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Anno XXXV - 2011




Universit Ca Foscari - Dipartimento di studi umanistici - Venezia

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Comitato Direttivo
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Autorizzazione del Tribunale di Venezia

Reg. Stampa n. 5 del 1 Febbraio 2006

ISSN 0392 - 0895

printed in italy

copyright 2012 giorgio bretschneider editore

Via Crescenzio 43 - 00193 Roma -



Pagg. 3, 111, 113, 115, 117, 119, 121










A. Maccari, Un funerale chiusino. Appunti su un cippo inedito di Sarteano . . . . . . . .


P. A. Gianfrotta, La topografia sulle bottiglie di Baia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


A. Ovadiah, S. Mucznik, The statue from Ampurias/Emporion, reconsidered . . . . . . . .


E. Lafl, J. Meischner, M. Buora, Nuove considerazioni su alcuni sarcofagi del Museo archeologico dellHatay, Antakya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


C. Moine, Rileggere un vecchio scavo nella laguna nord di Venezia: San Lorenzo di Ammiana . .


Foreword (F. M. Carinci) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I. Caloi, Changes and evolution in funerary and non-funerary rituals during the Protopalatial period in the Mesara plain (Crete). The evidence from Kamilari and from the other tholos tombs .


G. Flouda, Reassessing the Apesokari tholos. A funerary record: preliminary thoughts . . . . .


L. Girella, The Kamilari project publication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


S. Aluia, The re-use of tholos B at the Ayia Triada cemetery . . . . . . . . . . . . .


R. Bortolin, Arnie, miele e api nella Grecia antica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


D. Cottica, L. Toniolo, Imitazioni versus importazioni: sigillate di prima e media et imperiale

dallinsula 104 a Hierapolis di Frigia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


K. T. Raptis, Leredit romana nelle fornaci per la produzione di ceramica in Grecia tra il IV e
il XV secolo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


A Minoan Seminar. The Mesara Tholos Tombs from the Protopalatial Phases
Mycenaean Period: New foundations and re-use of the past



nellantichit e


e segnalazioni bibliografiche

dei libri ricevuti

through the

A Minoan Seminar.
The Mesara Tholos Tombs from the
Protopalatial Phases through the Mycenaean Period:
New foundations and re-use of the past
edited by
Ilaria Caloi
Universit Ca Foscari Venezia
(Venezia, 25 Febbraio 2011)

Filippo Maria Carinci, Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

p. 127

Ilaria Caloi, Changes and evolution in funerary and non-funerary rituals during the Protopalatial
period in the Mesara plain (Crete). The evidence from Kamilari and from the other tholos tombs .


Georgia Flouda, Reassessing the Apesokari tholos. A funerary record: preliminary thoughts . . .


Luca Girella, The Kamilari project publication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Simona Aluia, The re-use of tholos B at the Ayia Triada cemetery . . . . . . . . . . .



Georgia Flouda
Fr Gerlinde
The scope of this paper is to present the preliminary results of the ongoing systematic study of Tholos Tomb A
at Apesokari, which was excavated in 1942 by A. Schrgendorfer. The main focus will be on the new data
emerging from the restoration and study of the burial assemblage and on aspects of mortuary behaviour, as
materialized by the former and by the architectural features of the tomb. The following issues will be explored:
a) Dating the construction of the annex rooms; b) Evidence on the dating of the paved area; c) Establishing
the duration of use of the tomb; d) Patterns of the use of space and aspects of mortuary practices that can be
deduced from the burial assemblage.
In the last few years, field research in the Asterousia region has provided important evidence on
the extensive habitation of this mountainous zone
during the Prepalatial and Protopalatial period. The
need for exploitation of the dispersed small stretches
of land and of the few water resources explains the
existence of many small settlements and the marked
density of corresponding tholos tombs in this study
area1. The smallest so far of these tombs is situated on the northern rocky foot of the central Asterousia mountains, southwest of the village Apesokari
(Fig. 1). After its partial looting by tomb robbers,
the tholos was excavated in the summer of 1942 by
the Austrian archaeologist August Schrgendorfer
(1914-1976). At that point, the excavator served as
a junior officer attached to the Kunstschutz, namely Art Protection unit of the Wehrmacht, with the
special mission to protect the cultural monuments2.
Due to post-war problems, he published only a preliminary report in the volume of collected studies
Forschungen auf Kreta, that was edited by Friedrich

Matz in 1951. This report included the stone vessels and a few clay pots, which had been restored
between 1942 and 1947 and, then, formed part of
the so-called Scientific Collection of the Heraklion
In 2010, human remains and fragments of clay
burial containers from the tomb were traced in a
storeroom of the Heraklion Ephorate of Prehistoric
and Classical Antiquities. They were stored in plastic boxes labelled German excavation, which also
contained the numerous unpublished finds from the
neighbouring settlement. The latter was also excavated by Schrgendorfer in September 19424. Paper
notes written in the Old German calligraphic handwriting (Kurrentschrift or Stterlin) of Schrgendorfer himself, as shown by his manuscripts, point
out the exact findspots of a few boxes provenanced
from the settlement5. This rediscovery initiated a
systematic study project of the Apesokari mater
ial6. So far, the preliminary study of all finds has
shown that Schrgendorfer was an objective excavator, who paid close attention to the empirical data
and collected all sorts of finds, including clay and

Mcenroe 2010, p. 26.

Flouda, c.s.
Schrgendorfer 1951a; Platon 1947, p. 630.
Schrgendorfer 1951b; Platon 1947, p. 630.
Flouda, Pochmarski, Schindler-Kaudelka, c.s.
Most of the already published clay vessels from the tomb were restored again, as the use of fish-glue after the Second World
War had resulted in their breakage.



[RdA 35

evidence for dating the construction of the annex

rooms and of the paved area will be discussed. By
reconstructing the architectural and structural details of the tomb as well as the activities that took
place in its annex rooms, I shall examine the social
aspects that mortuary behaviour engaged in and the
ways in which these were activated. This pursuit will
be based on the belief that the conduct of funerary
rituals was materialized through objects and their
interaction with human agents, but should not be
studied in isolation from the landscape and architectural setting of the mortuary behaviour.
Topography and architecture of the tomb

Fig. 1 - Plan of the Tholos A at Apesokari (Schrgendorfer 1951a)

stone objects, skeletal remains, shells and a pumice

stone. Nonetheless, due to the lack of an excavation notebook and of proper excavation documentation, the Apesokari study project aims mainly at
establishing the chronological time span of the tomb
use and of the settlement occupation and, also, at
reconstructing the multiple dimensions of the funerary ritual. This paper will accordingly present
the provisional results emerging from the ongoing
study of the tholos A assemblage. In particular, new

Tholos A is situated ca. 130 metres away from

the settlement hill to the south7. It is surrounded by
natural terraces of protruding limestone formations,
from where there is a good view of the fertile plain
as far as the Mesara bay to the west. Probably visible from the outskirts of the settlement, the tomb
would symbolize for the members of the family or
clan that used it the connection with the dead ancestors. Along with the EM I-MM III tholos B, excavated in 1963 by Kostis Davaras and situated 220
metres to the northeast8, tomb A would function as
a landmark of the rural landscape9. In the following,
I will argue that this symbolic use was possibly reinforced by the unique architectural plan of its annex
complex. This must have been designed from the
beginning or soon after the completion of the burial
chamber as an integral extension to the latter.
But let us start by examining the constructional details of the tomb. The steep slope of the natural rock towards the north and the northwest of the
hillside was chosen for building the circular burial
chamber (Tavv. XXXVa-b-XXXVIa). The tholos
wall is preserved at a maximum height of m 1.30
at the south jamb of the entrance10. Its foundations
were built directly on bedrock, which has been levelled in places or filled in with earth. The outer and
inner faces of the wall are built of large unworked
stones and mud, while the part between the two
faces was filled with smaller stones. Nevertheless,

Relaki 2004, p. 174, fig. 9.1. n. 52.

Davaras 1964, p. 441; Vavouranakis, c.s.
Murphy 1998, p. 30. Branigan (1998, p. 18) stresses the proximity of Mesara settlements and tombs in many cases and suggests that it must have been intentional.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tavv. 17.2-17.3.



the erosion of the steep terrain reduced the static

strength of the southwest and west part of the tholos wall. For this reason, the wall was reinforced at a
later point with a low straight wall (Tav. XXXVa-b),
meant to function as a buttress against the centrifu
gal force11. So, although the thickness of the tholos wall was usually in proportion to the diameter
of the burial chamber in such tombs, in the case of
tholos A, which has a small diameter of ca. m 4.85,
it is disproportionate (m 1.60-2.10).
As is usual, the low entrance of the tholos opens
to the east, but its axis diverges slightly towards
the south due to the way the bedrock is formed.
The abrupt rise of the terrain at this point made it
necessary to carve two steps in the bedrock (Tav.
XXXVa) in order to provide easy access to the tholos and to help manoeuvre the burials into place.
We do not know whether the doorway was
closed with a heavy stone slab, as was usually the
case12. The built jambs carried a monolithic lintel,
which does not remain in situ. The preserved height
of the doorway walls does not permit us to surmise
whether the tomb had a corbelled vault. Nevertheless, the few transverse rectangular or wedge-like
stones13 that used to project at irregular intervals
in the north and south parts of the tholos wall are
paralleled at Apesokari tholos B and at the Kamilari
tholos14. More stones of this type are now widely
scattered to the north of the tomb. The use of such
wedge-like stones or slabs along with larger stones
in the lower courses is one of the characteristics of
the corbelling construction that connect the tholos
tombs with the Cretan mitata15. Therefore, we can
deduce that the tholos tomb A possibly had a low
conical vault, like one of the mitata or other modern circular stone-built constructions on the islands
and the mainland.
In addition, it is remarkable that the annex
rooms of tholos A do not represent an agglutinative building pattern, as was usually the case after
the EM II period16. They form a rectangular com-


partment, which is perpendicular to the tholos entrance. The uniform plan of the annex and the way
its west walls abut the strong east wall of the tholos, enable us to posit that the burial complex is
the result of a uniform architectural plan. Most of
the annex walls are founded on the sloping bedrock and, as shown by the photos of the excavator,
they were initially preserved only up to the level
of the foundations. Although the walls of the annex were reinforced with concrete in the early sixties17, some relevant observations can be made. Like
the west wall of the burial chamber, this compartment was also reinforced along its length with an
extra outer wall. The latter serves as a long retaining wall along the south and east side of the annex complex (Tav. XXXVIb) and as a higher retaining wall along the north side (Tav. XXXVIIa),
where the bedrock slopes down considerably. This
fact strengthens the view that the builders intended
to construct an annex from the moment they chose
this location for the tomb.
In any case, it seems that the plan of the annex
was determined by the wish to make use of the extensive flat surface of the bedrock at this point and
also of its steep slope further to the west. Due to
the latter, a beaten floor made up of small stones
and clay was used to cover the west part of the
main room G18. A clue to the possible level of this
floor is provided by the fill under the lower part of
a central built stone pier, which is documented in
its initial state of preservation by the 1942 photos
(Tav. XXXVIIb). This support as well as the wide
partition wall between rooms E and G strengthen
the hypothesis that the annex compartment carried
a permanent flat roof.
At the entrance to the annex, Room K, the bedrock surface is level (Tav. XXXVIIb). A circular
cavity carved in the rock, with a diameter of cm 17
and a depth of at least cm 7, probably held the door
pivot and so supports the reconstruction of a heavy
wooden door. Moreover, a small altar-like structure

Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 14.

Branigan 1998, p. 25.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tav. 17.1
Levi 1961-1962, p. 12. Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 14 interpreted them as stones for supporting a flat roof.
Warren 2007, pp. 11, 14, fig. 2.11.
The addition of annex rooms to tholoi, which was introduced during the EM IIB and EM III periods, was also connected
with the attempt to organize the secondary burial rituals, cfr. Murphy 2003, p. 141.
Davaras 1964, p. 445.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 13, tavv. 18.1-18.2.



formed by a cm 65 long limestone slab was fixed under the long walls at the east side of the forehall of
the annex complex (Fig. 1 J). The excavator notes
that a small stone idol was found fallen in front of
this altar (Tav. XXXVIIIa). This previously unpublished find was recently recovered among the stored
material. Made from sandstone, it recalls the female
form. The area of the navel is the only spot which
could have been carved with a tool, while the rest
of it was probably shaped by using an abrasive medium19. Because of its anthropomorphic character
it has to be studied in the framework of the tradition of the Early Bronze Age abstract nude female
idols20. A number of assumptions can be made on
its semiotic relationships that are grounded in its
material properties. It can be considered as an attempt to enrich the burial cult with a local material, coming from the landscape. But since objects
become invested with meaning mainly through their
association with persons21, it is not impossible that
it served as an anthropomorphic image that helped
to communicate a standardized narrative message.
It may have been specifically employed in ritual display events, in which only individuals entitled to enter the tomb for the inhumation or secondary burial would be able to participate. Its form makes us
think of its possible connection with fertility, especially since tholos tombs could have been used by
the local communities as the focal points of seasonal rituals of a non-funerary nature22.
Mortuary practices and the materialization of ideo
The long use of the tholos proper disrupted the
primary depositions, hindering a clear reconstruc-

[RdA 35

tion of its use. The most common type of burial at

Apesokari tholos A seems to have been primary inhumation. As is usually the case in the Mesara tholos tombs, the bodies of the dead were laid out directly on the floor of the burial chamber on a thin
layer of earth23. In any case, the mingling of bones
prevented the excavator from ascertaining the position of the interments or recognising a complete
skeleton in situ. Bones were mostly concentrated in
the north and east part of the tholos where the natural rock formed rock fissures. The collected human remains must include bones of the latest more
or less articulated depositions. The excavator does
not mention any traces that the bones were burnt,
as was the case in other tholos tombs.
Furthermore, no specific interments in the main
chamber can be associated with burial gifts, due to
the post mortem interference24. Two handmade handleless cups and similar sherds, a handmade juglet
with cut-away spout, a straight-sided cup as well as
a miniature juglet of polychrome ware document
that the visible chronological horizon of the burial chamber is late MM IA-MM IB25. The deposition of drinking and pouring vessels with the inhumations hints at the practice of drinking toasts and
possibly, but not evidently, pouring libations during
the primary burial. In addition, a conical foot that
probably belongs to a pedestalled lamp with an handle may come from the burial chamber. Two stone
miniature vessels, namely a serpentinite lidded jar
and a fragmentary breccia birds nest bowl26, indicate that perfumed oil, ointment or some kind of
cosmetic pigment were also included in the funerary ritual27. These miniatures cannot be dated solely on the basis of their typology, because as durable
objects they could have been heirlooms28. On the
other hand, due to the partial robbing of the tomb,

In this respect it should be differentiated from the non-human looking fragments of stalactites and stalagmites discussed
by Marinatos, Hgg 1983, p. 185.
Sakellarakis, Sapouna-Sakellaraki 1997, p. 507.
Gosden, Marshall 1999, p. 70.
Branigan 1998, p. 19.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 15.
This is the standard picture from burials in south-central and central Crete; cfr. Alexiou, Warren 2004, pp. 12, 18, 21 on
Lebena, where very few burial goods can be associated with any particular skeleton.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tavv. 4.1-4.2, 19.1-19.2, 20.4.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 15; Warren 1969, pp. 13, 24.
Bevan 2004, p. 112; 2007, pp. 98-99.
On the difficulty to date stone vessels due to the dearth of safe stratigraphic contexts, cfr. Bevan 2004, pp. 107, 110, 112.
The first substantive indications on local production of the stone chloritite vessels date to the EM IIA period.



it is impossible to infer whether other burial gifts,

like jewelry, sealstones, copper daggers, figurines,
tools and obsidian blades, had also been initially
deposited with the burials. According to Schrgendorfer various artefacts had been sold in different
parts of the island before the excavation started29.
Although some finds from the area of Apesokari finally ended up in Heraklion Museum, their exact
provenance cannot be ascertained. In any case, the
remaining finds do not mark any obvious status differences among the persons buried.
With regard to burial practices, manipulation of
the skeletal material and secondary burial is a welldocumented practice in the Mesara tholos tombs30.
Decomposed earlier depositions from the tholos
proper, especially skulls and long bones, were usually removed to the annex rooms to make room for
new interments. The careful analysis of several of the
Archanes/Phourni burial structures has also provided insights to the consecutive interment of primary burials, which were later interfered with. Some
of the burial gifts were also moved at this stage, as
has been suggested on the basis of the assemblages
from Archanes Burial building 1931. However, it is
interesting to note that even in the case of two bone
repositories, which were recently excavated at Sissi
by Jan Driessen, very few objects could be associated with the bones32. The same applies to the secondary depositions in Room D of tholos A, where
Schrgendorfer observed a significant concentration
of skulls and other bones.
The clay vessels from the burial chamber of tholos A have significant correlations with the assemblage stored in annex room D, at the right of the
entrance to the tholos. This must have been exclusively connected with the secondary burial ceremonies, since it contained a rich deposit of skulls and


bones. Three miniature clay handleless cups of the

Proto-skoutelia ware (Tav. XXXVIIIb), datable to
late MM IA33, may have been moved from the tholos
along with the remains of some of the earliest burials. The rest of the stored clay vessels span the late
MM IA to MM IB periods. The excavator briefly
mentions a great number of cup sherds, a fragmentary MM IB shallow bowl and numerous handleless cups34. Although he does not specify the exact
number of the cups, it is quite plausible to identify them with the 105 complete and restored plain
examples stored at the Heraklion Museums Scientific Collection. The majority of these cups are left
plain and have a conical or hemi-spherical profile
with thin to medium walls. Their lower part is probably handmade and then worked on a slow rotating wheel35. Downward-slanting finger impressions
with a torsional direction characterize a number of
cups and indicate that the clay body was squeezed,
as the vases were pulled upward. This feature parallels many examples at Kommos36 and the common
plain cups in the assemblage of Phaistos X37, which
dates to late Middle Minoan IA, namely the latest
Phaistian Prepalatial phase according to a recent reexamination38. In addition, a few examples seem to
date to MM IB and also find parallels among the material from Phaistos (Calois Phase Phaistos B39).
Some of the cups are notably characterized by the
common presence of dark brown grits that may correspond to local Asterousia stone sources.
Of the annex rooms, only room D was solely devoted to the funerary rituals taking place after the
decomposition of the dead. The three inhumations
recovered in the small rooms C and E (Fig. 1) show
that annex rooms could also serve as temporary repositories for the decomposition of the bodies, before specific parts were selected to be stored else-

Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 13.

Branigan 1998, p. 13; Triantafyllou, c.s.
Maggidis 1994.
Driessen 2010, p. 109.
On the Proto-skoutelia ware cfr. Todaro 2005, p. 40, fig. 73.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 18, tavv. 22.4.
On EM III and MM IA footed goblets representing the first attempts to use the potters wheel at Knossos, see Momigliano
1991, pp. 247-248, n. 285, type 4.
Van De Moortel 2006, p. 316.
Cfr. Todaro 2009, p. 131, fig. 13, p. 133, fig. 14a; also Carinci, La Rosa 2007.
Todaro 2009, p. 139.
Caloi 2009, pp. 397-398, 415-416.



where40. Room C (ca. m 2.052) to the left of the

tholos entrance contained an inhumation without
burial gifts. Annex Room E (m 2.80/2.900.90)
was probably closed off by a wall at its west side,
as suggested by the outline of the natural rock,
which has been carved at this point. Its entrance
was through corridor F (Tav. XXXVIb). Two primary and superimposed adult inhumations were excavated in room E41. The excavator notes that the
second interment had been placed on the lap of
the previous one. This is the only case at Apesokari tholos A in which we can almost associate burial
gifts with specific burials. Judging from the associated finds, namely sherds of MM IA dark-on-light
ware handleless cups, a handmade clay wine-press
model (Tav. XXXVIIIc)42 and fragments of a shallow bowl, the burials probably fall in the late MM
IA-MM IB period, hence corresponding to the period of use of the burial chamber43.
On the other hand, three instances of differential treatment of the burials in Apesokari tholos A
can now be documented as a result of our ongoing
study. Three burial containers with their respective
lids have been restored. They must have been used
for childrens burials and confirm that individualized burial, already known from Apesokari tholos
B44 and from Vorou tholos A45, was also practiced
in tholos A. The deposition of skeletons within larnakes and pithoid jars generally aimed at minimizing
the confusion of skeletal remains caused by repeated disturbances and at facilitating the attribution of
grave goods to specific individuals. Unfortunately,

[RdA 35

the tholos A burial containers are not mentioned by

the excavator, so there is no evidence concerning
their exact findspot or their contents. The dark-onlight painted stamnoid jar (Tav. XXXVIIId), which
contained part of a childs jaw, can tentatively be
dated to the MM IA period. It is almost identical
with a similar one that has been used for a childs
burial in tholos A at Vorou46. The spherical body
with a low wide collar and the clay fabric are attributes characteristic of the Protopalatial Mesara
ceramic tradition47 with parallels at Phaistos48.
With regard to the two oval larnakes and their
respective lids, the painted one has intriguing parallels (Tav. XXXIXa). The dark-on-light motif of
linked disks on the body and the lid of the larnax
occurs on many pots from East Cretan sites49 and
finds exact parallels on the following examples: an
amphoriskos (HM n. 6685)50 and a burial
pithos from Sphoungaras (HM n. 7317)51,
both probably datable to MM IB. Dating the Apesokari larnax to the MM I period fits the chronological span of the burials. The granodiorite inclusions help to macroscopically identify its clay fabric
as characteristic of the bay of Mirabello52, giving
us very interesting insights into the distribution of
the production of eastern Cretan workshops in this
period53. The second restored larnax is unpainted
and made from lamp fabric, which cannot be precisely dated54. Although it is more difficult to date
larnakes, because in many cases they were found in
secondary use, oval larnakes have recently been excavated in a MM IB-II cemetery at Vrokastro55.

Driessen 2010, p. 109. Schoep (2009, p. 55) has established that in the Sissi House tombs secondary burial involved additional treatment of the body and the removal and reburial of the bones, which on the evidence of spaces 1.9-1.10 could
take place in a separate place.
It is quite possible that room E was closed off by a wall at its west side, as suggested by the outline of the natural rock,
which has been carved at this point. Its entrance was through corridor F.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tav. 22.3.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, p. 18.
Vavouranakis, c.s.
Marinatos 1930-1931, pp. 146-147, 150-151.
Marinatos 1930-1931, p. 146, fig. 9.
Christakis 2005, pp. 72-74.
Levi, Carinci 1988, tav. 7c, n. 1437.
The motif first appears in MM IA and persists until LM I, cfr. Betancourt 1977, pp. 343-344, 352.
Hall 1912, p. 59, tav. 31.
Hall 1912, p. 60, tav. 32.
Betancourt 2008, pp. 30-31.
I wish to thank Prof. Carl Knappett for the identification of the fabric of the larnax.
On the shape cfr. Rutkowski 1968, p. 221, fig. 1, Type 4.
Hayden 2004, p. 84. Later examples have also been found in MM III contexts in the Aelias (cfr. Hood 2010) and Mavrospelio (cfr. Alberti 2001) cemeteries.



Further insights into funerary customs are provided by the assemblage of the largest annex room
G (Tav. XXXVIIb), that escaped looting. It comprised seven stone miniature published vessels, as
well as an unidentified storage pithos, a fragmentary straight-sided cup and sherds of plain handleless cups which are not depicted in the preliminary
report56. Nevertheless, the cup sherds testify to the
importance of drinking during the post-interment
rituals, while the stored stone vessels also hint at the
practice of drinking toasts, pouring libations and,
possibly, making offerings to the dead. Although it
sounds plausible, it cannot be proved or disproved
whether these rituals were taking place in this room,
as has been argued by the excavator and others57.
As far as the external tomb space is concerned,
the excavation photos suggest that initially the north
retaining wall of the annex compartment probably
formed a recess at a, also noted in the plan (Fig. 1).
The level upper surface of this wall indicates that it
may also have served as a low bench along this side
of the annex. This assumption is corroborated by the
presence of a built low altar (L) and of a paved area
to the east of the latter, which has now been greatly disturbed (Tav. XXXIXb). This open-air area of
tholos A had clearly provided the space for collective ceremonies during the burial events. The excavation at its south and west side brought to light 16
miniature stone vessels of various shapes, a modest number of pouring vessels datable to the earliest phase of the tomb (MM IA)58, as well as a few
drinking and serving vessels of the later phase (MM
IB), among which some fragmentary bridge-spouted
jars and shallow painted bowls59. In addition, a quite
significant number of unidentified broken cups, including straight-sided, carinated and the typical handleless examples were recovered, but were not pub-


lished. The excavator does not specify whether the

fragments of a big pithos with rope pattern relief
decoration could have served for a burial, as the examples recovered in the Vorou A and other Mesara
tholoi60, or for temporary storage. Moreover, the
assemblage also includes fragments of big pithoid
jars and a pitharaki with 8 handles61. The latter is
wheelmade and almost identical to the ones from the
neighbouring tholos B62. These and other parallels
probably date to the MM III period63. Hence, the
assemblage recovered from the paved area does not
form a closed context. The great number of unpublished cup sherds, which are mingled with the material from the settlement that is currently under study,
indicate that the finds from the paved area probably
span the late MM IA to MM IIB periods. From the
presence of the MM III pitharaki we can also infer
that interest in the tomb continued during this period64. Consequently, the ceremonies in the open-air
area of tholos A may have continued after the use of
the tholos and the annex rooms had ceased.
The best parallel to the Apesokari tholos A openair altar is provided by the altar of the Kamilari A
tomb at Grigori Koryfi, where the earliest pottery
from the tomb was found together with some small
stone vessels. The absence of cooking pots and of
bowls in quantity from Apesokari tholos A is notable. Of course, the difficulty of identifying several fragmented clay vessels, which are mentioned
by the excavator, among the mixed sherd material
stored at Heraklion, should be kept in mind. The
picture emerging so far from the evidence does not
encourage us to assume that large-scale feasting was
taking place, as in the case of two courtyard areas at Moni Odigitria65 during the later Prepalatial
period or of the Kamilari tomb during its MM III
phase of use66. Overall, the burial assemblage from

Schrgendorfer 1951a, pp. 18-19, tav. 18.2.

Schrgendorfer 1951a, pp. 18-19; Mcenroe 2010, p. 33.
These include a Drakones type barbotine jug, two Patrikies type teapots and a polychrome ware bridge-spouted jug.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, pp. 20-22.
Cfr. Marinatos 1930-1931; Petit 1990.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tav. 22.2.
Vavouranakis, c.s.
Walberg 1983, p. 98 cfr. Type 17; Girella 2003, p. 349, fig. 6; 2010, p. 189.
A few handleless cups that were unearthed next to the north tholos wall, at point b, just above the ground level could
also have been rejected after sporadic drinking activities outside the tholos tomb.
At Moni Odigitria high quantities of cooking vessels, many large bowls (diam. cm 40) and smaller numbers of outsized jugs,
dishes and jars were concentrated in two of the courtyard areas, see Branigan 2010, p. 28.
A few entire and fragmentary cooking pots were deposited during the MM III and LM I periods in both the main chamber, the annexes, and the external courtyard of the Kamilari tholos, see Girella 2008, p. 174, tav. XXXd.



tholos A seems to include composite sets of cups

and jugs. The predominance of drinking and pouring shapes reflects the importance of drinking and,
possibly, libation activities67. It is not clear whether
these took place during the burial or in the framework of post-interment rituals of unknown character68. Branigan has put forward the theory that the
simple clay cups spread around the altar provide
a link with funerary rites, since they are identical
to the cups found crammed in large numbers into
outer chambers of tombs such as Lebena Yerokambos II, Agia Triada A, Apesokari B and Vorou A69.
In any case, the standard handleless cups and the
few shallow bowls from the tholos A paved area
could have also served for the distribution of small
quantities of food to a restricted number of people
in collective ceremonies, probably the members of
the extended family of the deceased. Proper storage activity is clearly attested by the presence of
parts of large storage jars, mainly decorated with
rope bands. The clay wine-press model from annex
room E also testifies to the wine producing tradition of the region, a fact corroborated by the four
similar models that were excavated in the neighbouring Tholos B70. Other wine-press models have
been found in the tombs at Porti71 and in the MM
IA deposit of the Camerette a Sud della Tholos
A of Agia Triada; it has been plausibly suggested
that the ones from Agia Triada may hint at an offering ritual of propitiation or thanksgiving connected to the harvest72.
On the other hand, only a few conclusions can
be reached on the tholos A miniature stone vessels,
since they come from a mixed stratigraphic context73. They are made of serpentinite, black limestone, breccia, gabbro, diabase and steatite and they
manifest the use of tubular drill-bits and shaped
grinding stones74. The limited range of shapes and

[RdA 35

the use of mainly local stones reflect competitive

display at a local level. Two of these small prestige
items belong to Bevans hatch-and-inlay group, that
probably dates to the late Prepalatial and early Protopalatial period75. In terms of function, it is possible that these locally produced miniatures from
tholos A contained perfumed oil or ointment as established Egyptian oil container shapes did76. Thus,
they may reflect the cosmetic priorities of their owners77, although it can by no means be proven that
they had been used in life and were then deposited as personal possessions. The fact that the birds
nest bowls are miniaturized versions of their larger prototypes specifically implies that their role was
symbolic: the content of the bowls was offered to
the dead ancestors. Obviously, the tholos A stone
vessels had been deposited along with specific persons within an extended family or clan using the
tomb during the MM I period.
According to the preliminary study of the pottery finds, tholos A at Apesokari was probably constructed during the MM IA period. Its use continued without interruption at least up to the end
of MM IB. The paved area with the open-air altar
was probably used from the MM IA to the MM
IIB, while there are just signs of sporadic visits during the MM III. No episodes of funerary events
can be specifically established on the basis of the
contextual evidence studied so far, as is the usual
case with the Mesara tholos tombs. Furthermore,
no material indicators of the wealth and status of
the deceased can be distinguished due to the limited evidence that survived the looting of the tomb.
In terms of burial practices, the custom of burying

Xanthoudides 1924, p. 135; Murphy 2003, p. 270.

Triantafyllou, c.s.
Branigan (1998, pp. 21-23) has suggested that at least two non-funerary rituals taking place in the cemeteries were associated with fertility and the vegetational cycle.
Kopaka, Platon 1993, p. 64, fig. 4.
Kopaka, Platon 1993, p. 65.
Carinci 2004, p. 31.
Schrgendorfer 1951a, tav. 21.1-3, 22.5-6, 23-25.
I wish to thank the geologist Dr. V. Tsikouras for the identification of these materials, that is based on work in progress.
Bevan 2007, p. 91.
Bevan 2004, p. 112, citing Aston 1994, shapes 137-141.
Bevan 2007, pp. 98-99.



adults in pithoi probably was not followed here. In

contrast, the burial containers that were recently
restored confirm that individualized burial of children in clay containers was also practiced at Apesokari. Although their exact context cannot be specified, it is anticipated that the osteological study in
progress will offer insights into aspects of the manipulation of the deceased.
With regard to patterns of use of space, it is noteworthy that the annex rooms were clearly used simultaneously with the burial chamber throughout
the latters period of use and even later. It has been
posited that they were also built at the time of the
tholos chambers construction, a view also supported by dating vessel distribution. Accordingly, the
annexes were considered as an integral part of the
tomb complex and not as a secondary feature, as
has been a general view so far78. The builders of the
tholos A complex took advantage of the natural topography, possibly in a conscious attempt to reinforce the domestic affinities of the tomb79. This interpretation gains further support from the flat roof
of the annex and the possibility that it had a central permanent door.
Last but not least, the distribution of the finds
and of the discussed dating evidence seems to corroborate the view that the addition of the annex
complex and of the paved court reflects a spatial


division of the funerary ritual or the imposing of

restrictions on the number of persons participating
in the rites80. It is hereby suggested that it aimed
at spatially defining the conduct of the burial rites,
differentiating those with a private character from
those with a collective character. The assemblage of
MM IA handleless cups recovered from Room D,
situated right by the tholos entrance, possibly points
to the storage of pots here after one or more episodes of rituals of the first type, parallel to the one
documented by the Agia Triadha tholos A annex
vano L deposit81.
The study of the material has been generously funded by
the Institute for Aegean Premistory (2010-2011) and the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (2010); the support is hereby
gratefully acknowledged. I would also like to warmly thank
Dr. A. Kanta for the permission to study the Apesokari material, the organizers, Prof. F. Carinci and Dr. I. Caloi, for inviting me to participate in the Venice workshop, as well as
Dr. E. Schindler-Kaudelka and Dr. M. Lehner (University of
Graz) for providing valuable information on the excavator. I
am also grateful to Prof. F. Carinci, Dr. I. Caloi, Dr. L. Girella and Prof. C. Knappett for their comments on the first draft
and to Dr. O. Dickinson for correcting my English text. Last
but not least, the paper is devoted to Mrs Gerlinde Schrgendorfer with my gratitude for her permission to study the relevant photographic and archival material of her husband.


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[RdA 35, 2011]



a) Tholos A from the west; b) the outer tholos wall from the west


TAV. XXXVI [RdA 35, 2011]





a) View of the tholos from the southeast, 1942 (photo from the archive of A. Schrgendorfer);
b) the retaining wall along the south side of the annex complex from the east






a) The foundation wall along the north side of the annex complex from the northwest;
b) view of room G from the west (photo from the archive of A. Schrgendorfer)

TAV. XXXVIII [RdA 35, 2011]







a) Idol from the forehall of the annex complex; b) miniature handleless cup from
room D; c) clay wine-press model from room E; d) stamnoid jar from Tholos A



[RdA 35, 2011]




a) Dark-on-light painted larnax from Tholos A; b) view of the tholos annex and of the paved area from the
northeast, 1942 (photo from the archive of A. Schrgendorfer)