/3:72

C 10524

Kiln channel 3

UP

Conical cup C

1b

95/15

K93/87B/3:90

C 9915

Kiln channel 1

Mono

Conical cup Q

15

2a

95/16

K95/97B/3:72

C 10525

Kiln channel 3

UP

Conical cup C

1b

95/17

K95/97F/3:73

C 10514

Kiln channel 3

UP

Conical cup C

1a

95/18

K95/97F/3:72

C 10522

Kiln channel 3

DP

Bell cup

1a

95/19

K93/87B/5:107

C 9947

Kiln dump

UP

Bell cup

23

3

95/20

K93A/87B/4:96

C 10553

Kiln dump

LOD

Piriform rhyton

1a

95/21

K93/87B/7:115A

C 8979

Kiln dump

UP

Conical cup D

2a

95/22

K93/87B/6:111

C 9959

Kiln dump

UP

Conical cup C

1b

95/23

K93/87B/5:106C

C 9439

Kiln dump

LOD

Kalathos

1a

95/24

K94/95A/3:153

C 10301

Kiln dump

DOL

Cup

1b

95/25

K94/95A/3:152

C 10337

Kiln dump

LOD

Kalathos

33

2a

95/26

K94/95A/3:172

C 10601

Kiln channel 2

UP

Kalathos

1b

95/27

K94/95A/8:109

C 10072

Kiln dump

UP

Side-spouted cup

3

95/28

K94/95A/5:216

C10272

Kiln dump

Mono

Ewer

2a

95/29

K94/95A/3:152

C 9930

Kiln dump

LOD

Kalathos

32

2a

95/30

K93/87B/5:106D

C10499

Kiln dump

Mono

Collar-necked jug

45

2a

95/31

K93/87B/3:93A

C 10404

Kiln dump

LOD

Globular rhyton

50

1a

95/32

K93/87B/8:116B

C10490

Kiln dump

LOD

Bridge-spouted jar

3

95/33

K93/87B/5:106C

C10578

Kiln dump

UP

Pedestaled vase

1b

95/34

K93/87B/5:106C

C10569

Kiln dump

UP

Pedestaled vase

3

95/35

K93/87B/4-7:108

C 8937

Kiln dump

Mono

Teacup

20

1b

95/36

K93/87B/5:106B

C 10583

Kiln dump

LOD

Bridge-spouted jar

1a

95/37

K93/87B/6:107

C 9985

Kiln dump

LOD

Convex-sided bowl

26

3

95/38

K93/87B/5:106D

C10550

Kiln dump

LOD

Bridge-spouted jar

35

2a

95/39

K94/95A/3:165

C10568

Kiln dump

Mono

Ewer

47

3

95/40

K93/87B/8:116B

C 8973

Kiln dump

Mono

Ewer

49

2a

95/41

K93/87B/6:111D

C 9934

Kiln dump

UP

Ewer(?)

46

1b

95/42

K94/95A/5:179

C10420

Kiln dump

UP

Side-spouted cup

1b

95/43

K94/95A/3:285

C 10605

Kiln dump

Waster

2b

95/44

K94/95A/5:161

C10138

Kiln dump

Waster

Basin

6

95/45

K94/95A/3:148

C10286

Kiln dump

Waster

Kalathos

2a

95/46

K93/87B/6:111D

C10554

Kiln dump

Mono

Ewer

48

2b

95/47

K94/95A/3:71

C10018

Kiln dump

Waster

Oval-mouthed amphora

2b

95/48

K94/95A/4:127

C10600

Kiln firing pit

DOL

Oval-mouthed amphora(?)

2b

95/49

K93/87B/5:106C

C10602

Kiln dump

Waster

Jug

2b

95/50

K93/87B/7:112D

C10603

Kiln dump

Waster

2b

95/51

K94/95A/3:107

C10604

Kiln dump

Waster

2b

TABLE 12, CONT'D

Sample

Excavation No.

Inv. No.

Context

Surface

Shape

Pottery Cat.

Group No.

95/52

K93/87B/6:111

C10597

Kiln dump

DOL

Oval-mouthed amphora

53

2a

95/53

K93/87B/4-7:108

C 9935

Kiln dump

LOD

Collar-necked jug

40

1b

95/54

K94/95A/3:147

C10285

Kiln dump

CSE

Slab

5

95/55

K94/95A/3:100

C10052

Kiln channel 3

CSE

Slab

6

95/56

K93/87B/7:115

C10606

Kiln dump

CSE

Slab

6

95/57

K93/87B/8:116E

C 8971

Kiln dump

DOL

Oval-mouthed amphora

52

2a

UP = Unpainted DOL = Dark-on-light

Mono = Monochrome DP = Dipped

LOD = Light-on-dark CSE = Coarse, unpainted these was widespread even in the Early Bronze Age.4 Such results, combined with renewed work to discriminate chemically between samples from different areas of Crete, have led to a need for new control groups, based either on a combination of stylistic and petrographic information or on the analysis of assemblages from pottery kilns of Minoan date.5 What is clear is that many of the large excavated settlements once consumed large quantities of pottery, some of which was not made in the immediate vicinity.6 This human-induced complexity in the ceramic picture—the wide distribution of ceramic vessels—compounds that introduced by natural factors. The latter include a general homogeneity of composition, which is due to the common use of similar Neogene gray clays throughout the island.

The discovery of the Kommos kiln provides an opportunity to analyze pottery that is definitely found at its production location, forming a certain "control group." Furthermore, it enables a different approach to the second major theme, that of ceramic technology. The most successful technological studies have concentrated on distinctive classes of pottery, on diachronic change in technology, or on the comparisons of different classes of one period within a site.7 Examining a kiln assemblage, however, brings us nearer to the individual decisions made by potters within a specific location, in the context of the local environment, to their social and economic organization, and to the functional demands of the vessels produced. Matters of interest to us include the degree of standardization in such an assemblage, the variation in fabric recipes according to vessel func-

4. Day, Wilson, and Kiriatzi (1997) have argued for a restricted number of production centers in Early Minoan central and eastern Crete, with a wide distribution of their products. Such patterns have been documented in detail for the Mesara imports to Knos-

sos in EM I-IIA (Wilson and Day

1994) and for the consumption of ceramics from different centers at the

Early Minoan IIB hilltop hamlet of Myrtos Fournou Korifi (Whitelaw et al. 1997). The pattern is similar in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, with specific centers of production and the distribution of ceramics within local areas and beyond (Day 1995; Day and Wilson 1998).

  1. Discrimination by chemical analysis within central Crete is often difficult (Jones 1986, pp. 256-257; Tomlinson 1991). Recent work has demonstrated the effect of technology on ceramic group composition in central and eastern Crete (Day et al. 1999).
  2. For a consideration on the movement of Kamares Ware between regions of central Crete see Day and Wilson 1998.
  3. For studies of classes of pottery, see Betancourt 1979, 1984; Noll, Holm, and Born 1971; and Noll 1978. Work on variation between different wares and fabrics over one site was discussed by Maniatis, Perdikatsis, and Kotsakis (1988).

tion and morphology, and the adaptation of firing conditions for specific pot types. All these factors can provide insight into the skills, decisions, and organization of production of the potters at Kommos.

On a more detailed level, analytical work on the pottery of the kiln may lead to insights into how the kiln itself functioned. The design and use of the well-known Minoan channel kilns has long been a matter of debate, and analytical work such as that presented here can reveal much about the firing conditions within the kiln.8

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