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Exchange Networks

and Local Transformations

Interaction and local change in Europe and the
Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age
Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini

Oxford and Oakville

Published by
Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK

Oxbow Books and the authors, 2013

ISBN 978-1-84217-485-2

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Front cover image: Afternoon lights on the Amalfi coast, Italy (courtesy of Mr B. Stoew)
Back cover image: The Gevelingshausen vessel (courtesy of the Rmisch-Germanische Kommission des Deutschen
Archologischen Instituts Frankfrt a. M.).

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List of contributors........................................................................................................................................................ v
Abstracts....................................................................................................................................................................... vii
Introduction: Transcultural interaction and local transformations in Europe
and the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age............................................................................... 1
Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini
1. Theorising exchange and interaction during the Bronze Age........................................................................... 6
Kristian Kristiansen
2. Periphery versus core: The integration of secondary states into the World System
of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East in the Late Bronze Age (16001200 BC)............................9
Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga
3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age.......................................... 22
Maria Emanuela Alberti
4. The Minoans in the south-eastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio
on Kos and its significance.................................................................................................................................... 44
Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale
5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C . ...................................................................................................................... 60
Francesco Iacono
6. Malta, Sicily and southern Italy during the Bronze Age: The meaning
of a changing relationship..................................................................................................................................... 80
Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia
7. External role in the social transformation of nuragic society? A case study from Srrala,
Eastern Sardinia, Middle Bronze to Early Iron Age.......................................................................................... 92
Luca Lai
8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy
at the Bronze AgeIron Age transition................................................................................................................ 102
Cristiano Iaia
9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a comparative perspective: Etruria
and Latium vetus..................................................................................................................................................... 117
Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart



10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age:
Face, house and face/door urns...............................................................................................................................134
Serena Sabatini
11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword depositions on Lolland, 16001100 BC.....................................146
Sophie Bergerbrant
12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic coast during the Early Iron Age...............156
Jutta Kneisel
13. Ceramic technology and the materiality of Celtic graphitic pottery.................................................................169
Attila Kreiter, Szilvia Bartus Szllsi, Bernadett Bajnczi, Izabella Azbej Havancsk, Mria Tth and Gyrgy

List of Contributors
Maria Emanuela Alberti
Department of Archaeology
University of Sheffield, UK
Sophie Bergerbrant
Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
Trondheim, Norway.
Bernadett Bajnczi
Institute for Geological and Geochemical Research
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
Alberto Cazzella
Department of Sciences of Antiquity
Rome University La Sapienza, Italy
Francesca Fulminante
Department of Archaeology
Cambridge University, UK
Teresa Hancock Vitale
University of Toronto, Canada
Izabella Azbej Havancsk
Institute for Geological and Geochemical Research
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
Francesco Iacono
Ph.D. candidate, UCL, London, UK

Demetra Kriga
College Year in Athens, Greece
Kristian Kristiansen
Department of Historical Studies
University of Gteborg, Sweden
Luca Lai
University of South Florida, USA/ University of
Cagliarci, Italy
Nikolas Papadimitriou
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece
Giulia Recchia
Department of Human Sciences
University of Foggia, Italy
Serena Sabatini
Department of Historical Studies
University of Gteborg, Sweden
Simon Stoddart
Department of Archaeology
Cambridge University, UK
Gyrgy Szakmny
Department of Petrology and Geochemistry
Etvs Lornd University, Budapest, Hungary

Cristiano Iaia
Heritage Department
University of Viterbo La Tuscia, Italy

Szilvia Bartus Szllsi

Institute of Archaeological Science
Etvs Lornd University, Budapest, Hungary,

Jutta Kneisel
Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, Germany.

Mria Tth
Institute for Geological and Geochemical Research
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Attila Kreiter
Hungarian National Museum, National Heritage
Protection Centre
Budapest, Hungary

Salvatore Vitale
Universit della Calabria, Italy

1. Theorizing exchange and interaction during the
Bronze Age
Kristian Kristiansen
The collection of articles in this volume integrates
archaeological evidence and theory in new exciting
ways, probing more deeply into the historical nature
of Bronze Age exchange and interaction. The aim of
this article is to briefly explore what meaning can be
given to these generalizing concepts in the historical
context of the Bronze Age. The reader will then be able
to engage in reflections on their possible application in
the various case studies presented. When approached
with relevant theoretical categories and analytical tools
to organize the evidence, we learn how communities
responded to the dynamics of a globalized Bronze
Age world by constantly negotiating its incorporation
into local worlds.
2. Periphery versus core: The integration of
secondary states into the World System of the
Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East in the
Late Bronze Age (16001200 BC)
Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga
World Systems Theory, originally developed by
I. Wallerstein for the study of modern capitalist
economies, has proved a useful analytical tool for
prehistoric archaeologists, too. Its emphasis on
the longue dure and the interdependence of socioeconomic phenomena and structures has allowed for
the synthesis of seemingly unrelated processes into
unified macro-historical approaches.
The Late Bronze Age was a period of intense
interaction in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near
East. From Mesopotamia to the Aegean comparable
political institutions emerged, which were based
on centralized palatial economies, administered
through sophisticated bureaucracies. Inter-regional
exchanges ensured the wide circulation of raw
materials (mainly metals) and luxuries but, also,
artistic traditions, religious beliefs and ideological
World Systems approaches to the period have
focused, so far, on the systemic role of the most
powerful economically and militarily core political
formations of the region (the Egyptian and Hittite
empires, Babylonia and Assyria). Our paper examines
how smaller peripheral states in the Levant, Cyprus

and the Aegean managed to integrate into that system.

It is argued that such secondary polities developed
rather late and were largely dependent on maritime
trade networks. This dependence imposed strategies
of economic specialization in commodities favoured by
the affluent elites of coastal urban centres, while at
the same time necessitating the introduction of new
forms of sumptuous behaviour that would further
support the consumption of such commodities.
3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations
on the Middle Bronze Age
Maria Emanuela Alberti
The Aegean area has always been a sort of interface
between Eastern and Western Mediterranean and
Central Europe. During the Bronze Age, it was the
filter between urban and palatial Near East and less
complex, generally tribal, European societies. This is
the key of the historical developments of the Bronze
Age Aegean, as we can reconstruct them.
At various levels, we can sketch out the history of
the global Aegean area and of its various parts in
the framework of a core-periphery-margin system,
the main and general core being Near Eastern
civilizations. Minor cores can be individuated
through time in various Aegean areas or societies.
The overall picture sees the Aegean starting at the
margin of the Levant in the Early Bronze Age to
enter the core, tough in a liminal position, during
the Late Bronze Age (with its own periphery and
margin in the Balkans and central Mediterranean),
Crete playing a pivot-role in this process.
These dynamics arise from the interaction between
internal factors and developments and external inputs
and influences. Trade systems both at international
and local level are essential in this view, and
can be considered the key for the interpretation
and reconstruction. Trade networks have strongly
influenced social and economic developments in
various periods and areas, and constituted the
backbone of the growing Aegean economies. They
had to go on, and they did, even after the collapse
of the palaces c. 1200 BC.
The aim of this article is to reconstruct the role of
trade systems in the historical developments of Bronze
Age Aegean. At the same time it also to reconstruct
the history of the Aegean through archaeological



evidences of trade. Case studies, focusing on the crucial

period of the middle Bronze Age, will be taken into
consideration, in order to underline various levels of
interpretation, general phenomena, common features,
local initiatives and specific solutions.
4. The Minoans in the south-eastern Aegean?
The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos and its
Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale
At the beginning of the Late Bronze Age period, the
presence of Minoan and/or Minoanizing features,
including Cretan-type pottery, wall paintings, and
architecture, dramatically increases throughout the
Aegean area. The widespread occurrence of the
aforementioned characteristics has been variously
interpreted as evidence for Minoan settlement,
governed, or community colonies, thus implying
a certain movement of people from the island of
Crete abroad. While such a crucial phenomenon has
been more thoroughly investigated in relation to the
Cyclades (Kythira, Keos, Thera, and Phylakopi) and
the south-western Anatolian coast (Miletus), the area of
the Dodecanese has been so far relatively neglected.
The aim of the present paper is to reconsider the
evidence for the presence of Minoan people in the
southeast Aegean, with particular reference to the
settlement of the Serraglio on Kos. In so doing,
a careful re-examination of the most important
archaeological contexts, dating to the earliest Late
Bronze Age Period (LBA IA Early to LBA IA Mature),
will be proposed. Attention will be devoted to
the following crucial points and their historical
a) Defining the comparative relative chronologies of
Crete and Kos in the early 17th century BC;
b) Determining the extent and the meaning of the
interaction between the Koan local tradition and
the new Minoan elements;
c) Comparing the evidence from the Serraglio
with that from the neighbouring islands of the
Dodecanese and the Cyclades;
d) Interpreting the nature of the possible Minoan
presence in relation to the well know problem of
the so-called Minoan Thalassocracy.
5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C
Francesco Iacono
The twilight of Mycenaean Palaces and the subsequent
post-palatial era have been always topics arousing an
outstanding interest in the academic community as

well as among the general public. In the spectrum of

hypotheses proposed in order to explain this puzzling
transitory phase exogenous factors have periodically
re-emerged as something which cannot be ruled
out completely. These exogenous elements, or more
specifically their material traces, are the principal
data that I will discuss in this paper. They are by no
means new; indeed they were recognised long ago as
well as extensively treated by various authors in the
last decades.
What is really new here is the will to openly
challenge one of the more long lasting underlying
assumptions in Mediterranean archaeology, namely
that of directionality of cultural influence, from east
to west, from the civilized to the uncivilized. Can
cultural influence travel the other way round? My
point here is that it is possible and I will try to show
in this paper how, after the dissolution of mainland
states, the contraction occurring in the sphere of
cultural influence in the Mycenaean core left room
for a variety of peripheral elements to be accepted
and become largely influential in Greece.
6. Malta, Sicily and southern Italy during the Bronze
Age: The meaning of a changing relationship
Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia
The elements connecting Malta and Sicily during the
Bronze Age are well known, but the specific features
of those links are still to understand. Luigi Bernab
Breas hypothesis of Maltese colonies seems to be
difficult to accept in a literal meaning. Some year ago a
few elements connecting southern Italy to the Maltese
archipelago were recognized, but the meaning of this
phenomenon remains unexplored.
The authors aim at discussing the role played by the
interaction between Malta, Sicily and southern Italy
during the Bronze Age. Their purpose is also to analyse
possible causes and transformations of such interaction,
examining more generally the changes occurred in the
economic and social context of those areas.
7. External role in the social transformation of
nuragic society? A case study from Srrala, Eastern
Sardinia, Middle Bronze to Early Iron Age
Luca Lai
The role of external contacts in the social history of
the Nuragic culture of Sardinia has long been an issue.
In this paper, the main theories formulated on the
subject are measured against evidence from Srrala,
in Eastern Sardinia. Here, despite poor stratigraphic
evidence, a preliminary survey and mapping, with the
contribution of oral knowledge for destroyed sites, and

the presence and distribution of materials of non-local
origin allowed the assessment of spheres of interaction
and their role, if any, in the progressive nucleation
documented between the Middle Bronze and the Iron
Ages (c. 16th through 7th century BC).
An outline of organizational evolution could be
drawn, which is articulated into first signs of presence,
evidence of fission and filling of the landscape with
approximately 25 sites, beginning of enlargement
and possibly competition, and finally progressive
concentration of building activity at only five sites.
The fact that non-local stone is used only at the most
complex sites, and that at one of them Mycenaean
sherds and ox-hide ingot fragments were retrieved,
are discussed as a contribution to the debate on the
relevance of external vs. internal factors in social
dynamics. The conclusion is that a significant, direct
role of extra-insular groups seems unsubstantiated
until the last phase (Final BronzeEarly Iron Age).
8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite
identity in central Italy at the Bronze Age-Iron
Age transition
Cristiano Iaia
During the transition between the Late Bronze Age
and the Early Iron Age, in South Etruria, and in
other zones connected to it, the emergence of a new
kind of community, characterized by settlement and
production centralisation (proto-urban centres) results
in a increasing openness to transmission of models
through long-distance exchange: symptomatic of this
is the elaboration of prestige items, particularly metal
artefacts of highly specialised craft, whose typological,
technical and stylistic features have both a intercultural
character and a strong link to localized groups. Among
these are elements of armours (helmets) and bronze
vessels, which are very akin to similar central and
northern European objects. A complex embossed
decoration (Sun-ship bird motive) characterizes some
examples of these symbols of power and social hierarchy,
strictly related to a cosmological thought deeply rooted
in north-central Italy since the Late Bronze Age. This
is the first attempt at creating a material identity,
particularly elaborated in burial rituals, of the emerging
Villanovan warrior elites.
9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a
comparative perspective: Etruria and Latium vetus
Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart
Within the major debate on Bronze and Iron Age
Mediterranean and European transformations, the
authors will examine the tension between indigenous


political dynamics and connectivity in two, geographically related, but contrasting, political contexts: Etruria
and Latium vetus (central Italy). The long established
debate on urbanism in Etruria and Latium vetus,
dating in Italy since at least the 1977 Formation
of the City conference (La Formazione della citt nel
Lazio), will be updated in the light of current debates
of settlement dynamics, political identity and the
timing and significance of interaction in the central
The settlement patterns in Etruria (Stoddart) will
be contrasted and compared with the settlement
patterns and social transformations, as mirrored in
the funerary evidence, of Latium vetus (Fulminante),
within the Mediterranean context of connectivity over
the period 1200500 BC, and in the light of new socioanthropological models such as the network idea.
10. Local and transcultural burial practices in
Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age: Face,
house and face/door urns
Serena Sabatini
Archaeological evidences from Late Bronze Age
Northern Europe invite reflecting upon the presence
of foreign objects belonging to traditions from the
southern part of the continent. Also specific ritual
practices appear travelling the same large distances
to be adopted, not before undergoing significant local
transformations. Within this framework, three burial
practices (so called face, house and face/door urns) are
analysed and compared with each other. They suggest
not only the existence of intercultural interaction
between variously far societies, but also of selective
processes of negotiation and incorporation of external
material culture. They study of face, house and face/
door urns provides useful insights into the cultural
complexity of Late Bronze Age Northern European
communities within the larger continental framework.
It unveils their capacity to perform phenomena of
hybridization between practices with different cultural
origins and allows discussing the complex role of
material culture as marker of identity.
11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword
depositions on Lolland, 16001100 BC
Sophie Bergerbrant
This article will consider the deposition of local and
foreign swords on Lolland, a Danish island, between
16001100 BC. It focuses on the treatment of the earliest
imported examples of Hajdsmson-Apa swords
(from the Carpathian Basin) and its local copies, and
discusses the swords from the following periods.


Topics to be discussed include how the different types

of swords were accepted and used, i.e. how and where
they were deposited (hoards, burial or stray finds). A
closer consideration of the use and treatment of this
material helps us to understand how new innovations
are accepted into a society.
Theoretical perspectives such as migration theory
and concepts such as hybridity and third space will
be used to shed light on the relationships between
the meaning of an object in its area of origin and
the transformation that occurs upon entering its
new context, as well as how objects were accepted,
copied and subsequently made into local types. The
combination of a detailed study of use and the context
of artefacts in a new area and theoretical discussions
will give us a much better understanding of phenomena
relating to transculturation. This study focuses on
Lolland since it is an island with both imported and
local copies of Apa-Hajdsmson swords, and this
can therefore help us to understand how a significant
innovation like the sword was accepted into south

GIS-analyses reveal linear patterns which reach from

the Baltic coast to the southern rivers Varta and Note.
The distribution of these ornaments in a linear way
is striking, because lids are found in numerous burial
sites next to these lines.
In contrast to the regionally restricted lid-ornaments,
amber can serve as an example for long-distant
contacts. Though amber is rarely found within the
Pomeranian Culture, the large amounts of raw amber
found at Komorowo, which lies farther South, indicates
that there was a centre of amber processing. At the
same time, the nearby burial site of Gorszcewice,
featuring Polands northernmost Hallstatt-imports,
indicates connections with the Hallstatt-Area. It is
therefore argued that Komorowo was involved in
the exchange of amber to the South presumably
to Italy.

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange

beyond the Baltic coast during the Early Iron Age
Jutta Kneisel

This article examines the ceramic technology of Celtic

pottery from Hungary focusing on graphite-tempered
pottery. By the means of petrographic analysis, Xray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence analyses, and
scanning electron microscopy the use of ceramic raw
materials and tempers are examined. The analyses
put great emphasis on the provenance of graphite.
The results suggest that all the examined vessels were
locally made although the graphite incorporated into
the ceramics was procured from a distant region.
The examined society appears to be involved in long
distance exchange networks and the results indicate
complex social and economic organization.

By considering the so called Early Iron Age Pomeranian

Culture in Northern Poland it is possible to show close
and distant trade contacts between the Baltic Sea and
the Hallstatt-Area.
Close contacts appear through the analysis of clay
lids of anthropomorphic urns. The lids are often
found together with face urns and are decorated with
complicated patterns. These ornaments facilitate a fine
differentiation of decoration kinds, styles and forms.

13. Ceramic technology and the materiality of

Celtic graphitic pottery
Attila Kreiter, Szilvia Bartus Szllsi, Bernadett Bajnczi,
Izabella Azbej Havancsk, Mria Tth, Gyrgy Szakmny

The idea of this volume matured gradually over time,
following a series of events. Originally, it was the aim
of the editors to promote a large project investigating
trade and exchange as a means for the development
and expansion of societies in Bronze Age and Iron Age
Europe and the Mediterranean. A convenient starting
discussion for this project took place at a relevant
session at the 14th annual meeting of the European
Association of Archaeologists in Malta (September
2008).1 The project has not yet materialized. However,
following the session in Malta there was general
agreement regarding the lack of comprehensive
studies on the reciprocal relations between exchange
networks and local transformations, particularly those
focusing on the latter and their specific dynamics. We
decided then to attempt to address this scientific gap.
With an eye to our main areas and periods of interest
(the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Mediterranean and
Europe) we felt that such a study would benefit from
including a large number of regions and chronological
We also agreed on the potentially fruitful results that
could arise from overcoming the disciplinary barriers
which often prevent dialogue between archaeologists
working in the Mediterranean and in continental
Europe. While this problem undoubtedly persists, the
channels of communication have been opened, and we

feel the present volume represents a significant step in

the right direction. Some of the articles in the volume
were written by participants in the EAA session in
Malta 2008 while others were written by scholars who
were subsequently invited by the editors.
During the long editing process2 we have had
support from several colleagues and friends. In
particular we wish to thank Kristian Kristiansen,
who also contributed to the volume, as well as Paola
Cssola Guida, Elisabetta Borgna, Renato Peroni and
Andrea Cardarelli. As far as the very conception of
this book is concerned, thanks must go to Anthony
Harding for the inspiring talk right after the session
in Malta 2008. We are also grateful to the organisers of
the 14th annual meeting of the European Association
of Archaeologists in Malta, who made the session
possible. In addition, we wish to thank Gteborg
University and the Jubileumsfond for its generous
support. Of course we also extend warm thanks to all
of the contributors to this book your collaboration
has been very stimulating in many ways. We wish
to also tahnk very much Kristin Bornholdt Collins
for considerably improving the language of the
introductort parts of this volume. Finally, we would
like to thank the publisher Oxbow Books Ltd for taking
an interest in our work, and in particular Dr Julie
Gardiner for help and support with the publication.


1 The original title of the session was: Exchange, interactions, conflicts and transformations: social and cultural changes in
Europe and the Mediterranean between the Bronze and Iron Ages.
2 The volume was completed at the beginning of 2011. Therefore, not all bibliographical references might be fully updated.
Both editors equally worked on the volume.

Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini


Transcultural interaction and local transformations in Europe
and the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age
Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini

European and Mediterranean societies appear to

have been involved in complex systems of exchange
networks throughout their respective Bronze- and Iron
Ages. This book seeks to investigate how these networks
aected local customs and historical developments.
Archaeological evidence suggests social and economic
phenomena, cultural expressions and technological
skills stemmed from multifaceted encounters between
local traditions and external influences. Examples of
cultural openness and transcultural hybridization can
be found all over the continent in settlement patterns
and organization, material culture and technology,
funerary customs and ritual practices.
As far as the study of these phenomena is concerned,
both in continental Europe and the Mediterranean, we
believe two issues deserve wider investigation:
the outcomes of the dynamic relationship between
local traditions and exchange networks.
the possible parallels between patterns of
interconnection and transformation.
At the core of this work is the assumption that
people (as individuals or organized groups) always
moved, although for dierent reasons and significantly
dierent distances. In their movements they invariably
carried with them means of sustenance, objects,
goods, ideas, and narratives likely to be exchanged
with other people, having consequences that can vary
significantly from one context to another.
Archaeology today uses the term exchange very
freely to embrace a wide range of activities, regardless of
their scale (from single site to regional and continental),
their requirements (involving variously complex
technologies and skills and/or long journeys), or their

outcomes (being at the origin of cultural, social, economic

changes, production specialization, and/or intermingled
with the building of ideological power). In this volume
we do not question the general use of the term, although
one might argue that is necessary; it should be made
clear, though, that the term exchange network is
employed to identify movements (regardless of their
purpose) of people and goods on an interregional scale,
thus necessarily involving transcultural dialogues.

Exchange and transformation

A long tradition of contacts and exchange practices can
be traced back to very early periods of prehistory in
Europe and the Mediterranean. Bronze- and Iron Age
societies appear to have been involved in a variety of
complex systems of exchange and trade which have
been widely investigated (e.g. Thrane 1975; Bouzek
1985; 1997; Gale 1991; Sherratt and Sherratt 1991;
Sherratt 1993; 1997; Kristiansen 1993; 1998; Oates 1993;
Scarre and Healy 1993; Dickinson 1994, 234256; Pydyn
1999; Harding 2000, 164196; Pare 2000; Peroni 2004;
Kristiansen and Larsson 2005; Laneur and Greco
2005; Galanaki et al. 2007; Vandkilde 2007; Cunlie
2008; Clark 2009; Dzigielewski et al. 2010; Wilkinson
et al. 2011).
The particular aim of this volume is to apply a
bottom-up strategy and thus discuss exchange patterns
through the analysis of regionally contextualized
archaeological evidence. Specifically, the focus is
on the reciprocal relationship between material
culture development and varying transformations
and exchange networks, where the former represent

Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini

the epistemological means to reach the latter and not

the other way around. At the core of this work is the
conviction that tangible traces such as those seen
in distribution maps of international artefacts (e.g.
Kristiansen 1993; von Hase 1992; Bouzek 1985; Thrane
1975; Jockenhvel 1974) are not the only ones left by
exchange. Its impact may also aect communities which
receive or participate in the transmission of other people
and material culture in less obvious ways as far as the
study of archaeological evidence is concerned. People
invariably learn from each other and significant changes
may occur in reaction to contacts, even where the lack of
foreign objects might cause one to question the existence
of any exchange. We believe it is necessary to highlight
contextual social, cultural, economic and technological
transformations as relevant for the study of exchange
networks and associated movements of material and
non-material culture. As noted by Kristiansen (Chapter
1), in the last 50 years great advances have been made in
archaeological sciences and in the use and interpretation
of both textual and material evidence. There is therefore
room for a better historical understanding of the
relationship between individual actors or communities
and the institutional, political, socio-cultural and
economic framework in which they moved. The
collected contributions examine and discuss those issues
through case studies and from a theoretical point of
view. Some of the papers discuss evidence of selection,
negotiation, incorporation, eventual transformation
or refusal of external inputs. Most discussions treat
the occurrence of hybridization at various levels (i.e.
within material culture, ritual, social and technological
practices) and/or illustrate long or short term sociocultural and economic transformations.
In Papadimitriou and Krigas discourse (Chapter 2),
when shifting the focus from the largest Mediterranean
regions and cultures to minor communities, it appears
clear that a multifaceted variety of strategies has been
adopted to enter the international trade. Production
specialization and internal cultural changes gain
renewed meaning when analysed in the light of the
interregional Mediterranean networking pattern.
Albertis work (Chapter 3) seeks to demonstrate how
interaction and hybridization, along with resources
and territorial management, seem to constitute the
backbone of the historical development(s) in the
Aegean in a crucial formative period known as the
local Middle Bronze Age. In her analysis, the structure
of the trade circuits appears at the same time to have
been cause and consequence of society formations and
A careful study of local transformations may
also provide new perspectives on long debated
issues such as the possible stable presence of foreign

groups beyond local cultural changes and externally

inspired production. Vitale and Hancocks study
(Chapter 4) of the evidence from Kos and Cazzella
and Recchias analysis (Chapter 6) of the relations
among Malta, Sicily and Southern Italy throughout the
Bronze Age, reveal the necessity to question previous
interpretations and to adopt wide-ranging approaches
for the understanding of changes and transformation
in reaction to large exchange networks. Along the same
lines, Iaconos (Chapter 5) paper opens up a discussion
about reverse influence patterns. His study of particular
ceramic productions is a trigger for revisiting the
traditional centre-periphery mechanisms to allow for
the possibility of the adoption of westernizing elements
in Late Helladic IIIC Greece.
Iaias and Sabatinis (Chapter 8 and 10) contributions
show in dierent ways how local transformation(s)
in connection with exchange networks may also
mirror identity strategies. Together with Bergerbrants
analysis of the incorporation of swords in the Nordic
material culture (Chapter 11), they illustrate how
material culture is rarely simply borrowed. Identity as
much as ideological strategies involve negotiations and
local elaboration of original meanings. In other words,
these contributions show how external inputs do not
aect internal developments, unless local societies are
keen to negotiate and incorporate them into their own
trajectories of transformation.
The articles in the volume also show how change
is detectable out of very different archaeological
sources. The studies of Lai (Chapter 7) and Fulminante
and Stoddart (Chapter 9) demonstrate how complex
combinations of economic, social and ideological
factors may influence structural development in
settlement patterns and organization.
It also seems that the rarer the exchanges the
more subtle and less visible is the impact on local
communities and cultures. However, as Kneisels study
(Chapter 12) illustrates, specific decorative patterns on
the lids of Pomeranian face urns provide insights into
exchange networks even where other evidence does not
show consistent traces of intercultural interrelations.
When exchanges involve perishable materials or
microscopic elements within complex final products,
like for example ceramics, they are less easy to detect.
In their work, Kreiter, Bartus Szllsi, Bajnczi,
Azbej Havancsk, Tth and Szakmny (Chapter 13)
demonstrate how we can fruitfully derive evidence of
exchange from the analysis of ceramic composition.
Thus, even more transformations of varying nature
might represent important evidence for an updated
map of the movements of people and material culture
throughout the continent and the Mediterranean


Transculturality and hybridization

Two particular conceptual frameworks appear to inform
the contributions to this volume: transculturality and
hybridization. Both concepts belong, we could say, to
the post-colonial study tradition and to discussions
about the permeability of cultures. From the beginning
one of the basic aims of post-colonial literature
(e.g. Said 1978; Spivak 1988; Young 2001) has been
to question the general supposition that so-called
subaltern cultures (colonized) normally underwent
processes of acculturation imposed by the dominant
ones (colonizers). In doing so, post-colonial studies
invited an innovative approach to interpreting the
complex outcomes of any multicultural meeting (e.g.
Bhabha 1994; Young 2003). Subaltern as much as
dominant cultures negotiate and absorb each other at
the same time as their merging together gives space
to a variety of new expressions not belonging to any
previous tradition, but being new and unpredictable
(e.g. Rutherford 1990; Bhabha 1994). From such an
exciting tradition of study, originally investigating
pre-modern and modern societies within the colonial
experience in its entirety and consequences, important
theoretical frameworks have been borrowed for the
study of ancient societies. Regarded through postcolonial sensitive lenses, material culture becomes
not only a marker of transcultural dialogues, but a
promising laboratory for the analysis of their forms
of expression (see e.g. Bettelli 2002; Broodbank 2004;
van Dommelen 2005; Stein 2005; Riva and Vella 2006;
Streiert Eikeland 2006; Anthony 2007; Antoniadou
and Pace 2007; Cassel 2008; Habu et al. 2008; Knapp
2008; Vivres Ferrndiz 2008; Dzigielewski et al.
Most of the articles in this volume discuss
archaeological evidence to illustrate the negotiation
and combination of external and endogenous stimuli.
Hybridization between local elements and external
inputs appears more a norm than an exception. Objects,
rituals and technologies usually are not imported or
copied tout court as they are, rather they enter new
environments acquiring new forms or meanings. Upon
first glance, they might appear to illustrate trajectories
of acculturation from dominant groups or ideologies
towards peripheral or subaltern actors. However,
archaeological evidence most often reveals processes
of transculturation rather than acculturation, in the
sense of conveying cultural instances from dierent
environments into new forms of expressions.
As far as social and economic change is concerned,
a post-colonial approach also provides fresh insights
into established and largely debated interpretative
frames of reference, such as the core-periphery model

(e.g. Wallerstein 1974; Rowlands et al. 1987; Sherratt

and Sherratt 1991; Chase-Dunn and Hall 1993; 1997;
Frank 1993; Oates 1993; Sherratt 1993; 1994; Mathers
and Stoddard 1994; Harding 2000, 414430; Broodbank
2004; Laneur and Greco 2005; Galanaki et al. 2007).
The issue is addressed by various contributions in
the volume presenting a range of reformulations,
declinations and deconstructions of the model. It
appears that the very status of centres, margins and
peripheries needs to be readdressed, highlighting
regional dynamics and local strategies. Economic
forces and trends which come into play in each
region and contribute to social and cultural changes
appear to be multi-directional and multi-faceted. They
involve external initiatives and agents, but are also
grounded and eventually aected by the interplay
between tradition and innovation, in a continuum of
transforming combinations.

Continental Europe and the Mediterranean in

the Bronze and Iron Ages
Another important goal for this volume has been
to bring together studies investigating both the
Mediterranean and continental Europe. We were
well aware from the start that they are not only two
dierent socio-cultural and economic environments,
but that they conventionally belong to dierent study
traditions as well. Scholars working on Mediterranean
or European proto-history seldom have occasion
to meet. They normally publish and discuss their
respective field issues in separate forums. Lately,
something seems to be changing and the environment
is becoming more hospitable to open collaborations
(e.g. Sherratt 1997; Eliten 1999; Kristiansen and Larsson
2005; Artursson and Nicolis 2007; Galanaki et al. 2007;
Cunlie 2008; Dzigielewski et al. 2010; Fredell et al.
2010; Kristiansen and Earle 2010; Wilkinson et al.
2011), but the situation still has far to go. We of course
recognise that there are reasons for the traditional
divide. Continental Europe and the Mediterranean
basin are characterized in many ways by specifically
local socio-cultural and economic dynamics and
patterns of relations. In the volume, it is not by
chance that transculturality recurs more often in the
contributions dealing with mainland Europe, while
core-periphery models are still more likely to inform
the debate on Mediterranean interaction and state
formation. Nonetheless, as a whole the content of this
volume highlights how those worlds are not alien to
each other. Territories and people from Scandinavia
to the Mediterranean have been variously connected

Maria Emanuela Alberti and Serena Sabatini

throughout late prehistory. We fear that many of the

supposed dierences between them derive more from
being objects of separate traditions of archaeological
research rather than their actual existence. Very little
eort is normally invested in order to combine and
discuss common problems and achievements. We
firmly believe that several specific phenomena acquire
significant value when adopting a broader and more
comprehensive approach that includes both zones.
Therefore, the contributions in this volume discuss
case studies from the Eastern Mediterranean to
Scandinavia, although we have to regret the lack of
papers discussing Western and Atlantic Europe and
hope to include them in future works.
Despite our aim to combine dierent fields of study
(Mediterranean and European), we had to concur,
after much discussion, that the most logical order
for presenting the various contributions was still
geographical. The order in which the papers appear is
determined by the principal areas where the various
case studies develop. The volume thus oers a journey
which takes o, after Kristiansens introductory words,
in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean (Nikolas
Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga, Maria Emanuela
Alberti, Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock and partly
Francesco Iacono). It then transports the reader to the
Central Mediterranean and the Italian peninsula (partly
Francesco Iacono, Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia,
Luca Lai, Cristiano Iaia and Francesca Fulminante and
Simon Stoddart), before ending with papers discussing
case studies from Northern Europe (Sophie Bergerbrant
and, in part, Serena Sabatini and Jutta Kneisel) and
Central-Eastern Europe (Attila Kreiter et al. and, in
part, Jutta Kneisel and Serena Sabatini).
The aim of this book is also ambitious from a
chronological perspective since a broad spectrum of
periods has been included:
Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Early, Middle
and Late Bronze Age (Nikolas Papadimitriou and
Demetra Kriga, Maria Emanuela Alberti, Salvatore
Vitale and Teresa Hancock, Francesco Iacono);
Central Mediterranean, Early to Late Bronze Age
(Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia);
Italian Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age and the
corresponding Halstatt period A-C1 frh in Central
and Northern Europe (Luca Lai, Cristiano Iaia and
Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart, Sophie
Bergerbrant and Serena Sabatini);
Hallstatt C-D, La Tne A and B periods in Central
and Northern Europe (Jutta Kneisel and Attila
Kreiter et al.).
It is our sincere hope that this volume will reinvigorate
the subject and pave the way for future work, and that

interdisciplinary collaborations will continue. Since

our remotest past, people and goods have travelled
great distances throughout the Mediterranean and
the European continent we invite you now to join
in this renewed journey towards understanding their
traces and impacts.

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Theorising exchange and interaction
in the Bronze Age
Kristian Kristiansen

This collection of articles integrates archaeological

evidence and theory in new exciting ways, probing
more deeply into the historical nature of Bronze
Age exchange and interaction. I shall therefore
briefly explore what meaning can be given to these
generalizing concepts in the historical context of the
Bronze Age. The reader will then be able to engage in
reflections on their possible application in the various
case studies presented.
The Bronze Age was a mobile world for the very
simple economic reason that copper and tin, or bronze
in finished or semi-finished form had to be distributed
to all societies throughout the known world from a
few source areas (Kristiansen and Larsson 2005). It
was also a world whose social and political complexity
that spanned from City-States and Palace Economies
in the eastern Mediterranean to Chiefdoms of varying
degrees of complexity in the western Mediterranean and
Europe (e.g. Shelmerdine 2008; Earle and Kristiansen
2010). However, there existed certain commonalities in
social organisation that allowed metal to flow between
all these communities. The question then becomes,
what were the social mechanisms that facilitated this
flow of goods and metal. Which social categories of
people could travel and for what reasons? Which
were the institutions that facilitated their travels? And
finally, which were the technologies that supported
such travels, over land and at sea?
On Figure 1.1 I list what I consider to be relevant
categories of people/social groups, and their relevant
The categories of people who travelled were traders,
warriors/mercenaries, migrants, diplomats and other
specialists of various type, in particular artisans or craft

workers. Among the evidence from the Bronze Age

one can mention the Uluburun shipwreck (e.g. Pulak
1998) as an example of the maritime technology that
allowed bulk-trade, and which also carried warriors
(or maybe mercenaries) to protect the cargo or maybe
just to travel to distant courts. At the other end of the
scale the complex of phenomena often cursory labelled
as Sea People movements exemplify phenomena of
migrations and colonization during the 12th century
BC, later followed by directed migrations during the
11th century BC.
The best possibility to catch a glimpse of such
social and institutional mechanisms is to examine the
archaeological evidence in detail and to consider the
multidimensionality of identities, and the various forms
and meanings of trans-cultural and hybrid identities.
This may represent a first stage of acculturation and
transformation, which in some cases is followed by
secondary state formation. The present volume oers
a good selection of articles that exemplifies such an
integrated theoretical and methodological approach.
Papadimitriou and Krigas (chapter 2) and
Albertis (chapter 3) contributions show how minor
Mediterranean centres strive, through the adoption of
a variety of strategies, to be part of the international
Bronze Age trade. In their analyses specialization and
local social transformations are the outcome of trade
circuits and the necessity to be part of them. Vitale
and Hancocks study (chapter 4) of the evidence from
Kos, and Cazzella and Recchias analysis (chapter 6)
of the relation between Malta, Sicily and Southern
Italy throughout the Bronze Age challenge traditional
interpretations of Bronze Age colonization. Instead the
capacity of local communities is stressed: they were in

1. Theorising exchange and interaction in the Bronze Age

Figure 1.1 Theorizing trade, travels and transmission with relevant categories of people/social groups, and their relevant institutions in

command of these new encounters and profited from

them. Perhaps we should be prepared also to think in
terms of small scale family based trade in which locals
and foreigners co-operated on equal terms.
It raises the question: to what extent is the so-called
Mycenaean pottery and settlement evidence in the
western Mediterranean reflections of small groups of
private traders/families that created a sort of Karum
trade, embedded within local kingdoms/chiefdoms,
as the Assyrian traders in Anatolia, leaving only scant
traces of their presence? And to what extent are they
reflections of the economic power and craft initiatives
of local communities that started to be strongly
involved in external trade producing fashionable
goods, which could be exported beyond the immediate
interface with the East Mediterranean?
If at a local level minor communities seem to
work hard in order to maintain a place in the trade,
Iaconos study (chapter 5) show how not only eastern,
but also western Mediterranean production centres
successfully seek their ways in the international
exchange system, which may explain the adoption
of westernizing elements in the Late Helladic IIIC
Greece. Lais case study (chapter 7) from Sarrala
in Sardinia, on the other hand, shows how major

transformations can be successfully traced in local

settlement organization when specific areas happen
to be touched by international trade. In Srralas case,
both architecture and social strategies seem to undergo
changes, which can be linked to the impact of larger
Mediterranean networks.
One of the merits of this volume is to show how
networking patterns appear complex and multidirectional both in the Mediterranean and in continental
Europe. In order to understand their transformative
capacity we need to consider the dialectic relationship
between materiality and social meanings, political
power and economic foundations (Earle and Kristiansen
2010, 14). Several papers take up the challenge and they
demonstrate how exchange networks are intrinsically
linked to the formation of new social, cultural and
political meanings at individual and community
levels. Iaias analysis (chapter 8) shows how Villanovan
elites strived to establish connections with the central
European world through the rituals and economic
power of metalwork. Sabatinis (chapter 10) and
Bergerbrants (chapter 11) contributions deal with
Bronze Age northern Europe, where they discuss
the incorporation of objects and burial practices
whose origin is to be found in the southern part

Kristian Kristiansen

of the continent. Both studies demonstrate how

incorporations in a new local context are to be
understood as ideological and political statements in
the constant struggle to achieve and maintain specific
rights for certain groups, perhaps travellers and
traders. The institutional power that emerged from
long-distance contacts and networking patterns is
exemplified in the paper by Fulminante and Stoddart
(chapter 9). They apply a multidirectional networking
model in order to explain urbanization processes in
Latium vetus and Etruria in central western Italy during
the first quarter of the 1st millennium BC. Related
examples are found in case studies from the La Tne
period on the meaning of specific ceramic decorative
patterns (Kneisel, chapter 12). Finally, Kreiter et al.
(chapter 13) demonstrates how materiality is deeply
embedded in regular technological practices, and
therefore linked to the transmission of skills between
I suggest that these and related questions of how
to interpret the impact of material flows on local
traditions can be answered with greater certainty today
than 50 years ago, not least if we employ historical

models, and make controlled comparisons on the

much richer archaeological and textual evidence at
hand. The articles in this book exemplify a move in this
direction with the promise of opening up new doors
to a better historical understanding of the relationship
between travellers, such as skilled craftspeople, traders,
warriors, sailors, and the political and economic
institutions they moved within and between. When
approached with relevant theoretical categories and
analytical tools to organize the evidence we learn
how communities responded to the dynamics of a
globalized Bronze Age world by constantly negotiating
its incorporation into local worlds.

Earle, T. and Kristiansen, K., 2010, Organizing Bronze Age Societies,
Kristiansen, K. and Larsson, T. B., 2005, The Rise of Bronze Age
Society, Cambridge.
Pulak, C., 1998, The Uluburun shipwreck: an overview, The
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 27.3, 188224.
Shelmerdine, C. W., 2008, The Aegean Bronze Age, Cambridge.

Peripheries versus cores:
The integration of secondary states into the world-system of the Eastern
Mediterranean and the Near East in the Late Bronze Age (16001200 BC)

Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

According to a widely held view, the Eastern
Mediterranean and the Near East in the Late Bronze
Age formed a highly interactive world-system, with
multiple cores, semiperipheries and peripheries
connected to each other through complex patterns
of reciprocal exchanges and interlinking commercial
networks (Liverani 1987; Sherratt and Sherratt 1991;
Kardulias 1999; Manning and Hulin 2002; Wilkinson
2004; Parkinson and Galaty 2007; Wilkinson et al.
At the very heart of the system were great territorial
states with substantial military power and a high-degree
of economic self-suciency, which interacted among
themselves mainly through royal reciprocity: the New
Kingdom in Egypt, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia,
and the states of Mittani, Assyria and Babylonia
in Mesopotamia. In the Mediterranean periphery
(the Levant, Cyprus, and the Aegean) there existed
smaller political entities, which participated actively
in maritime trade. Those entities are often termed
secondary because they are thought to have developed
via interaction with core states, the exploitation of
resources of metal and other raw materials being the
main economic motive for such interaction (Keswani
1996; Parkinson and Galaty 2007).
Several scholars have observed that those peripheral
regions developed a rather autonomous network of
exchanges in the 14th and 13th centuries BC, which
remained largely beyond the reach, or the interest,

of the great powers. Andrew and Susan Sherratt,

in particular, have suggested that this network
which incorporated several smaller exchange circuits
and was largely responsible for the emergence of a
Mediterranean koine (homogeneity) in the later part
of the LBA addressed the needs of an expanding
class of urban sub-elites; as such, it was of critical
importance for the economies of peripheral polities
but had only a minimal impact on their relations with
inland Egypt, Anatolia or Mesopotamia (Sherratt and
Sherratt 1991; 2001; Sherratt 1999).
This remark raises a number of questions: when
and under what conditions was the network of
Mediterranean exchanges first established? Was it so
closely connected with metals and their channelling
towards core areas? When and how did it become
autonomous? And, finally, how could a peripheral
region integrate into that network? The present
paper aims to oer some hints to the answers by
tracing changes in the pattern of Mediterranean
interconnections from the early 2nd millennium to the
end of the Late Bronze Age and by examining how
these changes relate to long-term developments in the
Levantine, Cypriot and Aegean societies (Fig. 2.1).

The emergence of the network

Maritime interaction in the Mediterranean was rather
limited in scale in the earlier part of the Middle Bronze


Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

Figure 2.1 Correlation between the chronologies of the Aegean, Cyprus and the Levant.

Age (20001800 BC). The Levant continued to feel the

impact of the urban crisis that had started in the late
3rd millennium throughout the MB I period1, with
many regions in coastal Syria and (mainly) Palestine
suering from depopulation and de-urbanization
(Gerstenblith 1983; Akkermans and Schwartz 2003, 294).
Minoan and Cypriot imports were thinly distributed
and even at important harbour sites, such as Ugarit and
Byblos, their numbers were rather negligible (Kantor
1947, 1821; Gerstehblith 1983, 7073; Marcus 2002;
Srensen 2009, 22).

Cyprus remained largely isolated during the MC I

and most of the MC II period. The settlement pattern
was dispersed with no major urban sites, and imports
were restricted to a few grave finds of Levantine,
Egyptian, and very rarely Minoan origin (strom
1972, 275278).
In Crete, the emergence of palaces with bureaucratic
administration and large-scale storage of agricultural
surpluses c. 1900 BC (MM IB) suggests political
aliations with, and considerable influence from the
Near East. Indirect evidence for contacts with the

2. Peripheries versus cores

Orient is provided by the exotic materials found in
palaces (e.g. gold, ivory, faience), and the introduction
of new metalworking techniques and iconographic
motifs, especially in MM II (Watrous 1998). Yet, actual
imports in Protopalatial Crete are few in number,
luxurious in nature (scarabs, seals, stone vessels,
jewellery but not pottery), come mostly from Egypt
and are usually found in palatial contexts (and in
tombs) (Phillips 2008). At the same time, contacts with
the Levant, Cyprus and Anatolia seem to have been at
best unsystematic (Lambrou-Phillipson 1990, 139146,
170171). Minoan exports of the same period are
limited to a few ceramics found in Egypt, the Levant
and Cyprus (Kantor 1947, 1819; Kemp and Merrillees
1980; Betancourt 1998; Srensen 2009). The evidence
may suggest some kind of state-level relations with the
Egyptian Middle Kingdom, perhaps via the Levantine
coast, but certainly no regular transactions. As for
the rest of the Aegean, earlier studies and a recent
conference have demonstrated that relations between
Crete, Mainland Greece, the islands and the Anatolian
coast were still sporadic with only a small increase in
MM II (Rutter and Zerner 1984; Papagiannopoulou
1991; Macdonald et al. 2009).
Things start to change as we enter the later part
of the MBA (c. 18001600 BC). The Levant enjoys a
new wave of urbanization and prosperity in MB II,
with relatively large states developing in Syria and
northern Palestine (Yamkhad, Qatna, Hazor) and
smaller polities in southern Canaan. This trend is
particularly accentuated in MB II (mid-18th17th
centuries BC), when the number of urban settlements
increases considerably, with their higher concentration
on coastal settings or river estuaries (Dever 1987;
Kempinski 1992a; Akkermans and Schwartz 2003, 297
298). Imports from Minoan Crete and Cyprus are now
more widely distributed across the Mediterranean
littoral (e.g. Ugarit, Byblos, Kabri, el-Ajjul, el-Dabaa),
although not in substantial quantities (Kantor 1947;
Hankey and Leonard Jr. 1998; Srensen 2009, 22).
Tablets from Mari, dating to the mid-18th century BC,
suggest that Ugarit has evolved into a major centre for
the transshipment of copper and tin, finished metal
artifacts and textiles along an EastWest axis (between
the Near East, Cyprus and Crete) and towards Egypt
(Heltzer 1989).
Comparable developments can be observed in
other Mediterranean regions, too. Starting from MM
III (17501700/1650 BC), small coastal sites in centraleastern Crete, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese and
western Anatolia evolve into proper towns with clearly
defined urban characteristics (e.g. Palaikastro, Gournia,
Zakros, Akrotiri, Trianda, Miletus) (Dickinson 1994,
6069; Branigan 2001; Davis 1992; see also various


papers in Macdonald et al. 2009). The amount of

oriental imports (finished artifacts and raw materials)
increases considerably and, although Egypt remains a
major provider, there are clear indications for closer
contacts with the Levant, especially in LM I (LambrouPhillipson 1990, 171172; Cline 1994; Srensen 2009,
22; Phillips 2008, 230). Imports are not anymore
restricted to palaces but spread to second-order Cretan
settlements, as well as to major Aegean harbours and
some Mainland sites. Their number, however, remains
limited outside Crete, perhaps suggesting some kind
of Minoan control over their distribution (Watrous
1993, 83; Cline 1994, 10) (Fig. 2.2).
Inter-Aegean trac also intensifies in that period
(Papagiannopoulou 1991; Graziadio 1998; Macdonald
et al. 2009). Several new sea-routes are established
(Watrous 1993, 8185) and a standard system of weight
measurement develops in Crete providing first hand
evidence of regular transactions and perhaps the
conversion of commodities (Petruso 1992; Alberti 2003).
One of the most important sea routes of the period was
certainly that connecting Crete with the metalliferous
area of Laurion in Attica (Davis 1979). Laurion was
rich in silver and copper, and may have been a major
resource for the Minoans (Stos-Gale and Macdonald
1991; Driessen and Macdonald 1997, 7980). It is
certainly not a coincidence that the Cycladic harbours
of Akrotiri, Phylakopi and Ag. Irini that lay along this
route are among the few areas outside Crete where
Minoan-type weights and Linear A records have been
found (Schofield 1982, 2122; Petruso 1992, 6566) (Fig.
2.2). The increasing importance of metals for Cretan
economy is further indicated by the numerous copper
ingots (most of unknown provenance) found in the
LM I levels of Ag. Triada, Zakros, Poros and other
Cretan sites (Gale 1991b). Search for metals may have
also motivated Mainland centres to establish relations
with resource-rich areas in Italy as early as LH I if not
earlier (Marazzi and Tusa 2005).
In Cyprus, contacts with the Levant and the Nile
Delta intensify from the MC III period (17251600 BC)
onwards (strm 1972, 278279; Eriksson 2003, 419;
Maguire 2009). Proto-urban settlements are established
along the coastline of the island at the end of the same
period or slightly later, in LC I (Enkomi, Hala Soultan
Tekke, Toumba tou Skourou) (Negbi 1986, 9798).
These are usually associated with the systematization
of copper production and circulation in the island,
as suggested among others by the appearance of
improved smelting and bronze-working techniques
at least in Enkomi in MC III (Keswani 1996, 219220;
Kassianidou 2008, 258). Contacts with Crete and the
Aegean, however, remain restricted until the LM
IA/LC IB period, possibly suggesting that initially


Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

Figure 2.2 The distribution of oriental imports in secure MM III/MH IIILM IB/LH IIA Aegean contexts (after Cline 1994, tables 6368),
[objects listed as LM/LH III not included], and the distribution of Linear A documents and Minoan-type weights outside Crete (after
Petruso 1992).

Cyprus formed part of a regional Levantine-Egyptian

(Hyksos) interface, rather than an independent player
in international trade (Eriksson 2003, 420).
Summarizing, the available evidence suggests that
maritime exchanges in the Mediterranean were rather
limited in the earlier part of the 2nd millennium,
and started to increase in the course of the 18th
century BC only to evolve into a proper network for
the circulation of metals, other raw materials and
finished luxuries by the 17th century BC. How could
we explain this development within a wider, macrohistorical context?
In systemic terms, it may not be irrelevant that during
the early 2nd millennium BC great territorial states
exploited mainly overland routes for the acquisition
of metals and other precious raw materials. Ashur
acquired silver and gold from Anatolia through a
complex system of commercial stations (karum) (Larsen
1987); southern Mesopotamian states acquired copper
and precious metals from Dilmun in the Persian Gulf
(although this route involved seafaring, too) and tin
from Elam (Iran) (Kohl 1987; Yoee 1995, 13911392);
Middle Kingdom Egypt exploited the vast resources
of Nubia, the Sinai Peninsula and the eastern Delta
(Flammini 2011).
This early phase of prosperity and political cohesion
in core areas of the system was succeeded by a period of

political unrest and economic instability. The Assyrian

trade with Anatolia started to decline after 1800 BC
and ceased in the mid-17th century BC, most probably
under the pressure of Hittite state formation (Larsen
1987). In southern Mesopotamia a combination of
population movements (Kassites), internal conflicts,
and the occupation of the extreme south of Iraq by
the enigmatic Sealand dynasty in the late 18th and
17th centuries BC led to the disruption of the lucrative
Gulf trade and the weakening of political power
dramatically culminating in the sack of Babylon
by the Hittites around 1600 BC (Roaf 1990, 121123;
Kurht 1995, 115, 116; Yoee 1995, 1392). In Egypt, the
powerful Middle Kingdom dissolved in the mid-18th
century BC and the country was divided for almost
two centuries, leaving the rulers of the Nile Delta
(especially in the Hyskos period, XV dynasty) short
of the rich resources of Nubia (Flammini 2011).
Whatever the reasons for these concurrent events
of political fragmentation in core areas of the system
during the MB II period, it is conceivable that it
caused a kind of crisis in the supply of metals. This
may have allowed the Levantine states especially the
kingdom of Yamkhad, which seems to have expanded
considerably in the period of the Mari tablets (van
Koppen 2007, 370) to assume a more active role in
international aairs and develop inter-dependency

2. Peripheries versus cores

with Egypt (especially in the Hyksos period) and
Mesopotamia by oering access to alternative sources
of raw materials.
Initially, this may have involved copper-rich Cyprus
only; but soon Crete would enter the stage, too. Crete,
which was already known in the Orient for the high
quality of its metal products and luxurious textiles
(Heltzer 1989), evidently exploited Aegean resources
from the end of the MBA, but was also in need of tin
for making bronze, other not locally available raw
materials, and finished luxuries. Such luxuries may
have been increasingly important for the Minoans as
Aegean interrelations were becoming more complex:
the fact that beyond Crete they are frequently found
in significant burial contexts, such as the Mycenae
Shaft Graves, suggests that they were perceived as
prestige markers by local elites or even as indicators
of preferential access to major exchange networks
(Voutsaki 1993, 146147). As such, they must have
been crucial for Minoan interaction with other Aegean
regions. Cretans may have found in Laurion silver
a highly convertible resource that allowed them
to participate actively in Mediterranean exchanges
(Sherratt and Sherratt 1991, 369). The development of
equivalences between the Minoan and the Levantine
weighing system in that period testifies to the regular
character of transactions between Crete and the Eastern
Mediterranean (Alberti and Parise 2005; Michailidou
Because of its importance, it is probable that metal
trade was largely controlled by royal authorities
(Watrous 1993, 83; Sherratt 1999, 178). Although no
direct evidence is available, the testimony of the Mari
tablets, the considerable amounts of exotic materials
found in Cretan New Palaces (conceivably acquired
through gift exchange), and the aforementioned
evidence for controlled distribution of oriental imports
to the rest of the Aegean may lend some support to this
assumption. Moreover, the discovery of Minoan-style
frescos at Alalakh, Kabri and el-Dabaa, and the famous
lid with the cartouche of the Hyksos ruler Khyan from
the palace of Knossos oer incontestable evidence of
significant aliations between Mediterranean royal
courts in that early period certainly extending into
the times of the early XVIIIth dynasty (Betancourt
1997, 429; Niemeier and Niemeier 1998; Bietak 2007;
Phillips 2008, vol. II, 98).
Of course, the emerging nexus of international
exchanges diers in various ways from a typical
world-system, as originally defined by Wallerstein
(1974). For example, it is dicult to discern here a
pattern of underdeveloped peripheries unilaterally
supplying raw materials to technologically advanced
urbanized cores. This may have been the case only


on a regional level, e.g. between Mainland Greece

(especially Laurion) and Crete, or between Cyprus and
the Levant; otherwise, circulation of metals seems to
have been multidirectional (e.g. with Cypriot copper
eventually reaching Crete, Aegean silver reaching the
east, etc.). Neither is another feature of Wallersteins
world-systems, namely the channelling of agricultural
surpluses to core areas, fulfilled yet: there is no
evidence that maritime exchanges involved foodstus
and other commodities until an advanced stage of
the LBA. Therefore, although shortage of metals in
core areas may have been the decisive factor for the
genesis of a Mediterranean exchange network, the
resulting situation was probably quite complex, with
Crete and the Levant acting as semi-peripheries that
exploited peripheral regional networks both to their
own advantage and in order to channel resources
toward core areas in exchange for other raw materials
(e.g. tin, gold, precious stones) and luxuries.

The MB/LB transition and the early LBA

If, however, metal supply was the main concern of
early maritime exchange and if metal trade was strictly
controlled by royal authorities, how did the network
aect wider sectors of the local societies? A number of
developments in the later part of the MBA and the early
LBA suggest that increased maritime mobility created
new nodes of interaction and instigated significant
economic and social changes at various levels.
We have already commented on the importance of
maritime exchanges for the emergence of urban life
not only in the Levant and Crete, but also in regions
with lower level of economic and administrative
sophistication. Enkomi in Cyprus, Trianda in Rhodes
and Akrotiri in Thera are good examples of sites that
benefited vastly from their location along major sea
Less developed areas, which may have been initially
exploited for their resources, were also aected by the
sudden flow of material wealth and information. For
example, in Mainland Greece which had experienced
conditions of striking poverty and isolation for most of
the MBA (Dickinson 1977, 3238) increasing Minoan
involvement from MM III onwards instigated intense
competition among local elites, as clearly reflected
on the funerary record of the period (Voutsaki 1993,
146149), and provided the impetus for the emergence of
sophisticated local industries through an unashamed
imitation of Cretan crafts (Dickinson 1977). Mainland
products pottery and other artefacts were soon
exported to areas beyond the sphere of Minoan interest,
such as central and western Greece, and also Italy, thus


Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

creating new circuits of exchange (van Wngaarden

2002, 261262).
Even more interesting phenomena took place in areas
with more complex socio-economic organization, such
as Crete and the Levant. Among them, most important
is a general trend towards the decentralization of
economic and administrative activity. This is best
exemplified by the appearance of large mansions with
substantial storage and working space often for the
production of oil and wine in the Levant during the
later part of MB II (the so-called patrician houses) and
in Crete and the Cyclades in MM IIIB and LM I (the
so-called villas or town-houses) (Oren 1992, 115117;
Kempinski 1992a, 195196; Hgg and Marinatos 1997).
Whether these edifices were private or semi-dependent
on royal authority is far from clear but, in any case,
their very presence suggests a level or autonomy from
immediate palatial control.
The case of decentralization is supported by other
developments, too. In several Levantine sites (e.g. Ugarit,
Qatna, Meggido) the MBLB transition is marked by
a significant shift in settlement organization: palaces
move from the centre of the tell next to the main gate
of the settlement and numerous public buildings are
erected in various parts of the corresponding sites
(Kempinski 1992b; Gonen 1992, 220). According to
some scholars this shift suggests a change in economic
administration or even the replacement of the nuclear
model of Mesopotamian tradition based on a single
large palace by a decentralized pattern (MorandiBonacossi 2007, 229). In Crete, written documents are
not anymore restricted to palaces (as was the case in
the Protopalatial period) but are also used in mansions
and other non-strictly palatial contexts (Driessen and
Macdonald 1997, 83; Knappet and Schoep 2000, 367);
the same is true for imports, which are now widely
distributed beyond the limits of palaces (Cline 1994).
At exactly the same period, significant changes can
be observed in the ceramic repertoires of Mediterranean
regions. Specialized containers for the exportation of
oil and wine, such as the Minoan stirrup-jar and the
Canaanite jar, either make now their first appearance
(the former) or are highly standardized (the latter);
smaller containers for the transportation of perfumes,
ointments, drugs and spices, such as Aegean alabastra
and pithoid jars, Cypriot and Levantine juglets,
also appear at that time (Sherratt and Sherratt 1991,
362363). Although the number of such containers
remains limited until the 15th century BC, their wide
distribution suggests the emergence of less formalized
exchange patterns in parallel with the palace-controlled
circulation of metals and luxuries.
Of course, the line between royal exchange and
informal barter is difficult to draw. Watrous has

recently proposed that this mixing of palatial and

non-palace controlled activities may have given rise to
new urban elites in Neopalatial harbour towns, who
claimed independent access to large-scale exchange
networks, eventually undermining the traditional
palatial hierarchy (Watrous 2007). His approach marks
a departure from traditional approaches to Neopalatial
Crete as a place of omnipresent palatial power, and
stimulates new insights into Minoan societies as living
organisms, where conflict of interests and even social
upheaval are conceivable (see, also, Hamilakis 2002).
The aforementioned shifts in the settlements pattern of
coastal Syria during the MBLB transition may provide
useful comparanda for Watrous approach.
Summing up, it is clear that maritime trac in the
Eastern Mediterranean brought new areas into the
international arena, mobilized previously unexploited
resources (e.g. metal ores) and created complex
economic and political inter-dependencies that were
constantly renegotiated. As a result, it aected not only
the centralized polities that participated directly in long
distance exchange, but also less developed societies
that were involved in local circuits, such as those in
the Cyclades, Mainland Greece and Cyprus.

The transformation of the system

Conditions, however, were soon to change. Most
Minoan and Cycladic centres were destroyed between
the end of the LM IA and the end of the LM IB
period (late 16thearly 15th centuries BC) by natural
causes, possibly associated with the Santorini volcanic
eruption, and never regained their earlier status. As a
result, Mycenaean polities extended their claims over
larger areas of the Aegean. In LM II/LH IIB (second
half of the 15th century BC) Knossos was probably
overtaken by Greek mainlanders, who maintained the
Minoan system of palatial administration, collecting
and redistributing huge amounts of grain and wool
(Dickinson 1994, 7376; Bennet 1990; Sherratt 2001,
228). Yet, evidence for overseas contacts in that
period is limited to a few sites only, suggesting that
the international spirit of the Neopalatial period had
faded out (Fig. 2.3).
In Cyprus, LC I is marked by disturbances and
the construction of fortresses in several parts of the
island, suggesting conditions of unrest. During LC
IIAB, however, most settlements flourish and show
increasing preoccupation with copper production
and metalworking. Systematic metal production and
the introduction of the Cypro-Minoan script in that
period suggest more complex social and economic
organization (Keswani 1996, 235236; Negbi 2005).

2. Peripheries versus cores


Figure 2.3 The distribution of oriental imports in secure LM II/LH IIBLM/LH IIIA1 contexts (after Cline 1994, tables 6368) [23 out
of 30 objects from Knossos come from LM II contexts; objects listed as LM/LH III or LM/LH IIIA not included].

Moreover, the mention of the king of Alashiya in

later (early 14th century BC) ocial correspondence
from Amarna and Ugarit indicates the presence of at
least one internationally recognized ruler on the island.
Contacts with the Levant were regular but the relations
with the Aegean remained rather limited until the
mid-15th century BC (Eriksson 2003, 420422).
In the Levant, the LB I period was one of severe
disturbance, owing to the revival of imperial powers
in Mesopotamia (Mitanni), Anatolia (Hittites) and
Egypt (XVIIIth dynasty). During the 16th and the
first half of the 15th centuries BC, the Syro-Palestinian
coast suered heavily from military conflicts and
occupation (Gonen 1992, 211216; Bourke 1993, 189
192; Kempinski 1997, 329). The MBA Syrian states
continued to exist but less tell sites were occupied
and rural populations congregated in urban centres,
such as Ugarit, to gain protection from interstate war
and raids from nomadic groups (Akkermans and
Schwartz 2003, 329, 333334). In Canaan, many MBA
sites were destroyed by Egyptian armies and the urban
fabric weakened dramatically (Gonen 1984). Evidence
for Mediterranean contacts is limited, although the
presence of some LH IIBIIIA1 Mycenaean vases

indicates that exchanges with the Aegean continued

after the collapse of Minoan palaces, albeit at a much
reduced pace (van Wngaarden 2002, 261).
It was only after Thuthmose IIIs victory over the
Mitanni in the mid-15th century BC that a more stable
status quo was established and conditions of peace
and security prevailed. Canaan remained under strict
Egyptian rule and urban life revived with small citystates developing in coastal valleys (Gonen 1984).
Western Syria became subservient initially to Egypt
and, following Suppiluliumas I campaigns in the
mid-14th century BC, to the Hittite Empire. Old palace
sites, such as Alalakh (IV) and Qatna, were destroyed
by the Hittites and the overall political structure
became more decentralized, with vassal city-states
constituting the basic political unit (Akkermans and
Schwartz 2003, 334).
In systemic terms, one would expect that the
reconsolidation of hegemonic power in core areas and
the restitution of overland access to regions rich in
metal resources would lay stress on maritime exchanges
even more so since written evidence suggests that
imperial states (when not at war) interacted among
themselves mainly through royal reciprocity, not


Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

trade (Zaccagnini 1987). Things, however, seem to

have worked in a rather dierent way. Apart from
the fact that the reciprocity thesis has been slightly
exaggerated (Liverani 1990, 218223), it is also possible
that the restoration of relative self-sufficiency in
core areas actually facilitated the transformation of
Mediterranean exchanges into a largely autonomous
commercial network at the later part of the LBA. A
long tradition of maritime trade had turned Ugarit
and perhaps other less investigated Levantine cities
into major sources of wealth, and neither their Hittites
overlords who were mainly interested in collecting
the annual tribute nor any other imperial power
had to lose from (or feel threatened by) their further
development (Bryce 2002, 87).
The changing nature of Mediterranean exchanges
can be perhaps best traced at Kommos, the most
important harbour of southern Crete. Here a wide
array of Levantine, Cypriot and Italian imports have
been found together in LM IIIA1 levels (early 14th
century BC) (Shaw 2004). This co-existence testifies
to the integration of a number of smaller circuits of
communication into a major EastWest sea route.
What is more, ceramic containers make up for a
considerable proportion of the imported assemblage,
clearly indicating the increasing importance of wine, oil
and other secondary agricultural products as significant
components of Mediterranean trade (Sherratt and
Sherratt 1991, 369).
Interestingly enough, this new EastWest sea route
almost bypassed the Aegean; Kommos and Knossos
are the only Aegean sites with large numbers of
imports in that period (Fig. 2.3). It is possible that one
of the motives behind this shift was the exploitation
of significant metal resources at Lipari and Sardinia
(Sherratt and Sherratt 1991, 370). This should remind
us that metals remained the real driving force behind
Mediterranean trade. Yet the appearance for the first
time of significant quantities of containers for liquids
or foodstuff indicates that the maritime network
gradually expanded to other commodities, too.

The late LBA

Mediterranean exchanges reached a climax in the
14th and 13th centuries BC. The Ulu Burun and
Cape Gelidonya wrecks, as well as numerous ocial
documents, confirm the enduring importance of metal
trade, with coastal Syria (mainly Ugarit) playing a
leading role as an articulation point between core
areas and the Mediterranean periphery.
Alongside metals, however, thousands of Mycenaean,
Cypriot and Levantine containers and drinking vessels

circulated now all over the Mediterranean coasts,

including Italy. Although their distribution was much
wider than that of metals and luxuries, they rarely
managed to penetrate inland Egypt, Anatolia or
inland Syria (Sherratt 1999, 171, 182; van Wngaarden
2002, 1622). A. and S. Sherratt have interpreted this
pattern as reflecting the development of a peripheral,
lower level network that addressed the consuming
and ideological needs of expanding urban subelites. Those elites, who most probably profited from
manufacture and trade, were highly competitive and
tried to emulate royal customs but in all probability had
no direct access to higher level circuits of exchange. The
Sherrats have also suggested that this was a contiguous
process that led to (and was fed by) the continuous
expansion of the network and the incorporation of
new resource-rich areas into it (Sherratt 1999, 184187;
Sherratt and Sherratt 2001, 2829).
This sophisticated model presupposes that maritime
trade was inherently linked with developed urban
polities in the fringes of major states. However from
the mid-14th century BC new elements appear into the
system that do not conform to that pattern.
The influx of Mycenaean pottery in Mediterranean
sites starts in earnest in LH IIIA2 that is concurrently
with the establishment of palatial complexes at
Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Thebes and Volos (van
Wngaarden 2002, 2022; Darcque 2005). Despite the
absence of references to trade activities in Linear B
tablets (Killen 1985, 262270), this can hardly be a
coincidence. It is well known that the economy of
the palace of Pylos was largely concerned with the
production of perfumed oil, and that many of the
exported Mycenaean vases in the Levant, Cyprus
and Italy were perfume containers (Shelmerdine
1985; van Wijngaarden 2002, 15, 269271). It has
been also demonstrated that in the late 14th and 13th
centuries BC large numbers of decorated drinking
vessels associated with wine consumption (mainly
kraters) were produced in the Argolid exclusively
for exportation to Cyprus and the Levant (Sherratt
1999, 166167).
Such large-scale manufacturing activities would not
be surprising for a long-established Levantine city, a
Minoan town or even a Cypriot emporium. Mainland
Greece, however, had neither previous experience
in centralized administration nor any kind of urban
tradition during the MBA and the early LBA. Some
indications of increasing social complexity are provided
by LH ILH IIB/IIIA1 tombs (Mee and Cavanagh 1984)
but such telling features of state organization as
palatial complexes, written documents, seals and large
public works (fortifications, roads, bridges, dams, etc.)
are only evident from LH IIIA2 onwards (Dickinson

2. Peripheries versus cores

1994, 7881; Darcque 2005, 374). Moreover, it seems
probable that even in the 13th century BC. Mycenaean
palace sites did not accommodate substantial numbers
of inhabitants; therefore, to call them urban and
make comparisons with Ugarit or Enkomi is rather
misleading. As far, we are not aware of even one
major Mycenaean harbour (although the ongoing
excavations at Korfos may change this picture, see
Pullen and Tartaron 2007), neither is there evidence
of a developed settlement hierarchy with secondorder towns. Written documents are strictly limited to
palatial sites, and the same is largely true for imports
(Cline 1994; Sherratt 2001, 214216; Cherry and Davis
2007, 123).
What can all these tell us about the integration of
Mycenaean Greece into the LBA world-system? It is
well known that Mycenaean polities emerged as highly
authoritative and exploitative agents of political power
within a brief period of time, perhaps by transplanting
to mainland Greece the most crucial features of Minoan
administration the Mycenaeans had learned during
their tenure as rulers of the Knossian palace in LM II
IIIA1 (Sherratt 2001, 228230). However, one of the vital
aspects of Cretan economy access to Mediterranean
exchange networks of metals and luxuries had
suered a serious blast after the Minoan collapse.
This is evident in the relative scarcity of oriental
imports in the Aegean and of Mycenaean exports in
the Levant in the LH IIB/IIIA1 period, and the shift
of sea-routes towards southern Crete (Kommos) and
the Central Mediterranean. Metals and luxuries,
however, were essential to the Mycenaeans not only for
economic purposes but also for establishing political
legitimization and control over the Aegean (as they
had also been for the Minoans several centuries earlier)
(Sherratt and Sherratt 2001, 2021). It is, therefore,
reasonable to assume that the emergence of Mycenaean
states in mainland Greece was inherently associated
with (or, even, presupposed) participation in the
Mediterranean exchange network.
Whether the Mycenaeans managed to participate
in that network by oering access to new resourcerich areas is not clear. After the Minoan collapse, the
polymetallic mines of Laurion were exploited by the
Mycenaeans, and S. Sherratt has suggested that the
location of Mycenaean palaces in Mainland Greece
was determined among others by their proximity
to sea-routes leading to metalliferous areas in Italy and
the north Aegean (Sherratt 2001, 226227).
We do believe, however, that the most convincing
evidence of a causal relation between trade and the
emergence of Mycenaean palace states derives from the
fact that the latter did not adopt the highly demanding
Knossian system of producing huge amounts of


agricultural surpluses for internal redistribution, but

instead chose to invest on cash-crops and animal
breeding for the specialized production of low-cost,
high-value secondary products, such as oil, wine and
textiles alongside good-quality decorated pottery and
a relatively small output of metal artefacts that were
highly convertible in an already active Mediterranean
trade network (Halstead 1992; Flouda 2006). Sherratt
and Dabney have independently suggested that
the Mycenaeans consciously adopted marketing
strategies (mainly ideological) to promote their
products in Cyprus and the Levant, a thesis which if
true would lend support to our hypothesis (Sherratt
2001, 187195; Dabney 2007).
Specialized economy, metal craft production and
ecient marketing strategies became key elements
for Mycenaean elites to negotiate their integration
into the Mediterranean world-system or at least the
periphery of that system, given the lack of evidence
for direct correspondence with Near Eastern kings
(with the exception of the few references in Hittite
letters) and the absence of Linear B documents from
cosmopolitan and multilingual Ugarit.
That the Mycenaean experiment was successful is
not only attested by the flourishing of Mainland polities
in the later part of the LBA but also by the replication
of the pattern in 13th century BC Cyprus.
LC IIC was a period of major urban development
and political consolidation in the island with new
coastal emporia being established at Kition and
Palaipaphos (Negbi 2005). Now, however, a new type
of administrative centre made its appearance in some
inland sites, such as Kalavassos-Agios Dimitrios and
Alassa-Paliotaverna. Although those centres are usually
associated with the exploitation of the Troodos copper
resources, their most salient features are the impressive
installations for the mass production and storage of
olive oil found within or next to megaron type palaces
(South 1998; Hadjisavvas 2003a). The excavator of
Kalavassos-Ag. Dimitrios has estimated that the huge
pithoi at Building X could store up to 50,000 litres
of olive oil. Such a volume was certainly neither for
internal consumption nor for local redistribution. If we
consider the contemporary evidence of increasing oil
production at Ugarit and other Levantine sites (Callot
1987) and the overall importance of (perfumed?) oil
consumption in late LBA societies (Hadisavvas 1992;
2003b), it seems probable that the Kalavassos output
was largely for exportation. Being quite dierent in
organization from Enkomi and other coastal emporia
that were dedicated to the production and trade of
raw copper and bronze artefacts, sites like Kalavassos
and Alassa may reflect the emergence of local elites
in LC IIC, who profited from participating in lower-


Nikolas Papadimitriou and Demetra Kriga

level exchanges (South 1998). As in Mycenaean Greece,

participation in those networks may have been the
raison d tre for such communities.

Canaanite chronology, see Kempinski 1992a; 1997;

Dever 1992; Bietak and Hflmayer 2007. For broad
Mediterranean correlations, see Figure 2.1 (absolute dates
are indicative and follow in general the low, historical

Concluding remarks
The above analysis has drawn on long-term developments in the Levant, Cyprus and the Aegean in order
to trace general trends in the mode of interaction
among peripheral or secondary states through
time. It has been suggested that the Mediterranean
exchange network developed in a period of political
decentralization in the Near East (the later part of
the Middle Bronze Age), when access to traditional
overland routes of metal circulation was disrupted,
and was thus primarily concerned with restoring the
supply of metals. Already from an early stage, however,
parallel, less formalized trading activities developed,
which were to evolve into a true commercial system
after the reconsolidation of power in core areas in the
LBA. Moreover, it has been proposed that while in its
earlier phases the network operated mostly on statelevel and only indirectly aected peripheral areas, in
the later part of the LBA it expanded considerably
and became much more flexible, involving directly
remote or less developed regions. In the former stage,
interaction brought about significant changes in the
political structure of existing states. In the latter stage,
however, it may even have instigated the creation of
new complex political entities that largely based their
existence on participation in this exchange system. This
may have been one of the reasons for the concurrent
collapse of palatial societies in the Mediterranean when
the system reached its limits around 1200 BC.
To test these hypotheses, it is necessary to move
beyond the inevitable generalizations and abstractions
used for the purposes of this overview, achieve much
more precise synchronizations among the various
Mediterranean regions, and study in further detail
not only consumption patterns (as reflected on the
distribution of exports) but also possible changes in
the modes of production in each area. It is hoped
that this paper has managed to outline some crucial
questions that need to be addressed in the future in
order to achieve a better understanding of the economic
aspects of the Eastern Mediterranean-Near Eastern
world-system in the Late Bronze Age.

1 Syrian MBA chronology as defined broadly in Matthiae
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Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations
on the Middle Bronze Age
Maria Emanuela Alberti

The Aegean trade systems throughout history:
a synthetic view
The present work is a part of a wider program, aiming
at sketching a general outline of the history of Aegean
trade, or, better, a tentative reconstruction of the role
of trade systems in the historical developments of
the Bronze Age (BA) Aegean.1 Some general and
methodological considerations are proposed and
then, after a short presentation of the largely studied
and debated Early Bronze Age evidence, the analysis
focuses on the Middle Bronze Age, a period less
investigated under this point of view.
Historical and cultural changes arise from the
interaction between internal factors and developments
on one hand and external inputs and influences on the
other hand. Trade systems both at international and
at a local level are essential in this view, and can be
considered one of the best sources for the interpretation
and reconstruction. Trade networks have strongly
influenced social and economic trajectories in various
periods and areas, and, along with primary (staple)
production, constituted the backbone of the growing
Aegean economies (e.g. Knapp 1998; Sherratt 1999;
Sherratt and Sherratt 1991; 1998; Broodbank 2000; 2004;
Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007; Melas 2009).
In a more eective manner, when looking at the
Aegean itself, we could speak of a multi-directional
and multi-level complex system made up of dierent
cores and peripheries, circuits and routes variously
interrelated within each phase.2 What must be stressed
here, is that various Aegean societies could not have
existed independently: in each period, all Aegean areas

are strongly linked, and important historical realities

such as the Early Helladic (EH) Corridor House
societies, or the Middle Helladic (MH) commercial
power of Aegina, not to speak of palatial Crete and the
Mainland, could not be understood without looking at
the global Aegean system and its links with external
The present work aims to stress the existence of
both some recurrent, structural elements and varying
assets in the history of the trade systems in the Bronze
Age Aegean. Recurrent elements are: importance of
geography and resource distribution; structural link
with local trajectories (primary economy, settlement
pattern and social organization of various areas
and periods); interaction and hybridization as a
fundamental mean of shaping culture and society. The
combination of these elements results in the variation
of trading circuits through time (see infra).
The analysis and reconstruction work suggests a
general framework of development trajectories, which
are summarized here. While sketching a broad picture
of Aegean history during the Bronze Age, two major
chronological cycles can be detected, on the basis
of demography, cultural continuity and economic
patterns: the first one encompassing the Early Bronze
Age (EB) I and EB II, the second one starting at the
end of the EBA and lasting until Late Bronze (LB)
IIIC Middle. Between these two cycles, important
transformations occur during EBIII. Trading systems
roughly follow such a partition with some internal
variations due to the rise and demise of palatial
polities first in Crete and then on the Mainland.
Important modifications appear in LBIIIC Middle.
Crete, in particular, seems to play in a dierent way

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age
from the other Aegean actors, combining a diuse
trading activity with more directional initiatives in
strategic key-points of the circuits, from its advanced
Pre-palatial period (see infra).
In the first cycle, even with conspicuous changes
throughout the period, the trading system appears
to have been structured as a complex network of
interconnections between the East and West (from
Troy to Lerna and from western Greece to the Adriatic
regions), with a number of peer-ranked hubs, each
one commanding a defined and inhabited land and
seascape: after a first phase, Crete seems somehow
separated from the rest of the Aegean and interacts
with it on a dierent basis. In the second cycle, the
full linkage with palatial Crete gives the system a
gravitational core and a more directional structure:
trade activities are carried out through segmented
geographical circuits, mainly northsouth oriented
(dendritic systems), by a restricted number of major
leading centres, while other sites and areas play a
decidedly more secondary role. The network survives,
but it increasingly shows a core and a direction, and
an extraordinary expansion capacity. In this way,
the system involves progressively wider regions
(the northern and western Mainland, the central
Mediterranean) and interface on an increasing basis
with the Mediterranean routes, acquiring strength.
An important step is the structural connection with
external foci of economic growth, such as the western
Mediterranean and Cyprus, which gives the system an
external support in case of internal trouble (e.g. at the
end of the palatial organization), but also exposes it to
the consequences of overseas crisis (e.g. the problematic
transitions between Late Cypriot IIIA and IIIB). The
final relocation of the core to the Mainland and the
increasing importance of western involvement cause
an important northern shifting of the main circuits
at the close of the Mycenaean palatial era, an asset
which continues even later. Indeed, the collapse of
Mycenaean (and Levantine, to a lesser extent) palatial
administration, even though aecting in various ways
the trade system(s), in no way stopped it: with some
changes, involving mainly the insular world, and
perhaps a reduced intensity, trade interactions will
continue on the same paths until the end of the cycle
(e.g. Knapp 1998; Sherratt 1999; Sherratt and Sherratt
1991; 1998; Broodbank 2000; 2004; Broodbank and
Kiriatzi 2007; Melas 2009).
According to the most recent scholarship, it is hereby
assumed that various trading levels and modalities
coexisted in the Aegean and the Mediterranean during
the Bronze Age, with a large part of the exchange
carried out outside the ocial system of gift exchange
and administrated trade. Palatial, elitarian, attached,


independent, and private trade entrepreneurships

acted alongside each other, in parallel ways, with
various degree of co-participation, combination and
independence. On the basis of both Near Eastern
written sources and the Mediterranean archaeological
records, trade relationships seem to have been too
complicated and articulated to undergo schematization
or formalization, unless case by case (e.g. Salsano 1994;
Zaccagnini 1994; Sherratt 1998; 1999; Milano and Parise
2003; Zaccagnini 2003; Storia del denaro; Clancier et
al. 2005; Parise 2005; Peyronel 2008; Routledge and
McGeough 2009; Alberti 2011).
The present attempt will necessarily presuppose the
most popular interpretative issues, such as a systemic
approach, world-system theory, interaction spheres,
secondary state formation, polarities between gradual
evolution vs punctuated equilibrium and between
hierarchy vs heterarchy (and related terms), and
connectivity, identity, acculturation, and hybridization
phenomena: all elements which are widely used and
full discussed by other contributions in the present
volume and which therefore will not be treated at
great length here.3 Debate within Aegean scholarship
has in recent years abandoned strong theoretical
schematism(s) to welcome more nuanced and multifaceted, open-solution approaches.4

Geography and resources

The history of trade in the Aegean has been largely and
variously aected by the geographical conformation
of the area. The study of winds and stream patterns
has outlined the dierences between the northern
and southern Aegean, and therefore their natural
division (Fig. 3.1).5 This is a key factor in Aegean
history, as the two areas had always followed dierent
trajectories, with repercussions on the trading and
interaction patterns of various periods. In both areas,
interconnections followed local circuits, which were
stable throughout history and interfaced with one
another, thus allowing the circulation of people, goods
and ideas through a chain of segmented steps. Some
major crossing routes assured stronger connections.
In the northern Aegean, the most important and local
circuits and routes are located in the Pagasetic gulf
(interfacing with the Euboea and southern routes), the
Magnesia plain and the Chalkidiki, the routes linking
Samothrace, Gkeada/Imbros, Lemnos, Bozcaada/
Tenedos (the Northern Crescent, i.e. Boulotis 2009),
Dardanelles, Troy and Lesbos, Lesbos, Chios and the
Anatolian coast, Chios, Samos and the Anatolian coast
(interfacing with the southern routes). The northern
Sporades function as a bridge for the western routes
to Lemnos and the eastern circuits. The island of


Maria Emanuela Alberti

Figure 3.1 Principal maritime circuits and sea-routes in the Aegean (modified from Papageorgiou 2008 b, fig. 4) (ill. M. E. Alberti and
G. Merlatti).

Lemnos has a pivot role in the area, being located at the

crossroads of both northsouth and eastwest routes.
Interactions between the eastern Aegean islands and
Anatolian coasts were especially important (the Upper
The connection between the northern and southern
circuits passed through Euboea, the northern Cyclades
(Andros, Tinos and Mykonos), Ikaria and Samos.
In the southern Aegean, the most important and
localized circuits link the southern Peloponnese
with western Crete through Kythera, Attica with
central Crete through the central Cyclades (Western
String, i.e. Davis 1979) and eastern Crete with
the south-western Anatolian coasts through Kasos,
Karpathos and Rhodes (Eastern String, i.e. Niemeier
1984). Circuits centred on the central Cyclades are
especially important and autonomous, with Keos,
Thera and Amorgos as entry points. The island
bridges connecting the central Aegean and south-

western Anatolia (Ikaria and Samos, Amorgos and

Kos, Karpathos and Rhodes) delimit the area of major
interaction between Aegean and Anatolian societies,
with important consequences on trading and cultural
phenomena (Lower Interface).
Exit routes from the Aegean go out from the
Dardanelles to the Pontus and Danube, from Rhodes
to Cyprus and the Levant and from western Crete
through Messenia and the western Peloponnese to the
Adriatic and the Ionian sea. The most external and far
reaching route is the long route connecting Cyprus,
Rhodes, southern Crete and southern Sicily.
Other sea-routes and circuits of special importance
are the Euboean Gulf, the Saronic Gulf, the Corinthian
Gulf, the Gulf of Argos and the route connecting
them through Corinthia and the Argolid and through
The location of resources is also fundamental.
Globally, the Aegean contributed to the Mediterranean

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age
trading system with typical Mediterranean products,
such as oil (and derivative products), wine, sheepwool (and derivatives) and purple-dye. Crucial for the
economic and trading developments was the presence
of metal ores and valuable stones in various Aegean
locations: Laurion in Attica (copper and lead/silver),
Siphnos (lead/silver and copper), Kythnos (copper),
Melos (obsidian and andesite), Naxos (marble and
emery), Paros (marble), Thera (andesite), Laconia
(rosso antico and lapis lacedaemonius). With the possible
exception of Laconia, all of these sources were already
used in EBI, if not before. Along with maritime and
geographical constraints, was this distribution of
resources which shaped major trading routes and made
the Laurion Western String Crete connection so
Through history, trading circuits and geographical
segmentation were crucial for local trajectories, strongly
aecting the character and dynamics of each regional
area. The geographical sectors and trading routes
outlined above were one of the structural elements
of the Aegean Bronze Age: each region had its own
particular identity which developed according to
constant local characteristics and constraints. Bronze
Age Aegean history(ies) and culture(s) is in large
part the history of the interaction of these regional
identities and areas.

Internal/External factors and Staple/Wealth

economies: elements for a trade system
Trading involvement and increasing complexity are
strictly linked in the history of societies, as underlined
in secondary state formation studies. An articulated
trade system is the outcome of various trajectories
followed by the involved societies, where a complex
of internal and external factors coexist, combining
elements of both staple and wealth economy:
agricultural colonization of previous marginal lands
or reorganization of the agricultural system; economic
centralization and mobilization; social diversification
(both horizontal and vertical); large-scale production
(transformation of agro-pastoral products and/or craft
activity); multi-level import-export systems, including
specialized local productions, and hybridization,
imitation and international products (see below);
transcultural phenomena (technology, craftwork,
administration, architecture, language, ideology,
religion, etc.) (e.g. Renfrew 1972; Cherry 1983; 1984;
1986; Sherratt and Sherratt 1991; Branigan 1995; 2001;
Haggis 2002; Schoep 2002; 2006; Schoep and Knappett
2004; Watrous et al. 2004, 261276; Whitelaw 2004
a; Whitely 2004; Parkinson and Galaty 2007 with
references; Manning 2008).


In particular, the attested range of traded products

generally includes:
A. raw materials or primary products: mineral ore,
valuable stones, cereals, resins, spices, wool, etc.
In general terms, these constitute the bulk of the
globally traded commodities, but are unfortunately
the less traceable in the archaeological record.
B. specialized products: transformed raw materials
or primary products with added value (wine, oil,
perfumes, textiles, purple-dye and metal ingots),
medium-value/low bulk craft products (simple
bronzes and especially decorated or specialized
pottery, ideally made for a middle-class or subelite) and high-value/low bulk manufactured
products (jewellery, ivories, inlaid furniture, metal
vases, etc., ideally made for an elite target and
typically used for gift exchange transactions).
In most cases, the products with added value are
realized with imported material (metal, stone,
ivory, etc.).
It should be stressed that imports can be both similar
to and dierent from the products and goods locally

Connectivity: transculturation and

The review of the archaeological evidence suggests
that both local products and imports are generally
heavily influenced by the fashion or stylistic language
of the period, thus testifying to various degrees of
imitation, selection, modification, appropriation,
hybridization and reverberation (see infra). One should
expect to find side-by-side in the same place along the
trade network, local products, fashionable imports,
local products copying the imports, local products
imitating, absorbing or modifying the external fashion/
technology, products of hybrid character, and other
imports from other places which themselves imitate
the periods fashion, etc.
It comes as no surprise that the most important and
successful trade centres of the various periods often
develop not only their own typical export classes, based
on local tradition or local resources, but also specialized
productions based on the fashion of the time, which
generally reach a wide distribution and are one of
the keys to their trading success: this is the case, for
example, of the various Minoanizing and Minyanizing
wares of MBA, and of the LBIIIAB Cypro-Mycenaean
and Italo-Mycenaean pottery.6
The ultimate manifestation of these globalizing tendencies are the international classes of products, which
are realized along similar stylistic and technological


Maria Emanuela Alberti

patterns in various parts of the Mediterranean and

are generally related to conspicuous consumption and
prestige exchange, direct material manifestation of the
elite brotherhood and shared codes (and specialists):
ivories, seals, metal vases, jewellery, precious weapons,
In a broader sense, these are the material correlations
of wider cultural phenomena generally affecting
historical development: connectivity shapes the cultural
change process. The successive transformations among
societies or the rise of new culture identities result
both from socio-economic factors and from complex
dynamics of hybridization. This may seem to be an
obvious statement, but, as far as the Bronze Age
Aegean is concerned, it should be underlined that
Cycladic identities and societies, Mycenaean polities,
Early Minoan and Mycenaean Crete are especially
shaped by connectivity.
According to the successive scholarly trends of
our times, these phenomena of cultural and social
change have been largely debated and variously
interpreted. As no exception to the rule, in recent
years (e.g. Melas 1991; Schallin 1993; Broodbank 2004;
Berg 2007; Horizon 2008; Macdonald et al. 2009, but
see already Rutter 1979) and in the present work,
transformations in the material assemblages are
interpreted mainly as cultural phenomena, with no
easily detectable political or social correlations, arising
from a complex blending of local past traditions and
new influences or fashions and varying from place to
place: the emphasis is on particularities, continuity,
hybridity and identity construction/negotiation, rather
than on general, disruption and complete assimilation
(see infra the discussion on Minoanization and note
7). It is commonly understood that the underlying
element is the movement of people, other than ideas,
and that the Aegean has been for centuries (and still
is) a highly interconnected world, with phenomena
of osmosis. Though real migrations are at present
excluded from the scholarly debate, continuous fluxes
of people are to be supposed at the basis of the evident
connectivity and trasculturality. And the eective
relocation of small groups of people or the presence
of enclaves well after the initial colonization of the
region seems quite a logical correlation (e.g. Melas
2009; Warren 2009 with references; see also note 7).
Traders, explorers, travellers, specialists, diplomats,
soldiers, mercenaries and settlers made the Aegean
what it was and is today.
However, it is clear that there is, for each period, a
dominant fashion, a material cultural assemblage that
spreads in the various Aegean areas, with dierent
results each time. And this is the package issued
from the region which has in that particular phase

the strongest economy and the most developed

trading means (see e.g. Sherratt and Sherratt 1991;
1998; Broodbank 2000; 2004; and especially Melas
2009). From the beginning of EBA, the Cyclades
were the most active and trade involved societies,
and thus the international fashion was mainly
Cycladic or Cycladizing. During EBIIB, the important
trading connection with western Anatolia gave an
impulse to an Anatolianizing wave, mixed with the
previous style. In the formative period of MBIII,
regionalism was the rule, with a conspicuous amount
of interconnections, combinations and hybridization;
however, the emerging power of palatial Crete fostered
the progressive diusion of Minoan and Minoanizing
fashions, which became stronger and more widespread
during the successive Neopalatial period (MBIIILBI).
The development of Mycenaean societies, on the
other hand, contributed to the first popularity of
Mycenaean elements already at the end of LBI, and
then brought about the Mycenaeanization of the entire
southern Aegean during LBIIIII. While all of these
phenomena related to the material culture can be
considered chronologically limited and linked to the
successive emergence of some regional power, they are
however strictly connected to each other, and create
a form of continuous osmosis, deeply underlying
Aegean transformations. As a result, each new wave
propagated more widely and consistently, until the
almost pan-Aegean Mycenaean koine, and Aegean
cultures acquired their own particular blend, dierent
from those of other Mediterranean worlds.

Phases of trade system(s) patterns: EBA and

The eastwest network: Cycladization and the
first glimpse of Levatinization (EBI and II)
Early Bronze Age trading systems has been widely
investigated and will be therefore addressed only
shortly here (e.g. Renfrew 1972; Barber 1987; Poliochni
1997; Broodbank 2000; Rambach 2000; Davis 2001;
Rahmstorf 2006a; 2006b; Day and Doonan 2007;
Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007; Horizon 2008). During
the EBA, sea travels were conducted by paddled
canoes and longboats. Because of that, the Aegean was
linked to Near Eastern civilizations mainly through
western Anatolia and the eastern Aegean bridge of
islands. The Cyclades therefore played a central role
in the intermediation between the Helladic Mainland
and Anatolian coasts. Even with major changes
throughout the period, as recalled above, the trading
system appears to have been structured as a complex

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age
network of interconnections between east and west
(from Troy to Lerna), with a number of peer-ranked
hubs (each one commanding a defined and inhabited
land- seascape), and an appendix leading to Crete,
which is somehow separated from the rest of the
Aegean and interacts with it at a dierent pace. Within
the network, material culture (pottery, metallurgy,
jewellery, weighing systems, etc.) is largely shared and
develops along the same fashion patterns, which are
strongly influenced by the Cycladic assemblages of
various phases. Thus, the spreading of Cycladica in
the Aegean is represented by a wide range of imports,
imitations, modifications, selections and hybridizations
(e.g. Papadatos 2007; Pantelidou Gofa 2008).


The Cycladic network had some important bridgeheads both on the Mainland and in Crete (Fig.
3.2): settlements where the Cycladic culture is well
represented along with local traditions both in
settlement and funerary assemblages and which
therefore can be viewed as ports of trade or gateway
communities with an important nucleus of Cycladic
residents and/or with strong ties with the Cycladic
world. On the Mainland, these are situated at keylocations in Attica (where Laurion mines were already
exploited), at Ayios Kosmas and Tsepi Marathonos,
and Euboea, at Manika (close to northern sea-routes
and Boeotian agricultural hinterland); in Crete, they
are on the north coast, at the terminal of the central

Figure 3.2 EBA. Mainland Corridor House sites, Cycladizing sites and the Cycladic circuit (ill. M.E. Alberti and G. Merlatti).


Maria Emanuela Alberti

Aegean network and close to the important and longstanding centre of Knossos (Poros Katsambas, Pyrgos
Cave, Gouves), and towards the routes leading further
east (Ayia Photia, which is the only example where
Cycladic material is overwhelming) (Day and Doonan
2007; Dimopoulou-Rethemiotaki et al. 2007; Wilson et
al. 2008; Horizon 2008).
On the Helladic Mainland, settlement expansion also
in coastal locations points to an increased importance
of trade involvement. Even if essentially agriculturalbased, Early Helladic societies acted as powerful
receptors and multipliers of the net, importing and
exporting, and giving to the trade system one of its
best raisons dtre. The coastal and island location of
many of the important sites is very notable: Corridor
Houses sites such as Akovitika (Messenia), Lerna
(Argolid), Kolonna (Aegina), to which also Tiryns with
the Rundbau has to be added (Argolid), are strictly
connected to maritime networks and to the Cycladic
circuits and related ports of trade (see especially the
mirroring sites of Kolonna/Ayios Kosmas) (Fig. 3.2)
(e.g. Forsn 1992; Rutter 2001 with references; AlramStern 2004; Wright 2004; Kouka 2008; Pullen 2008 with
On the other hand, Early Minoan (EM) Crete seems
to have been more isolated, given its distance from
the Anatolian coast and from other islands, and it
took no part in the Eastern Mediterranean Interactive
Spheres of ECIIB. Not surprisingly, the best evidence
of trading contacts with the Levant and the rest of
the Aegean comes from the north coast (Mochlos,
especially during EMIIB, and Knossos), while probable
Egyptian influences can be detected on the south coasts
(the Messara, Ayio Pharango valley, etc.), especially
from the very end of the period; on the connecting
route, mixed elements can be detected (Archanes)
(e.g. Driessen 2001; Cunningham 2001; Watrous 2001;
Day and Wilson 2002 with references; Haggis 2002;
Cunningham and Driessen 2004; Schoep and Knappett
2004; Watrous et al. 2004; Whitelaw 2004a; Rahmstorf
2006a; 2006b; Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007; Papadatos
2007; Betancourt 2008a; Carter 2008; Colburn 2008;
Manning 2008; Phillips 2008; Wilson 2008).
A particular circuit was active since the beginning
of this phase between the southern Peloponnese and
western Crete via Kythera (Broodbank and Kiriatzi
Phases of development: EBIII, EBIIA, EBIIB
The south-Aegean trading system seems to be articulated in three phases during EBIII, mostly following the
transformations of the Cycladic circuits (Renfrew 1972;
Barber 1987; Broodbank 2000; Broodbank and Kiriatzi
2007; Horizon 2008) (Fig. 3.3). In the EB I Advanced the

Cycladic network expands during the Kampos period

(ECIII), with major centres in the Kouphounissia, and
Cycladizing communities/ports of trade appearing
on the Mainland and northern Crete. The second
phase represents the classical International Spirit
phase (EBII Mature), with the typical Keros-Syros
assemblage (ECIIA) and the network of peer-ranked
leading centres in key locations, from Troy to Akovitika
(in the central Aegean, Ayia Irini II at Keos, Grotta
at Naxos, Chalandriani at Syros, Daskaleio-Kavos
at Keros and Skarkos at Ios are the most important
communities). During this phase, Cretan Cycladizing
centres are abandoned, with the exception of Poros,
whose character, however, seems to change from a
Cycladizing settlement/enclave to a Minoan port of
trade (the port of Knossos) (Dimopoulou-Rethemiotaki
et al. 2007; Wilson et al. 2008). This phenomenon
has been connected to the progressive structuring
of Minoan societies during EMIIA (Broodbank and
Kiriatzi 2007). Interconnection reaches the apex during
the the third phase (EBII Late), with the increased
involvement of south-western Anatolia: in the final
phase of the period, a wider international package
was circulating through the Eastern Mediterranean
Interactive Spheres from Syria and Anatolia through
the Cyclades to the Helladic Mainland, with articulated
phenomena of imitations, selection and hybridization
(Rahmstorf 2006a; 2006b; Psaraki 2007; Angelopoulou
2008 with references; Gale and Stos-Gale 2008 with
references). Quite interestingly, Crete remains apart
from these developments. It has been suggested that
this apparent separation of Crete from the central
Aegean circuits reflects a dierent approach adopted
by Minoan elites, aiming at the direct procurement
of resources with mining or trading expeditions,
bypassing the islanders intermediation: the Minoan
presence at Kythera, dating to this phase, can be
hypothetically ascribed to this kind of approach (see
e.g. Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007; Carter 2004; 2008;
Wilson 2008).

The entry of Crete (EBIIIMBI Early): the

network is modified
This is a phase of major transformation throughout
the Aegean, involving various areas and regions in
dierent ways (e.g. Broodbank 2000; Rutter 2001;
Manning 2008 with references; Wright 2008 with
references). As for trade, it is the onset of the circuits
and route system(s) which will last until the end of
the Late Bronze Age. Among the elements contributing
to the transformations there are climatic factors (some
centuries of drought attested in eastern Africa and
the eastern Mediterranean), whose consequences

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age


Figure 3.3 EBA. Variations of trade patterns within the EW networks (modified from Broodbank 2000, fig. 106) (ill. M.E. Alberti and
G. Merlatti).

probably varied conspicuously among the aected

areas (Halstead and Frederick 2003; Watrous et al. 2004,
266267; Moody 2005a; 2005b; 2009 with references;
Rosen 2007; Rohling et al. 2009), and the increased
eect of some technological innovations, such as the
use of sailing boats in seafare and of donkeys for land
transport, which completely changed the time and
scale of transportation. In particular, sail boats brought
late prepalatial Crete closer to the rest of the Aegean
and the eastern Mediterranean (e.g. Broodbank 2000
with references; Brodie 2008).
The complete and not mediate linkage of Crete
with the Aegean was a major component in the

scenario which was taking place in this phase, heavily

conditioning successive developments. The trade
network of peer-ranked hubs began to be disrupted,
with a gravitational core taking progressive shape
in its south, while new stronger links tie Crete with
Kythera and the southern Peloponnese (Minoanizing
material) (e.g. Broodbank 2000; Broodbank and
Kiriatzi 2007).
At the beginning of the period, both the Mainland
and islands endure a severe crisis. On the Mainland,
the eects are stronger, but some sites continue and
will constitute the centres of interconnections during
Middle Helladic (MH) (Ayios Stephanos in Laconia,


Maria Emanuela Alberti

Lerna in Argolid, Kolonna in Aegina, etc.) (e.g.

Forsn 1992; Rutter 1995; 2001; Wright 2004 and 2008;
Felten et al. 2007; Taylour and Janko 2008). Quite
interestingly, the EHIII pottery assemblage seems
to be a typically hybrid product, in various ways
(and dierent areas) developing the combination
of EH tradition and Anatolianizing features which
characterized the late phase of EHIIB (e.g. Rutter 1995;
Psaraki 2007; Angelopoulou 2008 with references;
Rambach 2008).
In the islands, the picture is more variable, but a
major consequence is the general tendency towards
nucleation, with one major centre growing up in the
larger islands: a progressive phenomenon continuing
into the MBA and probably fostered by the new
transportation means (e.g. Phylakopi I.iiiii). In this
period the transition from the networked hubs to a
dendritic chain of a few large trading settlements takes
place, with evidence of many coexisting strategies
(Barber 1987; Broodbank 2000; Whitelaw 2004b; 2005
with references; Renfrew 2007).
Throughout Crete, after an initial phase of
disruption, dierent trajectories of development are
detectable in the large agricultural plains (conspicuous
nucleation in major centres and first large buildings
under the later palaces) and other areas (developing
according to various patterns and a slower pace,
especially north-eastern Crete) (e.g. Driessen 2001;
Cunningham 2001; Watrous 2001; Cunningham and
Driessen 2004; Watrous et al. 2004; Whitelaw 2004a;
Manning 2008; Wilson 2008). The increasing evidence
for contacts with the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt
in the tombs of southern Crete in this phase should
be emphasized: a sign of the possibilities open by
the new transportation means and a foreshadowing
of the future Cretan involvement in the long route
(e.g. Watrous 2001 with references; Colburn 2008 with
references; Phillips 2008). Middle Minoan (MM) IA
pottery begins to be documented in the Cyclades,
attesting to the new trading deal (e.g. Nikolakopoulou
2007; 2009 with references, Nikolakopoulou et al.
2008). Agricultural development, climatic diculties,
increasing horizontal and vertical social complexity
and competition, nucleation tendency, new trading
scale and opportunities combine, in most recent
studies, both long-lasting (i.e. evolution) and punctual
(i.e. revolution) factors in the explanation of palatial state
formation in particular areas of Crete (e.g. Renfrew
1972; Cherry 1983; 1984; 1986; Sherratt and Sherratt
1991; Branigan 1995; 2001; Haggis 2002; Schoep 2002;
2006; Schoep and Knappett 2004; Watrous et al. 2004,
261276; Whitelaw 2004 a; Whitely 2004; Parkinson
and Galaty 2007; Manning 2008).

Systems of SN circuits (MBIII). Regional

patterns and the first dynamics of Minoanization.
The increasing evidence for the long route
The Middle Bronze Age is a sort of a formative
period, an intense laboratory, in which the premises
of all following BA phases are defined: identities and
polities emerge through reciprocal negotiation and
intense interaction; local and regional powers establish
their influence (e.g. Broodbank 2000; Watrous 2001;
Rutter 2001; Felten et al. 2007; Mesohelladika). From a
climatic point of view, from the beginning of MBA, a
period of more favourable conditions and increased
moisture seems to have taken hold; these will last,
with some variations, until the first phases of the LBA,
and constitute the background for a range of crucial
developments, especially the intensification of economic
activities in general, and agriculture in particular, in
palatial Crete (Halstead and Frederick 2003; Watrous
et al. 2004, 266267; Moody 2005a; 2005b; 2009 with
references; Rosen 2007; Rohling et al. 2009).
Contrasting trends
Two contrasting tendencies seem to coexist: on
the one hand, there are strong regional patterns,
based on coherent regional foci, which are the
development of the previous peer-ranked hubs, but
which now have a clearer geographic definition and
increasing inequalities. In particular, the structuring
of cultural identities and localized trading circuits
can be detected in the following areas: central
Mainland, north-eastern, southern and western
Peloponnese, Aegina, central Cyclades, southern
Dodecanese, Crete, Pagasetic Gulf and Chalkidiki
(e.g. Broodbank 2000; Watrous 2001; Rutter 2001;
Felten et al. 2007; Mesohelladika). On the other hand,
the increasing influence of proto-palatial Crete fosters
the progressive structuring of three main southnorth
dendritic circuits in the southern Aegean: the Crete
Kythera southern Peloponnese route, the Western
String (connecting Crete to Attica through the central
Cyclades) and the Eastern String (connecting Crete
to the Dodecannese through Kasos, Karpathos and
Rhodes) (e.g. Broodbank 2000; 2004 with references)
(Fig. 3.4). Crete is indeed now fully linked to the
rest of the Aegean and to the Levant, and, with its
impressive ecological, agricultural, demographic and
social stock imposes itself as a major actor within the
Aegean system. As a matter of fact, Crete acts as a
filter between the Aegean and the Mediterranean
external connection (e.g. Sherratt and Sherratt 1991;
Broodbank 2000; 2004).
Some major strategic options which emerge during
this phase can be viewed as somehow connected to

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age


Figure 3.4 MBA. Principal circuits and routes in the Aegean: the NS dendritic system (ill. M.E. Alberti and G. Merlatti).

the existence of this gravitational core of the system as

well as to the new increased Mediterranean projection:
that is, the increasing importance of the Laurion mines,
with, as the same time, the decreasing importance of
the Cycladic ores, as well as the general adoption of
bronze metallurgy, which implies a structural link
with the Mediterranean routes for the supply of tin
(e.g. Day and Doonan 2007; Gale and Stos-Gale 2008
with references).
Minoan influence seems to be a gradual, multifaceted and highly variable phenomenon, attested
earlier and in a stronger manner at Kythera, in the
southern Cyclades (i.e. MMIA Minoan pottery at

Akrotiri, Thera) as well as on Kasos and Karpathos; it

seems to start later and to be more variegated in the
northern (Ayia Irini, Keos) and western (Phylakopi,
Melos) Cyclades, and even more diverse and variable
in the eastern Aegean.7 Indeed, most of the phenomena
traditionally linked to the so-called Minoanization can
be traced back to this phase, including the possible
presence, among the wide range of contact evidence,
of more directional and substantial Minoan initiatives
directed towards strategic locations, especially at
the articulation points of the sea-circuits: Kythera,
Trianda on Rhodes, Miletus in Caria and Samothrace
(e.g. Warren 2009). The rise of the Aeginetan power


Maria Emanuela Alberti

is due both to the strategic location of the island, at

the intersection of various circuits, and to the tradeoriented economy of its society, which produces
and imitates specialized pottery for exportation on a
considerable scale (e.g. Niemeier 1995; Lindblom 2001;
Felten 2009 with references). If ever a core-peripherymargin perspective had to be adopted for the Aegean, it
is in this phase: Crete would be the core, the Cyclades
and Aegina dynamic peripheries, and the Mainland
areas a highly dierentiated margin (e.g. Sherratt and
Sherratt 1991, Sherratt 1993).
On the Mediterranean side, relationships with
Egypt and Levant become increasingly evident: the
mentions of Kaptara/Kaphtor in Near Eastern sources
of the period (especially Mari, end of the XIX century
and XVIII century BCE), the distribution of Minoan
and Minoanizing artefacts overseas as well as of NearEastern imports in the Aegean underline both the
role of filter played now by Crete and the existence
of a long route from Syria to Cyprus, Crete and
Egypt. Minoan fresco techniques and iconography
are widespread within the eastern Mediterranean,
dictating a new fashion code, variously adopted
and declined by local elites and artists (e.g. Alalakh,
Mari, Tell Kabri): a significant transcultural (and
hybridization) phenomenon, probably based to some
extent on the presence of travelling artisans.8
Pottery production and trade activities
These two contrasting trends regional dynamics and
increasing Minoan influence are clearly illustrated by
pottery production and distribution (e.g. Zerner 1986;
1993; Zerner et al. 1993; Nordquist 1995; Lindblom
2001; Felten et. al. 2007; Rutter 2007; Mesohelladika).
Aegean MB fine wares can be roughly grouped in
three major classes: various types of interconnected
Dark Burnished and Matt Painted Wares are produced
in the Mainland, at Aegina and in the Cyclades (with
Mainland Matt-Painted possibly being of later date
than the others and inspired by the Aeginetan and
Cycladic influences), while the Minoan production
follows its own path, and is known outside of Crete
especially for the Kamares and derived types. At the
same time, local variability is an important factor:
each major site has its own particular production
in the frame of the most popular classes. Moreover,
and this is extraordinary important for the present
discussion, various sites are often imitating the
particular productions of other sites or regions,
especially the central Mainland Grey Minyan, the
Cycladic Cycladic White, the Aeginetan Matt-Painted
and the Minoan Kamares, thus leading to a plethora
of Minyanising and Minoanizing productions (see
Warren in Felten et al. 2007, 361; Sarri 2010b; Spencer

2010), of which the Minoanizing classes of Aegina or

the Red Loustrous from southern Peloponnese/Kythera
are only the most famous examples (e.g. Felten et al.
2007 with references; Taylour and Janko 2008). Major
centres are apparently engaged in a well-established
pottery production, on considerable scale, intended
both for local consumption and external trade: the
appearance of potters mark systems at various
sites (Ayia Irini, Phylakopi, Kolonna and Malia;
potters marks are present also on the Red Lustrous
production) reflects the necessary repercussions on
the work-organization (e.g. Overbeck and Crego
2008; Renfrew 2007; Lindblom 2001; Poursat 2001;
Poursat and Knappett 2005). Without surprise, the
most important production sites are located at the
interface between southern Aegean and Helladic
Mainland (Aegina and Red Loustrous production
area): a fact which underlines the intensity of the
economic interaction in the fringe and the vitality of the
Mainland markets (Zerner 1993). In this framework,
Minoanizing productions appear more as one market
option among a variegated range of products than a
mark of cultural influence. All these classes are then
widely and intensively exchanged, both within and
outside the closer regional circuits: this is clear for
example in the central Cyclades, where the evidence
from various sites shows trade relations at a local level
(pottery exchanged between Melos, Thera, Naxos,
Thera, etc.) as well as through a wider Aegean area
(imports from the Mainland, Aegina, Crete and the
Dodecannese) (e.g. Crego 2007; Nikolakopoulou 2007;
Renfrew 2007). The same is true for other important
sites, such as Lerna and Kolonna (Aegina) (e.g. Zerner
1993; Felten 2007; Gau and Smetana 2010).
Crete and the Eastern String
In Crete, the protopalatial era is marked by an intense
marginal colonization, which sustains the economic
growth of the Minoan societies: palatial centres in
the largest agricultural plains (Knossos, Phaistos and
Malia) and minor polities of less clear-cut definition
in the east (Gournia, Petras, Palaikastro and Kato
Zakros). An extended route system constitutes the
back-bone of the development: in the far east it is
specially connected to the exploitation and control of
particular environmental niches (watchtower system)
(e.g. Cunningham 2001; Driessen 2001; Watrous 2001;
Schoep 2002; Monuments of Minos; Cunningham and
Driessen 2004).
The three peer-ranked First Palaces control a limited
territory and centralize specialized manufactures:
textiles at Knossos (e.g. more than 400 loom-weights
from the Loomweights Basements, MMIIB), seals, pottery
and metalworking at Malia (Quartier Mu, MMII),

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age
pottery, textiles and metalworking at Phaistos (West
Court and Palace West Wing, MMII). Large-scale
purple-dye production is firstly attested in this period,
especially in eastern Crete (at Palaikastro, Kouphounissi
and other areas, but also Kommos), and it is possibly
connected to a textile industry intended for exportation.
Storage facilities and containers, which are abundantly
attested in the palaces and other types of sites, point
to the transformation of agricultural products such
as cereals, wine, oil (and possibly also some derived,
such as perfumes a probable unguentary workshop
is attested at Chamalevri in the immediate previous
period, MMIA). The specialized production of the
Kamares pottery and connected types (especially
at Knossos and Phaistos) provides an important
medium-prestige category of goods, intended both for
internal and external circulation. New administrative
tools appear: various sealing systems, as well as the
Hieroglyphic and Proto-Linear A writing systems. At
Malia (MMII), weighing standards seem to combine
both Levantine and new, Minoan units (Alberti 2009
with references). Elite burials are regularly attested at
the developing settlements: Knossos, Archanes, Malia,
Gournia and in the Messara.
In strict connection with Cretan developments, in the
islands of Kasos and Karpathos a wave of agricultural
colonization and a new settlement pattern emerge, and
will become more visible during LBI (Melas 1985; 2009;
Platon and Karantzali 2003; Broodbank 2004; Warren
2009; Pentedeka et al. 2010).
In the major islands of the Western String, the
previously started general reorganization of the
settlement continues (e.g. Barber 1987; TAW III;
Broodbank 2000; Davis 2001; Berg 2007; Sotirakopoulou
2010), with a tendency towards nucleation only in few
major centres or towns, which increase their extension,
complexity, as well as the range and intensity of their
economic activities, although not at the same pace:
Ayia Irini on Keos (refounded only in full MBA, phases
IV and V early; e.g. Cummer and Schofield 1983; Davis
1986; Overbeck 1989; Crego 2007; Overbeck 2007;
Overbeck and Crego 2008; Crego 2010), Phylakopi on
Melos (the developing City II; e.g. Whitelaw 2004b;
2005; Renfrew 2007 with references; Brodie et al. 2008;
Brodie 2009), Akrotiri on Thera (apparently founded
or expanded at the end of the EBA on the location of a
EB necropolis; e.g. Nikolakopoulou 2007; Doumas 2008;
Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008; Nikolakopoulou
et al. 2008; Nikolakopoulou 2009) and Paroikia on
Paros. Minor settlements in the same islands are also
present, but they are far less numerous than during
the previous phases. The towns, which are important


knots in the string, centralize various manufactures:

pottery production (the famous Cycladic White
and related classes and the Dark Burnished in their
local variations) and metallurgy (lead, silver and
copper from Laurion) are the most widely attested
activities. The production and exchange of large
barrel-jars between the islands point to an economic
intensification and to an increased importance for the
trade of bulk commodities. The social reorganization,
with a new articulation and a possible hierarchical
structure, implied by these phenomena is also attested
by the evidence for some elite burials in some place
(e.g. Ayia Irini).
In this period of intense interactions within the
Aegean, islands material cultures develop remodelling
external influences within their own traditional
heritage, giving birth to a range of parented but dierent
local assemblages, in continuous transformation and
redefinition (e.g. recently Berg 2007). Especially thanks
to the recent deep soundings at Akrotiri, it is now
clear how the inception of Minoan material influence
is a gradual and not equally distributed phenomenon,
and cannot be directly linked to the social and
settlement changes in the islands (e.g. Whitelaw 2005;
Nikolakopoulou 2007; 2009 with references; see above
the discussion and references for Minoanization).
On the north-west part of the southern Aegean, the
Aeginetan circuit in the Saronic Gulf and beyond plays
a key-role, both as motor of economic intensification
in the local and surrounding areas and as mediator
among Cycladic, Peloponnesian and Mainland circuits.
Aegina, with the multi-stratified and fortified site of
Kolonna (VIIIX), is in this phase a real maritime and
trading power, based both on the strategic geographical
position of the island and its intermediation activities
and export-oriented production (e.g. Walter and
Felten 1981; Kilian Dirlmeier 1995; 1997; Niemeier
1995; Lindblom 2001; Felten 2007; 2009; Gau and
Smetana 2010). Just as the other major centres of the
period, Kolonna has imports from all the Aegean
area (including typical or regional specialized pottery
and various imitations-hybridization products) and
produces a large range of pottery (including the so
called Gold Mica Ware, with specialized utilitarian
vessels, and pottery of Minoan and Cycladic type; e.g.
Hiller 1993; Zerner 1993; Nordquist 1995; Lindblom
2001; Rutter 2001; Gau and Smetana 2007 and 2010).
Aeginetan wares were widely distributed on the
coastal sites of the Helladic Mainland and also in the
islands and Crete, contributing to the circulation of
models and fashions. Aeginetan Matt-Painted ware is
obviously linked to the Cycladic Matt-Painted classes


Maria Emanuela Alberti

and has also a strong influence on the Helladic MattPainted, especially in the following phases (MBIII
and LBI). Pottery analyses suggest that at Kolonna
the production was almost large-scale organized,
with specialized workshops, potters marks, etc.,
characteristics which points to an export-oriented
production (Lindblom 2001). The presence of large
transport and storage containers, the barrel jars,
some of them bearing a depiction of boats, shows the
importance of sea-fare and trading activities for the
island, along with the possibility of large-scale storage
practices, probable mobilization phenomena and
hypothetical riding and war practices. The existence
of an elite burial (Shaft-Grave) at the entrance of
Kolonna and of a central building (Grosteinbau) in
the town (phase IX) gives a glimpse on social dynamics
and phenomena of wealth concentration which were
taking place in the island (MHII Middle or Late); these
phenomena anticipated, and are somehow connected
to, similar developments in the Mainland during the
following periods (MBIII and LBI).
Kythera and the southern Peloponnese
In this period, the link between these two areas
becomes stronger, with some typical cultural traits
developing in the region from the blending of
regional Helladic and Minoan heritages (see e.g. the
evidence from Ayios Stephanos and Geraki, Laconia),
such as the production of Red Lustrous (also known
as Lustrous Decorated) and related wares, which
circulate then in the rest of the western Aegean (e.g.
Taylour and Janko 2008; Crouwel 2010; Hitchcock
and Chapin 2010). However, during this phase the
circuit remains substantially separated from the
Aeginetan Cycladic sphere. The local Helladic
tradition is seemingly quite di erent from what
is known from the rest of the Helladic Mainland
(especially in comparison with the Argolid, Attica
and Boeotia). According to most recent research,
Kythera (with Antikythera), known since a long time
as the most Minoanized area out of Crete, is now to
be substantially considered as part of the Minoan
world; its material culture develops its own character
within the range of various regional Minoan identities
(e.g. Bevan 2002; Bevan et al. 2002; Broodbank 2004;
Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007; Pentedeka et al. 2010;
Kiriatzi 2010). In this period, the area of Kastri is the
only one inhabited, while the rest of the island, where
during the previous phase local Helladic materials
were attested along the Minoan ones, is now almost
deserted: in this case it is not easy to disentangle
ethnic dialectics from a general trend to settlement
nucleation (e.g. Broodbank 2004 with references;
Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007).

Southern and central Mainland

The early and central phases of MH mark the maximum
level of depopulation in the Mainland and the first new
steps towards a demographic increase. As usual, in the
various areas material evidence illustrates complex
dialectics between regional and external elements:
dierent regional identities are progressively shaped
through time and space, especially in Boeotia, Attica,
Argolid and Laconia (e.g. Rutter 2001; Wright 2004;
2008; Voutsaki 2005; 2010; Felten et al. 2007; Taylour
and Janko 2008; Bintli 2010; Crouwel 2010; PhilippaTouchais 2010; Wright 2010; Zavadil 2010).
The Argolid seems to have a special place, being a
connecting region between southern Peloponnese, the
Aeginetan circuits and central Mainland, as attested by
the extraordinary import-export balance from Lerna
(phase V; e.g. Zerner 1986; 1988; 1993; Lindblom 2001)
and Asine (Nordquist 1987 with references; Wells
2002). Some sites in central Mainland and especially
in Boeotia (e.g. Orchomenos) are important pottery
production centres: they constitute the core of the
fashionable true Grey Minyan wares development
area (e.g. Sarri 2010a; 2010b). In the late MHII period,
a first settlement hierarchy is apparently in place in
many regions, with nucleation around some central
places (e.g. Lerna, Argos and Asine in Argolid). Some
elite burials in tumuli are perhaps attested in this late
phase (e.g. Kilian Dirlmeier 1997), but their chronology
is not certain and they should more probably be dated
to a later period (i.e. MHIII, Voutsaki 2005).
South-eastern Aegean (Lower Interface)
In the eastern Aegean (Lower and Upper Interface) as
well new identities are shaped by the local, regional and
inter-regional interactions. The progress of excavations
and studies in Rhodes, Miletus, Iasos and Kos indicates
that in the MBA local, Anatolianizing, Cycladic and
Minoan features were already been blended, including
important site variations (e.g. Mee 1982; 1998; Dietz
and Papachristodoulou 1988; Emporia; Macdonald et
al. 2009). Exchange on local and regional scale has
obviously the best part in local interactions. Minoan
presence once again seems to follow a strategic and
directional approach: at the pivot-points of the southeastern circuit, both Trianda on Rhodes (e.g. Girella
2005 with references; Marketou 2009 with references)
and Miletus in Caria (e.g. Niemeier and Niemeier
1997; Kaiser 2005; 2009; Niemeier 2005; Raymond
2005; 2009) show a strong Minoan cultural component.
It should be stressed, however, that the pottery and
domestic assemblages from Trianda and Miletus
reveal articulated phenomena of transculturation
with strong local roots, which can in no way be
mechanically reduced to the Minoan presence. In other

3. Aegean trade systems: Overview and observations on the Middle Bronze Age


sites of the area, Minoan elements are at the moment

less prominent and possibly due, at least in part, to
secondary interactions (e.g. Warren 2009).

framework of more nuanced and multi-faceted trading

and exploring activities (e.g. Matsas 1991; 2009).

North-eastern Aegean (Upper Interface)

In the major sites of the Pagasetic Gulf, the most
fashionable products from central Mainland (Gray
Minyan and Matt-Painted) and southern Aegean
(Aeginetan wares) circulate, leading to the local
production of similar classes, widely distributed in
the area: the best known is the so-called Magnesia
Polychrome class, a matt-painted polychrome ware
inspired by the imported southern pottery, which has
been found so far as Koukonisi (Lemnos) (e.g. Poliochni
1997; Maran 2007; Collins et al. 20082010; Macdonald
et al. 2009; Dakoronia 2010). Settlement patterns
around the Pagasetic Gulf point to the existence of a
network of emerging sites (Pefkakia Magoula, Iolkos
and Velestino), apparently without a central one (e.g.
Maran 2007; Dakoronia 2010). Parallel phenomena of
focused importations and local imitations are attested
in the Chalkidiki, where some sites apparently start
a medium-scale production of purple-dye (e.g. Horejs
2007; Veropoulidou 2008; Psaraki and Andreou 2010;
Mesohelladika). Further east, in western Anatolia, mutual
interactions between the parallel potting traditions of
the established Aegean Dark Burnished wares and
the developing Anatolian Grey wares are particularly
strong in this phase, with some Aegean-related shapes
appearing within the Anatolian repertoire in coastal
areas (e.g. Pavk 2005; 2007; 2010).
Anyway, in this Upper Interface relationships with
the southern Aegean are obviously not so strong as
they are in the Lower Interface, and they remain
somehow indirect. Similar dynamics of interaction
and hybridization do occur, both relating to local
productions and pattern of circulation and southern
influences (from the Lower Interface and central
Aegean). The island of Lemnos plays a pivotal role in
the area, being connected to both northsouth and east
west routes, as the rich and multiform evidence from
Koukonisi points out (including traces of metallurgical
activities) (i.e. Boulotis 1997; 2009; 2010). An exception is
possibly represented by Samothrace, where a particular
Minoan presence has been detected, including not only
pottery but also some objects related to measurement
(i.e. a balance weight) and administrative activities (i.e.
roundels and nodules) and metallurgical debris (i.e.
Matsas 1991; 1995; 2009). This could point towards the
existence of an organized Minoan outpost, possibly
connected to the expoitation of the metallic ores of the
area (which is however not attested archaeologically).
Such evidence would thus suggest the existence of
some Minoan strategic directional initiatives in the

Following developments: Minoanization,

Mycenaeanization and northern shift
In general terms, in the following phases the major
trends of mature MBA develop, giving way to a more
integrated and less regionalized system, where the
leading economic and cultural traits are represented
by Neopalatial Crete and Minoanization phenomena
for MBIIILBI (e.g. BAT; Dietz 1998; Graziadio 1998;
Mountjoy and Ponting 2000; Emporia; Felten et al. 2007;
Horizon 2008; Macdonald et al. 2009; see also above,
on Minoanization) and palatial Mycenaean mainland
polities and Mycenaeanization for LBIIIIIB (e.g.
TMM; BAT; Schallin 1993; Cline 1994; 2007; Mountjoy
1998; 2008; Sherratt 1998; 1999; 2001; Georgiadis 2003;
2009; Emporia; DAgata and Moody 2005; Rutt er
2006; Langohr 2009). The pattern of trade-circuits is
substantially the same as in the MBA. During the
Neopalatial period, along with the increasing weight
of Crete to one extremity (reinforcing the dendritic
aspects of the network), Helladic pole(s) develop
on the other one. With the advanced Mycenaean
palatial era (LBIIIB), the core of the trading system
moves to Mainland (e.g. Cline 1994; 2007; Rutter
2006), followed by a possible northern shift of trading
routes in the last part of the period (end of LBIIIB2)
and the beginning of the post-palatial phase (LBIIIC
Early) (e.g. Sherratt 2001; Rutter 2006; Borgna 2009;
Moschos 2009 with references). Some major changes
are detectable in LBIIIC Middle, when the general
structure of the main trading routes seemingly change
definitely from a northsouth to a westeast direction
(e.g. Mountjoy 1998; Deger-Jalkotzy and Zavadil
2003; 2007; Crielaard 2006; Deger-Jalkotzy and Lemos
2006; Dickinson 2006a; 2006 b; Thomatos 2006; 2007;
Bachhuber and Vlachopoulos 2008; Roberts 2009;
Borgna and Cssola Guida 2009; Deger-Jalkotzy and
Bchle 2009).
On the wider Mediterranean area, eastern Mediterranean economic system(s) reache(s) its maximum
extension and intensification during LBA, strongly
interfacing the Central Mediterranean and European
world. But these phases will be the object of other
It seems clear that the basic structure of regional
identities and interactions of the II millennium BCE
in the Aegean was formed during the MBA: trading
contacts and hybridization phenomena had large part
in the process. Dialectics between local socio-economic
structures and traditions and external economic
inputs and cultural innovations were at the base of


Maria Emanuela Alberti

identities definition and continuous renovation and

Geographical constraints and resources distribution
were also determinant for the regional trajectories,
as it was the case of the Western String, Kythera or
Samothrace. The economic reorganization attested in
some areas (Crete, Cyclades and Aegina), with the
development of intermediation and export-oriented
activities, is a fundamental step in the structuration
of Aegean societies.
Aegean history is a history of interactions and
contaminations in a definite land and seascape, and
MBA represents a crucial moment of this history.

1 I will adopt a South Aegean-centered point of view. For
the sake of simplicity, all relative chronologies have been
translated into Aegean terms, unless not otherwise stated.
Given the broad topic being developed in the present
contribution, in many cases preference is given to more
recent bibliography, where references to previous works
can be found. My warmest thanks to Teresa Hancock
Vitale, Giuliano Merlatti, Franoise Rougemont and Serena
Sabatini for their help during the last phases of redaction
of the present contribution.
2 MBA and LBA Aegean and Mediterranean trade system:
TMM; TAW III; Thalassa; BAT; Oates 1993; Cline 1994; Davies
and Schofield 1995; Cline and Harris-Cline 1998; Eastern
Mediterrenean procc; Simposio; Kriti-Aigypto; Pare 2000;
Ploes; Stampolidis and Yannikouri 2004; Emporia; Niemeier
1998; Knapp 1990; 1991; 1993; Melas 1991; Sherratt and
Sherratt 1991; 1998; Wiener 1991; Rehak 1998; Sherratt 1998;
1999; 2001; Parkinson and Galaty 2007; Betancourt 2008 b;
Davis 2008; Hjen Srensen 2009; Mesohelladika.
3 See especially Iacono, Kneisel, Papadimitriou and Kriga
and Sabatini, this volume, with detailed bibliography.
See endnote 2 and the following: Renfrew 1972; Cherry
1983; 1984; 1986; Sherratt and Sherratt 1991; Yoee 1993;
Barrett and Halstead 2004 (especially Whitelaw 2004a);
Watrous et al. 2004; Whitely 2004; Parkinson and Galaty
2007. Issues from post-colonial studies, such as hybridity
and the third space have only recently entered the main
stream of Aegean scholarship: see Berg 2007; Papadatos
2007; Pavk 2007; Psaraki 2007; Knapp 2008; Langohr 2009
(but see already Mountjoy 1998).
4 Deconstruction seems the mot dordre. See e.g Broodbank
2004; Schoep and Knappett 2004; Whitelaw 2004a; Berg
2007; Davis and Gorogianni 2008; Manning 2008. This
is also an outcome of the development of landscape,
palaeoenvironmental and archaeometric studies, which
added substance and depth to the previous historical
5 Agouridis 1997; Papageorgiou 1997; 2008a; 2008b. See
also Broodbank 2000; Sherratt 2001; Broodbank and
Kiriatzi 2007; Davis 2008. The terms Upper and Lower

Interface, with reference to an east Aegeanwestern

Anatolia Interface, have been used by Penelope Mountjoy
(1998) to define phenomena of the Mycenaean period,
but can be usefully employed also for other phases, to
individuate these areas and their various local systems
as dierent from the rest of the Aegean and underline
patterns of interaction between Aegean societies and
Anatolian world. The same is true for the terms Western
String (Davis 1979), Eastern String (Niemeier 1984) and
Northern Crescent (Boulotis 2009), originally meant to
identify dynamics of the late MBAearly LBA.
6 I would like to emphasize the last point, the production
for exportation of international or external success
products: it is the mark of a strongly market-oriented
economy and the result of a complex intercultural
phenomenon. It also indicates where real economic
entrepreneurship and commercial initiative were located
in each phase.
7 Minoanization: Branigan 1981; MTMR; Wiener 1984; 1990;
Melas 1988; 1991; Davis and Cherry 1990; Broodbank
2004 with previous bibliography; Whitelaw 2004b;
2005; Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2005; Niemeier
2005; 2009; Berg 2007; Broodbank and Kiriatzi 2007;
Davis 2008; Davis and Gorogianni 2008; Macdonald et
al. 2009; Warren 2009; Cadogan and Kopaka 2010; Van
de Moortel 2010.
8 See note 2. See also: Kemp and Merrillees 1980; Wiener
1991; Betancourt 1998; Watrous 1998; Carter and Kilikoglou
2007; Phillips 2008; Barrett 2009; Hjen Srensen 2009.
Minoanizing frescoes: Niemeier 1991; Niemeier and
Niemeier 1998; Brysbaert 2008.

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The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean?
The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos and its significance
Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

At the transition between the Middle Bronze Age
(MBA) and the Late Bronze Age (LBA) period (early
17th century BC), the presence of Minoanizing features
outside of the island of Crete dramatically increases

throughout the entire Aegean area. Cretan-type pottery,

architecture, wall painting/iconography, weaving
equipment and, to a lesser extent, script are widely
attested from the eastern Greek mainland to the
southwestern Anatolian coast (Fig. 4.1a).1 Between the

Figure 4.1 a. The distribution of Minoanizing features and Koan Light-on-Dark/Dark-on-Light pottery during LBA I in the Aegean.

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos


Figure 4.1 b. The Bronze Age settlement of the Serraglio (after Morricone 1975, 152, fig. 7).

1950s and the 1990s, the widespread occurrence of these

characteristics was interpreted according to two main
tendencies. Some scholars explained them as evidence
for Minoan settlement, governed, or community
colonies, thus implying a substantial movement of
people from the island of Crete abroad (e.g. Furumark
1950, 200; Branigan 1981; Benzi 1984; Laviosa 1984;
Wiener 1990; Niemeier 1998; 2005; 2010; Niemeier
and Niemeier 1997; 1999). Others have concluded that
these characteristics are rather the result of interactions
and/or strategies of cultural emulation (e.g. Davis 1979;
1980; 1984; 1986; Davis and Cherry 1984; 1990; 2007,

302305; Davis and Lewis 1985; Schofield 1984; Rutter

and Zerner 1984; Melas 1988a; 1988b; 1991; Marketou
1998; 2010; Momigliano 2010).
In 2004, Cyprian Broodbank underlined the need
for new approaches in the analysis of the data in
order to break the current interpretative standstill
between Minoan imperialists and those who believe
in phenomena of acculturation. He suggests that, since
Minoanization appears in dierent combinations in time
and space, it should not be regarded as a monolithic
phenomenon, as has frequently occurred in the past,
but rather investigated on a case by case basis (i.e.


Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

Broodbank 2004). Broodbank also insists that the

best insights will lie in the details of manufacture and
consumption (i.e. ibid., 59), emphasizing the need for
a more thorough examination and comprehension of
the cultural dynamics of what we call Minoanization
(i.e. ibid., 5965).
The most recent theoretical contributions to this
ongoing debate have been put forward by Carl
Knappett and Irini Nikolakopoulou on one side and by
Jack L. Davis and Evi Gorogianni on the other. Starting
from the analysis of some newly excavated materials
from Thera, the former call attention to the very
dierence between colonialism and colonization,
suggesting that Minoanization may be seen as a form
of cultural colonialism without actual colonies (i.e.
Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008). On the other
hand, Davis and Gorogianni suggest that, during the
Neopalatial period, a new environment, characterized
by an intensified intraregional exchange of products
and ideas, produced a setting in which competition
encouraged emulation of Minoan material and nonmaterial culture (i.e. Davis and Gorogianni 2008).
Following Broodbanks plea for a detailed case by
case examination of the evidence, the present paper
reconsiders the impact and meaning of Minoanizing
features at the settlement of the Serraglio on Kos in
the earliest LBA period, that is during LBA IA Early
and LBA IA Mature. The observations proposed here
are primarily based on a thorough restudy of the large
amount of materials recovered by Luigi Morricone
between 1935 and 1946 (Fig. 4.1b; e.g. Morricone
1975; Vitale 2006; 2007a; 2007b; Vitale and Hancock
Vitale 2010). In addition, the data from more recent

Greek investigations, carefully undertaken by Toula

Marketou during the last 30 years, have also been
taken into account (e.g. Marketou 1990a; 1990b; 1998;
2004; 2010).
Before starting our review of the evidence, an
important preliminary question concerning the
chronological system adopted here must be briefly
addressed. The transition between MBA and LBA
in the Aegean has recently been much discussed,
particularly in relation to the island of Crete and the
Minoan sequence (e.g. Popham 1977, 190195; 1984,
9397, 152158; Catling et al. 1979; Levi 1981, 5059;
Carinci 1983; 1989; 2001; Warren and Hankey 1989,
6165; Warren 1991; 1999, 895898; Walberg 1992,
1230; Niemeier 1994, 7172; Bernini 1995, 5556, 6567;
Hood 1996; Macdonald 1996, 1718; Panagiotaki 1998,
185187; Van de Moortel 2001, 8994, note 158; La
Rosa 2002; Girella 2001; 2007; Puglisi 2001; Knappett
and Cunningham 2003, 107111, 171173; Mountjoy
2003, 52, note 13; Rutter and Van de Moortel 2006,
377444; Hatzaki 2007a; 2007b). This discussion
involves problems of ceramic phasing as well as
terminological issues. The whole question becomes
even more complicated when, as in the present paper,
synchronization between dierent areas of the Aegean
must be suggested.2 It is not possible to fully discuss
such a complex problem here. However, in order to
avoid confusion, the ceramic phasing, terminology,
and synchronisms used in this paper are shown in the
chronological chart displayed in Table 4.1. It obviously
represents the point of view of the authors regarding
the abovementioned questions.

Chronological Chart
Kos, Serraglio


LM IA Early


(= Traditional MM IIIB;
Warrens Transitional

(Van de Moortel 2001; Rutter

and Van de Moortel 2006)

LM IA Final
(= Traditional LM IA)

Absolute Chronology

Greek Mainland

(Marketou 1990a; Vitale 2006; 2007a; 2007b)

(Mountjoy 1986; 1999)



Final MH III


Settlement Preceding
Citt I,
First Phase

c. 17001680 to 16751650 BC



Settlement Preceding
Citt I,
Second Phase

c. 16751650 to 16001550 BC

(Manning 1995, 217229)

Abbreviations: LM (Late Minoan); MH (Middle Helladic).

Table 4.1 Chronological chart of the periods and areas mentioned in the text.

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos

Minoanization at the Serraglio during the

LBA IA Period. An Overview of the Evidence
In order to fully understand the meaning of the
Minoanizing elements introduced at Kos at the
beginning of the LBA period, it is necessary to briefly
take into account also the preceding phases, that is
the Early Bronze Age (EBA) and the MBA periods.
Given its abundance, much of the evidence discussed
in this paper will be inevitably focused on pottery.
Nevertheless, other sensitive sources of information
will be considered as well.
Locally produced ceramics are documented at Kos
from the beginning of the EBA. In this phase, and in
the succeeding MBA, the material culture of the island
is connected to the contemporary productions of the
southwestern Anatolian coast, the eastern Cyclades,
and the northeastern Aegean (e.g. Marketou 1990b,
4344; 2004, 20, 2527). At the sett lement of the
Serraglio, the local manufacture of ceramics begins
from at least EBA 3. In this phase, the most typical
shapes seem to be wheel-finished shallow rounded
bowls (Fig. 4.2a), incised duck-vases (Fig. 4.2b),
depa (Fig. 4.2c), and carinated bowls (Fig. 4.2d; e.g.
Marketou 1990a, 102, fig. 5; 1990b, 40, figs 12; 2004,
26, fig. 8). The succeeding MBA period is characterized
by the presence of wheel-finished carinated bowls
(Fig. 4.2e; see also e.g. Marketou 1990a, 102, fig. 5.b)
and cups. Contacts with Crete, the western Cyclades,
and the Greek mainland, albeit not absent, appear
relatively unfruitful (e.g. Marketou 1990a, 101102;
1990b; 1998, 63; 2004). It is within this particular
context that the main characteristics of what we may
call the Koan local tradition are elaborated. By this
term, we refer to those features of Anatolian flavor
that are immanent in the ceramic repertoire of the
island from the EBA throughout the later Minoanizing
and Mycenaean periods, representing the specific
hallmark of the indigenous productions (e.g. Vitale
2007a, 168222).3
During the MBA to LBA transition, the situation
gradually starts to change. For the first time, a
certain hybridization between the local tradition
and characteristics of Cretan origin is apparent in the
archaeological record. In LBA IA Early, two new ceramic
classes appear: Fine Pattern-Painted (FPP) pottery and
Medium-Coarse to Coarse Patterned pottery, better
known as Koan Light-on-Dark/Dark-on-Light pottery
(LoD/DoL).4 FPP includes exclusively wheel-finished
semiglobular cups with a vertical strap handle (Fig.
4.2f). In terms of firing techniques, surface treatment
and paint quality, they do not show any obvious sign
of Minoan influence. In fact, FPP semiglobular cups are
usually smoothed or wiped and dull-painted,5 whereas


their contemporary Minoan counterparts are regularly

burnished and exhibit lustrous painted decoration.
The same is true of the shape of FPP semiglobular
cups, most likely representing an evolution of the
carinated cups locally produced at Kos in the MBA
period (e.g. Marketou 1990a, 103). Their decoration,
however, shows clear Minoanizing elements, such as
the use of the dipped-rim technique (Fig. 4.2f) and
the occurrence of crescents.6
Koan LoD/DoL pottery, which will be discussed in
more detail below, is still attested on a relatively low
scale during the LBA IA Early period.7 It combines
Anatolian shapes, such as the high-necked jug, and
Minoanizing features, such as the light-on-dark
decoration (Fig. 4.2g).
Besides this mixture of local and new foreign
elements, other LBA IA Early ceramic productions
testify to a stronger continuity with the preceding
periods. These include Unpainted Pale Fine, MediumCoarse, and Coarse pottery (UPF, UPMC, UPC; Fig.
4.2h), Monochrome Red Burnished pottery (MRB),
and Monochrome Dark pottery (MD; Fig. 4.2i).
MRB and MD reproduce EBA techniques related
to Anatolian prototypes (cf. Vitale and Trecarichi,
In LBA IA Early, pottery imported from Crete is
scanty. Apart from the ceramic evidence, there are
no traces of any other Minoanizing elements in the
material culture (e.g. Marketou 1990a, 103; 1998, 63).
The LBA IA Mature period is characterized by a
general reorganization of the Serraglio after a severe
earthquake, marking the end of the preceding LBA IA
Early (e.g. Marketou 1990a, 102103). Due to its ideal
geographical position, located on the main maritime
routes between the eastern and western Aegean,
the settlement experiences a particularly flourishing
As far as pottery is concerned, LBA IA Mature is
characterized by the following elements:8
(a) FPP dies out and locally produced conical cups
become very popular (Figs 4.3ad);
(b) Koan LoD/DoL pottery flourishes and a new
stylistic language is created, combining in an
original way elements of the local tradition (Figs
4.3eg) together with Minoanizing features (Figs
4.3hk and 4.4a);
(c) The other fabrics connected to the local tradition,
i.e. UPF, UPMC, UPC, MRB, and MD (Figs 4.4bd),
continue to be produced, as is shown in Table 4.2;
(d) Cretan-type kitchenware is present alongside local
cooking pottery of Anatolian flavor (Fig. 4.4d;
e.g. Morricone 1975, 220, 283285, nos 1213, 1310,
13501359, figs 140, 248250);


Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

Figure 4.2 a. EBA 3: Wheel-finished shallow rounded bowl from Marketous excavations at the Serraglio (after Marketou 2004, 37, fig.
8.). b. EBA 3: Incised duck-vase from Marketous excavations at the Serraglio (after Marketou 2004, 37, fig. 8.). c. EBA 3: Depas from
Marketous excavations at the Serraglio (after Marketou 2004, 37, fig. 8.). d. EBA 3: Wheel-finished carinated bowl from Marketous
excavations at the Serraglio (after Marketou 2004, 37, fig. 8.). e. MBA: Wheel-finished carinated bowl from Marketous excavations at
the Serraglio (after Marketou 1990a, 104, fig. 5.b). f. LBA IA Early: FPP semiglobular cup with dipped-rim from Morricones excavations
at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing A. Caputo). g. LBA IA Early: Koan LoD high-necked jug from Morricones excavations at the
Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing A. Caputo). h. LBA IA Early: UPMC beaked jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio
(drawing A. Caputo). i. LBA IA Early/Mature: MD jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing M.
Rossin/A. Caputo).

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos


Figure 4.3 a. LBA IA Mature: Local conical cup from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing S. Vitale/A. Caputo). b. LBA
IA Mature: Local conical cup from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale). c. LBA IA Mature: Local conical cup
from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing S. Regio/A. Caputo). d. LBA IA Mature: Local conical cup from Morricones
excavations at the Serraglio (drawing S. Regio/A. Caputo). e. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan LoD narrow-necked juglet from Morricones
excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). f. LBA IA Mature: Koan DoL pithoid jar from Morricones excavations at the
Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). g. LBA IA Mature: Koan LoD jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo).
h. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan LoD straight-sided cup from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing S. Vitale/A. Caputo).
i. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan LoD bridge-spouted jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). j. LBA
IA Mature: Koan LoD hole-mouthed jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). k. LBA IA Early/Mature:
Koan LoD hole-mouthed jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo).


Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

(e) Minoan imports (Fig. 4.4e), although still present

on a small scale, increase (e.g. Marketou 1990a,
104 and 2010, 91);
(f) Mycenaean vessels begin to reach the Serraglio
(Fig. 4.4f; see also e.g. Morricone 1975, 333, fig.
Interestingly, as in the preceding LBA IA Early period,
during LBA IA Mature, hybridizing and fully local
tradition vessels are always found alongside one
another, illustrating the composite, but unitary nature of
the Serraglio material culture in these phases (e.g. Vitale
2006, 76, figs 34; 2007a, 3536, figs 910, pls 56).
In addition to pottery, during the LBA IA Mature
period, some further Minoanizing elements appear
for the first time at the Serraglio. These include a
polythyron of rather provincial style and a small
number of discoid loomweights (e.g. Morricone 1975,
279, fig. 240; Marketou 1998, 63; 2010, 91). Nevertheless,
Minoan-type wall painting/iconography and script
are still absent and the impact of the local tradition
continues to be strong throughout the Koan material
culture (e.g. Marketou 1990a, 109; 1998, 6364).

The LBA IA Mature period represents the peak in the
presence of Cretan-type features at the Serraglio.
The interpretation of the data, however, is far from
simple. What are the nature and the extent of the
Minoan influence? Were there Minoan people living
in Kos (e.g. Niemeier 1998 and 2005, 202; Niemeier
and Niemeier 1999, 552553)? If so, were they present
in significant numbers? Is it possible that, during the
LBA IA Mature period, the Serraglio was somehow
under Minoan control (e.g. Wiener 1990)? In order to
answer these crucial questions, a closer examination
of the interaction between the local tradition and the
Minoanizing elements is necessary.
A precious analytical tool at our disposal is
represented by LoD/DoL pottery, the Koan ceramic
production in which the presence of Minoanizing
elements is the strongest. Many of the shapes attested
in this class reproduce Cretan types, including the
oval-mouthed amphora (Fig. 4.5ab), the eyed jug (Fig.
4.5cd), the bridge-spouted jar (Fig. 4.3i), the stirrup
jar (Figs 4.5e), and the straight-sided cup (Fig. 4.3h).9
This is equally true of several decorative motifs, such
as spirals (Fig. 4.3f and j), flowers (Fig. 4.5f), ivies

Diagnostic Features and Chronological Evolution of the Koan Local Ceramics

Settlement Preceding Citt I


First Phase
LBA IA Early

Second Phase
LBA IA Mature

Forming Technique: Wheel-finished;

Surface: Washed or slipped and smoothed or wiped;
Decoration: Dull paint.



Forming Technique: Handmade or wheel-finished;

Surface: Slipped and burnished;
Decoration: Slightly lustrous slip/paint.


Forming Technique: Handmade or wheel-finished;

Surface: Washed or slipped and smoothed, wiped, or burnished;
Decoration: Dull or slightly lustrous slip/paint.


Forming Technique: Handmade or wheel-finished;

Surface: (a) Rough; (b) Washed or slipped and smoothed, wiped, or burnished;
Decoration: Always unpainted.


Forming Technique: Handmade or wheel-finished;

Surface: Washed and smoothed or wiped;
Decoration: Matt paint, generally LoD.

Forming Technique: Handmade or wheel-finished;

Surface: Washed or slipped and smoothed or wiped;
Decoration: Matt or dull paint, LoD, DoL, or LoDDoL.

* By the term wash we refer to a poor quality slip. A wash is more diluted than a slip and it often wears away more easily.
Table 4.2 Diagnostic features and chronological evolution of the Koan local ceramics.

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos


Figure 4.4 a. LBA IA Mature: DOL jug with linear decoration from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo).
b. LBA IA Early/Mature: UPMC jug with cut-away neck from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). c. LBA
IA Mature: MRB bridge-spouted jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing A. Caputo). d. LBA
IA Early/Mature: Local cooking jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing M. Rossin/A. Caputo).
e. Imported LM IA fragment from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (photo S. Vitale; drawing S. Regio/M. Rossin/A. Caputo).
f. Imported LH I Vapheio cup fragment from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing M. Rossin/A. Trecarichi).


Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

(Fig. 4.5g), hatched loops (Fig. 4.3k), leaves (Figs 4.3f

and 4.5c), foliate bands (Fig. 4.5b), reeds (Fig. 4.5h),
crescents (Fig. 4.5i), and speckles (Figs 4.3hI and
4.5j).10 A further element of Minoan origin is shown
in the alternative use of the various LoD, DoL, and
LoD-DoL techniques (Fig. 4.5c and i).11
However, besides features of Cretan origin, a
certain number of shapes exhibit local idiosyncrasies
of Anatolian flavor, such as the strong preference for
neck-handled rather than rim-handled jugs (Fig. 4.3g),
the widespread occurrence of biconical profiles (Figs.
4.3f, 4.4d and Fig. 4.5d) and the relatively frequent use
of ridges (Fig. 4.5j) to decorate extensive portions of the
vessels.12 Other shapes, namely the narrow-necked jugs
(Figs 4.3e and 4.5k),13 the high-necked jugs (Fig. 4.2g),14
and certain types of jars 15 (Fig. 4.5j) directly reproduce
Anatolian models. Strong local idiosyncrasies are also
evident in the decorative repertoire, where simple
geometric motifs, such as single and double wavy
lines (Figs 4.2g, 4.3gh, 4.5a and ce), are particularly
popular, but there is no trace of the ripple pattern,
one of the hallmarks of Late Minoan (LM) IA which
was widely attested in the contemporary Minoanizing
productions outside the island of Crete.16
In terms of firing techniques, formation process,
surface treatment, and paint quality, there is nothing
in Koan LoD/DoL which deviates from the EBA to
early LBA local tradition and/or betrays an obvious
Minoan origin (cf. Knappett 1999).
As is implicit in this brief overview, LoD/DoL
pottery cannot be described as a direct true imitation
of the contemporary Minoan pottery, but rather as a
hybrid pidgin, where single elements of Cretan origin
are combined with Anatolian characteristics, typical
of the Koan local tradition. As has already been
suggested by Davis, LoD/DoL pottery can be properly
included in the range of the various Minoanizing
productions present in the Aegean during the MBA
to LBA transition (i.e. Davis 1982, 33). However, the
impact of Cretan features is remarkably less important
than on the contemporary Minoanizing pottery from
Thera, Keos, and Melos (e.g. Marthari 1984, 129; 1987,
362366, 373376; 1990; Cummer and Schofield 1984,
4546; Renfrew 1978, 407; Davis and Cherry 2007).
The dierence is even more striking if Koan LoD/DoL
pottery is compared to the ceramic productions of
Kastri on Kythera and Miletus (cf. Table 4.3), the only
two sites where the presence of a Minoan colony seems
to have been convincingly proven (e.g. Coldstream and
Huxley 1972; Niemeier and Niemeier 1997; 1999).
In fact, if we exclude conical cups, a genuine local
production of Cretan-type pottery is altogether absent
at Kos during the LBA IA Mature period. Conical
cups have often been regarded as an indicator of

Minoan presence (e.g. Coldstream and Huxley 1972,

285; Wiener 1984, especially 1922; 1990, 137139;
Niemeier and Niemeier 1999, 547), but their simple
occurrence should not be taken as a decisive proof.
They are easy to produce and may be used for a
large number of dierent practical uses (e.g. Gillis
1990). These two characteristics alone explain their
popularity outside of Crete at the beginning of the
LBA period (e.g. Mountjoy and Ponting 2000, 176177).
Moreover, Koan conical cups are manufactured in the
same fabric as other local unpainted ceramics (Fig.
4.3b), implying that, at the Serraglio, there was no
attempt to create a distinctive Minoanizing clay paste,
as has been suggested for the conical cups from Iasos
(i.e. Momigliano 2005, 223).
Also the simple presence of Cretan-type kitchenware
does not in itself suggest a strong Minoan presence
at Kos during LBA IA Mature. The cooking pottery
originally recovered by Morricone was largely discarded
immediately following his excavations, as was typical
practice during the 1930s and 1940s. As a result of this
arbitrary choice, no quantitative assessment of this
material is possible. In particular, while it is evident
that Anatolianizing and Minoanizing kitchenware were
used alongside one another during the LBA IA period
(e.g. Morricone 1975, 220, 283285, nos 1213, 1310,
13501359, figs 140, 248250), it not possible to establish
their respective percentages as, for example, in the case
of contemporary assemblages from Miletus. Moreover,
the equation between the occurrence of Minoanizing
kitchenware and the presence of Minoan people,
have been recently put into question by Penelope A.
Mountjoy, Matthew J. Ponting, and Broodbank (e.g.
Mountjoy and Ponting 2000, 177; Broodbank 2004,
5960). Specific types of cooking pottery may be imitated
or imported simply for the value of their functional
properties. This is the case, for example, of the vast
quantity of Aeginetan kitchenware traded in the western
Aegean between the late Middle Helladic and the early
Late Helladic (LH) period, obviously not representing
the result of an Aeginetan thalassocracy.17
A final note is needed on the occurrence of a small
number of Cretan-type discoid loomweights (e.g.
Morricone 1975, 279, fig. 240). These items certainly
suggest that Minoan weaving technology was in use at
the Serraglio during the LBA IA Mature period. They
may also imply the existence of a few Minoan residents,
but they by no means testify to the occurrence of
Minoan political control (e.g. Mountjoy and Ponting
2000, 177) or to a massive presence of Cretans on Kos.
Once again, functional advantages and social prestige
strategies may have played an important role in the
introduction of Cretan weaving technology on Kos as
is clearly documented, for example, in the case of Troy.

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos


Figure 4.5 a. LBA IA Mature: Koan LoD oval-mouthed amphora from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo).
b. LBA IA Mature: Koan DoL oval-mouthed amphora from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). c. LBA IA
Mature: Koan LoD-DoL eyed jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). d. LBA IA Mature: Koan LoD
eyed jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). e. LBA IA Mature: Koan DoL stirrup jar from Morricones
excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). f. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan Polychrome LoD hole-mouthed jar from Morricones
excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). g. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan Polychrome LoD hole-mouthed jar from Morricones
excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). h. LBA IA Early/Mature: Koan LoD closed shape from Morricones excavations
at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). i. LBA IA Mature: Koan LoD-DoL pithoid jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio
(drawing A. Caputo). j. LBA IA Mature: Koan LoD jar from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo). k. LBA
IA Early/Mature: Koan LoD narrow-necked jug from Morricones excavations at the Serraglio (drawing A. Caputo).




Systems, etc.)

the dodecanese

the cyclades and kythera

southwestern anatolia









Table 4.3 Minoanizing features in southwestern Anatolia, the Dodecanese, and the Cyclades during the LBA IA Mature period.

Sources: Miletus: Weickert et al. 1960; Niemeier 1998, 2005 and 2010; Niemeier and Niemeier 1997 and 1999. Iasos: Levi 1970; Benzi et al. 2000; Momigliano et al. 2001;
Momigliano 2005 and 2010. Kos and Rhodes: Marketou 1988, 1990a, 1998 and 2010; Girella 2005; Vitale 2006, 2007a and 2007b. Melos and Keos: Caskey 1971; Renfrew
1978; Davis 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 and 1986; Davis and Cherry 1984, 1990 and 2007; Davis and Lewis 1985; Cummer and Schofield 1984; Berg 2007. Thera: Marthari
1984, 1987 and 1990; Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008; Nikolakopoulou 2010. Kythera: Coldstream and Huxley 1972; Broodbank 2004.

A. Irini; Troulli

of Minoan


The Serraglio



of Local
according to


Minoanizing Features in Southwestern Anatolia, the Dodecanese, and the Cyclades during the LBA IA Mature Period

Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos
There, Minoan-type discoid loomweights occur from
the 15th until the 13th century BC (Troy VI Middle to
Troy VIIa), but they certainly cannot be interpreted
as a proof of significant Minoan presence or Minoan
political control (e.g. Guzowska and Becks 2005).18

Concluding Remarks
The data presented above indicates that, during the
LBA IA period, the culture of the settlement of the
Serraglio had a strong local character. According to the
archaeological evidence, there is no reason to conclude
that Kos was under any form of Minoan control or
to postulate a strong presence of Cretan people on
the island. The Serraglio cannot be interpreted as
a settlement colony, since the area of the site was
continuously occupied from EBA 3 up until advanced
LH IIIC. Nor can it be seen as a governed colony,
as there is no evidence proving the character of the
administrative system. Finally, while the presence of
Cretan residents is possible, no Minoan enclave within
the settlement has been found to support the existence
of a community colony, despite the rather large area
investigated (Fig. 4.1b).19
At the eventful MBA to LBA transition, in the period
of the strongest cultural and economic expansion of
the Cretan palaces, the adoption of elements of Minoan
origin at Kos may be better explained as the result of
an internal process of cultural emulation, related to a
number of practical reasons. The appearance of Cretan
features on FPP semiglobular cups may represent the
attempt of local elites to underline their status and
prestige by an assertive display of items of exotic taste.
On the other hand, the production of Koan LoD/DoL
pottery may be interpreted as a coherent strategy to
better compete along the main maritime trade routes
of the Aegean Sea. The success of a similar strategy
is proven by the distribution outside the Serraglio of
this Minoanizing class, through which Koan products
were widely exchanged and exported during LBA I
from the island of Aegina to the coastal centers of Asia
Minor and Cyprus (Fig. 4.1a).20
The picture of LBA IA Kos, as reconstructed in
the present paper, is in harmony with the scenario
of interactions and exchange proposed by Davis and
Gorogianni for the Aegean in the Neopalatial period
(i.e. Davis and Gorogianni 2008). In the context of
what the authors describe as a new environment, the
Minoanizing settlement of the Serraglio may have
represented one of the southeastern stepping stones
in the maritime trading routes connecting Crete with
the southwestern Anatolian coast at the beginning


of the early LBA period (i.e. Davis and Gorogianni

2008, 385).21
It would not be appropriate to explain the introduction of Minoanizing elements at the Serraglio as the
result of a form of colonialism without colonies. The
Koan situation is dierent from that described by
Knappett and Nikolakopoulou for Middle Minoan IIIA
to LM IA Akrotiri, because no secure true local imitation
of Minoan decorated fine pottery exists at the Serraglio
and because Cretan imports are much less widespread
than those at Thera.22 In fact, while Knappetts and
Nikolakopoulous contribution represents an important
step forward in our understanding of Minoanization,
its approach has two aspects that, if mechanically
applied beyond Akrotiri to the entire area of the
Cyclades and/or the southeastern Aegean, may have
the potential of being misleading. Firstly, by placing
the objects at the heart of a cultural process, and
postulating an object-led acculturation, there is a
possible risk of underestimating the significance of the
strategies behind the adoption of Minoanizing features
abroad and, thus, of misunderstanding the complex
dynamics of Minoanization in their actual working
process. Secondly, if, as Knappett and Nikolakopoulou
state, the relationships between Crete and the Aegean
were more subtle than was previously considered
(i.e. Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008, 37), terms
such as colonialism without colonies or culturally
colonialized (i.e. Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008,
3, 38) may appear confusing, still retaining a somehow
Minoan imperialistic taste.
(S.V. and T.H.V.)

1 For a general picture of the phenomenon, cf. Minoan
Thalassocracy; Wiener 1990.
2 For the Middle Helladic to Late Helladic transition on the
Greek mainland, cf. Rutter and Rutter 1976; Dietz 1991; 1998;
Wohlmar 2007; Gauss and Smetana 2007; Horejs 2007.
3 For the occurrence and impact of Anatolian features on Koan
local pottery productions, cf. also Morricone 1967, 306.
4 For the identification and classification of Koan local
ceramics of the early LBA period, cf. Vitale 2007a, 168
213. For the subdivision of LBA IA into an early and a
mature phase, cf. Marketou 1990a, 102103. For a detailed
examination of the LBA IA Early contexts recovered during
Morricones excavations, cf. Vitale 2006, 76, fig. 3; 2007a,
3536, fig. 9, pl. 5.
5 By the term dull-painted we refer to the use of poor
quality ironbased paints. These have a matt appearance
when vessel surfaces are simply smoothed or wiped,
but may become slightly lustrous after polishing or


Salvatore Vitale and Teresa Hancock Vitale

6 For the use of crescents on Koan FPP, cf. Marketou

1990a, fig. 5.c. For the dippedrim technique on Minoan
pottery, cf., for example, Walberg 1992, 97 (Motif 25), pl.
14.25.2. For crescents, cf. Betancourt 1985, 98, 113, 129,
fig. 70.ab, fig. 87.a, fig. 98.l.
7 For previous studies on Koan LoD/DoL pottery, cf.
Morricone 1975, 296326, figs 265313; Marthari et al.
1990; Momigliano 2007; Vitale 2007a, 76193, figs 1640,
pls 1555.
8 For a detailed examination of the LBA IA Late contexts
recovered during Morricones excavations, cf. Vitale 2006,
76, fig. 4; 2007a, 36, fig. 10, pl. 6.
9 Walberg 1992, 5052, 5455, 6368, 7678, pls 24, 7 (with
much bibliographical information, updated until 1991).
For some of the main contributions from 1991 onwards,
cf. Warren 1991; Sakellarakis and SapounaSakellaraki
1997; Knappett and Cunningham 2003; Rutter and Van
de Moortel 2006.
10 Walberg 1992, 8089, 9296, pls 813 (with much
bibliographical information, updated until 1991). For some
of the main contributions from 1991 onwards, cf. Warren
1991; Sakellarakis and Sapouna-Sakellaraki 1997; Knappett
and Cunningham 2003; Rutter and Van de Moortel 2006.
11 Cf., in general, Betancourt 1985, 103114, 123133, figs
8185, 87, 92, 98, 100, pls 1317.
12 For neckhandled jugs, cf. Marketou 2004, 26, fig. 8.
(Kos, EBA 3); Milojcic 1961, 19, 3435, pl. 39.6, pl. 42:11,
1516, pl. 43.14 (Samos, EBA IIIMBA I); Gnel 1999, 70,
no. 17, fig. 14.17 (Liman Tepe, MBA III).
For biconical profiles, cf. Milojcic 1961, 71, 74, pl. 15.7,
pl. 47.16 (Samos, EBA); Weickert et al. 1960, 28, no. 2, pl.
10.2 (Miletus, Late Minoan III); Lloyd and Mellaart 1965,
105, 111, 119, 121, fig. 17.13, 68, fig. 18, fig. 19.23, 56,
8, fig. 20.14, 67, 11, fig. 21.17, 911, fig. 27.23, 5, fig.
28.26, 9, fig. 29.2 (Beycesultan, MBA).
For the use of ridges, cf. Lloyd and Mellaart 1965, 103,
105, 111, fig. 14.5, fig. 17.7, fig. 19.5, fig. 20.5, fig. 21.11
(Beycesultan, MBA).
13 For Anatolian prototypes and parallels, cf. Milojcic 1961,
37, pl. 44.4 (Samos, EBA IIIII).
14 For Anatolian prototypes and parallels, cf. Milojcic
1961, 8, 11, 37, pl. 35.75, pl. 36.18, pl. 44.2 (Samos, EBA
IIMBA I); Gnel 1999, 70, no. 18, fig. 14.18 (Liman Tepe,
MBA IIIIIA). Cf. also Papagiannopoulou 1991, 217.
Some highnecked jugs from Rhodes are considered
by Marketou to be diagnostic of the MBA period in the
Dodecanese (i.e. Marketou 1998, 43, fig. 2).
15 For Anatolian prototypes and parallels, cf. Lloyd and
Mellaart 1965, 121, fig. 29.2 (Beycesultan, MBA).
16 For the ripple pattern outside the island of Crete during
the MBA to LBA transition, cf.: Kythera, Kastri: Coldstream
and Huxley 1972, 283, 290, pls 2332. Thera, Akrotiri:
Marthari 1984, 129, fig. 8c and 1987, 364, fig. 15. Keos, Ayia
Irini: Cummer and Schofield 1984, 86, 136, nos 820, 1707,
pl. 62a, d, i, j, 820, pl. 88.1707. Melos, Phylakopi: Renfrew
1978, 407 (as cited in Warren and Hankey 1989, 66); Davis
and Cherry 2007, 271, no. 25, fig. 7.2.25.

17 We thank Jeremy Rutter for calling our attention on this

point. On Aeginetan pottery in general, cf. Maran 1992,
179199; Zerner 1993, 4850; Mountjoy 1999, 490492;
Rutter 2001, 125131, fig. 12; Lindblom 2001; Gauss and
Kiriatzi 2011.
18 We thank Maria Emanuela Alberti for calling our
attention on this point.
19 For the definition of settlement, governed, and
community colonies, cf. Branigan 1981.
20 For the distribution of LoD/DoL pottery outside the
island of Kos, cf. Marthari et al. 1990, 177; Momigliano
2005, 222; 2007, 269; Vitale 2006, 74, notes 1619; 2007a,
3233, notes 4551; 2007b, 50, notes 1824; Vitale and
Hancock Vitale 2010, 76, fig. 1.1.
21 Kos is not mentioned in Davis and Gorogiannis
reconstruction of their Neopalatial new environment.
Its location suggests that the settlement of the Serraglio
may have been the missing stepping stone between the
Minoanized settlements on Rhodes and Iasos.
22 Knappett and Nikolakopoulou assign their imported
bridge-spouted jug no. 9807 to a possible Koan fabric
(i.e. Knappett and Nikolakopoulou 2008, 10, 15, no. 15,
figs 89). Based on the long expertise in Koan materials
of the first author of this paper, this attribution seems

This paper was originally presented at the 14th Annual
Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists
(Malta, 2008). In its final form, it incorporates the
results of the 20092011 study seasons of the Serraglio,
Eleona, and Langada Archaeological Project, a research
undertaking under the auspices of the Italian School
of Archaeology at Athens ( SELAPs
20092011 study seasons were made possible through
generous grants from the Ministry of Education, Lifelong
Learning, and Religious Aairs of the Hellenic Republic,
the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), The
Shelby White Leon Levy Program for Archaeological
Publications, and the University of Calabria.
We would like to particularly thank the following
colleagues for their support during our research
and/or their useful comments on the manuscript of
this paper: Maria Emanuela Alberti, Mario Benzi,
Ina Berg, Thomas M. Brogan, Vasso Christopoulou,
Jack L. Davis, Evi Gorogianni, Giampaolo Graziadio,
Emanuele Greco, Carl Knappett, Valeria Lenuzza,
Bartomiej Lis, Toula Marketou, Jerolyn E. Morrison,
Irene Nikolakopoulou, Santo Privitera, Jeremy B.
Rutter, Serena Sabatini, and Elpida Skerlou. We are also
grateful to Toula Marketou for permission to reproduce
some of her previously published drawings.

4. The Minoans in the Southeastern Aegean? The evidence from the Serraglio on Kos

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Westernizing Aegean of LH III C
Francesco Iacono

In the last decades Mediterranean archaeology has
changed dramatically questioning some of its most
basilar assumptions, as for instance the existence
of large scale migrations la Childe and prehistoric
thalassocracies la Evans. Yet despite this, when it
comes to the interpretation of large phenomena of
cultural change and interaction there are some axioms
laying at the very core of the discipline which remain
largely unnoticed and therefore almost completely
The most persistent and influential among those
is undoubtedly that of directionality of culture
change, from East to West, from the civilized to the
My aim in this contribution is to instil doubts about
the inescapability of this trend. Can cultural influence
travel the other way round?
In order to do that I will deal with an historical
context in which the South-East/North-West cultural
drift, as Andrew Sherratt (1997) named it, does not
really fit with archaeological data. I am referring to the
end of the palatial era and the post-palatial period in
Greece (LH III BC), corresponding roughly to Recent
and Final Bronze Age in Italy and Bronze D and Halstatt
A in the rest of Europe (Jung 2006, 216).
The title I choose evokes the well known Orientalizing period, a moment in which the cultural osmosis
between the Greek West and the East is said to be
at one of its higher point (Burkert 1992; Riva and
Vella 2006).
The hypothesis that I will provocatively try to
explore here by the means of a World System approach,
asserts that a similar phenomenon in terms of width

and strength of existing connections came about with

regions which were located westward and north
westward of the Aegean a few centuries before, in the
last part of Bronze Age.
I will try to show in this paper that after the
dissolution of mainland states a contraction occurred
in the sphere of cultural influence of the Mycenaean
core, leaving room for a variety of formerly peripheral
elements to be accepted and become influential in

World System Theory, concepts and

World System (WS) Theory has been already applied
by a number of scholars to the analysis of the Late
Bronze Age Mediterranean (see Kardulias 1996 with
previous bibliography). However I will not blindly
adopt the theory as it was developed by Wallerstein in
his first seminal work. It will be therefore necessary to
introduce some of the basic concepts and relationships
entailed by the approach adopted in this paper (Chase
Dunn and Hall 1993; Schneider 1977; A. Sherratt 1993;
Wallestein 1974). According to this perspective, the
traditional relationships of core and periphery are
defined by the relative level of capital accumulation,
with cores presenting larger amounts (whatever its
form) than peripheries (Frank 1993). These roles are of
course relational and the same socio-political entity (be
it a large polity, a hamlet or as far as the archaeological
phenomena are concerned a site) might be a core in
relation to some partners and a periphery vis--vis a
larger core.

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C


As the kind of interaction detectable in the archaeological record always entails a flow of capital
(normally in the form of material cultural items), it is
possible to analyze in terms of WS dynamics aspects
which are often considered extraneous to economic
interaction, such as diplomacy, political marriage
and gift exchange (Chase Dunn and Hall 1993; 1997;
Wilkinson 1987).
Methodologically it can be argued that in peripheral
areas, privileged possession of material culture items
from the core was possibly crucial as it signalled
to the wider community the successfulness of local
elites in establishing relationships with powerful
partners. These items were then employed by elites
in the peripheries as prestige goods in processes
of competition over economic and political power.
Afterwards they would slowly penetrate in the
tissue of peripheral societies being adopted/imitated
among larger sectors of the population (Friedman and
Rowlands 1977; Veblen 1902).
Therefore, as a general criterion, it is possible
to suggest that the larger the number of artefacts
imported and/or imitated in a given area, the stronger
is the influence of the core.
Naturally enough, systems are never static but continuously remodel and renegotiate their relationships
creating cycles of growth and contraction which
occasionally end up in major crisis and/or collapse
(see Frank 1993; Hall and Turchin 2003; Tainter 1988).
As an outcome of these crises former core-periphery
relationship can be inverted producing an inversion
of cultural influence that can be detected in the
archaeological domain. This is possibly what happened
to the Minoan/Mycenaean heartland toward the end of
the palatial time. One aim of this paper will be that of
addressing the eect of this process in a world systemic
scale of analysis. In order to do that the first step to
be made is assessing the nature of the relationship
between the Aegean core and its western peripheries
before this major crisis.

Sestieri 1988; Vagnetti 1983; 1999; Marazzi et al. 1986).

The areas that returned the largest amount of Aegean
materials are the Tyrrhenian, Sicily and, to a more
limited extent, the Ionian arc. Much less intense, albeit
already established, appear to have been interaction
with the Adriatic area both on the Balkan and on the
Italian side.1
In a more indirect fashion Mycenaean influence
has been linked to various developments like craft
production (introduction of new manufacturing
techniques and local imitations), architecture
and settlement patterns (MBA fortifications and
development of coastal sites in Southeastern Italy)
(Vagnetti 1999; Levi 2004; Malone et al. 1994; contra
Cazzella and Moscoloni 1999).
Consumption patterns attested at a key context such
as Lipari (Fig. 5.1.2) suggest that, although Mycenaean
materials were not restricted to specific areas, some
households had a privileged access to foreign materials
(Wijnergaarden 2002, 224). Furthermore the use
of Mycenaean products as display items has been
recorded in funerary contexts in Sicily, for example
at Thapsos (Fig. 5.1.3) and in Southern Italy, at Torre
S. Sabina (Fig. 5.1.1). In general, it looks as if, at least
at some sites presenting the large concentrations of
Mycenaean material in their region and that probably
acting as main communication nodes with the Aegean
world, Mycenaean materials (or, as far as Italy and
Sicily are concerned, products contained by these
materials) played an active role in societies internal
Overall it is possible to consider LH III A as the
moment of maximum expansion of the Mycenaean
core toward the Mediterranean.
No western elements and/or imports are attested in
the Aegean up to this time. As far as the archaeologically
detectable materials are concerned, the relationship
between the Aegean and the West seems to have been
a one-way one (S. Sherratt 1982; 1999; Vagnetti 1983;

The Mycenaean WS and the West in LH IIII A

Western items in Aegean Bronze Age,

previous interpretations

I do not have enough space here to discuss in detail

the functioning of the Mycenaean core as regards to its
western peripheries during the formative and the early
palatial period, therefore the following discussion will
be unavoidably selective.
Excluding the scant evidence of indirect relation
offered by a few fragments discovered on the
southern coast of Spain (Vianello 2005 with previous
bibliography), the main area of Mycenaean interaction
westward is represented by Italy (Bettelli 2002; Bietti

During the more mature phase of the palatial era,

corresponding to the subsequent ceramic phase LH III
B, something changed. This change, however, is not
dramatic and it is possible to fully appreciate its scope
only paying the due attention to the big picture.
Two new classes of materials of western origin
started to be attested in small quantities in Greek
assemblages. I am referring to a class of handmade
burnished pottery, also known as Barbarian Ware


Francesco Iacono

Figure 5.1 Relations between the Aegean and the Central Mediterranean during LH III A: distribution of Aegean type pottery in Italy
(after Vagnetti 1999, 140 updated). 1) Torre S. Sabina, 2) Lipari, 3) Thapsos.

(Bettelli 2002, 117136; Rutter 1975; Pilides 1994) and

to a heterogeneous group of bronze items often put
together under the label of Urnfield Bronzes (Harding
1984; S. Sherratt 2000).
These exogenous materials attracted archaeologists
attention pretty soon and up to very recent times
their interpretation has been quite regularly (with
few notable exceptions: i.e. Borgna and Cssola Guida
2005; Harding 1984; Sandars 1978; S. Sherratt 1981;
Small 1990; 1997) ethnically coloured and connected
with historical and semi-historical events such as the
arrival of the Dorians in Greece or Sea Peoples raids
across the Mediterranean (i.e. Rutter 1975; 1990; DegerJalkotzy 1977; Kilian 1978; 1985; Bouzek 1985; Bettelli
2002; Jung 2006; 2007, 353; Gentz 1997; French 1989).
Since the beginning of the last century bronzes, and

in particular the Naue II swords, were seen as the

archaeological indicators of the coming of the dreadful
Dorian warriors from the north (i.e. Miloji 1948;
Desborough 1964; contra Snodgrass 1971, 354355).
Albeit fundamentally recalibrated in their extent, more
recent migratory hypothesis still present a culture =
people model of explanation which is unsatisfying
in many respects.3 My general objection to this sort
of argument is that linking directly prehistorical
archaeological data with the histoire vnementielle
is always a hazardous operation. Here I will try to
consider western items in the Aegean as indicators of
a broader economic relationship. I will focus primarily
on Handmade Burnished Ware (HBW) although I
will integrate also in the discussion the contextual
distribution of Urnfield Bronzes.

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C

Handmade Burnished Ware

HBW is a ceramic class attested not only in continental
Greece (Jung 2006; Rutter 1990) and Crete (Hallager
1985; Jung 2006; Rutter 1990), but also on Cyprus (Pilides
1994) and in the Levantine area (Badre 2003; Mazar
1985), presenting three distinctive characteristics:
1) This pottery was handmade, whilst almost the
entirety of ceramic production in the Minoan/
Mycenaean world (including cooking wares) was
wheel-made, since long time.4
2) Surface treatment (that is burnishing) as well
as some morphological features represented in
these pots had parallels in areas external to the
Mycenaean world.
3) The relative frequency of this pottery has recurrently proved to be rather low in Greek sites.5
As far as the last point is concerned, it must be noted
that although an endless list of comparanda has been
proposed in the past for HBW, recent studies (and
in particular those from Reinhardt Jung and Marco
Bettelli) have demonstrated that there are some
morphological elements among many specimen of this
class, which clearly refer to handmade production of
the central and western Mediterranean, above all to
Southern Italy and to a much more limited extent to
Northern Greece (Bettelli 2002, 117137; Jung 2006;
Kilian 2007, 5556).
Additionally, provenance analyses have revealed that
direct imports are not completely absent as perhaps
in the case of Lefkandi (Lefkandi: Jones 1986, 474476;
Menelaion: Whitbread 1992; Cyprus: Jones 1986;
Pilides 1994).
Putting aside the dierence between imports and
local imitations (I shall return to this issue later on),
what is immediately clear, observing HBW assemblages
through time, is that there seems to have been very
little chronological dierence between the various
shapes attested, as they all seem to have appeared
at about the same time in the Aegean. Additionally,
although, as noticed long ago by Jeremy Rutter,
most of the possible functional categories seem to be
represented in HBW, the shapes which truly reach an
Aegean-wide diusion are probably only the large
jars (either plain or with finger-impressed and plain
cordon) and carinated shapes (bowls and cups)6.
As far as decorative techniques are concerned, the
most widespread ones are plastic cordons (normally
finger-impressed but also plain) which refers to
Italian Subappennine traditions and, to a much more
limited extent, Barbotine technique, which instead
points toward Northern Greece (Fig. 5.2). The largest
assemblages recovered so far pertaining to HBW are


those of Tiryns (virtually all the HBW shapes are

attested here, Fig. 5.2.5) and Chania (Fig. 5.2.6 and
Fig. 5.3). This might be due to a recovery bias as both
the excavators of Chania and Tiryns were among the
firsts in recognizing HBW, but ,it also seems that these
two sites did in fact enjoy an important role on this
Further, the assemblages of these two sites have many
points in common, not only under a typological point
of view, but also under a chronological perspective, as
in both sites the HBW phenomenon start rather early,
that is in LH III B2.
From this initial area in the LH/M III C HBW
expanded, although with minor intensity, to most of
mainland Greece and Crete (Fig. 5.2). This period of
expansion is interestingly associated with the growth
of the total frequency of HBW at Tiryns and a reduction
at Chania (Hallager and Hallager 2000, 166; Kilian
2007, 46, fig. 1).
In other words, the HBW package probably appeared
as it is in LH/M III B2 in a rather restricted area
comprehending the Argolid and West/Central Crete
(the only exceptions being a vessel from Athens and a
single sherd coming from Nichoria, see Appendix). In
the activities underlying HBW as a material correlate
large, the use of large containers and carinated bowls
seems to have been quite important.
Excluding a certain predilection for coastal locales
(Hallager 1985), it does not seem possible to recognize
particular directives in this process of expansion,
although, it is quite interesting to note that the relatively
little explored region of Achaea presents more than one
find spot. This is possibly due to the fact that this area
was acquiring a notable importance into post palatial
period (accompanied possibly by a population growth),
but perhaps its western position is not to be ruled out
completely as an explanation (Dickinson 2006; Eder
2006; contra Papadopoulos 1979, 183).

Western items as evidence of trade in metal

As mentioned before HBW is not the only class
of western items present in late palatial and post
palatial times in Greece. In this same timeframe, a
quite heterogeneous group of bronze items presenting
a close ancestry with European productions often
collectively put under the label of Urnfield Bronzes
(UB) starts to be found in the Aegean (eventually
becoming quite popular also on Cyprus and elsewhere
in the Eastern Mediterranean). Among those items it
is possible to find the notorious Naue II sword that
will become the standard weapon of the end of the


Francesco Iacono

Figure 5.2 Relations between the Aegean and the Central Mediterranean during LH III B and C: Distribution of Aegean type pottery in
Italy (after Vagnetti 1999, 140 updated) and of Handmade Burnished Ware and Urnfield Bronzes in the Aegean. 1) Frattesina, 2) Moscosi
di Cingoli, 3) Cisterna di Tollentino, 4) Rocavecchia, 5) Tiryns, 6) Chania, 7) Koubar, 8) Pellana, 9) Perati, 10) Kommos.

Bronze Age all over the Mediterranean, being also

converted to iron later on (Foltiny 1964, 255; KilianDirlmeier 1993, 94106; Sandars 1963, 163), together
with other weapons like the Peschiera daggers (Bianco
Peroni 1994; Harding 1984, 169174; Papadopoulos
1998, 2930) and work tools such as knives (Bianco
Peroni 1976; Harding 1984, 132134). As noted long
ago by Anthony Harding, once again the closer
typological terms of comparison for most of these
items (particularly for weapons) are not to be sought
in central Europe, rather in the Adriatic area, either on
the Italian or on the Balkan side, the latter as in the case
of socketed spearheads (for swords: Bietti Sestieri 1973,
406; Harding 1984, 162165; for spearheads: Snodgrass
1971, 307; in general: S. Sherratt 2000; 8487). Recent
provenance analyses, although occasionally oering
ambiguous results, have also proved the existence of
direct imports from Italy, as in the case of the warrior

tomb that recently came to light at Koubar, in AetoliaAcarnania (Fig. 5.2.7) (Koui et al. 2006; StavropoulouGatsi, et al. 2009). Again, as with HBW, it is intriguing
to note that taking in consideration the distribution
of the UB, Argolid, Crete and Achaia have the lions
share, with a particular concentration of artefacts on
Crete and in Achaia (see Appendix).
But are HBW and UB in any way related? There
is some overlapping between the distributions of the
two categories but, to this extent, the evidence is far
from being compelling, since they co-occur only at
nine sites (see Appendix). A more useful approach to
explore this hypothesis entails looking at contextual
HBW has been found almost exclusively in settlement
contexts (with only two exceptions: a jug from Pellana
and another one from Perati, Fig. 5.2.89), conversely
for UB funerary and cultic contexts are predominant

(see Appendix). We can at the same time observe that

the contexts where bronzes and pottery are attested
together are exactly, those that can be defined as the
exception to the normal rule (Appendix). The same
tendency for sites close to the coast which has been
noted for HBW is reversed for bronzes, which tend to
occur more frequently in inland locations.
In order to explain this second negative evidence, it
is possible to recall the extremely low value that was
normally attributed to pottery in LBA (S. Sherratt 1999).
As a matter of fact this product was much more likely
to be discarded in the place where it was used, whilst
the valuable metal artefacts normally had a long life
being moved far away from their place of origin.
Having established that it is possible to read some
sort of link between these two classes of artefacts in
the archaeological record, much more dicult remains
the assessment of which areas of Greece were chiefly
involved in this connection. Although some of the
best explored regions of Greece such as Argolid and
Crete seem to have played an important role, the
discrepancies in the level of exploration of dierent
Greek regions may severely hamper our understanding
of distributional patterns. Some considerations are
however still possible. For instance it can be noticed
that an area that has been intensely investigated such
as Messenia has actually yielded relatively little traces
of this western connection.
Conversely a region that has been relatively little
explored, such as for instance Achaia, returned a good
number of find spots (primarily of UB but also of HBW,
see Appendix and map at Fig. 5.2).
Therefore, we are dealing with two phenomena
concentrated in the same areas, connecting the
Aegean world with roughly the same western regions
and contextually manifesting themselves in the
archaeological record in opposite ways.
It is now perhaps possible to construct a general
model according to which HBW is more likely to be
found in coastal settings whilst metal objects can also
penetrate inland, being acquired and used for long
periods, eventually being put out of circulation in
various ways among which are also cultic deposits
and grave oerings.
The shift in the frequency of HBW attested from
Chania to Tiryns is perhaps indicative of a shift in the
role of major node in this exchange, taken up by the
Argolid at the beginning of LH III C.
The case for a connection between impasto (the
Italian name for HBW) and metal has been already put
forward in the past by Vance Watrous. This scholar,
analyzing the Sardinian material from Kommos (Fig.
5.2.10) in Southern Crete, noticed the coincidence of
the diameter of bowls and large jars, suggesting that

Figure 5.3 Distribution of features in various Handmade Burnished Ware assemblages. Each feature has been taken in consideration only if attested at more than one site. For
a quantitative assessment of the various assemblages see the Appendix. (* buckets are distinguished from bucked shaped jars by their horizontal handle on the rim; ** plastic
decoration includes horned, axe and bird handles).

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C


Francesco Iacono

the two vessels formed a transport package for metal

from the Central Mediterranean Island. His point was
strengthened by the fact that large containers similar
to those found at Kommos were actually used in
Sardinia as container for metal hoards (Rutter 1999;
Watrous 1989; 1992, 163168, 175 and 182). The recent
re-dating of the Sardinian material to a horizon of LH
III B has made what was happening in Southern (with
Sardinian materials) and Northern Crete (with Italian
and Adriatic materials) even more credibly connected,
as Kommos and Chania may represent the outcome of
similar, roughly contemporary westeast connections
(Rutter 1999; Shaw and Shaw 2006, 674).
To conclude, I am proposing that HBW was connected
in some way with metal trade. This connection may
have been direct, as at Kommos where Sardinian
jars were possibly used as containers, or more subtle
entailing only the knowledge in the local Mycenaean
market that the two material categories, namely
bronze and pottery, were related to each other as well
as to the West, the original source of metal. In the first
case the increase of popularity of HBW during early
LH III C should be considered as a sort of side eect
of the popularity of UB and, therefore, HBW would
have not been valued as prestige exotic in itself, being
primarily concentrated in settlement contexts not far
from the break-bulk area of trade. In the second case
the pottery would have been charged of symbolical
significance and because of its visual distinctiveness
it may have been even used to signal association with
eminent personages involved in trade activities.
In this perspective the difference between true
imports and local imitation in HBW would cease to be
meaningful as the really crucial factor would have not
been actual provenance but rather external appearance
of the items. It is not necessary to envisage these two
possibilities as mutually exclusive alternatives. On the
contrary, there are tenuous hints that they probably
represented two consecutive stages, as attested by the
finds of HBW in funerary contexts (at Pellana, Perati,
see Fig. 5.2.89 and at Medeon, see Appendix) departing
from LH III C. This trade and the acculturation processes
entailed by it represented the economic motor behind
the phenomenon of the Westernizing Aegean. In order
to make sense of them, however, it will be necessary
to place them in a World Systemic frame.

From Periphery to Core: the West in LH III

In a timeframe comparable to that of the appearance
of HBW in Greece, a new trend in the distribution of
Aegean type pottery in Central Mediterranean can be

observed. This new trend is characterized by an increase

of the number of find spots in continental Italy, perhaps
paired by a relative decrease of attention towards the
Tyrrhenian area (Smith 1987; Vagnetti 1983; 1999) with
the exclusion of Sardinia (for which however at this
time, a Cypriot connection has been argued, see Lo
Schiavo 2003; Vagnetti 1999a). Two areas are chiefly
interested by this dynamic, namely the Ionian and the
Adriatic. In the Ionian area, evidence confirms a trend
already established in LH III A. On the Adriatic side,
in LH III BC, Mycenean pottery seems to be attested
in relatively modest quantities (often not more than
a handful of sherds), but in a vast number of coastal
locales. This new trend is epitomized by the situation
of Adriatic Apulia where it is possible to recognize
findspots of Aegean type pottery placed at a distance
ranging from 2040 km from one another (Bettelli
2002, 38).
Interestingly, however, most of the pottery fragments
found in this chronological span did not come from
imported vessels, but rather from local imitations,
whose production was by now well established in
many southern Italian centres (Vagnetti and Jones
1988; Vagnetti 1999; Vagnetti and Panichelli 1994).
In the light of this consideration, the distribution of
Aegean type pottery seems more likely to be related
with a development of local maritime activity rather
than with a growth of Mycenaean frequentation
(Broodbank forthcoming).
This process was perhaps also accompanied by a
decrease in the use of pottery in funerary display, as,
at this timeframe, pottery is almost exclusively found
in settlements (Vagnetti 1999, 140).
Of extreme importance is, further North, the
attestation of Mycenaean pottery at the large site of
Frattesina (Fig. 5.2.1), placed in a strategic position at
the mouth of the Po river. Findings at Frattesina are
abundant encompassing not only Mycenaean pottery,
but also materials which in a European context may
be categorized as absolute exotica such as elephant
ivory and faience, for which there are clear traces
of in-place manufacture activities (Biett i Sestieri
1983; 1996; Bietti Sestieri and De Grossi Mazzorin
2001; Cssola Guida 1999; Henderson 1988, 440441;
Rahmstorf 2005).7
Metals played a capital role at Frattesina, as attested
by the recovery of four hoards comprising various
types of ingots with a wide Adriatic diusion as
well as numerous finished objects showing anities
with Urnfield productions found in Greece. Among
those objects it is worth recalling the Allerona type
swords which have been found also in the necropolis
pertaining to the settlement (Cssola Guida 1999).
Lead isotopes analysis performed on the metals from

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C

Frattesina have returned ambiguous results, as the
possible provenience of the copper was to be sought
either in Etruria or in the Alpine area (Pearce 1999;
Pellegrini 1995). This is not at all surprising as the
background of what has been called the Frattesina
phenomenon is constituted by the area of the so
called Terramare, wealthy agricultural embanked sites
attesting clear connections (in metallurgy as well as
in pottery productions) either southward with Etruria
and northward with the Alpine area and the Peschiera
horizon. It has been recently suggested (Cardarelli
et al. 2004, 83) that during the Recent Bronze Age
stone weights from the Terramare were in some way
related to Aegean ponderal system. However is the
very existence of weights that indicates that not only
primary production but also trade and convertibility
probably had a noteworthy importance for Terramare
societies. Weights of the same class as those of the
Terramare centres are also attested in Adriatic Italy
(Marche and Apulia) in sites that returned Aegeantype materials.8
In an initial phase the Terramare system may
well have constituted what Andrew Sherratt (1993)
has defined as buer zone, namely farming areas
linking two chains of exchange, in this case the
Alpine-European and the Mediterranean networks
(Bernab Brea et al. 1997; Bietti Sestieri 1973, 1996;
Pearce 1999).
Afterwards, with the increase of metal circulation
importance, during Italian Recent Bronze Age (roughly
LH III BLH III C early in Aegean terms) Terramare area
experienced a rapid growth in the size of settlements
which eventually ended up in a moment of major
crisis towards the end of Recent Bronze Age (Bernab
Brea et al. 1997).
To this extent, however, it is important to highlight
that the so called Grandi Valli Veronesi system, the
group of settlements out of which Frattesina emerged,
possibly did not experience a breakdown similar to
that of the bulk of the Terramare sites. Here indeed,
as indicated by various elements among which the
recovery of LH III C middle/late pottery mostly of
probable Southern Italian manufacture, occupation
was protracted also in an advanced phase of the
Recent Bronze Age and in a couple of examples to
Final Bronze Age (i.e. Montagnana and Fabbrica dei
Soci, see Jones et al. 2002, 225, 230 and 232; Jung 2006;
Leonardi and Cupit 2008). Therefore, as suggested by
Mark Pearce, in the collapse of the Terramare system,
the deep moment of environmental and economic crisis
occurring around the end of Recent Bronze Age, may
also have triggered a process of site selection on a
regional scale, where sites more likely to survive were
perhaps those less dependent on autarkic agricultural


activity. This is probably the case of the Grandi Valli

Veronesi polity where a number of other production
are attested (above all bronze but also amber and glass)
(Pearce 2007, 103 and 106).
At the apex of this process of selection is to be posed
the Frattesina phenomenon, manifesting its full range
of overseas contacts.9
Similar phenomena of site selection, although
more limited in their extent, to those suggested for
the Terramare area, can be recognized also in Apulia,
starting already at the end of Middle Bronze Age and
strengthening towards Recent Bronze Age (Bettelli
2002, 3940; Gravina et al. 2004, 210211).
Apulia indeed probably represented a key area
in the trade dynamics entailed by the Westernizing
Aegean. Quite surprisingly this region completely
devoid of any metal resources produced from Recent
Bronze Age to Final Bronze Age (LH III B/C in Aegean
terms) the largest collection of bronze smith hammers
in Italy, as well as a large number of stone moulds and
metal hoards. Among this last category can be placed
a hoard coming from the site of Rocavecchia contained
by an impasto jar very close to those contemporarily
ubiquitous in the Aegean and composed only by
Northern Italian types (Guglielmino 2005, 644645;
2006; 2008).10
It may be pertinent at this point to ask what was
the rationale behind the encounter of the European
and Mediterranean trade systems. The answer is that
they acted one as complement for the other. In the
first net (the Alpine-European), metal circulation and
production was growing (as attested for instance by
tons of slags calculated for the Late/Final Bronze Age
smelting site of Acque Fredde in Trentino, see Pearce
2007, 7677), whilst in the second circuit the need for
metals was endemically high, being propelled by the
necessity to maintain an high level of liquidity (A.
Sherratt 1993; 2004).
The impressive amount of metal circulating in
this period in the Alpine-European trade system
provided the capital accumulation which is behind
the phenomenon of the Westernizing Aegean.
To sum up, it can be argued that the Central
Mediterranean phenomena of site selection and import
replacement consistently increased during the Italian
Recent Bronze Age, showing a new attitude toward
exchange. Trade was no longer passively accepted,
but rather local communities were now probably
actively engaged in and competed for the control of
the flow of traded goods. In this process a major role
was probably played by societies positioned at the
immediate interface of the Mycenaean core. These
had indeed the possibility to take advantage of their
intermediate position between Northern Italy/Europe


Francesco Iacono

and Aegean/Eastern Mediterranean. It is extremely

likely that these former semi-peripheries, lacking
palaces control in Greece, for a brief time-span acted
as a sort of polycentric core able to invert the eastwest
cultural drift.

Reverberation of Westernizing features

Westeast influence interested undoubtedly as first
some of the main centres of the Minoan/Mycenaean
world that for their nature of large communication/
economic nodes where more likely to catalyze trade.
The range of influence of these new precarious western
cores, however, should not be overemphasized, as
indeed, excluding main trade nodes, their prominence
was probably very short, being stronger in the areas
of Greece closer to the west such as Achaia. Indeed
the existence of a strong relationship between this last
region and southern Italy has been already noted on
the basis of existing similarities between productions
of Aegean type decorated pottery (i.e. Fisher 1988,
Particularly in Achaia, although not only there,
western metal artefacts (above all Naue II swords)
started to be used as items of display in warriors
tombs, reproducing a dynamics similar to that attested
in the west during Middle Bronze Age (Deger-Jalkotzy
2006; Papadopoulos 1999).
Western metal found its way eastward possibly
through the Gulf of Corinth. It is very improbable that,
even during LH III B when the palaces still existed,
the channel used for entering the Mycenaean market
was the ocial palatial one possibly regulated by the
rules of gift exchange and perhaps under the control
of the authority of the palace(s). Indeed, the very
multiplicity of UB models and shapes attested in the
Urnfield Bronzes in Greece, as well as the fact that the
bronze was not re-casted in Aegean shapes (which
appears to be unusual if we consider the tight control
that palatial economies exercised on weapons, see Hiller
1993) tells us that we are dealing with something less
formal, which possibly implied the exchange of finished
objects or scrap metal, something more similar to the
cargo of the Cape Gelidonya ship than to that of the
Ulu Burun wreck.
We are thus possibly dealing with a different
social formation from that constituting the higher
level palatial elite (S. Sherratt 2000, 87), an emerging
class perhaps formed by low rank (palatial) elite and
middlemen such as the so called collectors,11 which in
the troubled post-palatial times were able to increase
their economic (and possibly political?) relevance by
the mean of trade with the West.

In Greece for a brief period, bronze shapes, as well

as possibly a wider range of material culture which
has not come to us, became the material symbol of
this new emerging class.
Western features during this time span became even
fashionable and many elements possibly originated in
the HBW repertoire were reproduced in the standard
Mycenaean productions. Rutter identified a number
of these features (such as for instance the appearance
of the carinated bowl FS 240) and, although for
some of them it is possible to find an ancestry also
in Mycenaean fine production, the chronological
coincidence of the emergence of most of these features
with the period immediately subsequent to the
moment of maximal attestation of HBW remains
nevertheless striking (Rutter 1990, 3739; contra Kilian
2007, 53). Rutters point seems even more credible
considering some remarkable examples of cultural
hybridity such as the Mycenaean carinated bowls
surmounted by a Subappennine-looking bulls head
found at Tiryns (Podzuweit 2007, Taf. 59). Excluding
Mycenaean pottery, however, it is possible to suggest
the existence of Westernizing elements reverberating
in various spheres of post-palatial material culture. For
instance the widespread adoption of simple clay spools
(for which again parallel is to be sought primarily in
Italy) in textile production, used perhaps instead of
traditional loom-weights, can be seen as a reflex of the
introduction of new textiles in the Aegean (Rahmstorf
2003). A confirmation to this suggestion can be perhaps
sought in the adoption or spread of violin bow fibulas
and long pins, perhaps indicating the appearance of
new ways of fasting clothes and thus of a new fashion
(S. Sherratt 2000, 85).
A Westernizing influence can be read also in the
sphere of symbolism and particularly in the diusion
of symbols like the solar boat or the bird-motif on a
wide range of media, like knives, Mycenaean decorated
pottery or golden leaf. There is some discrepancy
between the chronology of some of these items and
the time of widest diusion of HBW, as the former
normally can be dated from LH III C middle onward.
It looks however safe to consider these features as the
last residual of the Westernizing Aegean phenomenon
(Bettelli 2002, 146164; Mathus 1980; Peroni 2004,

People behind the system

So far I might have given the impression that the
hypothesis of the Westernizing Aegean is in stark
contrast with any foreign presence in Mycenaean
Greece, but this is simply not the case. For the dichotomy
between movement of people and movement of

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C

goods is a false one, as often the first one implied
at least partially the second one, particularly in
prehistoric and ancient times when the time required
for travelling was huge and the season available for
seafaring limited.
In his recent analysis of the HBW corpus from
Tiryns, Klaus Kilian suggested that this class of
pottery was to be related to a small nucleus of people
coming from Appennine peninsula residing in Tiryns
(Kilian 2007; see also Belardelli and Bettelli 1999).
This is absolutely likely and the pattern of slow
absorption of this group of foreigners in Tiryns
society identified by the scholar adds a considerable
historical depth to the dynamics entailed by the
Westernizing Aegean. The question to which I have
tried to answer in this work was exactly what was
the rationale for this people to be there, and I think
that trade is an answer that need to be taken more
seriously in consideration.

In this work I hope to have been able at the very least
to cast some doubts on the dominant archaeological
narrative which sees the relationship between
the Eastern civilization and the barbarian West in
Late Bronze Age as sporadic and fundamentally
The reason why the importance of Westernizing
features in the archaeological record of the Aegean
have not been fully acknowledged before has primarily
to do with the pervasiveness of the ex oriente lux
dogma, which still underlies the interpretation
of much of the archaeological record of the late
prehistoric Mediterranean, even if at a subconscious
As an example, suce here to note that the largely
accepted notion of a Late Bronze Age metallurgical
koin, albeit highlighting the wide range of the
connections established during the last part of Bronze
Age, de facto obscures the truly revolutionary nature
of this exchange. Indeed, for the very first time in late
prehistory, Europe and the western Mediterranean did
not constitute a mere passive receiver of innovation
but its main origin (Carancini and Peroni 1997; Mller
Karpe 1962, 280).
Western influences appears to have been for at
least some decades a critical factor in the shaping of
late palatial/post-palatial cultural milieu and it has
been possible to demonstrate their importance only
by paying attention to large scale processes of social
cultural and economic change in a wide Mediterranean


1 Tyrrhenian and Sicily: Bietti Sestieri 1988; Vianello 2005.
Ionian arc: Bettelli 2002; Peroni 1994. Balkan side of the
Adriatic: Bejko 1994; 2002; Tomas 2005. Italian side: Bettelli
2002; Bietti Sestieri 2003.
2 As noticed by Van Wnergaarden (2002), among Mycenaean
materials came to light in Sicily and Southern Italy there
is a prevalence of storage vessels. For a dierent view on
Southern Italian evidence see Bettelli 2002, 144.
3 Marginal groups in Mycenaean society have been often
indicated as possible bearers of the new western material
culture items. For Banko these groups where likely to
be the slave women attested in the well known set of
Pylian tablets (Banko et al. 1996; Genz 1997). For Eder
(1998) HBW was introduced by northern pastoralist groups
responsible also for the reintroduction of cist graves in the
Mycenaean heartland. For Bettelli (2002, drawing upon
Drews (1993) warfare hypothesis for the fall of Bronze Age
societies in the Eastern Mediterranean) instead, HBW and
UB were likely to refer to groups of mercenaries hired by
various Mycenaean and Near Eastern monarchs during
the troubled days of the Sea Peoples.
4 Rutter 1975 contra Walberg 1976. As a consequence of
these three criteria it is not possible to consider together
with the rest of the HBW phenomenon areas presenting
long standing traditions of handmade pottery production
such as for instance Epirus (Tartaron 2004), Ionian Islands
(Souyoudzoglou-Haywood 1999) and Central Macedonia
(Kiriatzi et al. 1997; Hochstetter 1984).
5 To this extent the site of Kalapodi (Felsch 1996), that has
often been mentioned in previous discussion on HBW (i.e.
Kilian 1985), will not be considered as part of the HBW
phenomenon. Many scholars have noted the peculiarity of
this site (e.g. Rutter 1990). The unusual representation of
HBW at this context prevent us from advancing any useful
comparison with the rest of Greece. Handmade pottery at
this site constituted almost the 40% of the coarse pottery
assemblage and is concentrated only in one area close to
a kiln. In addition, according to compositional analysis
(Felsch 1996, 117120), the local HBW, although presenting
some peculiarities, under a technologic point of view can
be grouped without any doubt with the other cooking ware
of the site. All these elements, which are unattested in other
sites of the Aegean, lead me (in agreement with Rutter
1990) to consider HBW at Kalapodi as the outcome of
fundamentally dierent phenomena from these aecting
the rest on the Minoan/Mycenaean heartland which need
to be examined in their own terms.
6 Kilian 2007, 7280; Rutter 1990. It is indeed possible
to recognize containers (i.e. various kind of large jars:
Catling and Catling 1981, fig. 2; Evely 2006, fig. 2.42.4;
French 1989, fig. 4; Hallager and Hallager 2003, 253; Kilian
2007, 920; pithoid vessels: Catling and Catling 1981, fig.
4.33; Hallager and Hallager 2000, pl. 67d), vessels made
for consuming liquid and solids (i.e. cups: i.e. Evely
2006, fig. 2.42.23; jugs: i.e. Andrikou et al. 2006, 176, n.
154; French 1989, fig. 3; Kilian 2007, pl. 18.206; bowls:
Hallager and Hallager 2003, 169, pl. 133 d2; Rutter 1975,




Francesco Iacono
2122, n.8,12) and cooking implements (i.e. Kilian 2007,
pl. 21, 261262).
The once remarkable gap in the distribution of Aegean
type pottery on the coast of Adriatic Central Italy is
being slowly reduced by new find spots (i.e. Moscosi
di Cingoli and Cisterna di Tolentino, fig. 1.2.23), see
Vagnetti et al. 2006).
At Moscosi di Cingoli and at Coppa Nevigata. A stone
weight which came to light at Lefkandi looks also
morphologically very similar to the Italian pesi con
appicagnolo type (see Cardarelli et al 2004, 82 and 87, fig.
3; Evely 2006, 275, fig. 5.5.4).
The recent acknowledgement of an early phase of
occupation at Frattesina dating to the Recent Bronze Age
seems to support the existence of some sort of continuity
between the site and the Grandi Valli Veronesi system
(Cssola Guida 1999, 487488).
There are a number of comparisons between the impasto
repertory retrieved at Rocavecchia and HBW of the
Aegean. This is the case, for instance, of an impasto jar
with plastic decoration (Pagliara et al. 2007, 338, fig. 38,
iv.32) which is closely comparable to a similar vessel
from Korakou (Rutter 1975, 18, no.1).
Studies by Jean-Pierre Olivier (2001) and Judith Weingarten
(1997) have plausibly suggested that these figures were
strongly connected not only with production, but also
with trade and metal redistribution. It is this the case
of collectors involved in oil production/collection and
trade (attested also by inscriptions on coarse stirrup jars
which at the very least travelled from Crete to Tiryns,
see Olivier 2001, 151; Carlier 1993), or of the qua-si-reu
of Pylus, whose connection with metal is recorded in
the linear B tablets (Weingarten 1997, 530). It is worth
of note that possible foreigners are attested among the
collectors from Knossos (Olivier 2001).

This article is based on a paper presented at the 14th
meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists
held in Malta in September 2008. I would like to thank
all the people that in that occasion oered several
valuable comments as well as Todd Whitelaw, Mark
Pearce, Ruth Whitehouse, Riccardo Guglielmino,
Andrea Vianello and Michele Massa who in other
occasions discussed with me some of the issues treated
in this paper. I am extremely thankful to Cyprian
Broodbank who had the patience to read and comment
a draft of this paper. Needless to say I am the only
responsible for any of the views here expressed (as
well as for possible errors and/or inaccuracies).

While this chapter was in press a number of analyses
have partially confirmed some of the trends tentatively
identified in the article. These are primarily the result
of the important research project on metal ingots and
artefacts by Jung and others (see Jung et al. 2008;
Jung 2009, 75) that has supported a possible Italian
provenance for some of the metal objects retrieved
in Greece (particularly in Argolid and Achaia).
Also recent studies have proposed new explanatory
hypotheses for the presence and distribution of HBW
in Greece (Strack 2007; Lis 2008; Jung 2010) among
which are to be mentioned the new syntheses by
Bettelli (2009; 2011) that endorse a view similar to
the one held here.

Find spots of Handmade Burnished Ware (HBW) and Urnfield Bronzes (UB) in Greece. The number after UB indicates the
number of bronze items attested. The number after HBW instead is an approximate quantitative assessment of the consistency
of the assemblage: 1= the pottery constitutes a considerable proportion of the overall assemblage, 2= some vessels/ fragments
are attested (up to 20), 3= the pottery is only attested (one vessel/ fragment), ?= unknown (after S. Sherratt 2000, updated).




Settlement/ Hoards

HBW (?) and UB (8)


Bibliography UB

Bibliography HBW

UB (3)

Bouzek 1985, 147 no

B3; Catling 1956, 111
no. 3; French 1986, 281;
Sandars 1963, 151 pl.
25, 37; Schlieman 1878,
144 fig. 221; Tsountas
1897, 110 Pl. 83; Wace
1953, 78 fig. 45, 7.

Bouzek 1985, 183 no. 5;

French 1989.

Grossmann and Schafer

1971, 70, fig. 1; Karo
1930, 135 Pl. 37; Maran
2006; Papadopoulos
1998, 29 no. 139.

Belardelli and Bettelli

1999; Bettelli 2002, 122,
126; Kilian 2007.

Argolid and



HBW (1) and UB (4)


HBW (2)


HBW (2)


UB (1)

Catling 1975, 9 fig. 11.


HBW (1) and UB (2)

Davidson 1952, 200 no.

1522 pl. 91; Stilliwell
1948, 119 pl. 48, 30.

Rutter 1979, 391.


HBW (2) and UB (1)

Popham and Sackett

1968, 14 fig.19.

Evely 2006, 215 fig.2.42

and Pl. 49; Popham and
Sackett 1968, 18 fig.34.


HBW (2)

Frizell 1986, 83 fig. 29

Blegen 1921, 7374 fig.
104, 105; Rutter 1975.

Adrimi-Sismani 2003,
2006, 473, 475, 476477
fig. 25.7, 25.8, 25.9, 25.10;
Jung 2006, Taf. 17.


UB (1)


HBW (3)




Hochstetter 1984, 336

Abb.55; Jung 2006,
3637, Taf. 17.7.

HBW (?)



Bouzek 1985, 137 no.

A2.7, 141, no. 1.

UB (1)

Bouzek 1985, 141 no. 1.

UB (3)

Bouzek 1985, 139,

nos 56; Kraiker and
Kbler 1939 173; pl. 52.

Immewahr 1971, 141, 258

Pl. 62.

HBW (3) and UB


Bouzek 1985, 147 no

Iakovides 1969 I, 157 No.

35, II, 228; III Pl. 45..35.

Papadopoulos 1979,
227 no. 209 fig. 317cd.

Bettelli 2002, 122; DegerJalcotzy 1977, 31 3.4.1,

3.9.2; Mastrokostas 1965,
fig. 156, 157.

HBW (2) and UB (1)

Deger-Jalckotzy 1977;
Deger Jalckotzy and
Alram Stern 1985, 395,
410; 2006, 711; Rutter
1990, note 1.

HBW (?)


UB (1)


UB (1)


UB (1)

Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
165167; Papadopoulos
1999, 271.
Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
159; Kolonas 2001, 260f.


Francesco Iacono

UB (2)

Papadopoulos 1979,
228, nos 222223; fig.
320, ab.

Patras (Klauss)

UB (3)

Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
165; Kyparisses 1938,
118; Papadopoulos
1979, 228, no. 210 fig.
316 d; 1999, 270271.

Patras (Krini)

UB (1)

Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
157; PapazoglouManioudaki 1994.


UB (2)

Deger-Jalkotzy 2006,
158; Petropoulos 2000,
68, 75.


UB (2)

Papadopoulos 1979,
227228, no. 209, 221
fig. 317 c, 320 cd.


UB (1)

Papadopoulos 1979,
227 no. 204 fig. 316 b.



UB (1)



UB (1)


UB (1)

Heurtley 1925, Pl. 19, 2.


UB (1)

Vokotopoulou 1969,
198 fig. 6.


UB (1)

Vokotopoulou 1969,
197 fig. 7.


UB (1)







UB (1)

idem 184 fig. 2.1.


UB (1)



UB (1)

Bouzek 1985, 149 4.1.8.


UB (4)

Benton 1935, 72 fig. 20.


UB (2)


UB (2)


UB (2)

Schiste Odos

UB (1)




et al. 2009.
Petsas 1962, 242, Pl.

SouyoudzoglouHaywood 1999, 4243,

Pl. 21 A1592.
Kyparisses 1919, 119,
fig. 36; SouyoudzoglouHaywood 1999, 3839,
Pl. 21 A915.
Blackman 1997, 33;
Demakopoulou 1969,
Tsountas 1897, 110
fig. 1.


HBW (?)

Pilides 1994, 27.


HBW (3)


HBW (2)

Andrikou et al. 2006,

5354 Pl. 6, 151156.

Agios Ioannis

HBW (?)

Kilian 1985, 89.

UB (2)

Perdrizet 1908, 95 no.

456 fig. 126 a 327.


UB (1)

Catling 1956, 113 no.



UB (3)

Furtwangler 1890, 174

no. 1035 Pl. 64; Weber
1944, 146 Pl. 56.

Lerat 1938, 201, 205;

Reber 1991, 44.

5. Westernizing Aegean of LH III C



UB (1)




Grotta (Naxos)



Catling 1961, 117 no. 9.

HBW (3)

Catling and Catling

Demakopolou 1982, 117,
176 Pl. 59.135.
Mac Donald and Wilkie
1992, 512, 766.

UB (1)

Kardara 1977, Pl. 7.

HBW (2)



HBW (3)

Bettelli 2002, 122126;

Hallager 1983, XIVb;
Hallager and Hallager
2000, 6769 ,92, 96,
102, 106, 109110, 114,
116117, 119, 121; 2003,
6869, 107108, 113,136
137, 161162, 164, 175,
253; Hallager and
Tzedakis 1982, 23 2.

HBW (1)

Bettelli 2002, 122;

DAgata 2001, 346 n. 11;
Hallager 1985, 303 note


HBW (?) and UB (1)

Agia Palagia

HBW (?)

DAgata 2001, 346 n. 11.


HBW (?)



HBW (?)



HBW (?)



HBW (1)

Shaw and Shaw 2006,

674680; Watrous 1992,
Pl. 44, 56, 57, 58.


UB (1)

Miloji 1955, 156, 163

fig. 1, 13.

UB (4)

Bouzek 1985, 149, 4.1.8;

Pendlebury et al. 1938,
69, 95, 97, nos 540, 645
and 687 Pl. 28, 2.


UB (2)

Bouzek 1985, 141 no. 4;

Catling 1996, 518, fig.
163 f7 Pl. 277 f7; Evans
1905, fig. 90; Warren
1983, 71 fig. 51.


UB (6)

Catling 1956, 113

nos 1314 Pl. 9 c;
Xanthoudides 1904,
46, 48 fig. Il.


UB (1)

Catling 1961, 117 no. 21;

Kanta 2003, 178; Kilian
Dirlmeier 1993, 95.


UB (1)

Bouzek 1985, 141 no.4.

UB (14)

Boardman 1961: 1718

no. 56; fig. 2; Pl. 9, 4,
5, 6, bc; Bouzek 1985,
132, 148149 nos 1,
25, 4.1.8.

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43 (Archaiologike Ephemeris 43), 155.

Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy
during the Bronze Age: The meaning of a
changing relationship
Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia

In the 50s and 60s Luigi Bernab Brea and John
D. Evans had a major role as far the study of
goods, models and peoples circulation in Central
Mediterranean are concerned (e.g. Evans 1956; Bernab
Brea 19689; 19767). Archaeological data on this
subject have not increased ever since, nevertheless
theoretical perspectives eectively changed, abandoning for example diusionist thinking. Today nobody
hypothesizes Maltese colonies (e.g. Bernab Brea
1966) in Sicily during the Early Bronze Age, softer
propositions being preferred.

A new interaction in the central

Mediterranean (23001700 BC)
The Thermi Ware period
It is well-known that Malta enters the framework of
intense Mediterranean interaction from the beginning
of the Early Bronze Age. The first phase of this
phenomenon, object of a wide chronological debate, is
characterised by the production of incised thickened
rim bowls, sometimes with a pedestal (Thermi ware).
David Trump and John D. Evans (e.g. Trump 1966, 46;
Evans 1971, 122, 151152) thought this kind of ceramics
was fully contemporary with the Late Neolithic phase
of Tarxien (and perhaps Gganta too). Thanks to new
evidence from Dalmatia (e.g. Forenbaher and Kaiser
2000), south-western Greece (e.g. Rambach 2001;
2004), and southern Italy we can now date it more
precisely to the last centuries of the 3rd millennium
BC (Fig. 6.1a). In our opinion the Thermi ware term

to name this pottery is anachronistic: the eastern

Aegean settlement at Thermi is earlier than the Maltese
production. The incised thickened rim bowls found
at Thermi and Troy are typical of the first phase of
the Aegean Early Bronze Age (early centuries of the
3rd millennium BC: e.g. Lamb 1936, 8889, pl. 1516;
Blegen et al. 1950, 5859, pl. 253257), while this kind
of pottery, as just discussed, likely starts after the first
half of the 3rd millennium in Greece, southern Italy
and Malta (e.g. Maran 1998, 392394; Cazzella 1999;
Cazzella et al. 2007).
The widespread presence of this pottery in
the Mediterranean might have been linked to the
movement of small groups of people rather than to a
simple circulation of goods and stylistic models (e.g.
Cazzella et al. 2007).
As regards southern Italy, incised thickened rim
bowls are well attested in northern Apulia (e.g. Cazzella
1999). Other specimens, with some stylistic dierences,
were found in Calabria (i.e. Marino and Pacciarelli
1996), while their presence in Campania has to be
confirmed (i.e. Talamo et al. 2011).
As far as Malta is concerned, the most recent
excavations at Tas-Silg carried out by the Universities
of Roma La Sapienza and Foggia are exploring a
stratigraphic sequence from Tarxien to Borg in-Nadur
period just outside the principal megalithic temple
unearthed in the 60s by the Missione Archeologica Italiana
a Malta (i.e. Davico 1967, 3738, fig. 1; Recchia 20045;
Cazzella and Recchia 20046). The new excavations have
pointed out further relevant data on the passage from
the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age.
We cannot rule out that the circulation of the so
called Thermi ware was linked to the first presences

6. Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy during the Bronze Age


Figure 6.1 Hypotheses of transmarine connections in the central Mediterranean between the second half of the 3rd and the beginning of
the 2nd millennium BC. 1 Rodi Garganico, 2 Coppa Nevigata, 3 Fontanarosa, 4. Casal Sabini, 5 Grotta del Pipistrello Solitario, 6 Corazzo,
7 Zungri, 8 Monte Veneretta, 9 Sites of Castelluccio culture, 10 Castelluccio, 11 Ognina, 12 Malta.


Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia

of bossed bone plaques in the central Mediterranean

too. In this case data have slightly increased in the
last years: a new finding from Grotta del Pipistrello
Solitario (i.e. Coppola 20012), near Grottaglie (Apulia),
is for example to add to the other specimens.
Another specimen from Tarxien was found in the
eastern area of the site together with many potsherds of
Thermi ware (i.e. Evans 1971, 134, 151152). It suggests
that bossed bone plaque might date back to this phase,
even if the production of this kind of artefacts still
continued in Sicily (Castelluccio culture contexts) until
the mid-2nd millennium BC (e.g. Palio 2008).
Also the metal spearhead of Aegean style from Monte
Veneretta, near Taormina, despite being a sporadic
finding, might date back to the same period. As far as
this spearhead is concerned, Rosa M. Albanese Procelli
(i.e. 1989) proposed a comparison with eastern Aegean
contexts. We would rather consider the Ionian Islands
as its possible area of provenance, being these islands
the nearest context where such spearheads were found.
Though we cannot definitely exclude that the Monte
Veneretta spearhead might be even earlier (Sicilian Late
Copper Age), it seems likely to us that this find belongs
to the Thermi ware period, when contacts between
Aegean and Sicily are more evident than during the
previous phase. At the moment the Ognina incised
thickened rim bowls still are the clearest evidence of
contacts between eastern Sicily and western Greece in
late 3rd millennium (e.g. Cazzella 2002; Palio 2008).
Focusing on Malta, this phase of new opening to
external contacts did not imply an active role of the
archipelago in trade activities. The main point seems
to be instead the contribution that external contacts
gave to internal social transformations of the Maltese
The historical process driving to the end of the
megalithic temples ideology had likely already started
by the time these external contacts took place, the
ideological and social crisis having a local origin. The
recent excavations at Tas-Silg, for example, revealed
that a collapse event already aected some marginal
megalithic structures during the last phase of the Late
Neolithic, these not having been restored (Fig. 6.2).
The advanced technical skills (such as an ecient
metallurgy) owned by the abovementioned foreign
small groups that likely got to the Maltese archipelago
at the passage to the Bronze Age might have strongly
contributed to the deep transformations of the local
societies triggered by the internal crisis.
The long boats engraved at Tarxien Temple (e.g.
Hckmann 1977, 89, fig. 19) using a careless style, very
dierent from the Late Neolithic one, may represent a
further example of both technically and ideologically
new items: the construction of long boats implying

peculiar technical knowledge and their representation

in an old temple referring to an innovative symbolic
We can also suggest that the Thermi pedestal bowl,
found behind an altar of the Tarxien south-west Temple
(i.e. Evans 1971, 221), was there located through the
hole in the altar faade perhaps specially made for
this purpose.
In synthesis the Maltese phase characterized by the
Thermi ware in the late 3rd millennium seems to have
a transitory character. We can recognize significant
phenomena of changing in the archipelago, such as the
break of its isolation and the crack of the traditional
ideology, but any general social and economic reorganization is not archaeologically recorded at this
time. This one is instead fully identifiable in the
subsequent Tarxien Cemetery period.
On the basis of the available data, the Aeolian
Islands seem not to have been reached by the new
phenomenon of external contacts in this moment. A
few potsherds of Capo Graziano inside incised bowls,
without thickened rim (i.e. Bernab Brea 1985, fig. 63a,
70a, 72c, 76c,f), are probably the evidence of a modified
persistence of that type in the following phase.

The Tarxien Cemetery period

At the end of the 3rd millennium, beside the persistence
of the incised thickened rim bowls, new pottery styles
developed in the Maltese and Aeolians islands (Tarxien
Cemetery Capo Graziano), probably deriving
from Aegean models. New findings coming from
Olympia and Androvida-Lescaina create a parallel
between these ceramic productions (i.e. Rambach
2004), strengthening this hypothesis. Joerg Rambach
highlights also a similarity with the pottery from Le
Rene, near Rutigliano (Bari province: see Radina 1989),
but this and other sites of central Apulia (Laterza,
Casalsabini and Pisciulo: see Cataldo 1996) were
probably related more to the western Balkan area
than to Greece.
Both Tarxien Cemetery and Capo Graziano pottery
characterized two long-life cultures, lasting to the mid2nd millennium BC circa. The traditional hypothesis
implying the end of the Capo Graziano culture during
the 15th century BC still appears well-grounded;
Tarxien Cemetery pottery could continue to the late
15thearly 14th century considering its presence in
some Thapsos contexts in Sicily (e.g. Guzzardi 19912;
2008, 44; Giannitrapani 1997, 439).
The distribution of these ceramic productions in the
central Mediterranean seems to be linked just with the
Maltese and Aeolian archipelagos. The presence of this
pottery in Sicily, Pantelleria and in some southwest

6. Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy during the Bronze Age


Figure 6.2 Late Neolithic sanctuary of Tas-Silg, Malta: Tarxien layers north of the eastern entrance and the megalithic steps. The white
arrows indicate the principal blocks already collapsed in a late moment of this phase (excavations 2007).

Italy sites appears instead to be connected to the

relationships between the archipelagos and mainland,
as we are going to discuss.
As far as the Maltese islands are concerned, by the
end of the 3rd millennium the external interactions
continued, but at this point its reasons were most

likely dierent since the historical framework was

changing. Dierently from the Thermi ware period
(and the distribution of similar pottery in the central
Mediterranean) we can now see how the Aegean
seafarers selected the Aeolian and Maltese archipelagos
likely for their geographical location.


Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia

In this phase both archipelagos seem to become

precocious centres organizing exchange activities in
the central Mediterranean (Fig. 6.1b). They perhaps try
to imitate a typical trait of some Aegean Early Bronze
Age settlements.
Sicily was strongly involved in these activities.
Besides the data about Capo Graziano settlements in
north-eastern Sicily (i.e. Tigano et al. 1994), we recall the
Luigi Bernab Breas considerations on Capo Graziano
vessels in Moarda/Beaker contexts of north-western
Sicily (i.e. Bernab Brea 1985, 132) and the presence of
Tarxien Cemetery shards in Sicily (e.g. Giannitrapani
1997, 439; Palio 2004, 7677).
As far as Aeolian Islands are concerned, exchange
activities included also southern and central Tyrrhenian
coasts (e.g. Peroni 1971, 156; Cazzella and Moscoloni
1994, 110; Marino and Pacciarelli 1996, 150154;
Cazzella et al. 1997; Di Gennaro 1997; Levi et al. 2006),
while as regards Malta several links can be drawn
with some Italian Ionian sites and the opposite African
coast. In particular, lead and silver probably reached
Malta from Calabria (e.g. a cylindrical lump of lead
and a thin sheet of silver with biconical silver beads
adhering to it from Tarxien Cemetery: i.e. Evans 1953,
68). Also copper ingots or metal artefacts appear to
have come from Calabria or Sicily to Malta, being
its nearest copper ores in north-eastern Sicily and
Calabria. The shape of some Sicilian daggers and axes
(i.e. Maniscalco 2000; Bietti Sestieri 20013, 2831, fig. 3)
being very similar to specimens from Tarxien Cemetery
supports this thesis. A small quantity of sulphur was
also found at Tarxien Cemetery (i.e. Evans 1953, 68)
and it was probably also of Sicilian provenance (for
the presence of sulphur in south-western Sicily see
Castellana 1998). Perhaps flint was still imported from
Sicily as well.
As far as links between Malta and the opposite
African coast we can mention the ostrich-egg shell
beads from the Tarxien Cemetery, probably of northern
African origin (i.e. Beck 1934). Waiting for further
analyses, the problem of the place where the glassy
beads from the Tarxien Cemetery were worked is still
open (e.g. Stone 1971).
Even if megalithic temples were not built anymore
in Malta from the Early Bronze Age (as it is widely
accepted in the literature) Late Neolithic temples were
generally still preserved and visible, some of these being
re-used during the Bronze Age too. The transformation
of a megalithic temple into a cemetery at Tarxien is
well-known (e.g. a recent reconsideration in Pace 2004).
Probably the Hypogeum at Hal Saflieni (similar to a
temple as regards its architectural features) was still
used or at least still famous, as the presence of Bronze
Age pottery indicates (Tagliaferro 1910, pl. ix). Also

Xaghra has a Tarxien Cemetery phase of occupation.

However, since wide collapses had already aected
the place (Malone et al. 2009, 207218) it is not clear
whether Bronze Age people appreciated the megalithic
architecture of this site.
The old megalithic architecture had a strong
symbolic impact on the Early Bronze Age Sicilian
communities too. Stylistic patterns in Sicilian funerary
architecture at the Castelluccio hypogean tombs mirror
Maltese megalithic features (e.g. Procelli 1981; Bruno
2003; Terranova 2003; 2008). Transferring temple
features to Sicilian funerary architecture ought to have
been on one hand, Sicilians knowledge of the Saflieni
Hypogeum (besides their knowledge of the temples),
or on the other hand, influences of the Maltese
contemporary funerary re-use of a very important
megalithic temple as Tarxien.
Two elements, very dierent from each other, are
generally pointed at as possible evidence of relationships
between Malta and southern Italy (particularly southern
Apulia): dolmens (presumably under a tumulus) and
clay anchors (e.g. Evans 1956; Cazzella et al. 2007, 148).
They are just signs, survived almost by chance, of
probably stronger contacts and they cannot characterize
a whole cultural phenomenon.
The clay anchors are attested in Greece from previous
phases (Early Helladic see e.g. Hood 1973, 62; Bucholz
and Wagner 1977). In southern Italy they are present
at the Bronze Age settlement of Torre Castelluccia (i.e.
Evans 1956, 99), but they are not dated. Otherwise they
have been found at Xaghra Circle (Malone et al. 2009,
241, fig. 10.19), in Gozo and Montagnola di Filicudi
on the Aeolian Islands (Bernab Brea 1985, 109) from
the Early Bronze Age.
As Maltese dolmens are concerned a new bit of
evidence might be represented by the latest discoveries
at Tas-Silg (Fig. 6.3). The megalithic slab unearthed there
in the 60s did not lie on virgin soil, but was actually
held up by orthostats. Nevertheless the hypothesis of
a Bronze Age dolmen remains to be confirmed.
The contemporary presence of dierent funerary
rituals (cremations in the megalithic temple of
Tarxien, dolmens and perhaps the Hal Saflieni
Hypogeum) in as small a territory as Malta during the
Early Bronze Age is problematic. In any case dierent
funerary rituals (for example, hypogeal structures
and dolmens) probably coexisted, for example in the
relatively close Apulia in southern Italy (e.g. Cipolloni
Samp 1987; Recchia 2011). Both dolmens/lithic cists
of various kinds, including small dolmens in southern
Apulia and Malta, and cremation rituals could have
a Balkan origin, with an extension to western Greece
(e.g. Protic 1988, 200202; Koumouzelis 1980, 60;
Recchia 2011).

6. Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy during the Bronze Age


Figure 6.3 Late Neolithic sanctuary of Tas-Silg, Malta: megalithic structure (a dolmen?) under excavation (2008) in the north-western
area of the site.


Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia

Establishing a Mycenaean exchange network

in the central Mediterranean (17001450 BC)
From the 17th century BC, previous local ceramic
elements still continuing, the relation between the
Aeolian and Maltese archipelagos changes (Fig. 6.4a).
The former is now well inserted in the Mycenaean
exchange network westwards and south-eastern
Sicily might be touched by the seaway towards this
archipelago (e.g. Marazzi 2001a, 370). Absence of
LH III pottery does not necessary mean lacking of
exchange activities: the local groups of south-eastern
Sicily might have selected just non-ceramic exotic
artefacts, as it happens perhaps in the Thyrrenian
Calabria (see the tomb of Gallo di Briatico in Pacciarelli
2000, 185187; rare LH III shards were found at
Punta di Zambrone and Grotta Petrosa di Palmi i.e.
Pacciarelli and Vagnetti 2004; Tin 2001) and later
in some areas of south-eastern Italy (e.g. Radina and
Recchia 2006).
In this period also some settlements of southern Italy
and Sicily began to organize a local exchange system.
These settlements probably just in a few cases became
direct points of economic interest for the Mycenaean
seafarers (on the Mycenaean presence in Italy see e.g.
Vagnetti 1982; 1996, 152161; Bietti Sestieri 1988; Bettelli
2002, 1932; Radina and Recchia 2003; 2006; Vianello
2005; Cultraro 2006, 221237. On the organization of
a local exchange network: Cazzella 1983; 2009a).
Another small island, Pantelleria, seems now to be
reached by seafarers from the eastern Mediterranean
(i.e. Marazzi and Tusa 2005; Ardesia et al. 2006, 362365)
and south-western Sicily is involved in this connection
with the eastern Mediterranean too.
Malta seems to be excluded from the new international trade network at this point, but it maintains
contacts with southern and eastern Sicily as the
abovementioned presence of Tarxien Cemetery shards
in Sicilian contexts points out.
Some eastern elements, as a bone pommel of a
sword (e.g. La Rosa 2005, 578), a glassy bead of possible
Egyptian origin according to John F. S. Stone (1971),
a stone bead inlaid with gold and small gemstones
inserted in it (Evans 1971, 134, pl. 51, 10), might have
reached Malta via Pantelleria or Sicily. Particularly
as this stone bead is concerned raw materials (green
stone, red gemstones and gold) and working technique
do not seem to belong to any Maltese tradition (e.g.
Bonanno 1999, 213214). At the moment a possible
comparison could be proposed with a bead inside
golden plated from Pantelleria (Marazzi and Tusa
2005, 608, pl. CLIb), considered an import from the
eastern Mediterranean.

Apogee and crisis of the Mycenaean exchange

network in the central Mediterranean (1450
1000 BC)
Just one potsherd of Mycenaean type, presumably
dating back to late 14th/early 13th century BC, is
known in Malta, from Borg in-Nadur (Pace 2003,
200, no. 224); perhaps a Mycenaean shard from
Tas-Silg (Bonanno 2008, 35; Sagona 2008, fig. 6, 1)
might be added to it. Nevertheless the archipelago
continued its active contacts with Sicily after the
mid-2nd millennium, judging by the quantity of Borg
in-Nadur pottery found in tombs with rich grave
goods at Thapsos, competing with the prestige of the
Mycenaean pottery itself (e.g. Alberti 2006, 399, tab. 4).
Borg in-Nadur and Bahra pottery is well attested in
the Thapsos settlement (Voza 1992, 45). However, the
presence of Maltese pottery (Trump 1961) concentrates
in a few Sicilian sites and it was perhaps linked to
specific intermediary centres as Cannatello and an
hypothetical site near Siracusa, besides Thapsos (e.g.
Tanasi 2008, 76), during the second half of the 2nd
millennium BC (Fig. 6.4b).
Maltese pottery type Bahra was found at Thapsos
in the last phase of the settlement (for example in the
architectural complex C and in the room south-east
of the room c of the complex B, see Voza 1973, 149;
198081, 678679), dating back to 11th9th century BC
according to Giuseppe Voza (1992, 49). The Bernab
Breas (1990, 57) hypothesis of a Maltese emporium at
Thapsos at the end of the 2nd millennium BC seems
dicult to be accepted in the light of such evidence.
It is also doubtful whether the architectural structures
of eastern tradition typical of the previous phase built,
according to Giuseppe Voza (1992, 48), in 13th/12th
century BC, were substituted by new structures or they
were built in the 14th century, abandoned during the
13th12th centuries and partially re-used (at least the
complex C) in the latest phase, as recently proposed
by Gianmarco Alberti (2007, 371) and followed by
Davide Tanasi (2008, 5). A similar hypothesis had been
formulated by Bernab Brea (1990, 57) as well. We find
the latter hypothesis hardly acceptable, implying a gap
of two centuries in the use of the complex C. In any
case Thapsos pottery style was still used in 13th/12th
century BC according to Albanese Procelli et al. (2004,
313). Francesco Tomasello (2004) agrees with Vozas
chronology, highlighting comparisons with 13th/12th
century BC structures in Cyprus and Levant.
The function that centres like the Aeolian Islands
and Pantelleria played in the organization of
international exchanges seems to decrease after the
mid-2nd millennium. A strong involvement of Sicily
and southern Italy in the long distance exchange

6. Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy during the Bronze Age

Figure 6.4 Hypotheses of transmarine connections in the central Mediterranean between the 17th and the 11th century BC.



Alberto Cazzella and Giulia Recchia

system probably reduced their importance, relegating

small islands to a marginal role in the new networks
(e.g. Marazzi 2001a, 371372; Ardesia et al. 2006, 365).
New intermediary sites arise in southern Italy, like for
example, the settlements of Roca (i.e. Guglielmino 2005)
and Punta Le Terrare (i.e. Radina and Recchia 2003) in
the Adriatic Apulia, Scoglio del Tonno in the Ionian
Apulia, Torre del Mordillo e Broglio di Trebisacce in
the Ionian Calabria (for the Ionian area see Bettelli
2002, 2632).
The Aeolian Islands after the mid-2nd millennium
(Milazzese culture) continued to have contacts with
the Mycenaean world. However, the presence in
these islands of peninsular Apennine pottery (an
inverse phenomenon in comparison with the local
Early Bronze Age, when Capo Graziano pottery was
diused in Italy) and their cultural assimilation by
the Sicilian Thapsos culture (from which Milazzese
pottery style derived) suggest that an inversed trade
was taking place, the archipelago losing its expansive
The Middle Bronze Age Milazzese phase is generally
seen as a period of development of relationships with
the Mycenaean world. Bietti Sestieri (1988, 4243) for
example adopted the term mycenaeaisation to define
the period. However, we cannot forget that evidences
of contacts with the Myceanean world are actually
decreasing in the Aeolian islands after LHIIIA1 (e.g.
Bettelli 2002, 59; Vianello 2005, 68, tab. 11), and in
Vivara as well.
Also the organization of a system of graphic signs
in the context of the Milazzese culture might have
been a local development starting from a previous
Capo Graziano initial experience (e.g. Marazzi 2001b).
Thus if these graphics signs really had a Mycenaean
inspiration, it occurred before the Milazzese phase.
During the 13th12th centuries BC (first Ausonian
phase), the elements of Mycenaean origin decrease
consistently and local pottery imitates the Subapennine
peninsular style (e.g. Bietti Sestieri 1988, 45; Bettelli
2002, 59). Most authors hypothesise an invasion by
a Subapennine group in the 13th century (e.g. Bietti
Sestieri 1988, 48), but we cannot exclude that a change in
Mycenaean (and Cypriot-Levantine) seaways, probably
abandoning the Straits of Messina for the Sicilian
Channel (but neglecting also Pantelleria: small islands
were no more attractive for the international trade?),
and the growing economic potential of the peninsular
communities favoured a local transformation, without
a real invasion. The presence of fires in a settlement
could be frequent, also without a war cause.
The rich hoard of metal objects at Lipari (e.g.
Moscetta 1988; Giardino 2004) probably dates back

to the early 12th century, so it was not hidden during

the hypothetical Subapennine invasion. Anyway the
wealth of that hoard suggests that Lipari could still
attract goods of significant value, either in exchange for
local raw materials, for example sulphur or alum (e.g.
Castagnino Berlinghieri 2003, 68), or because it was the
place where still exchange happened, even if transports
were prevailingly organized by other groups.
The same situation could characterize the Aeolian
Islands during the Final Bronze Age/Early Iron Age,
considering for example imports of Sardinian pottery
during the late first Ausonian phase and the second
one (Bernab Brea 1990, 46).
From the 13th century the international trade
changes also in southern Italy: local groups more and
more imitate the Mycenaean pottery (diminishing the
import of it) and produce metal artefacts appreciated
in the eastern Mediterranean. Also the role of amber
as an export good becomes more diused.
From the 12th century, after the crisis of the
Mycenaean palaces, the CypriotLevantine seafarers
could have directly got to the mouth of the Po river
to acquire amber, opening a new international seaway
(e.g. Bietti Sestieri 2003), whilst the relationships
between Greece and southern Italy could have had
a prevailingly local character (see for example the
connection between western Greece and Roca, in
the Salentina peninsula, in Guglielmino 2005). In
this period Coppa Nevigata (Cazzella 2009b), in
the northern coastal Apulia, probably was just an
important terminal of local exchange, with no direct
link to Greece.

Concluding remarks
To conclude, starting from the late 3rd millennium BC,
the contacts in the area taken into consideration more
and more assume the connotation of a real exchange
system. However, the analysis of dierent elements
(active or passive role of the specific sites, level of
incidence of the international trade, kind of products
exchanged, etc.) shows how such contacts assumed
dierent meanings for each of the involved region
during the Bronze Age.
As regards to the archaeological research on central
Mediterranean, focusing on the Bronze Age, the study
of evidence attesting contacts between the various
areas is far from been concluded, but it certainly is
giving fruits. If anything else, it seems today figuring
out the meaning of the exchange phenomenon in the
dierent contexts has become a primary aim as far as
the investigation of the area is concerned.

6. Malta, Sicily, Aeolian Islands and Southern Italy during the Bronze Age

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External role in the social transformation of nuragic
society? A case study from Srrala, Eastern Sardinia,
Middle Bronze to Early Iron Age
Luca Lai

The island of Sardinia was marked, during the
Middle Bronze to the Early Iron Ages, by a consistent
pool of cultural elements, including but not limited
to monumental architecture, which are commonly
labelled as Nuragic civilization. Among its prominent
features is the presence of the nuraghe, after which the
term was coined, consisting in one or several connected
stone towers spread over the landscape at varying
density; it has by now been acquired that nuraghi
were mostly built 1600 to 1200 BC, whereas after the
Final Bronze Age for the most part these structures
were only reused, partially destroyed, and also
reproduced in bronze and stone miniatures. This, and
several other clues, have brought to a wide agreement
that profound changes characterized Nuragic society
starting from the end of the 2nd millennium BC, when
dierent types of cult sites and burial sites replace the
central role of chamber burials that accompanied or
even preceded tower-building. This change in many
aspects of material culture involves also an intensified
circulation of metal and a progressive centrality of
water in religious practices (monumental wells and
Beyond these very broad trends, recognized in their
essence already by Giovanni Lilliu (Lilliu 1988), our
understanding of the Nuragic culture of Sardinia still
reflects the problem of a general time lag in the theory
and approaches utilized by most local archaeologists,
a lag well expressed by Gary Webster in the mid-1990s
(Webster 1996, 18). This has partially changed, but
there is a very strong culture-historical tradition that in
large part identifies change in the Nuragic society and
identity with change in material culture. This means

that some approaches (for instance, palaeoeconomy

or the application of social anthropology to the
interpretation of the archaeological record) that in
other countries were already applied since the 1960s,
in Sardinia started being brought to scholarly attention
only in the late 1970s and mostly later. Issues of
interaction between climate, environment and human
groups and their practices are still impossible to tackle,
due to the disheartening lack of any kind of data
about Sardinian paleoenvironment. Archaeological
theory is still a minor component in the education of
the average local archaeologist, and this aects the
reconstruction of history.
This is to underline the reasons why the debates
on interpretive models explaining or describing
the transformation of Nuragic society are relatively
scarce, compared to the data on material culture
amassed through the decades. It is not the scope of
this paper to review the history of the hypotheses on
the origin of Nuragic architecture as the main element
of Nuragic culture. This view has a long tradition,
and is still a common approach in local archaeology
(Ugas 1999; Tanda 2002). Here I aim to outline some
of the few anthropologically sound models describing
and interpreting change in Nuragic society, in order
to measure against them the evidence from the casestudy area. Such models, by Gary Webster (1996),
Mauro Perra (1997) and Emma Blake (1999) show
radically dierent perspectives both on the intensity
of interaction with outsiders, and on their role in local
social dynamics.
Websters model remains the only comprehensive
reading of Nuragic society grounded in anthropological
theory, an interpretation that has also been applied in

7. External role in the social transformation of nuragic society?

other prehistoric European contexts (Webster 1990):
labour control features in it as the main means used
by emerging groups to acquire political power. The
conditions for unequal labour control would have
been circumscription,1 and a highly diversified level
of economic risk, so that, under slowly-growing
population during the Early through Late Bronze Age
(EBA, LBA), such dierences between areas would
have generated inequalities within and between
groups, in productive output, land-use practices,
further demographic growth, and economic security.
The EBA (23001800 BC) and the Middle Bronze Age
(MBA, 18001300 BC) are viewed as pioneering times,
with cloning and dispersal of small settlements
(nuraghi), to be intended as farmsteads. When conflict
arises, and/or resources are not sucient, fission, or
the breaking o of one community into two, is still a
viable response compared to the risk of subordination
perceived by one group relative to another. This is
viable due to lack of circumscription in an environment
still rich in available land. Organization is still tribal
and egalitarian. In the LBAFinal Bronze Age (FBA)
(1300900 BC, although in Webster they are clumped
under the LBA label), dierentiation begins as spaces in
the landscape are filled and fission is not an option in
many areas of the island. Accumulation of labour and
livestock starts (i.e. Webster 1996, especially 149152).
In the Early Iron Age (EIA, after 900 BC), Phoenician
trade becomes a catalyst for change, by providing
new markets for surplus and prestige exchange.
Population is at this point stable or declining, and
concentration of power progresses, with clients moving
from marginalized groups to the largest polities. At this
point the emerging centres would transition toward
more verticalized structures, and become chiefly (so
called aristocratic groups in Lilliu 1988; also more
recently Usai 2009, 264267).
In Websters model, control over wealth and ideology
comes only in the EIA to stabilize power, which was
already held by elites due to local dynamics. Only
then some kind of separate mortuary treatment would
start along with the hoarding of metal, and possibly
the rise of priestly classes (i.e. Webster 1996, 195197).
Little room is left for any externally-originated actor
to substantially aect the events on the island. The
signs of maritime contacts are estimated as minor
episodes in a scenario of essential isolation through
EBA and MBA, substantially broken only by sustained
Phoenician trade from the 9th century BC.
Perra (1997), on the other hand, relies on a dierent
reading of the data, where no nuraghi are attributed
to the EBA, but all to the MBALBA. Most building
eorts, including construction of most megalithic
tombs, would pertain to a limited time frame between


1500 and 1200 BC. According to this perspective, exotic

goods and the nuraghi themselves would reflect social
inequality: a scenario is outlined where the elites
that had already emerged in the final EBA gradually
attempt, in the MBA (17001350 BC) and LBA (1350
1200 BC), to accumulate material and symbolic capital
in the form of livestock and the building of nuraghi.
The towers would be true prestige goods in which
surplus produce can be invested (i.e. Perra 1997, 58) all
pieces of a deliberate strategy to break the communal
rules of power management and land tenure. Fission
would not represent resistance against the authority of
big men, but rather a means of social reproduction of
the elites, who would lead new agrarian colonisations.
Organization would have become rationally aimed at
surplus production and trade. Perra attributes a crucial
role, for the legitimization of elites in the LBA, to the
influence of solid ideologic relations with Aegean and
Eastern traders (i.e. Perra 1997, 62), as bearers of ideas
of social stratification established in trading posts such
as Nuraghe Antigori, in the Southern coast of Sardinia,
a site which yielded the largest find of Mycenaean
pottery on the island. This would have given the input
to the strategic use of alternative arenas for ritual
manipulation, found in wells, springs and temples
in opposition to the ancestral megalithic tombs. In
such new contexts, naturalizing power would have
been easier by enmeshing it with ritual, and so the
justification and intensification of wealth accumulation
(prestige items and particularly metal).
Such a model of social reproduction would have
caused intense conflict, which is documented at many
sites in the FBA (12001020 BC). Rather than lack of
land for fissioning, such conflict would have arisen
from widespread rebellions of exploited groups, and
would have prompted the reorganization of the whole
territorial system. In the EIA (1020900 BC), after the
FBA as a period of crisis, signs of economic recovery
and of renewed intensification of long-distance trade
are identified (Perra 1997; Usai 2009, 264).
As a representative of post-processual perspective,
Blake (1999) developed an interpretation of Nuragic
society that does not stress any significant role of
external contacts. The center of her outline is the shaping
of Nuragic identity, and cultural transformations are
described and read in very circumscribed terms.
The definition of identity boundaries is indeed put
in connection with the other, but the subject of
her examination is mostly the opposition with the
antecedents rather than with any of the surrounding
Mediterranean groups. The creation of nuraghi would
have followed the first giants tombs (EBA and
MBA), chamber tombs with a marked semi-circular
area before the entrance. Their placement at a higher


Luca Lai

altitude than the tomb, within sight and with a fairly

regular relative orientation would have symbolically
represented the eort to incorporate such older ritual
sites (deriving from Chalcolithic megalithic structures)
in the new Nuragic identity. Economic phenomena
do not feature in Blakes model (1999, 50).

The evidence in Srrala, eastern Sardinia

The term Srrala defines a low-lying coastal area of
eastern Sardinia (Fig. 7.1) covering approximately
25km2, with fairly clear geographic borders (Fig. 7.2):
to the north, two steep and rocky mountains; to the
west, the watershed of a steep hilly range, with a
few passes to the valleys further inland; to the south,
beyond the Barisoni stream bed, a distinct hill marks
the narrowing of the coastal lowland. To the east is
the Tyrrhenian Sea, with a coastline running north

south, shaped by two bays. This area, geographically

well-defined, also has a specific historic identity: oral
tradition, matched by historical and archival evidence,
locates in the area a medieval village.2 Its coherence
as a unit for studying prehistoric spatial organization
seems confirmed by the high density of Nuragic
structures at its centre, in opposition to an apparently
lower density all around.
A selective survey, with additional mapping of nine
nuraghi, was done in 2000 (i.e. Lai 2001). Other sites had
been mapped previously (i.e. Cannas 1972; Basoli 1980),
with uneven standards. Further fieldwork carried out
by the author and Mr. Stefano Crispu documented the
architectural elements and spatial arrangement of the
structures. Through this survey it was determined that
four more nuraghi are in good conditions, five have
apparently been destroyed, whereas the existence of
five more cited by non-academic sources (i.e. Cannas
1964; 1989) needs to be verified. Information from

Figure 7.1 Map of Sardinia showing basic relief and the location of Ogliastra in the eastern area, and the location of the case-study area,

7. External role in the social transformation of nuragic society?

the excavated site of Nuraghe Nastasi (i.e. Contu
1968; Basoli 1980) was reviewed and integrated
with new observations, with the aim of gathering
chronological clues and particularly of correlating the
tentative sequence based on architecture with absolute


Comparing the data collected in 2000 with data

from elsewhere on the island, important dierences
can be highlighted: out of 24 nuraghi in the area, 11
are complex, six single-towered, and seven completely
erased or destroyed. About 65% of the sites that can
be mapped are complex, which compares with 28%

Figure 7.2 Map of the study area showing basic contour lines and the archaeological sites dating to the Nuragic Age (MBA to EIA). The
dierent types of sites, the dierence in complexity among the sites, and the presence of basalt at four nuraghi and the sacred well are


Luca Lai

(mentioned by Lilliu 1988, 365) estimated for the

whole island. Local surveys show proportions from
~7% to 35%, with one area only with 46.5% (Webster
1996, 131 and tab. 5). If we assume for Srrala that
most of the destroyed and disappeared structures are
likely to have been simple (single-towered) due to the
dierence in the labour to be applied to demolition,
and we pool such sites cited in the literature with
the observable ones, the ratio of complex nuraghi is
lower (45%) but still the second highest in Sardinia
after Ardia/Bisarcio (ibid.). This may mark a specificity
of this area, or reflect the lack of in-depth collection
of information regarding destroyed sites elsewhere.
Preliminary results of a similar investigation in
progress, concerning the megalithic tombs in the same
area, lead to similar conclusions on the potential bias
in reconstructing the landscape: several structures in
fact have disappeared in the last century due to the
use of mechanic devices in agriculture. When taking
into account such disappeared sites as mentioned in
older sources (Cannas 1964; 1989), the proportion of
pairs made up by nuraghe + tomb vs. nuraghe only
(~1:1) is much higher than reported anywhere else
(e.g. Webster 1996, 144).
The chronology of corridor, single-towered and
complex nuraghi is still debated for the whole island
(e.g. Perra 1997; Ugas 1999; Tanda 2002), and analysing
architectural features over wide areas is not a reliable
method for establishing relative chronology. However,
at such scale (25km 2) architectural elements are
more susceptible to provide a trustworthy, though
approximate, indication of relative age, since the area
represents a geographic, environmental and historic
unit unlikely to have developed radically independent
building practices. So, even though it is not yet
possible to relate the local sequence with the sociodemographic developments suggested for Nuragic
society in general, it is possible to suggest a probable
articulation of the building history of the area in four
groups/phases, and to tentatively outline the patterns
of occupation between MBA and EIA; this articulation
is based on a few basic elements: relationships between
wall stratigraphic units, masonry and architectural
Phase I includes the only two settlements with clearly
archaic traits that likely precede later standardization:
Nuraghi Nastasi and Barisni, instead of canonical
features (i.e. regular towers with circular plan, staircase
running within the wall opening on the left side of the
entrance corridor, tholos ceiling: Contu 1981), show
simpler solutions. This suggests that Nuraghe Nastasis
central tower (C) (Basoli 1980; Lai 2001) probably
never was a tower. A ledge along the inner side of the
circular wall would make impossible for such a wall

to bear the weight of a stone vault. There are no stairs,

nor the typical large niches. Large boulders roughly
shaped are used, and two added rooms (B and G) show
a similar masonry. The central tower (A) at Nuraghe
Barisni does feature the standard staircase, but also,
on the other hand, a slanted plan and an entrance
corridor covered with flat slabs up to the ceiling top,
instead of a full vault (Melis 2002). The structure was
later repaired, when basalt had become available.
Phase II is characterized by several standard
single-towered nuraghi.3 Although in some cases it
is impossible to verify all elements, the presence of a
regularly circular plan and in some cases the staircase
has been taken as a clue for this identification. Masonry
is more regular, with smaller, better-worked stones.
During Phase III, additions were made at a number
of sites around the central tower 4 indicating some
degree of expansion. The building stone, however, is
only local. Due to the lack of published stratigraphic
data, it is impossible to test whether in case of complex
structures the central tower preceded the additions
only as a technical procedure or its life as a single
tower lasted for any considerable amount of time
before the enclosures and additions. In some cases,
sharp dierences in masonry may be indicative.
Phase IV is defined by the use of basalt in the
structures, and represents the last additions to existing
structures, at only five sites: nuraghi Nastsi, Barisni,
Longu, Alri and the recently investigated monumental
well of Sa Brcca (Crispu, personal communication
2009). The nuraghi show the addition of one or two
courtyards and two to four rooms, making this group
similar to group III, with basalt as the only distinctive
trait. These data indicate that only four habitation sites
had the capacity and the networks needed to import
stone from the closest basalt source, about 20km north
on the Tyrrhenian coast. Since these sites are the most
complex, it seems that building activity at this point
was restricted to them only.

The wider picture: regional and Mediterranean

The use of some basalt is an important point. As
anticipated this is not a local stone: the local bedrock
is dominated by granitoid formations, with schist
sporadically present. The closest basalt geological
source is about 20km to the north, along the coast, other
sources being much more distant. The provenience of
the basalt observed in Srrala from such a source,
the only one within a 50 km-radius, located on the
mountain Teccu (municipality of Barisardo, province of
Ogliastra: Fig. 7.3), is also confirmed by the continuous

7. External role in the social transformation of nuragic society?


Figure 7.3 Map of southern-central Ogliastra, on the east coast of Sardinia, with the municipalities surveyed and the nuraghi. Those where
basalt is found are marked to show its distribution south of the geological source (which is also indicated). Some of the sites mentioned
in the text are also shown.


Luca Lai

distribution between the two points at several other

sites at less than five km from the coast.
A wide area within the Ogliastra province, which
included at its centre the basalt source, has been
surveyed in the 1980s (Archeosystem 1990). Looking at
the distribution of nuraghi with basalt in the stonework
in Srrala and in the rest of Ogliastra province enables
the recognition of a distinct pattern. Besides the sites
in Srrala, which are the most complex of the area,
there are other sites to the north where basalt is used,
and they are similarly all large and complex structures
(for example Nuraghi Sa Brocca, Murcu, Carddu,
see Archeosystem 1990, 157, 164, 166). Looking at the
entire area, it is striking that there is no use of basalt
along the coast to the north of the source, in contrast
with at least thirteen sites to the south (the most
distant being over 20km apart away from it). Basalt
is observed at four ritual sites in Ogliastra (see Fig.
7.3): three wells within the surveyed areas (Perda e
Frris, Cuccudddas, and Sa Brcca), and a so-called
sanctuary of SArcu e is Forros (Lo Schiavo 1978; Fadda
1997). Two of these sites are located over 15km from
the coast. These site types are commonly dated to the
FBAEIA, which suggests the possible chronology of
basalt use at other sites.
Considering the chronology of the finds at Nastasi,
the better published site in Srrala, a few points can
be made. Mainly items dating to the FBAEIA were
retrieved in the eastern courtyard built with large
use of basalt whereas in earlier rooms, oxhide
ingot fragments and a Mycenaean LHIIIC sherd
were recovered. Since the Aegean pottery dates to
the 12thbeginning 11th century BC (chronology
from Shelmerdine 1997, 540), it is likely that basalt at
Nastasi was probably used later, a date that could be
cautiously extended to the other four sites. Conversely,
the previous phases III in the whole area should be
earlier than the 12th century BC, and phase III may
be slightly earlier or contemporaneous.

Discussion: social dynamics, metal and basalt

The presence of metal artefacts of Aegean and Cypriot
manufacture in Eastern Sardinia, as well as the
presence of Nuragic pottery on Lipari and Crete,
testifies to the existence of long-distance routes (e.g.
Lo Schiavo 1995; 2003). It is widely debated in what
way this trade prompted, favoured or determined the
increase in complexity and the profound changes in
material culture from the LBA to the EIA discussed
in the introduction, or if it did at all. Among the
important points is whether in this trade there was
an active participation of the indigenous communities,

and whether exogenous stimuli or internal dynamics

determined the change.
According to the limited evidence, basalt was
not used in the study area until the FBA or EIA.
This may be due to the lack of transport technology
and/or contacts outside the area, whether terrestrial
or maritime. Its coastal distribution suggests that a
maritime rather than a terrestrial route was utilized,
and the absence of basalt to the north of the source
indicates a southward route. The timing of basalt use
evidently corresponds with a restriction of the surplus
labor needed for construction to a few sites.
So, why is basalt used in habitation sites only at
a later time, only on the coast and only southwards
from the source? Why are cult sites, possibly even
later, the only other cases where basalt is employed?
I argue that this could make sense if the stone for
habitation sites was loaded on boats as other kinds
of items were unloaded at more northern coastal
sites, making a sort of by-product of long-distance
transport of more precious items. Such a pattern seems
highly compatible with long-distance trade of prestige
items, carried out through sea routes linking dierent
shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea in a counter-clockwise
fashion, similarly to what is suggested for the Eastern
Mediterranean (Crete-Egypt-Syria in Bass 1997). This is
certainly not the archaeological correlate for down-theline, small scale, locally-based maritime connections,
for which a radial distribution gradually decreasing
with distance has been identified as the material trace.
Under this hypothesis, we would have to explain
the unevenness in mutual relations among Nuragic
polities, one that united the communities south of
the geological source but not those to the north, even
more inexplicable considering that the source was
likely unguarded due to its extensiveness along the
seaside, which made it fairly accessible.
Can the role of external contacts in stimulating or
speeding social change in the study area be inferred?
Considering the evidence for such contacts, we have
to agree with Webster that it is comparatively sporadic
until the FBA or later. In Sardinia just Nuraghe Antigori
(Ferrarese Ceruti 1983) yielded fair quantities of foreign
pottery before the EIA, nothing comparable to sites
in Sicily and southern Italy. Conversely, fragmentary
or whole oxhide ingots can be found throughout the
island, even far inland. Interestingly, likely imported
metal items excavated at Nastasi (Tertena), near the well
at Perda e Frris (Lanusei) and at SArcu e is Frros
(Villagrande Strisili), seem to overlap with the presence
of non-local basalt. This leads to identify pottery as a
rare exotic item that did not imply intense contacts with
external groups of Mycenaean culture. Contrary to what
is observed for pottery, the fact that Sardinia accounts

7. External role in the social transformation of nuragic society?

for over one fifth of all the ox-hide ingots finds of the
whole Mediterranean (Jones 2007), implies a substantial
link with the eastern Mediterranean, since most copper
circulating in Sardinia after 1200 BC seems likely to
come from Cyprus (as shown by Gale 2001). Such large
amounts of copper appear to reflect a regular contact
with sailors, but without any parallel increase in other
eastern imports. Pottery is overwhelmingly local, and
foreign artifacts are still rare exotica. This seems to
contrast with claims of a structural ideological transfer
of concepts that legitimized inequality.
Even though the provenience of copper from
Sardinian artefacts is still debated, the presence in
Sardinia of large amounts of foreign metal associated
with essentially indigenous social dynamics (see models
by Webster 1996 and Blake 1999) points to a selective
mode of acquiring material goods from outsiders: such
acquisition, without excluding possible use of local
ores (i.e. Begemann et al. 2001), undoubtedly involved
large imports of copper from Cyprus, but nonetheless
all items were used in local social arenas, in ways
and contexts consistent with indigenous dynamics.
In the inter-community competition that appears in
the case-study, only some centres were able to secure
the contact with the outside world that granted access
to basalt and, by inference, to metal. Access to metal
had likely become a key element of symbolic capital
necessary to bend the egalitarian codes regulating
political life that had previously prevented rising elites
from institutionalizing their authority. In Srrala, only
the groups based at nuraghi Aleri, Longu, Nastasi
and Barisoni were able to acquire metal and basalt, to
progressively impose their leadership on other groups,
and increase their control of labour reflected in the
ability to enlarge their nuraghi, further enhancing
their regional primacy.
The suggested link between access to metal, basalt
and social dierentiation is supported by the fact that
the same stone is also used in the sacred wells, the
new ritual catalysts. It has been observed over the
whole island that ritual sites such as wells, springs
and more formalized temples (Webster 1996, 146149)
reach their peak in the FBA and mostly EIA, when
megalithic tombs and nuraghi lose their monopoly
as foci of community life. The evidence in Ogliastra
connects some known wells (Sa Brcca, Cuccudddas,
Prda e Frris, SArcu e is Frros) to access to basalt,
as they have some in their stonework, and also to finds
of ox-hide ingots (Lo Schiavo 1998). These dierent
elements coincide with the phase of concentration of
surplus labour, identifiable in building activity, at a
limited number of nuraghi.
If the dierence between Srrala and most documented
areas in Sardinia concerning the proportion of complex


sites reflects Bronze Age landscapes and not biased

preservation, this indicates specific organizational
developments in dierent areas. Possibly, in the other
areas (Webster 1996, 131) nucleation into complex sites
followed more rapidly the phase of fission. In Srrala,
instead, concentration of power did not reach the same
degree, and several communities kept enough control
of their own labour as to enlarge their own nuraghi,
before yielding to emerging groups possibly after the
12th century BC; something similar to Colin Renfrews
peer-polity interaction (Renfrew 1986), for a longer
period of time.
Was there a Nuragic active role in the transportation
of basalt and possibly metal? Taken generally, this is a
complex question, beyond the scope of this paper. From
an island-wide perspective, some clues indicate that
some groups at some point had the necessary navigation
technology, and probably engaged in long-distance
seafaring: the bronze ship miniatures (Guerrero Ayuso
2004; Depalmas 2005), some of which date from the
FBA, but most to the EIA, and the possible identification
of the Sherden cited in Egyptian texts dating to the
12th and 11th century BC as Nuragic groups (Tykot
1994). However, despite the finds of Nuragic pottery
on Crete and Lipari between LBA and FBA, and of
bronze ship figurines at several Villanovan-Etruscan
sites, there are no clear signs of a stable presence of
Nuragic traders outside of the island. Nothing from
Srrala helps in identifying any active role of local
sailors in this trade. The evidence described above
at the moment seems compatible with long-distance
trade specialized in other kinds of merchandise, where
actors were not based locally and traded stone as a
secondary, incidental activity, a by-product of trading
with a dierent focus. Eastern Sardinia may either
represent a regional dierence within the larger Nuragic
society, or provide clues to understand more generalized
phenomena. In other words, authentic Nuragic fleets
could possibly only date to the EIA (after 850 BC),
during the renewed intensification of external contacts
that has been identified after the turmoil of the FBA
(Usai 2009, 263264). Otherwise, navigation would only
pertain to selected Nuragic communities in other areas
and long-distance trade could have been limited to a
few groups. Therefore, both non-Sardinian homelands
or centres from elsewhere on the island could be the
base for these traders.

Conclusions and future directions

In this paper, the presence of different building
phases in the area of Srrala helped outline the
probable evolution of settlement patterns, which


Luca Lai

generally confirms previous reconstructions of social

developments on the island, in a sequence that
involves, from the initial appearance in the MBA
on any given area, first demographic expansion, the
filling of agricultural land with small settlements,
and the subsequent increase in complexity of some
settlements with the creation of a three-layered
settlement hierarchy over the course of the LBA and
FBA (Webster 1996; Perra 1997). The use of basalt in
the stonework has been identified in the last building
phase of a few habitation sites, likely to be placed after
the 12th century BC. In the wider eastern Sardinian
area, basalt appears to be associated with sacred
wells, possibly later, and metal imports. Moreover,
this material is distributed along the coast only to the
south of the geological source. It is argued that this
pattern is compatible with counter-clockwise longdistance southward seafaring rather than down-theline trading, which leads to the identification of basalt
as a new item traded on maritime routes.
From a broader perspective, these data fit the
evidence for contacts with outsiders that cannot be
considered as intense until the 13th12th century and
after, when they are likely linked to the import of metal,
especially copper. Bronze was then manufactured and
used within types of political-ritual arenas that were
fully indigenous, and was selectively identified as
socially/ritually significant, as was the rare Mycenaean
pottery in previous centuries. Access to metal was
probably important to strengthen the authority of
emerging elites, but was given meaning within an
indigenous cultural framework, after transformation
into various kinds of items.
There seems to be no signs of structural changes
directly stimulated by contacts with outsiders,
especially through ideological influence. Elites, if
and where they existed as such, had been unable
until then to institutionalize their authority and break
the traditional egalitarian ideology in a way that is
archaeologically visible, as shown by the burial in
collective tombs without any class markers (Blake
2002, 121122); access to external trade may have
proven one of the instruments used to increase their
prestige, yet within social contexts that appear fully
determined by internal dynamics. Outsiders engaging
in long-distance trade, whether their homeland was in
the eastern Mediterranean or elsewhere in Sardinia,
provided metal for display, ritual and warfare, and
also, in the study area, basalt for architectural use in
the nuraghi and sacred wells that they controlled.
The next steps of the research presented here will
include the spatial extension of fieldwork in order
to record basalt distribution patterns beyond the
study area, using published (Ledda 1989; Manunza

1995) and unpublished theses (Piroddi 1964; Melis

1975; Floreddu 1999; Vargiu 2000), and survey for
uninvestigated areas. The study of excavation records
for the unpublished sites will provide indications
on contexts and chronology. Ways are also being
explored to quantitatively estimate the volume and
weight of imported stone, which will contribute
to assess the technology and labour needed for its

1 Circumscription is here used in Robert Carneiros meaning:
the existence of limits to the freedom of migration,
determined by geographic and environmental borders, but
also, within an environmentally bounded unit, by political
borders (Carneiro 1988). It also assumes population
pressure and warfare as factors, although warfare is not
considered here as fundamental.
2 The name itself has been connected back to Roman writer
Ptolemaeus, who placed in the area the urban center of
Sarala (Cannas 1964, 2932).
3 Nuraghi Orruttu, Lionagi, su Concali, sa Cannera, Longu,
Aleri, Nuragddus, su Tetini, Erbis, Crabili, and
possibly others among the disappeared, unlikely to have
been complex structures (Fig. 7.2).
4 Nuraghi Orruttu, Lionagi, su Concali, sa Cannra, Longu,
Aleri, Nuragddus, Marosini.

My thanks to all those involved in this study: from
my M.A. thesis advisors Enrico Atzeni and Giuseppa
Tanda to the friends and relatives who collaborated
and helped in many ways, especially my friend Stefano
Crispu, my sister Alessandra Lai, my mother Marina
Melis, and my wife Sharon Watson.

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Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in
central Italy at the Bronze AgeIron Age transition
Cristiano Iaia

Recent research on Early Iron Age South Etruria
has focused on the relevant topic of the emergence,
during the 9th century BC, of a totally new kind of
settlement system and socio-political organization. A
recurrent debate among Italian scholars (e.g. Guidi
1985; Peroni and di Gennaro 1986; Pacciarelli 1991;
2001) is the defining of a deep change process, the
formation of proto-urban centres. At first, this involved
the sudden abandonment of many settlements of
relatively small size (about 510 hectares), located on
the top of hills or naturally defended positions, and the
subsequent transfer of their inhabitants on a handful
of overwhelmingly larger plateaux (of more than 100
hectares), characterized by a close vicinity/direct access
to essential resources and communication routes. They
later became the future Etruscan cities. Much debate
took place on the reconstruction of the beginning of
such a phenomenon, during the transitional horizon
between the Late Bronze Age (Final Bronze Age in
Italian tradition: henceforth FBA; 12th10th centuries
BC) and the beginning of Early Iron Age (10th9th
centuries BC: henceforth EIA 1), in culture-historical
terms between the Protovillanovan and Villanovan
cultural complexes.
Many scholars stress the dramatic change in
territorial organization, accompanied by a general
depopulation of most ecological zones and a concentration of people on very restricted stretches
of agricultural land, a phenomenon which might
have introduced new economic and institutional
relationships between residential communities and
surrounding areas. These proto-urban processes have
been viewed as a revolutionary change, involving

the transformation of the overall socio-political

and economic picture of Middle Tyrrhenian Italy
(e.g. Peroni 1989, 426517; Pacciarelli 2001), with
a subsequent domino eect on the socio-political
situations of the Peninsula and Europe at large.
Recently, this period has received a further recognition as the fundamental introduction to the
urbanization proper of the area that took place during
the late 8th and 7th centuries BC, or Orientalising
Period (e.g. Riva 2010).
This article1 is concerned with a particular aspect of
this phenomenon, the ideological dimension of male
burials and sheet bronze armours, a domain which
is strictly related to prestige and power symbolism.
South Etruria became in the EIA one of the leading
European areas in this highly specialized craft, mainly
due to factors such as the formation of new elites, and
the emergence of a communication network which
might have conveyed new skills and formal models
from central Europe, where a sophisticated production
of hammered bronze flourished since the beginnings
of the Late Bronze Age. In considering the corpus of
that specific craft category, I have been increasingly
aware that it needed to be linked to a more general
framework of rituals and cosmological thoughts.
Those, to some extent, contributed to the building of
identity patterns for prominent social groups of EIA
South Etruria, as well as for the related commoners.
I wish also to suggest that the temporal perspective
for understanding this scenario should encompass
the time-span 1200800 BC, during which the most
radical transformations took place. Comparisons with
another contemporary local situation of central Italy
(i.e. Latium vetus), will help us to better understand the

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy

ideological attitude of the social groups that were the
protagonists of the proto-urban revolution.

The Final Bronze Age in Latium vetus

In 11th10th century BC burial practices of South
Etruria and ancient Latium, two regions located to
the north and south of the Tiber river respectively
(see Fig. 8.6), shared many elements, among which
the most significant from a conceptual point of view
is the use of hut urns for the ashes in crematory rite
(far more attested in FBA Latium than in Etruria,
see Bietti Sestieri 1976; 1992; Bartoloni et al. 1987)
(Fig. 8.1A) and the related use of covering funerary
urns with lids in the shape of house roofs (e.g. Bietti
Sestieri and De Santis 2004). This iconic characteristic,
which is often accompanied by the presence of
ceramic anthropomorphic figurines (Fig. 8.1A) possibly
representing the dead himself/herself, has been linked
by some scholars to concepts such as the burial reenacting of the living context of houses, from the
architectural and social point of view (i.e. Colonna
1988; Bietti Sestieri 1992). I believe that its meaning
has fundamentally to do with a conception of the
afterworld as a mirror-like reflection of the living
social order: the house (probably meant as family or
household) as start and end of life. Nevertheless, the
question is complicated by the fact that, as we shall
see below, house representations are one of the main
components of Middle Tyrrhenian imagery between
the 11th and 9th centuries BC. Analyzing the similar,
and nearly coeval, northern European phenomenon
of house urns with its substantial heterogeneity of
formal manifestations, Serena Sabatini (Sabatini 2007)
pointed out that house might be intended more as
an abstract concept (a paradigm) than as a signifier
connected to a specific meaning.
Perhaps in somewhat relation to the general idea of
the grave in continuity with the house of the living,
and very typical of both Etruria and Latium, is the
great development of vessel assemblages (e.g. Bietti
Sestieri and De Santis 2003), showing a sharp dierence
with classical Urnfield burial rite. Among them there
are many pottery vessels that have been interpreted
as miniature representations of presumed domestic
furnishings (e.g. Colonna 1988; Bietti Sestieri and De
Santis 2003), often constituting sets of objects linked
to rituals of commensality (Fig. 8.1AB). This picture
suggests an increasing emphasis on burials as focus
of ritual activity.
Relevant questions rise from some recent burial
discoveries in ancient Latium, especially as far as
the symbolic representations of military rank and


political authority are concerned. At funerary sites

encompassing the centre of Rome (Foro di Cesare) and
some localities south and east of it, Pratica di MareLavinium, Quadrato di Torre Spaccata, Santa Palomba
(see Fig. 8.6), a number of FBA and EIA male cremation
burials have come to light with a typical association of
metal items reproducing a complex array of weapons
and/or cultic tools in miniaturized form (Fig. 8.1B).
These include, as a norm, a complete spear, a sword,
two double shields (sometimes with a possible breastplate), two greaves, a knife, a razor. Anna Maria Bietti
Sestieri and Anna De Santis (Bietti Sestieri and De
Santis 2000; 2003; De Santis 2005) argued that such
co-occurrence of military insignia and implements
of presumably cultic function (knives, ancilia-type
shields) might have represented social personae who
held the main political and sacred functions of their
communities (warrior and priests?) and have paralleled
these figures with chiefs.
In a seminal paper published in 1991 Giovanni
Colonna (1991) suggested that the miniature shields of
ancient Latium were imitations of the double shields of
Aegean Late Bronze Age iconography, so called figureof-eight shields. The same model was recognized by
him in a monumental bronze version from 8th century
South Etruria, particularly from the tomb Casale del
Fosso 1036 at Veio. These and others Iron Age finds
(similar shields come from Norchia, see Colonna
1991) signal the longevity of this particular emblem,
due to ritual conservativeness, even explaining the
maintenance of the model in roman tradition in the
form of the ancilia shields, used by the Salii priests
during the performance of ritual dancing.
The figure-of-eight shield, an item probably made
of organic materials (leather, wood etc.), since the
initial phases of Late Helladic had a great importance
in Mycenaean depictions (Fig. 8.1C). Although for a
long period it functioned as actual weapon in war
combats, at least from the 15th century onwards it
assumed the meaning of pure decorative element or
cult implement no more employed in real fighting
(e.g. Cssola Guida 1973). According to some authors
(the topic is summarized in Bettelli 2002, 158164), its
fortune in Aegean iconography could be attributed
to a religious significance as a material symbol of a
deity (Fig. 8.1C 23), even though it has to be stressed
that documents about a real usage in war are still
known for later periods (for instance the ivory plaque
from Delos with a warrior image at Fig. 8.1C1, see
Cssola Guida 1973, tab. XXVIII). The transmission
of the model might have had a somewhat relation
to the interaction with Cyprus, that we see also in
the circulation, throughout FBA Middle Tyrrhenian
Italy, of ceremonial bronze items imported from the


Cristiano Iaia

Figure 8.1 A: San Lorenzo Vecchio (Rocca di Papa, Rome), burial of Final Bronze Age 3 (after Bietti Sestieri 1976). B: Pratica di Mare
(ancient Lavinium), tomb 21, Final Bronze Age 3 (after Bietti Sestieri 1985 and Colonna 1991). C: depictions of double-shields from the
Late Helladic Aegean. 1: Delos (after Cssola Guida 1973); 2: Chania, seal; 3: Mycenae, painted tablet (after Bettelli 2002).

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy

island (maybe via Sardinia), such as tripod-stands and
cauldrons (e.g. Macnamara 2002).
The adoption of this specific prototype raises some
important points. On the one hand, the remarkable
antiquity and long duration of the model (about
45 centuries) suggests a function of the doubleshield as power insignia with cultic implications
(although the latter feature is common to nearly all
the armours used for display). On the other hand,
we note that these miniature imitations of weapons
are not the outcome of sophisticated workshops or
particularly specialized craftsmanship. They could be
a sort of ritual fiction, to the point that there seem
to be a total disconnection between the intentional
strength of the visual message and the modest level
manufacture. These remarks could lead to question
whether we deal with powerful individuals invested
with sacred power, or simply with a ritual mise en
scne of idealized figures.
In any case this is a relevant innovation in the general
context of Italian Late Bronze Age ritual practices: the
emergence of a stereotyped image of a specialist in war
and religion who can act as a mediator between the
human beings and the deities. In doing so, prominent
groups from ancient Latium acted in a way that has
been frequently observed in dierent situations, that
is choosing foreign and exotic models, in order to
reinforce their authority in a regional context (in the
sense of Kristiansen and Larsson 2005).
Although there are many indications of a formation
process of ethnic (tribal?) identity between FBA 3 and
EIA 1 (e.g. Bietti Sestieri 1992; Bietti Sestieri and De
Santis 2000), ancient Latium for this period yields
limited evidence of political and economic integration
of a level higher than that of alliances between local
communities, partly reinforced by the elaboration of a
common symbolism of political power. In fact, as far as
it regards the settlement system, ancient Latium saw
a change towards proto-urbanism, substantially more
gradual than in South Etruria (i.e. Pacciarelli 2001, 120
.). Also in the metallurgy domain evidence of highly
skilled manufactures, linked to prestige and display,
seems scarce in this region before the advanced EIA
(i.e. Bietti Sestieri 1976; 1985).

South Etruria during the FBA

A more puzzling picture appears when considering
the archaeological record of FBA phase 3 in South
Etruria. In order to improve our comprehension of
such a crucial period, I shall try to show how the
interplay between dierent archaeological categories
and contextual levels could be of great usefulness.


During the FBA, the so called Tolfa-Allumiere

culture group was flourishing through a well structured
system of small communities located on naturally (and
perhaps artificially) fortified positions, substantially
equal in their territorial domains (i.e. di Gennaro 2000;
Pacciarelli 2001, 98.). Towards the end of the period
this picture changes due to the emergence of more
dense demographic concentrations, like Tarquinia and
Vulci (Pacciarelli 1991; 2001). Some of them acquire
an increasing control on good agricultural land and
metal-rich areas (Monti della Tolfa district and Fiora
river valley), and only during the 9th century BC
witness a massive growth in terms of population and
territorial dominance.
FBA funerary data in this region are very sparse
and insucient for a coherent picture. However,
burial rites, only characterized by cremation, resemble
those of ancient Latium, although, at a careful look
many dierences with it are detectable, such as the
unusual frequency of complex female grave sets with
weaving and spinning implements (e.g. Pacciarelli
2001, 210.), that speak in favour of a more dynamic
social system.
Indeed, a more revealing insight into social
developments is provided by metalwork, especially
documented by hoards. Among the latter the most
impressive is that of Coste del Marano (Tolfa, Rome),
dating about the late 12th and 11th century BC (i.e.
Peroni 1961; Bietti Sestieri 1981, 231). This complex,
which could be interpreted as a cult deposition, is
only constituted by sophisticated prestige items such
as really big fibulae, pendants, decorated implements,
and three sheet bronze cups, two of which with
handles surmounted by a cast bull-head (Fig. 8.2A).
Most of these objects have scarce or no parallels in
contemporary graves, although similarities with
central Europe are present in the vessels and with
Greece in the fibulae. Some of the fibulae, which hold
an embossed and engraved decoration with the VogelSonnen-Barke (Sun-ship bird) motif, the wheel-shaped
pendants, and the bull-heads, suggest connection
with religious iconographies. The Sun-ship bird
iconography, whose distribution includes large parts
of continental Europe (Wirth 2006 with previous
references) and north central Italy (i.e. Damiani 2004;
Dolfini 2004), is usually referred to the natural cycles
of the sun. Some authors attempted to recognize
narrative and mythological contents behind it (e.g.
Bouzek 1985, 178; Kaul 1998; Kristiansen and Larsson
2005, 294.), such as the stories of journeys of IndoEuropean deities (Apollo, Eos/Aurora etc.) on chariots
drawn by swans or horses. A connection between the
symbols of the sun and the boat was also emphasized
(e.g. Kaul 1998). The Coste del Marano hoard belongs


Cristiano Iaia

to a chronological horizon (encompassing 12th and

11th centuries) in which Bird and Sun elements are
especially present, in Italy, on objects related to cult
functions and to the dimension of male social prestige
(e.g. Bettelli 2002, 155.; Dolfini 2004).
As I shall try to show in the following pages, this
iconic complex of the Sun-ship, with its intercultural
character, due to long distance connection (especially
with continental Europe), was an important constituent
for the imagery of EIA South Etruria, specifically when
embedded in ritual practices and in the dimension of
political power. This is also one of the aspects that
marked the formation of a supra-regional identity of
the Villanovan cultural complex (for the Villanovan
style in pottery decoration see e.g. De Angelis 2001)
in contrast to ancient Latium, where there is no
comparable development of such stylized iconography.
This can be seen, for example in the pervasive presence,
in EIA South Etruria, of the sun disc and water birds
decorative motives both in the local metalworking and
in some ceramic items connected to the burial ritual
(e.g. Damiani 2004; Iaia 2005). So it raises the crucial
point on whether in this region one should think
about some kind of continuity between the FBA and
the EIA material culture connected to prestige and
cosmologies, despite the fact that territorial and socioeconomic systems underwent radical changes.

Villanovan South Etruria at the beginning of

the Early Iron Age
At the onset of the proto-urban phenomenon, during
the 10th and 9th centuries BC, one of the epicentres
of productive and socio-political developments in
Central Italy can be recognized in the northern part
of South Etruria, with special regard to the centre of
Tarquinia and secondarily of Vulci (Pacciarelli 2001).
In particular, surveys carried out in the 1990s illustrate
Tarquinias increasing development as a very large
centre, surrounded by a nearly unbroken chain of
cemeteries (Mandolesi 1999).
At Tarquinia ritual practices of early Villanovan
period can be illustrated by hundreds of cremation
burials excavated between the 19th and 20th centuries
(i.e. Hencken 1968; Buranelli 1983), unfortunately
lacking for the most part of anthropological data.
More complete data come from the recently excavated
cemetery of Villa Bruschi Falgari (Trucco et al. 2001;
The burial ritual at Villanovan Tarquinia exhibits
many novelties, but also a kind of continuity with the
cosmological conceptions of FBA, indeed characterized
by a re-contextualization of dierent ritual forms

and materials. This is suggested, among various

manifestations, by some small ceramic objects such as
miniature imitations of chariots drawn by horses, in
pottery and sometimes perishable materials, and by
ceramic boats (e.g. Iaia 1999a, 24.; 2002), which are
especially present in burials of eminent males (Fig.
8.2B). A link to the Sun-ship pattern is apparent from
the shape of the boats, usually furnished with a plastic
bird head (Fig. 8.2B 13). As suggested by at least a
boat specimen carrying a human figurine inside (Fig.
8.2B1), I think it is likely an interpretation of these
items as oerings to deities that would have helped the
deads journey into the afterworld, or his/her accession
to a heroic condition.
Considering the normative elements of the cremation
rite, the urn and its covering, at Tarquinia male burials
can be divided in three large funerary categories (Iaia
1999a): (a) male with a cover-bowl; (b) male with a
pottery helmet-lid; (c) male with a hut urn. The male
burials with a cover-bowl, a ritual trait that they
shared with female burials, received a very simple
ritual treatment: the personal set did not include any
weapons and was often confined to a razor (sometimes
with fibulae). In contrast, the funerary treatment of
individuals with a pottery/bronze helmet, an element
exclusively belonging to male individuals, was far
more varied and usually more complex. The same can
be said of the few burials with a hut urn, all pertaining
to males of special social standing (e.g. Iaia 1999a,
34.). Those grave sets show very similar associations
to those with pottery helmets: a pattern that, beside
other data that we shall analyze now, allows us to
recognize a sort of conceptual anity between the two
ritual symbols of the helmet and the house.
The socio-ritual significance of these funerary
categories (with exception of those with hut urns) has
become clear both on the basis of a systematic analysis
of the associations from old excavations (Iaia 1999a) and
from the data of a recently excavated cemetery, Villa
Bruschi Falgari (Trucco et al. 2001; 2005), known only in
preliminary form. In the latter, burials furnished with
ritual objects and symbols of authority and prestige
(pottery imitations of helmets, miniature boats and
chariots, wealthy sets of ornaments for females, etc.)
tended to cluster in a restricted area. Thus, on the basis
of spatial patterns it has been suggested the existence of
family groups, who for a short period (presumably not
more than 23 generations) might have concentrated
in their hands a number of important socio-political
and ritual functions (Trucco et al. 2005).
The picture cannot be complete, unless we consider
another necropolis, located in the close vicinity of
the Villa Bruschi Falgari cemetery, in the site of Le
Arcatelle, unfortunately only known from badly

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy


Figure 8.2 A: Coste del Marano (Tolfa, Rome), selected objects from the hoard (after Peroni 1961). B: pottery ritual items, from Early
Iron Age 1 Villanovan graves. 1: unknown provenance (hypothetically Tarquinia); 24: Tarquinia (after Iaia 1999a, 2002).


Cristiano Iaia

documented 19th century excavations (i.e. Hencken

1968; Iaia 1999a; 1999b). Here, within some dense
funerary plots whose time-span extended from the
very beginning to the late phase of EIA, six sheet
bronze helmets were recovered (Iaia 2005, 4763),
four of which dating to the full EIA 1, the others of
slightly later date (EIA 2a). This spatial concentration
of metal helmets has no parallel in any other burial
contexts in Italy prior to the 8th century BC, and allows
us to define the emergence of a top-level role in the
socio-political structure. Although most of the grave
assemblages were dismembered, from the original
excavation reports we possess evidences of the unusual
features of those burials, such as the deposition into
stone receptacles, the presence of other authority and
prestige indicators (horse-bits, vessels made of bronze
and alabaster, many fibulae) and ritual paraphernalia
(Iaia 1999a, 41). This high social level is mirrored by
the association of unknown provenance from the
illegal market between a bronze bell-helmet and a
bronze biconical urn with Sun-ship decoration, both of
Villanovan manufacture, kept in the Karlsruhe Museum
(Iaia 2005, 50 and 153) (Fig. 8.3A left bottom).
Two so-called Bell Helmets from the Arcatelle
necropolis (Fig. 8.3A left top) and another example of
hemispherical shape (Cap-helmet with socketed apex)
(Fig. 8.3A right centre) are of particular importance,
due to their strict technical and stylistic relationships
to central Europe (Iaia 2005, 47.). The former are
akin to the helmets class known as Glockenhelme, or
glockenfrmige Helme mit gegossenem Scheitelknauf (Bellshaped helmets with cast knobs) (Fig. 8.3A, right
top), whose major concentration is in the Carpathian
Basin and the middle Danube (east-northern Hungary,
Romania and other areas of east-central Europe: see
distribution in Fig. 8.6). They correspond to von
Merharts type B.2 and Henckens Rounded Bell Helmets
(i.e. von Merhart 1941; Hencken 1971; Schauer 1988;
Clausing 2003). Major resemblances are evident in
the general shape, and more particularly in some
technological characteristics: for instance, the gradual
thickening of the sheet from the rim to the top of
the cap, due to imperfect control on the hammering,
and the application of the so-called berfangguss, a
sophisticated technique, well known in central and
northern Europe, that consisted of attaching a bronze
socketed knob on the helmet, casting it directly on
the sheet.
Many points arise from the Bell-helmets of Villanovan
Etruria. A first important point is chronology. The
discrepancy between the dating of the Bell-helmets
north of the Alps, mainly to the jngere Bronzezeit, or
Hajdbszrmny horizon (e.g. Patay 1969; Schauer
1988, 181), which means, in absolute terms to the

11th10th centuries BC, and that of the Villanovan

examples, to the end of 10th and initial 9th century,
could be solved considering the existence of pottery
lids in the shape of cap- or Bell-helmets with knobs
during the FBA 3 of South Etruria (e.g. Pacciarelli 2001,
205; Iaia 2005, 107) (Fig. 8.4B). As a consequence, one
should argue that in South Etruria Glockenhelme were
already in fashion prior to the EIA and add some
elements to the existence of a kind of continuity in
funerary ideology beyond the great divide between
Bronze and Iron Ages.
Taking into account the great distance in Italy and
nearby areas between the sites where the bronze
Bell-helmets were found (see Fig. 8.3B and Fig. 8.6),
it is dicult to avoid the impression of a sudden
introduction of new techniques and forms through
some kind of directional exchange. The Northern
Adriatic might have functioned as an intermediate
area: similar embossed decoration occurs for instance
in the various fragmented examples of Glockenhelme
from the cult site of Muja Jama-Grotta delle Mosche at
San Canziano-kocjan near Trieste (i.e. Hencken 1971;
Borgna 1999; Iaia 2005) (Fig. 8.3A) which, on the other
hand, strictly resemble the Carpathian examples due
to the shape of the knobs.
The idea of a strong interconnection with Central
Europe in hammered bronze production is also
strengthened by the examination of other, contemporary
or later, artefacts of EIA Etruria: especially the rich series
of sheet bronze items, comprising helmets and vessels,
that are characterized by decorative patterns of the
Vogel-Sonnen-Barke or Protomen Styl (e.g. von Merhart
1952, 40.; Jockenhvel 1974; Iaia 2005, 224.). The
most striking manifestation of the latter phenomenon,
though later than the Bell-helmets (decades around
800 BC), is represented by the bronze burial urns
of the so-called Veio-Gevelinghausen-Seddin group
(Jockenhvel 1974), whose distribution is shown in
Fig. 8.6. The latter comprises in particular a bronze
amphora from Veio (tomb AA1) almost identical to
the specimen from Gevelinghausen, in NW Germany,
that shows resemblances with many other pieces
from central and northern Europe (e.g. von Merhart
1952; von Hase 1989). This raises important issues of
interconnections of South Etruria specifically with
north European routes (Kristiansen 1993), which are
beyond the scope of this article, and allows to highlight
a particular openness of this region to long distance
exchange with continental Europe.
Returning to the above mentioned data on Bellhelmets, I would suggest that since the transition
between FBA and EIA sheet bronze specialists were
travelling from central Europe to South Etruria,
in an earlier moment maybe from areas such as

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy


Figure 8.3 A: Bronze Bell and Cap Helmets with knobs, from Early Iron Age Italy and central Europe (after Iaia 2005 and Patay 1969);
bottom left, bronze urn and helmet of unknown provenance (Karlsruhe, Badisches Landesmuseum, after Iaia 2005). B: distribution map
of the bronze helmets with knobs and related pottery imitations in Italy (after Iaia 2005).


Cristiano Iaia

Figure 8.4 A: Sala Consilina (Salerno), warrior grave (after Kilian 1970). B: pottery helmet-lids from Final Bronze Age burials of South
Etruria (after Iaia 2005). C: pottery helmet-lids from Early Iron Age 1 burials of South Etruria and Campania (after Buranelli 1983,
Gastaldi 1998, Kilian 1970).

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy

the Carpathians and the Danube-Tisza plain. They
might have introduced new skills in metalworking,
presumably improving the capacity of the local
elites to control esoteric wisdom and sophisticated
crafts linked to prestige and display purposes (see
many comparable situations in Bronze Age Europe:
Kristiansen and Larsson 2005).
The impact deriving from the introduction of the
helmet with knob, from the point of view of power
symbolism and ritual practices was really deep.
Many communities of the vast Villanovan complex
adopted the pottery replicas of this element (Figs
8.3B and 8.4C). Beyond the core region of South
Etruria, a great importance of the pottery replicas of
Bell-helmets, throughout a long period encompassing
also part of EIA 2, emerged in the Villanovan centres
of southern Campania, Pontecagnano, Sala Consilina
and Capodifiume (e.g. Kilian 1970; DAgostino and
De Natale 1996; Gastaldi 1998). Here, since the very
beginning of EIA, thus almost simultaneously with
South Etruria, some burials appeared with pottery lids
in the shape of Bell-helmets and high status indicators
such as swords or horse-gears (Fig. 8.4A).
A ritual and iconic phenomenon typical of this
pottery category, perhaps since the FBA, is the
hybridization of the helmet image with that of the
house, very frequently in the form of an apex with a
schematic or naturalistic roof on the top (Fig. 8.5.1).
In considering this phenomenon, Bruno DAgostino
talked about polysemic items (DAgostino and De
Natale 1996, 111). In Campania, towards the end of EIA
1 the occurrence of pottery helmet-lids with designs
located on the front, imitating doors (Gastaldi 1998)
(Fig. 8.5.2), suggests that the assimilation between
dwellings (or cult buildings) and helmets is inherently
linked to funerary and power symbolism. In South
Etruria the house representation is also pervasive in
many aspects of material culture related to funerary
rituals, such as stelae, burial stone receptacles and hut
urns (i.e. Iaia 1999a; Riva 2006, 121126). Thus there
is the possibility that house was synonymous with
afterworld, but in a sense that was charged with other
meanings, linked to socio-political dominance.
During the advanced EIA 1, in some examples of
prestige metalworking the above illustrated iconic
elements seem to intermingle. Heraldic emblems of
Bird heads surmount the top of the roofs in the hut
urns of Villanovan Etruria (Fig. 8.5.3) a characteristic
absent in Latium and in an exceptional example in
sheet bronze from Vulci a series of bird protomes (in
the so-called Protomen Styl by Jockenhvel 1974), also
present on the walls, seem to look after the closed door
of the building (Fig. 8.5.5). A similar convergence of
dierent iconic traditions can be observed in a singular


object, a bronze cap helmet recovered at Populonia

(Fig. 8.5.3) in a wealthy collective tomb of EIA 1
(Fedeli 1985, 47; Iaia 2005, 59), where a geometric panel
apparently representing a closed door is the focus of
a frieze comprising bird protomes and sun discs. In
this case, the sun is probably meant as a reference
to the warrior as charismatic individual and hero,
and the door could be seen as a symbolic passage
from the (world) outside to the (after-world) inside
(Sabatini 2007, 95).
In similar way to that postulated for the
interpretation of the so-called north European
house urns phenomenon (Sabatini 2007), the people
of the Villanovan cultural koin reinterpreted the
transcultural paradigm of house and the Sun-bird
iconographic complex as metaphors of (real) power.
In this respect, the political core of the proto-urban
Villanovan centres, mainly made up of warriors who
identified themselves through the use of Bell-helmets,
marked a great dierence with the neighbouring
communities of Latium.

In conclusion, I have tried to illustrate a case in which
material symbols, deriving from a complex blending
of traditional heritage and new ideas and skills of
foreign origin, contributed to the formation of new
identities of specific social categories. Identity is
an enormous topic which has increasingly become
the focus of current sociological thought from the
perspective of globalization (e.g. Bauman 2003). The
postmodern conception of identity as a fluid process,
typical of an age experiencing the loss of traditional
reference points, is a tool that can improve the
comprehension of contexts of rapid socio-cultural
change like FBAEIA central Italy. In those instances
identity (or more appropriately membership or
social aliation) was a dynamic construction, which
was achieved through negotiation and social dialectics,
also involving conflicts and the creation of symbolic
boundaries (e.g. Hodder 1992).
Especially in regard to issues of gendered identities
and social affiliation, the analysis of the visual
appearance of ancient people has resulted as one of
the most promising areas (e.g. Srensen 1997). Even
the construction of warrior identity and its bodily
appearance can be considered under this respect (e.g.
Treherne 1995). Another classical topic in prehistoric
archaeology is the privileged access by some social
groups to specific exchange networks (in a wide
sense), that enhances their capacity to build up an
autonomous stylistic and cultural entity, including


Cristiano Iaia

Figure 8.5 1: Tarquinia, Villa Bruschi Falgari, pottery helmet with roof-shaped knob (after Trucco et al. 2001); 2: Pontecagnano (Salerno),
pottery helmet with door depiction (after Gastaldi 1998); 3: Populonia, Poggio del Molino tomb 1, bronze helmet (after Iaia 2005); 4: Tarquinia,
pottery hut urn (after Iaia 1999); 5: Vulci, bronze hut urn (after Bartoloni et al. 1987).

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy

Figure 8.6 Distribution map of the main sites and of the main categories of items mentioned in the text.



Cristiano Iaia

prestige items, rituals and lifestyles. Recent studies

on European Bronze Age have been focusing on the
sword-bearer figures, favouring a global perspective
that emphasizes the transcultural transmission of
formal models, as well as of value systems, connected
to a warrior hierarchical ideology (e.g. Peroni 2004;
Kristiansen and Larsson 2005; Harding 2007).
In central Italy during the FBA and EIA prestige
metalworking had a pivotal role in bearing meanings
of power and cosmological notions transmitted through
long-distance exchange. Although some attempts to
create such a kind of highly elaborated material culture
can be seen since the initial FBA (see the Coste del
Marano hoard), only the restricted warrior elites of the
emerging centralized sites in Villanovan South Etruria
were able to acquire a set of new models and craft skills,
that triggered a wide-ranging change in the way social
membership was expressed in rituals. On one hand,
they adopted a highly specialized craft model from
Central Europe, the bronze bell-helmet with an overcast apex, which was locally transformed in a standard
ritual element, the pottery lid shaped as a helmet. The
latter was not only widespread in rich male burials, but
became also a symbol of warrior-hood (whose presence
is documented in a wide area, from Tuscany to southern
Campania: Fig. 8.3B), hence being identified as a whole
with a social condition or social category.
On the other hand, from the point of view of visual
imagery, the same groups reinterpreted older traditions,
particularly the motives connected to the sun journey
inherited from the Late Bronze Age cosmologies as well
as the house-centred iconographies. All this elements
gave way to polysemic expressions of material
culture, such as some hut urns and some bronze and
pottery helmets, in which religious iconographies
(bird protomes, solar motives), burial conceptions
and warfare symbolism seem to intermingle in a
complicated fashion.
Similar processes, but dierent trajectories, were in
action in contemporary Latium where Eastern models
in material culture, in particular the double-shield of
Aegean origin, but just in the restricted ritual domain
of male burials with miniature panoplies of weapons,
were assimilated in the late FBA, with continuity into
the EIA1 (e.g. Bietti Sestieri and De Santis 2003). I would
like to stress that, in this case, there is no evidence
that the normal sized prototype shields were made of
metal (actual bronze shields are known in Italy only
for the advanced EIA), so we cannot generalize the
role of metalworking in all situations.
Lacking any evidence of a real trade of exotica,
the precise mechanisms through which these models
were acquired remain unclear, although I suggest that

in the case of Villanovan sheet bronze production

they have mainly to do with patronage relationships
between foreign smiths (maybe from central Europe)
and local elites.
In a long-term perspective, this diversification
between the warrior elites of South Etruria and Latium
seems at the roots of the ethnic formation process of
the Etruscan and Latin peoples (Bietti Sestieri and
De Santis 2000; 2003), around 900800 BC still in a
embryonic state.
A last remark is necessary. At the onset of the
Villanovan urbanization process war-related elements
seem actually to have a prominent role in structuring
the symbolic dimension of power in material culture
(for a general overview of this topics see e.g. Iaia 1999a;
Pacciarelli 2001; Riva 2010), even though the picture
that we can gain from this evidence is ideologically
biased and, to a certain extent, a distorted one,
especially as far as the comparisons between male
and female burials are concerned. In fact, the latter
do not include elements provided with comparable
material and symbolic elaboration (such as armour
and weapons), although further research on this
topic is needed. In any case this bias has an eective
historical significance, especially when looking at
the exceptionally more diversified picture of the
subsequent EIA 2 (late 9th and 8th century BC). In
South Etruria the latter phase saw a proliferation in
female graves of parade metal jewellery (exceptional
belt plates), banquet furnishings and symbols of
political dominance (horse-gears), that suggest an
increasing integration of the female component in
social hierarchy and in the public sphere of power
(e.g. Iaia 1999a, 126.; 2005, 216.; Riva 2010, 95.).
In my opinion, this is a strong indication that the
traditional Bronze Age warrior society was giving
way to a more articulated and nuanced picture, that
of Iron Age proper.

1 It originates from some reflections about the subjects of
my Graduation thesis (revisited in Iaia 1999a) and PhD
dissertation (published as Iaia 2005).

I am particularly grateful to Serena Sabatini and Maria
Emanuela Alberti for their precious remarks and
comments that allowed me to improve the text both
from the points of view of form and content.

8. Metalwork, rituals and the making of elite identity in central Italy

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Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a
compartive perspective: Etruria and Latium Vetus
Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

The Formation of the City in Latium (La formazione
della citt nel Lazio) congress, held in Rome in the
late 1970s (Ampolo et al. 1980), sparked a huge
debate on urbanisation and state formation in middle
Tyrrhenian Italy. This debate could be seen as polarised
between two main schools of thought: Orientalists
and Occidentalists.
In order to simplify the complex and long-running
arguments, let us state that Orientalists emphasise
the role of external influences (Ampolo et al. 1980;
Harris 1989; Pallottino 1984, 213 and 307; 1991, 5556;
Damgaard Andersen 1997; Rasmussen 2005, 72ff.
and 8283; Sherratt 1993, 93), while Occidentalists
identify and define settlement and funerary patterns
toward higher complexity, which originated from
local impulses at least from the end of the Bronze
Age, if not earlier (Peroni 1979; 1989; 1996; 2000; di
Gennaro and Peroni 1986; di Gennaro 1986; 2000;
Stoddart and Spivey 1990, 4061; Guidi 1992; Barker
and Rasmussen 1998, 84; di Gennaro and Guidi 2000;
Pacciarelli 2001).
While the Orientalist perspective (ex Oriente lux)
dominated in the 1970s and the 1980s, the Occidentalist
point of view emerged and was reinforced during the
1980s and 1990s. Andrea Carandini has even recently
suggested that the beginning of the city-state model
(generally associated with the origin of the Greek Polis)
possibly took place prior in the Western Mediterranean,
as demonstrated by the early origin and development
of the city of Rome (Carandini 2007, 1314).

Another dominant theme in the debate on

urbanisation in central Italy was the supposed priority
of this process in Etruria (e.g. Peroni 1989; Pacciarelli
2001, 127), when compared with nearby regions such
as Latium vetus, the Sabine region, the Faliscan and
the Capenate areas (Stoddart 1989; Bietti Sestieri
1992a). By focusing on settlement organization and
social transformations, as mirrored in the funerary
evidence, this paper will compare and contrast
political and social developments in Etruria and
Latium vetus (Fig. 9.1).
And it will place those trajectories within the
wider context of socio-political transformations and
connectivity in the entire Mediterranean region during
the 1st Millennium BC. In doing so, this paper will
show that neither a pure externalist nor an internalist
explanation of urbanization in central Italy is fully
explanatory; whereas a combination of both internal
and external catalyzing interactions suits the evidence
more precisely, and can help to better understand this
dynamic process.
In contrast with the traditional view, Etruria and
Latium vetus should not to be considered as monolithic
blocks, but, rather, as linked societies with dierent,
contrasting dynamics and specific developments which
can be identified internally at a local level. A network
model will allow the identification of these interactions
at dierent scales of analysis, and this paper will
suggest it as the most promising approach to give
account of local trajectories within a wider regional
and global Mediterranean framework.


Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

Figure 9.1 The geographical context. Pre-Roman populations in central Italy (by F. Fulminante).

Urbanisation in middle Tyrrhenian Italy:

principal issues of the debate
Ex Oriente Lux?
Simplifying a complex question, the key issues of
the debate on urban formation in central Italy, have
always been: when did the city begin in central Italy:
6th, 7th or even 8th century BC? and what was there
before the city?
On the first question, scholars generally agree that
urbanization was largely completed in central Italy
between the late Orientalizing Age and the end of
the Archaic Period (from the late 7th to the end of
the 6th century BC). By that time, Rome had been
monumentalised and most of its civic and political foci
were built or even restored in stone: the Regia (Brown
1935; 1967; 19745), the Temple of Mater Matuta in the
sacred area of SantOmobono (Pisani Sartorio 1990),
the temple of the Magna Mater at the south-west corner
of the Palatine Hill (Pensabene 2000; 2002; Pensabene
and Falzone 2001), the House of the Vestals and the

so called House of the Kings at the foot of the Palatine

Hills toward the Forum (Carandini and Carafa 2000;
Carandini 2004).
By the late Orientalizing Age/Early Archaic Period
the Forum itself with the Comitium, had been equipped
with a tu pavement and with the Cloaca Maxima, while
during the Archaic Period the so-called Servian wall,
possibly the Circus Maximus and finally the Capitoline
Temple were being built, this last dedicated in the first
year of the Republic 509 BC (Carafa and Terrenato
1996; Carafa 1997; Cifani 1997a and 1997b; Smith 2000).
Similarly, by that point, most of the other first order
centres in Latium vetus and Etruria had defensive stone
walls (Guaitoli 1984, 371372; Cifani 1997a, 363364;
2008, 255264) and stone temples (Colonna 1985, 6797;
1986, 432434 and 2006; Cifani 2008, 287298).
When considering the origin of the city in middle
Tyrrhenian Italy and the nature of settlements
in the region, the debate over the last 40 years
polarized, as explained in the introduction, between
the two opposite schools of thought, Orientalists

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

and Occidentalists. Orientalists (mainly historians,
classicists and etruscologists) highlight the role of
external influences, namely from the Near East via
Greek and Phoenician colonists, in the birth and
development of cities and urban aristocracies (see
bibliography above in the Introduction).
On the other hand, Occidentalists (mainly prehistorians and a minority of etruscologists and classical
archaeologists) emphasise autochthonous impulses
and local developments toward higher complexity.
These local trajectories towards higher complexity
can be detected in the settlement pattern and in social
developments (as demonstrated by the funerary
evidence) prior to Greek colonisation in southern Italy,
by the end of the Final Bronze Age/beginning of the
Early Iron Age (109th centuries BC), if not earlier (see
bibliography above in the Introduction).
While the Orientalist point of view seemed to prevail
during the 1970s and 1980s, recent research has revealed
that the formation of cities in middle Tyrrhenian Italy
and in Southern Italy (Magna Graecia) seems to pre-date
similar developments in mainland and insular Greece


(Malkin 1994, 2003), suggesting that the traditional

idea of a passive transmission of the city-state model
from the east to the west, along with goods such as
the Phoenician bowls (Fig. 9.2), which inspired and
catalysed the so-called Orientalizing phenomenon, has
to be revised (e.g. Riva and Vella 2006).
In fact, recent research conducted in Southern
Italy (Whitehouse and Wilkins 1989), Southern Spain
(Cunlie and Fernandez Castro 1995) and Sardinia
(Van Dommelen 1997) has demonstrated that, similarly
to middle Tyrrhenian Italy, colonisation was only
a marginal or at least a partial factor in regional
processes that led indigenous communities toward
urbanisation from the end of the Bronze Age to the
7th6th century BC.
Therefore, within the wider Mediterranean
perspective, this paper suggests the adoption of the
network model as a theoretical framework to further
develop the understanding of urbanisation in the 1st
millennium BC. As suggested by recent scholarship,
during the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (if not
earlier) the Mediterranean has to be seen as a net of

Figure 9.2 Phoenician bowl from the Bernardini princely tomb in Palestrina, second quarter of the 7th century BC (Museo Nazionale
di Villa Giulia, courtesy ICCD, Photographic Archive N F3 686).


Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

reciprocal connections and exchanges between east

and west and even from and to continental Europe
(Cunlie 2008).
Within this framework, there were probably more
and less advanced areas, but their interconnection
and dynamic relationships contributed to the global
changes which led to the formation of the city in the
Mediterranean during the 1st millennium BC.

modality of the large plateaux occupation (closer

consideration reveals exceptions to the dominant
patterns in both regions, supposedly revolutionary,
sudden and earlier in southern Etruria, and gradual
and later in Latium vetus), but are to be found in
the interaction, territorial dynamics and political
equilibrium between dierent emerging city-states
(Stoddart and Redhouse forthcoming).

The Supposed Priority of the Proto-urban

Process in Southern Etruria, when compared
to nearby regions with a particular reference
to Latium vetus

Indigenous political and social dynamics from

a comparative perspective: Etruria and Latium

As already mentioned in the introduction, the other

dominant perspective in the debate on urbanisation in
central Italy was the supposed priority of this process
in southern Etruria (Peroni 1989; Pacciarelli 2001,
127), where the model of the city-state was believed
to have developed according to the principle of the
peer polity interaction (Renfrew and Cherry 1986;
Renfrew 1986). Only then was the idea of the city-state
transmitted to northern Etruria, Latium vetus and the
other surrounding regions (Faliscan, Capenate and the
Sabine area) and in this instance only as a propagation
of the original Etruscan prototype (Bietti Sestieri 1992a;
Stoddart 1989).
In the following section political and social
developments in Etruria and Latium vetus will be
compared, by analysing settlement patterns and
funerary evidence. New funerary and settlement
evidence, made available by recent excavations,
and existing evidence, reconsidered in the light of
traditional theoretical models and new ideas, will
show that the conventional model has to be revised.
The traditional view, which contrasts a sudden and
revolutionary proto-urban formation in southern
Etruria with the later and gradual process in Latium
vetus, has to be reframed in the light of this new
evidence. As will be shown, a closer consideration of
singular cases reveals more complex and richer internal
dynamics than previously thought.
At the same time, it will be shown that an updated
application of the rank-size rule, pioneered for central
Italy by Sheldon Judson and Pamela Hemphill (Judson
and Hemphill 1981) and subsequently adopted by
other scholars such as Alessandro Guidi (Guidi 1985)
and Simon Stoddart (Stoddart 1987; forthcoming),
seems to suggest that the main dierences in the
process of formation of proto-urban centres in Etruria
and Latium vetus does not consist in the chronological
gap (which seems to have to be reduced) or the

Settlement Patterns
The priority of the urbanisation process in southern
Etruria as opposed to Latium vetus was generally
assumed on the basis of the contrasting model of
proto-urban centres formation found in the two nearby
regions separated by the Tiber. In fact surveys and
research conducted in southern Etruria has shown that
between the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning
of the Early Iron Age a sudden and revolutionary
change took place in the settlement organisation.
By this time, in fact, Bronze Age villages in open
positions or on small hill-tops (on average 56 ha and
never more than 1020 ha) were abandoned in favour
of larger nucleated and centralised settlements on the
big plateaux (between 100 and 200 ha), later occupied
by the cities of the Archaic period such as Veio, Caere,
Tarquinia and Vulci (Pacciarelli 2001, but already di
Gennaro 1986; Stoddart and Spivey 1990; Barker and
Rasmussen 1998).
A few common features between these large
nucleated settlements have been observed (Pacciarelli
1994, 229): large unitarian morphological units
consisting of big flat plateaux with steep slopes,
with an area ranging from 100/120 ha to 180/200 ha;
closeness to rivers of regional importance; accessibility
to the sea; availability of a large territory with
agricultural land around the settlement.
The consistency of these common features in all of
the new settlements, the suddenness of the shift from
dispersed to nucleated, centralised settlements and the
continuity of occupation of these sites by later cities,
have induced scholars to believe that those communities
acted on the basis of original and thoroughly thoughtout planning. According to this view the re-location of
the old communities and the choice of the location for
the new settlements had been chosen according to well
defined and conscious long-term preparation (Pacciarelli
1994, 229230 with previous references).

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

On the opposite side, the formation of proto-urban
centres in Latium vetus seemed to follow a more
gradual pattern, slightly later and on a smaller scale
when considering the major settlements. In fact, in
this region the occupation of the large plateaux,
later occupied by the cities of the Archaic period
(with a maximum extension of 5080 ha), seemed
only to start at an advanced stage of the Early Iron
Age (Latial period IIAIIB), generally following
an earlier occupation (mostly from the Middle
or the Recent Bronze Age) of defended positions
(Acropoleis) connected to these plateaux (Pacciarelli
2001, 120127).
Ardea, Lavinium and Satricum are clear examples
of this model. Similar developments are also found in
Fidenae, Ficulea and possibly Gabii (although here the
situation is unclear due to the presence of quarries,
which have completely destroyed the original elevated
region to the east of the Castiglione basin: Pacciarelli
2001, 122).
Within this general framework the uniqueness
and much earlier development of Rome has already
been emphasized by several scholars. Two quite large
settlements already seem to have been present on
the Capitoline and the Palatine Hills by the Early/
Middle Bronze Age and the Recent Bronze Age.1 By
the beginning of the Early Iron Age, possibly from a
very early stage (Latial period IIA), or more probably
slightly later (Latial period IIB), the two settlements
seemed to have merged into one big centre.
This is demonstrated by the abandonment of the
cemetery in the Forum and the beginning of the use of
the cemetery of the Esquiline and other funerary areas
around the seven hills, which from that point were
only used for habitation purposes (Carandini 1997,
but already Mller-Karpe 1962 and Guidi 1982; see
also Bettelli 1997). At this stage, Rome had reached the
remarkable size of ca. 202 ha,2 which dierentiates this
centre from all of the other primary order settlements
in Latium vetus (which are never larger than 5080
ha) and makes it similar to the major settlements of
southern Etruria.
In addition, an early development of the protourban centre of Lavinium, by the end of the Final
Bronze Age or the very beginning of the Early Iron
Age, has been cautiously suggested in a recent paper
by Alessandro Guidi. This scholar noticed that the
funerary use of the central area of the plateaux of
Lavinium seems to stop at the end of Final Bronze Age,
when all funerary areas seem to have been moved
away and to be located in the areas surrounding the
plateaux. This seems to suggest a greater use of the
area of the plateaux for residential use, no longer
limited to the Acropolis (Guidi 2000a).


Similarly recent surveys and research conducted

in Etruria have revealed significant exceptions to the
dominant model. For example in the more remote
and inland part of southern Etruria, where the major
centres of Orvieto and Bolsena are located, several
hilltop Bronze Age sites, such as Montepiombone,
Montefiascone, Sermugnano, Civita di Turona and
Castellonchio show a continuity of occupation well
into the Early Iron Age (Pacciarelli 1991, 171172). In
addition, Final Bronze Age archaeological evidence
known from the sites later occupied by big protourban centres and subsequent cities appear to be
more abundant than previously believed, indicating
that earlier settlements in those sites might have been
more significant than previously assumed (Pacciarelli
1991, 173179).
In this sense, the case of Tarquinia seems to be
particularly emblematic. The recent topographical
surveys and re-evaluation of the human occupation
in the area of Tarquinia and its territory during the
Bronze and the Early Iron Age has shown a continuous
occupation of the Civita di Castellina from the Early
Bronze Age until the Orientalizing Period (Mandolesi
1999, in particular 203 with summary table). In
particular, during the course of the Final Bronze Age,
human groups seem to have spread out from this
well defended hill-top (Acropolis), to occupy sites on
the nearby Pian della Civita, inducing Alessandro
Mandolesi to attribute a specific leading role of the
Civita di Castellina in the occupation of the large
plateaux (Mandolesi 1999, 138140).
The examples presented above from southern
Etruria and from Latium vetus have shown that the
traditional view of a dramatic contraposition between
the two areas probably has to be reconsidered and that
local variability should be taken into account. When
applying a theoretical model such as the rank-size
rule (Johnson 1977; 1980; 1981) further similarities and
dierences can be detected. For example the calculation
of the rank size index (Johnson 1981, 154156), from
the Final Bronze Age to the Archaic period, shows a
similar trend toward higher complexity and a more
hierarchical settlement organisation for both regions
(Fig. 9.3).
When analysing and comparing the rank-size
curves in detail, slightly dierent trajectories can be
detected. During the Final Bronze Age both regions
present a concave curve, which indicates a low level
of settlement integration and hierarchy (Fig. 9.4). But
dierent patterns can be observed at the beginning of
the Early Iron Age. Southern Etruria shows a primoconvex curve (that is a curve with a mixed concave and
convex trend) at an early stage of the Early Iron Age
1 (Fig. 9.5), while the graph still presents a concave


Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

Figure 9.3 Rank-size index. Etruria (Calculations by S. Stoddart) and Latium vetus (Calculations by F. Fulminante).

curve for Latium vetus (Figs 9.6 and 9.7). But at a more
advanced stage of the Early Iron Age 1 and in Early
Iron Age 2, while Etruria maintains a primo-convex
curve (Fig. 9.8), Latium vetus has clearly developed a
log-normal curve, which implies a very high level of
settlement integration and hierarchical organisation,
generally found in regions with a state-level society
(Figs 9.6, 9.7 and 9.9).
This model, predicted by the application of the ranksize rule, on the one hand showed that a similar grade
of complexity can be detected in both regions by the
Final Bronze Age (calculation of the rank size index),
and that a general trend toward higher complexity
(eventually aiming towards the development of a
state-level hierarchy) can be detected in both regions
at a similar pace. However, the model also reveals an
important dierence between the two regions, which
might explain, from a sub-structural point of view, the
final success and dominance of Rome.
While southern Etruria is a wider region dominated
by a few very large proto-urban centres, ranging in
size between 100 and 200 ha (and possibly therefore
the primo-convex curve), with more or less equal
power and territorial influence (Fig. 9.10), Latium vetus
is a smaller and more compact region, with major
settlements, which never exceed the size of 5080
ha. But, from a later stage of the Early Iron Age the
dramatic growth of Rome (attested by the relocation
of funerary areas from the Forum to the Esquiline and
Quirinal hills, which implies a settlement size of about

200210 ha), led this settlement to dominate Latium

vetus (Fig. 9.11) and thereby favourably compete
with the more numerous but smaller Etruscan citystates.
From this point on, the Roman polity, dominating
the whole Latium vetus and from the Archaic Period also
dominating, directly or by alliances, the Latium adiectum,
probably at least down to Circei and Terracina (see for
example Capanna 2005 or Musti 1990 and Coarelli 1990
with a more nuanced view; dierently Cornell 1995,
according to whom, the tradition on Roman conquests
outside Latium vetus can be considered reliable only
since the Early Republican Period), would have been
much bigger and more powerful than any individual
Etruscan city-state. Another advantage contributing to
the success of Rome can be detected in the centralised
authority of the Roman monarchy as compared to the
more decentralised and heterarchical power of the
Etruscan aristocracies.

Funerary Evidence
The supposed delay in the development of protourban centres in Latium vetus is even more challenged
if the focus is moved from settlement analysis to
the funerary dimension. A contextual analysis of all
available evidence from Early Iron Age cemeteries
and burial areas in Latium vetus has suggested that the
supposed egalitarian tribal organization, hypothesized
on the analysis of Osteria dellOsa necropolis evidence

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

Figure 9.4 a Rank-size rule. Final Bronze Age. Etruria (Calculations by S. Stoddart)

Figure 9.4 b Rank-size rule. Final Bronze Age. Latium vetus (Calculations by F. Fulminante).



Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

Figure 9.5 Rank-size rule. Early Iron Age 1 Etruria (Calculations by S. Stoddart).

Figure 9.6 Rank-size rule. Early Iron Age 1 Early Latium vetus (Calculations by F. Fulminante).

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

Figure 9.7 Rank-size rule. Early Iron Age 1 Late Latium vetus (Calculations by F. Fulminante).

Figure 9.8 Rank-size rule. Early Iron Age 2 Etruria (Calculations by S. Stoddart).



Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

Figure 9.9 Rank-size rule. Early Iron Age 2 Latium vetus (Calculations by F. Fulminante).

by Bietti Sestieri (Bietti Sestieri 1992a), may have to

be revised or at least reframed in the light of recent
It has been suggested that the apparent lack of wealth
dierentiation and consequently social stratification
revealed by the analysis of the cemetery of Osteria
dellOsa, might be interpreted as a case of ideological
manipulation and masking of a more hierarchical social
organization (Guidi 2000b; Pacciarelli 2001; Fulminante
2003). This interpretation is supported by the recent
discovery of a few emerging burials dated to the end
of the Final Bronze Age/very beginning of the Early
Iron Age. In fact a few important male burials from
the Latial Period III A, recently discovered in Rome
and the surrounding territory, show clear indicators
of religious and political power (Bietti Sestieri and De
Santis 2003; De Santis 2005; 2007) (Figs 9.129.14), while
a rich female child burial from Latial Period I, excavated
a few years ago near Tivoli, has also been interpreted
as a possible indication of the existence of hereditary
status at this early phase (Le Caprine, Tomb 2) (Guidi
2000b; Pacciarelli 2001; Fulminante 2003).
To conclude, new evidence and recent studies
have challenged the traditional model of the gradual,
continuous and late proto-urban formation of the
Latin proto-urban settlements as opposed to sudden

and revolutionary early settlement nucleation and

centralization in southern Etruria. While in general
terms the difference is still valid, a much greater
variability and local specificity seems to emerge. In
order to take into consideration this variability and
reciprocal interactions both at the local, regional and
supra-regional levels, a new model focused on the idea
of networks and identity formation will be suggested in
the following section as a novel perspective from which
to study urbanisation in central Italy specifically, and
in the Mediterranean more generally.

Interactions in central Italy, the Mediterranean

and Europe and the network model
As mentioned in the previous sections, it is now a
commonly held belief that 8th century BC Etruscan
and Latin cities represent only the final stage of a
long process of settlement nucleation, centralization
and territorial hierarchy definition, initiated by the
end of the Bronze Age if not earlier. This picture has
been developed by a series of studies started by the
Roman School of Proto-history, which has the merit of
having emphasised local impulses toward settlement
centralization and social higher complexity well before

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective


Figure 9.10 Orientalizing Age polities in central Italy: X-Tent in Etruria (by S. Stoddart and D. Redhouse).

the appearance of the first colonies in southern Italy

(see e.g. di Gennaro and Stoddart 1982; di Gennaro
and Peroni 1986; Peroni 1996; Guidi 2000b; Pacciarelli
2001). Therefore the traditional idea of the formation
of the city in middle Tyrrhenian Italy as merely a
triggered phenomenon, imported along with products,

styles and ideas from the east Mediterranean, has been

greatly challenged by this tradition of studies.
In addition, recent research has suggested that
the model of the city-state, seen as a community of
citizens ruled by a centralized power and sharing a
common political identity, can be dated in Rome as


Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

Figure 9.11 Orientalizing Age polities in central Italy: Multiplicatively Weighted Voronoi Diagrams (or M.W. Thiessen Polygons) in
Latium vetus (in MWVD the dominant centre is left without a polygon) (by F. Fulminante).

early as the middle of the 8th century BC. Therefore it

seems to pre-date similar Greek city-state foundations
both on the mainland and in the colonial contexts
(Carandini 2007, 1215). In fact excavations, conducted
in the very centre of Rome, have uncovered two
significant monuments that appear to date from a
similar period: an earthen wall around the Palatine,
which seems to have more ideological, religious and
political significance than defensive purposes and an
exceptionally large rectangular building with benches
around the walls, very likely to have been used for
ceremonial occasions such as meetings and ritual meals
(for a synthetic presentation and interpretation of this
evidence see Carandini 2007, 4477).

The connection of these works with the wall built

by Romulus and the House of the Kings, mentioned by
the literary sources, suggested by Andrea Carandini,
is suggestive but not conclusive. However the public
importance of these monuments and their political
significance, together with the earliest phase of the
Forum for civic assemblies (possibly dated to the last
quarter of the 8th century and more certainly to the
first quarter of the 7th by Ammerman (1990) and Filippi
(2005)), is undeniable and suggests the existence of a
community of citizens, sharing a common political
identity, hence of the beginning of the city-state model
from at least this time.

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

Figure 9.12 Emerging burials of Latial Period IIA: Santa Palomba,

Tenuta Palazzo, Tomb 1, tenth century BC c.: Cardiophylakes
(heart protectors), double shields, greaves, sword, spears (from
De Santis, A., 2007, p. 493494, II.10031009, II.10111016,
II.1017-1023, su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attivit
Culturali-Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di
Roma by kind permission of the Council for Cultural Heritage
and Activities Special Superintendence for the Archaeological
Heritage of Rome).


Figure 9.13 Emerging burials of Latial Period IIA: Santa Palomba,

Tenuta Palazzo, Tomb 1, tenth century BC c.: Three fibulae
(brooches), razor, stand/incense burner?, boat-shaped object and
chain (from De Santis, A., 2007, p. 493494, II.1003-1009,
II.10111016, II.1017-1023, su concessione del Ministero per i
Beni e le Attivit Culturali-Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni
Archeologici di Roma by kind permission of the Council for
Cultural Heritage and Activities Special Superintendence for
the Archaeological Heritage of Rome).

Figure 9.14 Emerging burials of Latial Period IIA: Santa Palomba, Tenuta Palazzo, Tomb 1, tenth century BC c.: Pottery (from De
Santis, A., 2007, p. 493494, II.10031009, II.10111016, II.1017-1023, su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attivit CulturaliSoprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma by kind permission of the Council for Cultural Heritage and Activities Special
Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome).


Francesca Fulminante and Simon Stoddart

However, early contact between Latin and Etruscan

communities and Greek and Near Eastern people,
attested by imported products and later by the
introduction of Greek customs, such as the symposium
(Rathje 1995), cannot be denied. Some of the clearest
examples being the famous Greek inscription of
Osteria dellOsa, found on a local impasto jug related
to a female cremation burial (tomb 482, Bietti Sestieri
1992b, 686).
This tomb is dated by Anna Maria Bietti Sestieri
(1992) to the Latial Period IIB2, that is between 800
and 770 BC c., according the traditional chronology
(Colonna 1976 or Ampolo et al. 1980), or between
875 and 850/825 BC c., according to new absolute
chronologies, which take into account dendrocronology
and radiocarbon dating (Pacciarelli 2001; Nboer 2005).
However Marco Bettelli (1997) suggests even an earlier
date and attributes Osteria dellOsa tomb 482 to the
Latial Period IIB1, which would be between 830 and
800 BC c., in the traditional chronology, or between
900 and 875 BC c., in the new chronology.
Of the same chronological horizon as the inscription
of Osteria dellOsa is a proto-Corinthian cup with
concentric semicircles found at Veii in the Necropolis of
Quattro Fontanili, where a few later examples are also
known. As shown by Gilda Bartoloni, contacts seem
to increase with the appearance of the first colonies in
the West, while a bit later local imitations and painted
local pottery start to be produced (Bartoloni 2005,
347348). On the other hand, a study by Alessandro
Naso on Etruscan oerings found in Greek sanctuaries
in the Eastern Mediterranean has demonstrated that
there was a reciprocity in the contacts and that the
movement of goods and ideas was not limited from
the East to the West but was also active in the opposite
direction (Naso 2000 and 2006; for Western elements
in the Eastern Mediterranean during previous phases
from the 13th to the 11th centuries BC see Francesco
Iacono in this volume, with previous references).
In addition, it has been suggested that the so-called
Orientalizing phenomenon, has to be seen as an
expression of common ideology rather than a passive
imitation of the East by the West. In this perspective,
the presence from the end of the 8th century BC and
during the whole 7th century of imported materials
and works (exotica) or imitated objects from the Near
East in rich burials and more rarely in sanctuaries
or settlements of Etruria and Latium vetus, should be
interpreted as an indicator of common customs and
rituals among Mediterranean elites during the 8th and
7th centuries BC (Fulminante 2003; Riva 2006; Guidi
and Santoro 2008).
Finally, recent research by Serena Sabatini has
demonstrated that the same conception of cinerary

urns in the shape of a hut was common to Late Bronze

AgeEarly Iron Age central Italy and Late Bronze
Age northern Europe (Scandinavia, north and eastern
Germany and north Poland). In fact a very similar
object was used for the same purpose in the two regions
but the models show completely different styles
suggesting a common conceptualization rather than a
simple imitation or derivation (Sabatini 2006).
It is always possible to interpret the two cases as
parallel independent developments but the striking
similarities in the conception of the objects in the two
regions seem to suggest a relationship between the two
phenomena. This study seems to confirm that during
the Early Iron Age, and probably the Bronze Age,
the Mediterranean was connected with a network of
reciprocal communications, trades and relationships,
and this network also included or was involved with
continental Europe.
This paper suggests, therefore, the adoption of the
network model in order to study and understand the
important transformations which occurred in Europe
during the 1st Millennium BC. This model in fact
allows the study of systems as a unity, but can also
investigate reciprocal relationships and identify central
or peripheral nodes of the system. As demonstrated
in this paper both Orientalist and Occidentalist
approaches to the study of urbanisation in the
Mediterranean during the 1st Millennium BC appear
to fail as impartial and biased perspectives. While a
network approach, which emphasises interconnections
and reciprocal catalyzing interactions, seems less rigid
and more promising.

By comparing two geographically related but
contrasting regions in middle Tyrrhenian Italy, Etruria
and Latium vetus, this paper confirmed the model
already proposed by the Roman School of protohistory, which emphasises local developments and
impulses toward urbanisation in this area, which
had already begun well before the first contact with
Greek colonists.
However it has also shown that the traditional
opposition between Etruria (earlier and more marked
processes) in comparison to Latium vetus (secondary
urbanisation and more gradual process), has to be
revised or at least attenuated. In fact, the sudden
abandonment of small hilltops sites by the Final
Bronze Age and the convergence of domestic sites on
the plateaux later occupied by the cities of the Archaic
Period cannot be denied.
But an early occupation of dominant positions
connected with these plateaux (for example the

9. Indigenous political dynamics and identity from a compartive perspective

case of Castellina di Civita for Tarquinia) seems to
suggest that the communities living on these Acropoleis
might have had some sort of leadership in the
management of the process. Similarly the supposed
delay of the proto-urban phenomenon in Latium vetus
is challenged when funerary evidence is taken into
account, especially when considering the case of Rome
and its territory.
Finally, the consideration of the local trajectories
of settlement nucleation and centralization toward
urbanization in the wider context of the Mediterranean
and continental contacts seems to suggest that the
network model oers the best approach to study
the major transformations, which occurred in the
Mediterranean during the 1st Millennium BC. In
fact, both Orientalists and Occidentalists views on
urbanisation in middle Tyrrhenian Italy seem to be
incomplete and unsatisfactory while the assumption of
reciprocal contacts and catalysing interactions seems to
more closely fit the evidence and oer more promising
research perspectives.

1 The morphological units of the Capitoline Hill (including
both the Capitolium and the Arx) and of the Palatine Hill
(including the Cermalus) are respectively calculated in
about 14 ha and 23 ha.
2 Excluding the Caelian Hill.

We would like to thank Serena Sabatini and Maria
Emanuela Alberti for accepting this paper for publication,
and for their feedbacks and comments on the draft. The
paper was originally presented by Simon Stoddart and
Francesca Fulminante at the 14th Annual Conference of
the European Archaeologists Association, Malta 1621
September 2008, within the session: Connectivity and
Indigenous Dynamics: Transformation in the Mediterranean
(Time) (1200500 BC), organised by Manfred Bietak
(University of Vienna, Austria), Hartmut Matthaus
(University of Erlangen, Germany), James Whitley
(University of Cardi, Wales), Francesca Fulminante and
Simon Stoddart (University of Cambridge, England).
This session, with many points in common with the
one organised by Sabatini and Alberti, remained
The article presents a common view by the two
authors; the original initiative was taken by Francesca
Fulminante (the senior author) who conducted the
analyses on Latium vetus whereas Simon Stoddart


has contributed towards the analyses on Etruscan

settlements. The paper has been revised and elaborated
for publication by Francesca Fulminante during a
fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced
Study in the Humanities (NIAS) in Wassenaar, the
Netherlands, which provided a perfect environment
to feed thoughts and ideas on Social Network Analysis
in archaeology. Here, we introduce that model as a
metaphor and an interpretative framework, while
another paper, which applies this technique/tool
experimentally, will appear elsewhere (Fulminante
forthcoming). The deepest gratitude goes to Serena and
Emanuela, to NIAS fellow fellows and sta for all the
stimulating interactions, while any responsibility for
mistakes or errors remains with the two authors.

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Local and transcultural burial practices
in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age:
Face, house and face/door urns
Serena Sabatini

This paper explores the evidence of negotiation,
incorporation and refusal of external material culture
in Late Bronze Age (LBA) Northern Europe. It also
examines phenomena of hybridizations between
practices with dierent origins, briefly touching upon
issues of cultural identity. Such discussions stem from
a comparative analysis of the origin and characteristics
of face, house and face/door urns. The distribution
of the three burial practices covers a large portion of
northern Europe, encompassing Scandinavia, central
Germany and Poland (Fig. 10.1), although in most
cases not contemporaneously. They seem to coexist,
however, at the end of northern European LBA period
V or by the beginning of the 8th century BC (see e.g.
Hnsel and Hnsel 1997, 102103). The burial practices
appear to have been related to each other in dierent
ways, and enable the themes of this paper to be
approached through multiple perspectives.
In order to provide as complete a picture as possible
of these phenomena and their significance for the study
of LBA northern European societies the following text
is organized into two parts: the first focuses on face
and house urns and long distance exchange systems,
and serves as an introduction to the second part, which
addresses face/door urns, hybridization in material
culture and issues of cultural identity.

Faces vs. houses: comparable narratives and

dierent meanings
There are two specific classes of funerary urns that coexisted, among others, around the south-western part of

the Baltic Sea and its surrounding hinterland (including

the Jutland peninsula and southern Norway), between
the end of period IV and the beginning of period VI:
face urns and house urns. The archaeological names
directly mirror the most well-known interpretations
of their respective symbolic meanings, one bearing a
face and the other representing a house or parts of it
(see e.g. Behn 1924; Stjernquist 1961; La Baume 1963;
Mller 1999; Kneisel 2002; 2012; Sabatini 2007).
With the exception of house and face urns LBA
Northern European funerary urns do not seem to have
comparably specific forms. Contemporary burial urns
belong to a range of shapes from bowls to variously
sized containers with decorated or plain surfaces
(e.g. Stjernquist 1961; Kobernstein 1964; Jensen 1997;
Puttkammer 2008; Homan 2009), but they do not
normally bear figurative symbolism comparable to
that of the face or house urns. In such a scenario,
face and house urns appear to have been exceptional
not only for their exclusive figurative features, but
also for being a significant variation within the local
The respective general distribution areas of face and
house urns include largely the same territories (Fig.
10.1). However, at the local level, they seem to mutually
exclude each other. That is, single communities would
normally choose either one or the other practice (e.g.
Sabatini 2007; Kneisel 2012). On the other hand both
coexist everywhere with the other burial urns without
figurative characteristics. To date, the most interesting
exception to this general situation is represented by
Wulfen cemetery in Saxony-Anhalt (Koberstein 1964;
Sabatini 2007, 136138). Wulfen appears to have
belonged to an open community capable of negotiating

10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age


Figure 10.1 House (black dots) and face (grey diamonds) urns distribution. The three columns illustrate the proportion between the numbers
of known house and face urns in modern Norway and Denmark (1), Sweden and Germany (2) and Poland (3).

and using several burial practices at the same time.

Wulfens community buried its dead in house, face
and face/door urns in addition to all the other regular
burial containers (Koberstein 1964).
Face and house urns have been interpreted as the
product of a similar creative process although dierent
in substance (Sabatini 2007, 164166). Both practices

are proposed to have stemmed from a paradigm (or

idea behind the realization of similar objects, see
Sabatini 2007, 42) which is specific for each of the two
phenomena (see also below). Such paradigms are here
considered as an expression of values and meanings
connected to the sphere of the human body (keeping in
mind that as a rule only its upper part is represented)


Serena Sabatini

in the case of face urns and of the house (intended as

a construction in general and/or as a house/dwelling)
in the case of house urns. Archaeological evidence (e.g.
Behn 1924; von Brunn 1939; Broholm 1949; Stjernquist
1961; Kwapinski 1999; 2007; Sabatini 2007; Kneisel
2012) invites considering both paradigms as having
had a conceptual rather than normative value. The lack
of strict normativity is suggested by the large variation
of forms and expressions characterising both classes.
Despite their supposedly similar originating
processes and comparable narratives (e.g. Mller
2002) the two classes are here considered as two
chronologically and geographically dierent, albeit
overlapping and partly parallel, traditions.

1966, pl. lxxxiii; Kwapinski 1999; 2007; Kneisel 2002,

fig. 5). Modern osteological analyses of the cremated
remains from face urns also show that they could be
used for the deposition of more than one individual
(Kneisel 2002, fig. 3).
The distribution pattern of face urns (Fig. 10.1)
shows clear concentrations along some of the main
rivers on the continent or in close vicinity to the sea.
Hence, a close relationship between the practice and
exchange networks is suggested, as is demonstrated
by Kneisels study in this volume.
Face urns do not seem to have been initiated
under the influence of any contemporary or similar
foreign phenomenon, rather they seem to have local
North European origins (La Baume 1963; uka 1966;

Face urns
Face urns are generally biconical vases characterised
by the iconographical attempt to reproduce human and
mostly face-related features on their upper part (Fig.
10.2). Both urn shapes and anthropomorphic features
may be made in a wide variety of ways (e.g. Kneisel
2002; Kwapinski 1999; 2007; LaBaume 1963; uka
1966). Face urns are considered in this work (see above)
as stemming out of a body paradigm, supposedly
inspiring their specific figurative characteristics.
Face urns can also have various decorations aside
from their anthropomorphic features. In particular on
the later examples from Poland we find a large number
of pictograms representing objects such as personal
belongings like pins or necklaces (e.g. Kneisel 2012,
fig. 140) or even complex motives with wagons (e.g.
LaBaume 1963, n.265) or hunting scenes (e.g. Kneisel
2012, fig. 192) and so on.
The first face urns date to the LBA period IV (c.
12th10th century BC). According to a recent thorough
study of the class (Kneisel 2012; see also Kneisel
in this volume with further bibliography), the first
specimens appear in burials from the Jutland and the
Scandinavian peninsulas. The phenomenon spread
and remained in use until the La Tne A (c. 7th5th
century BC, see Jensen 1997; Trachsel 2004), reaching
its height of popularity during its latest phases in north
and western modern Poland (e.g. Stjernquist 1961,
5859; LaBaume 1963; uka 1966; Kwapinski 1999;
2007; see also Kneisel in this volume with previous
More than 2000 face urns are known today (e.g.
Kwapinski 1999; 2007; see also Kneisel 2012 and in this
volume). In addition not only could several individuals
from the same community be buried in such containers,
but large graves with several face urns in the same
stone cist are not uncommon, particularly in the Polish
part of their distribution area (see La Baume 1963; uka

Figure 10.2 Two examples of Pomeranian face urns (from La

Baume 1963, pl. 5, 201 and pl. 7, 265, courtesy of the Verlag des
Rmisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, Mainz, Germany).

10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age
van den Boom 1980/81; Kneisel 2012). It is worth
remarking in this respect how people or just parts of
human bodies (for example feet and hands) are well
known in other forms of northern European LBA
figurative expressions. Interesting examples come
from Scandinavian rock carvings on open air panels
(e.g. Fredell 2003; Coles 2005; Ling 2008), from the socalled local ritual houses (e.g. Kaul 1985; 2006, 108) and
from burial monuments (e.g. Goldhahn 1999). We may
therefore postulate the existence, at least to a certain
extent, of conceptual connections between face urns
and other local ritual practices.
To conclude, face urns appear as a long-lasting and
multifaceted Northern European phenomenon. They
also embody certain transcultural significance in the
sense that their symbolic core and ideological value
could be shared through time by a large number of
communities, despite the diversity of local cultural

House urns
House urns are funerary urns decorated in the form
of miniature buildings (Fig. 10.3), or just with specific
architectural details (i.e. biconical vases with a door
on the belly of the vase and/or roof like features on
the top of it). They come in many shapes and forms,
but are considered a single coherent class due to the
common symbolism of which each is assumed to be a
peculiar expression (see Sabatini 2007, 9597).
House urns appear at the end of period IV (or
by about the end of the 10th century BC) in the
northernmost part of their distribution area; latest
examples are from central Germany and date to the
beginning of period VI or around the middle of the
8th century BC (Sabatini 2007, 116122).
The distribution area of house urns includes north
and eastern Germany between the Harz Mountain and
the Baltic Sea, part of Polish Pomerania, the islands
of Gotland and Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, south-east
Sweden, the Jutland peninsula and the Danish islands
of Falster, Mn and Zealand (Fig. 10.1). Despite their
wide-ranging distribution, the total number of known
house urns is relatively small (c. 140 pieces, see Sabatini
2007, 179248). A limited number of people, if not just
one person, were buried in such containers at each site.
As far as the burial ritual is concerned, house urns
appear to have been buried in compliance with the
various local ritual practices alongside other kinds of
urns (e.g. Stjernquist 1961; Kobernstein 1964; Strmberg
1982; Sabatini 2007). Each house urn generally contains
the remains of a single individual (e.g. Gejvall 1961;
Sigvallius-Vilkancis 1982; Vretemark 2007). The only
certain exception to that is represented by one of


the few and peculiarly shaped 1 items from Polish

Pomerania which contained two dierent individuals
(Gadykowska-Rzeczycka 1977). So far, clear age or
gender-related patterns have not emerged in attempts
to correlate the available osteological data with urn
shapes or with their grave goods (see e.g. Sabatini
2007, 124135; Vretemark 2007, 286).
There is lively debate regarding the origins of house
urns (see e.g. Stjernquist 1961, 4557; Bartoloni et al.
1987, 515; Sabatini 2007, 720). Throughout the history
of their study two main arguments have been the focus
of debate. On the one hand, the Villanova hut urns
from central-western Italy (see e.g. Bartoloni et al. 1987
and also Iaia in this volume) have been considered the
trigger for the origin of the North European practice
(e.g. Broholm 1949, 152; von Hase 1992, 238; Gedl
1994, 286; Kristiansen 1998, 166). Alternatively, the
emergence and development of house urns has been
seen as a local phenomenon contemporary with the
Villanovan hut urns only by accident or coincidence
(e.g. Bartoloni et al. 1987, 207225). The first hypothesis
finds support in the archaeological record (see Sabatini
2007, 149261). It seems possible to say that house
urns emerged in Northern Europe under the influence
of Villanovan hut urns, in particular due to four
factors. Firstly, Villanova hut urns represent the only
contemporary practice whose resemblance to house
urns appears undoubtedly remarkable (see e.g. figs
8.1 and 8.5 in Iaia in this volume). Villanova hut urns
are also a solid, locally spread and culturally wellrooted phenomenon (e.g. Mller-Karpe 1959, 4852 and
8796; Bartoloni et al. 1987, 135147; Peroni 1994, 124;
Leighton 2005; Barbaro 2006), which, without entering
the argument any further, could be regarded as part of
narratives from or about their area of origin. Thirdly
house urns are distributed close to the Baltic Sea or
to main central European Rivers (see Fig. 10.1), thus
associated with communication ways, and are therefore
likely to have been related to exchange networks (e.g.
Sabatini 2007, 2134). They also emerge at the end of
period IV when contacts between Northern Europe
and the Italian peninsula are well-attested (see the
discussion in the next paragraph). Finally, with the
exception of house urns, houses, constructions in
general or architectural elements of some sort are
otherwise absent in any other LBA north European
form of figurative expression (see Sabatini 2007, 3436).
Similarly, such representations are absent from metal
artefacts (e.g. Kaul 1998; 2005) or on rock carvings (e.g.
Goldhahn 2002; Fredell 2003; Coles 2005; Ling 2008;
Bradley 2009; Fredell et al. 2010).2
To conclude, assuming Villanovan hut urns inspired
the origin of house urns in Northern Europe, house urns
could also be defined as the concrete manifestation,


Serena Sabatini

locally elaborated, of an intercultural dialogue between

the two sides of the continent. Going one step further,
the hypothesised foreignness (from the Villanova area)
of the core symbolism of house urns might also be
included among the possible causes as to why they
appear not to have left a lasting trace (Mller 1999;
Sabatini 2007) in later northern European material

LBA continental exchange networks

From the end of Montelius period IV and in particular
during period V (which in central European chronological terms is during approximately the whole
Hallstatt B period, or around the 10th and the 9th
century BC, see Hnsel and Hnsel 1997, 102103)
there is consistent evidence for exchange between
the central Mediterranean and continental/northern
Europe (e.g. von Hase 1992; Scarre and Healy 1993;
Gedl 1994; Kristiansen 1998; Pydyn 1999; Pare 2000;
Earle 2002; Kristiansen and Larsson 2005; Galanaki et
al. 2007). They also seem to have crossed the Italian
Peninsula, and not the Carpathian/Danube basins as
was evidently done in the Early Bronze Age (see e.g.
Thrane 1975, 204; Jensen 1982, 163167; Kristiansen
1998, 161.; Pydyn 1999, 55; Vandkilde 2007, 91.).
Space does not allow a detailed discussion of LBA
long distance exchange networks, but one particular
example might provide useful insights. A category
of artefacts well known among Bronze Age scholars
is that comprising the exceptional bronze vessels
known as the Gevelinghausen type (Fig. 10.4). These
diverse and highly ornamented items (e.g. Jckenhovel
1974; Iaia 2005, 163170) represent a class of prestige
goods which probably circulated during the northern
European LBA period V, chiefly by way of a gift
exchange system (e.g. Kristiansen 1993), or according
to what has also been defined as a wealth finance
system based on control and distribution of symbolic
objects in order to create and maintain networks,
and thereafter ideological/political power (e.g. Earle
1997; 2002; Kristiansen 2010). They have been found
among other places (see the distribution map in Iaia,
this volume, fig. 8.6) in a grave from Veio, in the
Villanova area (e.g. Iaia 2005, fig. 63), in the so-called
Seddin royal tumulus in Brandenburg, Germany (e.g.
Metzner-Nebelsick 2003; May et al. 2005;), and in a
bog from Rorbk in northern Jutland (e.g. Jckenhovel
1974, pl. 6.1). Remarkably enough for the aim of this
study, each of these find-spots is also a site from which
hut (the former) and house urns (the latter two) come
from as well (e.g. Behn 1924, 10 and pl. 2b; Bornholm

1949, pl. 43; Bartoloni et al. 1987, 177180; Sabatini

2007, 185 and 216 with previous references). Some of
the Gevelinghausen vessels are also decorated with the
so-called sun-ship bird motive, which is a recurrent
symbol all over Bronze Age Europe (e.g. Kaul 1998;
2005; Kristiansen 1998, 170171; Pydyn 1999, 55; Iaia
2005, 223243 and in this volume, fig. 8.5; Wirth 2006).
A sun-ship bird motive also appears on the walls of one
exceptional bronze hut urn from Vulci (e.g. Bartoloni
et al. 1987, figs 31 and 33; Iaia this volume, fig. 8.5)
suggesting ideological closeness between these various
artefacts and the groups producing and using them.
This is not the place to question reasons and fashions
beyond the distribution of Gevelinghausen vessels (for
further reading on the issue see e.g. Jckenhvel 1974;
Kristiansen 1993; 1998, 169170; Iaia 2005, 207219).
However, the demonstrated geographical overlapping
between them and the hut/house urn phenomena
cannot be ignored in any attempt to reconstruct the
flow of items and ideas between the Mediterranean
and northern European LBA Europe.
House urns and face urns appear variously
connected to exchange networks not only as far as
their emergence is concerned, but also in terms of
their development and decline. At the beginning of
period VI (or by around the mid-8th century BC),
house urns cease to exist (e.g. Sabatini 2007, 116122),
while face urns enter what we could call their mature
and at least numerically most significant phase,
particularly in the territories east of the Oder River
(e.g. Kwapinski 1999; 2007; Kneisel 2012 and in this
volume). At the beginning of period VI not only
were Villanovan hut urns (whose influence is here
considered a determining factor for the emergence
of house urns) no longer in use (see Bartoloni et al.
1987), but exchange flow between the two sides of the
continent became less consistent as well. The reasons
behind these transformations appear complex (e.g.
Vandkilde 2007, 163182; Kristiansen 2010, 182188).
Considerable changes, such as the sudden decrease
in metal hoards across Northern Europe by the end
of period V (Pydyn 2000 with previous bibliography),
took place.
All in all the evidence demonstrates the complex
interplay between dierently sized networks and local
forms of expression. It is clear that during the northern
European LBA dierent phenomena and networks
overlapped and influenced each other. They stretched
all over northern Europe, in some cases reaching as
far as to the central Mediterranean. In addition they
appear to have played on several planes and reveal not
only movement and exchange of goods and/or skills,
but also of symbolic values or paradigms.

10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age


Figure 10.3 The house urn Frose D, Saxony-Anhlat, Germany

(courtesy of the Museum fr Vor- und Frgeschichte, Berlin,

Figure 10.4 The Gevelingshausen vessel (from Jockenhvel 1974, fig.

2, courtesy of the Rmisch-Germanische Kommission des Deutschen
Archologischen Instituts Frankfrt a. M.).

Face, house and face/door urns

face features (Fig. 10.3); door urns with face features

(Fig. 10.9); and face/door urns (Figs 10.510.7).
To date, two house urns with face features are
known. They both come from the cemetery of Frose in
SaxonyAnhalt (e.g. Behn 1924, 1415; Knig 1932/33,
102103, 106107; Sabatini 2007, pls 910 and 2008b).
One urn pertains to the second group and it is also
the only example of hybridization between face and
house urns which took place outside central Germany,
in south-eastern Scania (Sweden) at the cemetery of
Simris (e.g. Stjernquist 1961, 5965). Simris 23 is a
door urn with a conical lid (Sabatini 2007, 83) which
presents a very interesting permeability to the body
paradigm since it shows face features on the opposite
side to where the door is (Fig. 10.9). In other words,
it appears that the original intention was to have a
house urn or a face urn depending upon the angle
from which you viewed it.

Looking at the distribution of house and face urns (Fig.

10.1) we can easily single out their respective areas
of major influence: south-eastern Sweden and central
Germany for the former, and southern Norway, the
Jutland peninsula and western Poland in the case of
the latter. At the same time it is also clear that they
nevertheless experienced a significant geographical
closeness. Based on local examples, archaeological
evidence demonstrates how single communities
generally made clear choices to exclude one of the
two practices in the act of choosing the other. It seems
therefore that the respective paradigms at the core
of the two phenomena are generally not compatible
within the same burial ground. Face/door urns therefore
open up discussions not only about negotiation and
incorporation of external material culture, but also
of hybridization and transcultural dialogue between
contextually and culturally separated practices.
By the end of period V or Ha C1 frh, or at
approximately the beginning of the 8th century BC
(see Hnsel and Hnsel 1997, 102103), face and house
urns underwent a significant process of hybridization
with each other. The outcome of this process, despite
the limited number of artefacts (13 items in total, see
in particular Sabatini 2008b), reveals that there were
three dierent kinds of possible hybridization resulting
from the original paradigms (i.e. house and body). They
have been classified (Sabatini 2008b) as house urns with

Face/door urns
Face/door urns are biconical burial urns which display
face features in the upper part of the vase and a door
opening below that (Figs 10.510.7). In other words
these urns unite the two main features (face and door
opening respectively) each characterising face and
house urns.
Face/door urns come from Saxony-Anhalt and in
particular from four burial grounds: Eisldorf 3 (e.g.


Serena Sabatini

Figure 10.5 The face/door urn Eilsdorf 1, Ldkr. Harz, Germany

(courtesy of the Museum fr Vor- und Frgeschichte, Berlin,

Figure 10.6 The face/door urn Eilsdorf 3, Ldkr. Harz, Germany

(courtesy of the Braunschweigsches Landesmuseum, Wlfenbttel,

Figure 10.7 The face door urn from Wulfen 5, Ldkr. Anhalt-Bitterfeld,
Germany (courtesy of the Schlomuseum, Kthen, Germany).

Voges 1894; Becker 1896; Wendor 1981; Sabatini 2007,

191193; 2008b, fig. 3; Heske and Grefen-Peters 2008;),
Gro-Quensted (e.g. von Brunn 1939, 132; Sabatini
2007, 197; 2008b, fig. 4), Rietzmeck (e.g. Hinze 1925;
Knig 1925; 1928; Sabatini 2007, 207208; 2008b, fig. 6)
and Wulfen (e.g. von Brunn 1939, 136137; Kobernstein
1964; Sabatini 2007, 220223; 2008b, fig. 5). They are a
relatively uniform group of items (Figs 10.510.7). Face
features might be represented in dierent ways: with
a plastic nose (like Eilsdorf 1 or Wulfen 5, respectively
in Figs 10.5 and 10.7), with plastic nose, eyes and ears
(like Eilsdorf 3 in Fig. 10.6) or with impressed eyes
(like Gro-Quensted, see von Brunn 1939, 132; Sabatini
2007, 197; 2008b, fig. 4) similar to those on Simris 23
urn (see Fig. 10.9).
Few face/door urns have been recovered or are
preserved with datable grave goods. Important in this
respect is the association of a so-called Schlchenkopft
pin (Laux 1976, 122124; Trachsel 2004, 68) with Eilsdorf
2 (e.g. Sabatini 2007, 192). The Eilsdorf 2 pin and the
relatively wide distribution of the so-called Rippenkopf
pins (Laux 1976, 124128) in central German cemeteries
with house and face/door urns (Sabatini 2007, 108111)

10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age
suggest a chronology for the phenomenon dating to
the very end of the north European LBA period V or
Hallstatt C1 frh (Trachsel 2004, 6869). It corresponds
to the later part of the Italian Early IA (see Carancini
et al. 1996, fig. 1) and in absolute terms to about the
beginning of the 8th century BC (e.g. Hnsel and
Hnsel 1997, 102103).
Not much information is preserved about the
context and provenience of face/door urns. One
context (grave 16) from Eilsdorf is, however, relatively
well investigated (e.g. Heske and Grefen-Peters 2008).

Figure 10.8 The door urn Ruuthsbo A, Bjresj par., Sweden (courtesy
of Lunds Universitets Historiska Museet, Lund, Sweden).


It shows among other things that the size of face/door

urns was adapted to the age of the deceased. The
osteological analysis revealed that an adult (male)
was buried in the bigger face/door urn Eilsdorf 2
(which is comparable in size and shape to Eilsdorf
1 in Fig. 10.5), while a small child (12 years old)
was buried in the little urn Eilsdorf 3 (Fig. 10.6). In
the same grave with Eilsdorf 2 and 3 there was also
a third biconical urn where an adult woman was
buried. A burial context as such is not unusual among
house urns (see Sabatini 2007, 131133) and gives the
opportunity to discuss the significance of close family
ties in relation, for example, to the chosen urns or
burial practices.
Archaeological evidence does not allow us to
state whether house or face urns played a more
significant role in the emergence of face/door urns.
However, at least four factors should be taken into
account when considering their origin. In the first
place, as mentioned above, two house-shaped items
from central Germany, contemporary with face/door
urns, are decorated with face features on the front
wall (see Fig. 10.3) and on the roof (e.g. Behn 1924, 15
and pl. 3f; Kning 1932/33, 102103 and 107109; von
Brunn 1939, 132; Sabatini 2007, pls 910) respectively.
Secondly, face/door urns are distributed in areas
where the presence of house urns is dominant
in comparison to that of face urns (see Fig. 10.1).
The elongated biconical shape of face/door urns is
common both to face urns (see Fig. 10.2) and to non
house-shaped house urns (see the example in Fig.
10.8) or so-called door urns (Sabatini 2007, 7784).
Finally, face/door urns are a geographically and
chronologically limited phenomenon and disappear
at the same time as the last manifestations of house
urns (Sabatini 2007, 8587).

Figure 10.9 The door urn with face features Simris 23, Simris par., Sweden (drawing from the author).


Serena Sabatini

Symbolic meanings and identity strategies

Face and house urns provide the opportunity to
discuss the multifaceted nature of contacts between
dierent cultures. Face/door urns allow us to move
a step further beyond the existence of exchanges and
negotiation of material culture or symbolic paradigms.
They reveal the capacity of LBA northern European
communities to propose hybridised phenomena
stemming out of practices with dierent cultural
origins and narratives.
A previous work investigating house and face/
door urns (Sabatini 2007, 166) tried to shed light on
this episode of the European LBA adopting Arjun
Appadurajs (1996) theory on the dimensional nature
of culture and Zigmund Baumans theory of identity
as an objective or aim, changing and developing
through time (see the discussion in Bauman 2004).
In Appadurajs view, cultural identity is treated as a
dynamic concept, spelling out the interplay between
dierent dimensions fulfilling dierent needs.
The exclusive iconography of house, face and
face/door urns appears to express a necessity of
cultural differentiation from other local customs.
They could therefore be considered as embodying
an identity dimension. At the same time face/door
urns demonstrate that the border between these
dimensions is not permanent and that different
communities might attempt to create new possibilities
for dierentiation.
Post-colonial theories have investigated how cultural
encounters permit change in many different and
unpredictable ways (e.g. Bhaba 1994, 228; Rutherford
1999). Encounters create premises for new experiences,
paving the way to new dimensions, whether continuous
or sporadic over time. On the other hand it also opens up
discussions on cultural identity and, adopting Baumans
(2004) terminology, its being a constant praxis of active
choices regardless of the solidity of their outcomes.
Face/door urns could also fruitfully be discussed
in terms of what post-colonial theory calls third
space (e.g. Bhabha 1994; Rutherford 1999, 211). Third
space is a conceptual space, generated by cultural
encounters, which nurses new and/or hybridized
cultural creations. House and face urns have dierent
origins. They develop partly contemporarily into
transcultural phenomena negotiated and incorporated
on a local basis by several communities across northern
Europe. Although their respective use seems to
exclude each other, scattered communities open up the
core paradigm of these practices in order to initiate
a process of hybridization. The experiment had a
brief and modest life and seems to have disappeared
relatively quickly after its emergence (e.g. Sabatini 2007,

122). Hence, face/door urns appear as an attempted

combination which did not succeed in developing into
a lasting tradition (see also the discussion in Sabatini
2008b, 113). Despite their brief existence one thing can
be argued about face/door urns: from a postcolonial
perspective they are yet another example of the endless
possibilities of intercultural dialogues.

Concluding remarks
House, face and face/door urns provide an opportunity
to discuss the complex interplay between variously
sized exchange networks and local cultural phenomena
in LBA northern Europe. Despite their dierent origins
and development, to date they are the sole classes
of Northern European LBA burial urns taking forms
that are iconographically significant. They therefore
appear to embody a necessity of dierentiation, and
thus what has been discussed as an identity dimension,
for the communities using them. At the same time,
the large number of communities involved suggests
the existence of shared symbolic values and thus
communication and exchanges between groups using
them. In this sense both face and house urns have here
been defined as transcultural practices.
Furthermore, the house paradigm postulated to
have been at the origin of house urns as stemming from
the Villanovan hut urns from the Italian Peninsula,
reveals exchange between those same areas as well.
The existence of such long distance networking is
substantiated by other archaeological evidence like
the so-called Gevelingshausen bronze vessels.
House and face urns coexist between the end
of period IV and the beginning of period VI in
largely the same territories (Fig. 10.1). The various
local communities do not generally use house and
face urns together and on a local basis they are
usually not found in the same burial grounds. The
subsequent introduction of face/door urns is therefore
an exceptional phenomenon.
Archaeological evidence demonstrates that, probably
not before the end of period V or Hallstatt C1 frh (at
the beginning of about the 8th century BC), the core
symbolism characterising house and face urns converged
and underwent a phenomenon of hybridization. Despite
the demonstrated aversion individual communities had
to embracing both practices simultaneously, a dialogue
between the conceptual paradigms occurred. From this,
a third phenomenon negotiating both house and face
urn core symbolism emerged, taking on a new form of
expression and supposedly embodying a new cultural

10. Local and transcultural burial practices in Northern Europe in the Late Bronze Age
The study of house, face and face/door urns provides
interesting insights into the cultural complexity of
the northern European LBA. The development and
characteristics of these phenomena illustrate the ability
of northern European communities to negotiate and
autonomously elaborate external and local stimuli
into original forms of symbolic expression, possibly
embodying dierent dimensions of identity. All in
all the evidence illustrates not only the existence of
contacts between the various areas, but also their
multifaceted nature and their far-reaching capacity
both geographically and culturally.

1 In contrast to all the other house urns, the Polish examples
stand on pillars and therefore have an elevated floor (e.g.
Podgorski 1997; Sabatini 2007, pls 3032).
2 Other aspects of the northern European LBA might
broaden our perspectives. Several studies (e.g. Ulln
1994; Carlie 2004; Kaliff 2006; Artursson 2009, 242;
Kristiansen 2010) suggest that ritual and ideological
values characterise for example contemporary longhouses.
House symbolism appears also to have been embedded in
the use of burying longhouses under local monumental
aristocratic graves (e.g. Kristiansen 1998b, 169.; Victor
2002, 5152; Svanberg 2005). Recent work on the local
so-called ritual houses (e.g. Victor 2002; 2006; Kali 2006)
also sees the key for the interpretation of the practice in
a house-linked symbolism. None of these phenomena,
however, is a creative eort to materially express house
features in miniature dimensions. However, when we
accept the hypothesis of the influence of Villanova hut urns
at the origin of house urns, they suggest that the local LBA
cultural environment was a potentially fertile ground for
the reception and negotiation of a house paradigm from
the southern part of the continent.
3 Two more items from Eilsdorf have been documented as
face/door urns, but they are now lost in one case and only
partially preserved in the second (see Sabatini 2008b, 110
with previous bibliography).

I wish to thank my colleague and friend Maria
Emanuela Alberti, whose fruitful collaboration has
not only brought about the realization of the volume
as a whole, but also resulted in improvements to
the text and interesting discussions on the theme of
this contribution. I am also grateful to Madelaine
Miller and Katarina Streiffert-Eikelund for their
invaluable comments on the text. I wish also to
thank Kristin Bornholdt Collins for significantly
improving the language of the article. All mistakes


and ultimate inaccuracies that remain are, of course,

the responsibility of the author.
The realization of this article has been possible
thanks to Gteborgs Universitet Jubileumsfond.

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Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword
depositions on Lolland 16001100 BC
Sophie Bergerbrant

This article will consider the deposition of local and
foreign swords on Lolland, a Danish island, between
16001100 BC (Period IB, II and III). It focuses on
the treatment of the earliest imported examples of
Hajdsmson-Apa swords (from the Carpathian
Basin) and their local copies (Fig. 11.1). The article
also discusses the swords from subsequent periods.
Topics to be discussed include how the dierent types
of swords were accepted and used, i.e. how and where
they were deposited (hoards, burials or stray finds). A
closer consideration of the use and treatment of this
material helps us understand how innovations were
accepted into the local prehistoric society.
Theoretical perspectives such as migration theory
and concepts such as hybridity and third space will
be used to shed light on the relationships between
the meaning of an object in its area of origin and the
transformation that occurs upon entering its new
context, as well as how objects were accepted, copied
and subsequently made into local types.
The combination of a detailed study of the use
and context of artefacts in a new area and theoretical
discussions will give us a deeper understanding of
phenomena relating to transculturation. This study
focuses on Lolland since it is an island with both
imported and local copies of Apa-Hajdsmson
swords, and this can therefore help us understand how
a significant innovation the sword was accepted
into use in the South Scandinavian Bronze Age.1
The Danish island of Lolland is 1243 km2 (see Fig.
11.2). The island has the only two imported swords
of Hajdsmson-Apa type in Period IB that have
been found in Denmark. One dagger of this type has

also been found near Gren on the Jutland Peninsula.

Twelve local copies of the sword type have been
found in Denmark, one of which is from Lolland
(Lomborg 1960, 94; Vandkilde 1996, 224225; Wincentz
Rasmussen and Boas 2006).

Migration and mobility

The movement of things and ideas must have
involved the movement of people. Objects, symbols
and ideas simply cannot move on their own. Despite
the impression one sometimes gets while reading
archaeological literature, the movements of artefacts
and ideas can only occur through the interaction of
people, which demands the physical movement of
people. Obviously, the scale on which this happens
can vary, and it is up to archaeological research to
discuss and analyse the data. Below, dierent views
and possibilities for movement and migration will be
discussed. All types of movement of objects, no matter
how long or short, will be considered (i.e. even downthe-line trade also involves movement and therefore
some kind of migration, long or short).
Migration has often been seen as involving hordes of
people moving from one geographical area to another,
either filling an empty space or through military force
that overwhelms the local inhabitants. As shown below,
this is not the only kind of movement of people that
can occur. There are many dierent types, and levels,
of migration. The large scale ones have often been
seen as the prototype for migration. For example, this
kind movement inspired the name for the Migration
Period.2 Such large-scale migrations are historically

11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword depositions on Lolland 16001100 BC

Figure 11.1 Sword 5 from the Dystrup hoard. From Wincentz

Rasmussen and Boas 2006, fig. 14. Drawn by Malgorzata
Hansen (published with kind permission from Lisbeth Wincentz


attested, but I would argue that they are actually the

least common type of movement. There is a need in
archaeology to revise and expand our definition of
migration, and to study and discuss it on more levels
than found in previous work on the subject.
It has been pointed out that migration contains
a number of processes: mental, cultural, social and
economic. It is also two processes at the same time,
i.e. both emigration and immigration (Alsmark et al.
2007, 78); an impact is therefore felt not just on one
society, but on two. However, in Western Europe little
work has been done on the topic over the last few
decades, even if a growing interest can be detected
(e.g. Anthony 1990; 2007; Chapman and Hamerow
1997b; Cassel 2008). Migration is an important process
that cannot be ignored in the archaeological record.
We need to study how both areas involved respond
to this kind of change, the eect and impact on both
the receiving end and the starting point.
The study of archaeological migration has long been
out of fashion except in the case of hunter-gatherers
or the spread of the Neolithic. The topic of migration
was brought to the forefront by e.g. David Antony
(1990; 1997; 2007) and by the edited volume Migration
and Invasions in Archaeological Explanations (Chapman
and Hamerow 1997a). It is, however, only in the last
few years that interest has really started to grow, as
exemplified by this volume.
There are many dierent ways of defining migration.
The two most common are an inclusive and an
exclusive definition (Chapman and Hamerow 1997b,
1). In this article an inclusive approach will be used, as
adopted by Charles Tilly (1978) and used, for example,
by Anthony (1997). Tilly argues that there are two
dierent types of movement of people. The distance
and the break with the area of origin decide which type
of movement has occurred. The most common type
of movement is labelled mobility, which comprises
moves that involve too little distance and/or too little
break with the place of origin to count as migration
at all (Tilly 1978, 50). The other type of movement
is migration. Anthony (1997) discusses five dierent
types of migration, based on Tilly (1978): Local
migration, Circular migration, Chain migration, Career
migration and Coerced migration (for definitions of
these concepts see below).
Mobility generally applies to the shorter trips that
we undertake on a daily basis, movements of people
that do not place them outside their social context
for an extended time (Tilly 1978, 50). In archaeology
I would argue that the seasonal movements of
many hunter-gatherers would also be counted in
this category, despite the fact that that they might
move long distances, since there is little break with


Sophie Bergerbrant

existing social ties. Obviously, each case needs to be

studied individually before secure conclusions can
be drawn.
According to Tilly, local migration refers to shifts
an individual or household within a geographically
contiguous market (Tilly 1978, 51). The break with ones
place of origin is likely to be slight. This is probably the
most common type of migration (Anthony 1997, 26).
Anthony argues that pastoral nomads and northern
hunters often fall into this type of migration (ibid.).
Within archaeology, however, I would argue that
this is dicult to see in burial analyses, for example,
but in some cases this might be visible in settlement
archaeology. Movement of households, setting up
new households for a new generation etc., might leave
archaeological traces of this kind of migration.
Circular migration takes a social unit to a destination
through a set of arrangements which returns it to the
origin after a well-defined interval (Tilly 1978, 52).
Tilly puts movements such as seasonal work such
as harvesting etc., in this category (ibid.). Anthony
adds mercenary soldiers and points out that this is
migration with the intention of return (Anthony 1997,
26). If the migration completes its circle this could be
dicult to catch archaeologically. However, it might
be seen in remains of foreign artefacts, ceramics etc.,
at certain limited areas at settlements or burials with
small foreign objects, or within an otherwise local
jewellery/burial set.

Chain migration moves socially-related people

from one area to another. Through the knowledge
and often arrangements of socially related people who
have conducted the journey before. This can be seen
as informed mobility. It often refers to the movement
of one category of people, often people with a specific
occupation. An example of this mentioned by Tilly is
the movement in the 16th century of Spanish women
from Spain to Rome to work as courtesans (Tilly 1978,
5354). Anthony adds that this can often be the socalled leap-frog type of migration, i.e. when certain
areas are left out, as this movement category has a
specific aim, and in-between areas are left untouched.
He continues that it can have an implication for the
genetics of populations as, he argues, it is often kinstructured (Anthony 1997, 26). This type of migration
can probably be seen fairly easily in archaeological
material, as this should aect both the culture of origin
and the culture already existing in the new area.
Career migration occurs when persons or households
making more or less definitive moves in response to
opportunities to change position within or among
large structures: organized traders, firms, government,
mercantile networks, armies, and the like (Tilly 1978,
54). According to Tilly this type of migration is not
based on social bonds at the emigrants area of origin,
but on the larger social structure (ibid.). Anthony
adds that this includes any prehistoric specialist in a
hierarchical profession, such as soldiers and artisans

Figure 11.2 Distribution of swords on the island of Lolland. The black lines define the dierent parishes on Lolland. Period IB swords
(stars); Period II swords (triangles); Period III swords (circles); Middle Bronze Age date (squares).

11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword depositions on Lolland 16001100 BC

(Anthony 1997, 27). This category of migration is
probably archaeologically visible in some cases, for
example in Roman burials.
Coerced migration is a term defined by Anthony.
Tilly writes of great flows of migration where some
were due to force, but he has not classified them as
coerced migration (Tilly 1978, 5763). According to
Anthony this relates to displaced persons, refugees,
slaves, and social pariahs who migrate not because
they choose to, but because they are forced from
their home ranges or regions (Anthony 1997, 27). He
continues that people do not move randomly even
in distress (ibid.). This should be a visible trait in the
archaeological material.
Interestingly, Tilly argues that the dierent types
of migration have dierent gender patterns, where
local and career migration does not show any major
sex selection, circular migration especially has a
tendency to concern just one of the sexes. Which
gender it concerns depends on which occupation it
concerns at the destination, whereas in chain migration
the sex-selection often changes over time (Tilly 1978,
50). This can be an important clue when we discuss
prehistoric migration. Are we talking about single sex
migration or migration of both sexes? Tilly continues
that a high proportion of individual migration before
the twentieth century AD consisted of transfer of
labour among households. Further on he writes that
the marriage and the termination of marriage were
probably the the most significant demographic spurs
to migration (Tilly 1978, 66).
Many of these patterns of movement should be
archaeologically visible and the dierent categories
of migration probably have dierent material traces,
and leave their mark in the archaeological record in
dierent ways. This, however, is something that needs
to be studied more in future before firm conclusions
can be drawn.
With the just mentioned dierent kinds of migration
in mind, this article will examine peoples movement
and the consequent cultural implications beyond the
adoption of a particular innovation, the sword, in an
area in southern Scandinavia. An overview of how
the sword was introduced and treated in other areas
will also be presented in order to make comparisons
and gain a deeper understanding of the flow of ideas
through the movement of people.

The development of the sword

The introduction and use of the sword in Europe has
been debated and discussed at length elsewhere (e.g.


Kristiansen 1998, 361; 2002; Engedal 2005; Harding

2007, 7177). Therefore, only a brief introduction to
Bronze Age swords will be presented below. How to
distinguish swords from non-swords is somewhat
contentious, and varying definitions are found in
the literature (see for example Fontn 2002, 100). In
the study below I have followed Harding, whose
main criterion for separating a sword from a dagger
is based on the length of the blade, i.e. a blade of
30cm or longer is classified as a sword (Harding
2007, 71). The earliest swords appear in Anatolia
and the Caucasus around 3000 BC (Engedal 2005,
60305; Schulz 2005, 21517). This type of weapon
seems to appear around 1700 BC in central Europe.
Daggers have a long history both in bronze and in
other materials, for example flint. It seems that swords
developed in more than one place in Europe at the
same time. There were simultaneous developments
of swords in Spain and the Carpathian basin, but
sword manufacturing in Spain was short-lived
(Harding 2007, 74). The Hajdsmson-Apa 3 swords
are the oldest full metal hilted swords in Hungary
(Kemenczei 1991, 3). The Hajdsmsung-Apa sword
is also likely to have been the oldest sword in
Scandinavia, as the Sgel and Valsmagle types of
swords were influenced in various ways by this sword
type or other continental swords that belong to the
same phase as the Hajdsmsung-Apa sword. The
early Scandinavian types are the Sgel, the Wohlde
and the Valsmagle types of swords. The Wohlde
type is contemporary with Sgel and Valsmagle
sword, but might be slightly later since they were
influenced by the early Tumulus Culture swords
(Vandkilde 1996, 236237, 239; for more detailed
discussion about Period I chronology see Bergerbrant
2007, chapter 2).
According to Henrik Thrane (2005, 621) there
are only a few swords from southern Scandinavia
dating to Montelius Period I (c. 17001500 BC) and
most of them have been found in hoards; from
Period II (c. 15001300 BC), however, there are a
larger number of swords. Most of these swords have
been found in burials, in contrast to many other
European areas where swords are mainly found in
dierent circumstances, such as in hoards or rivers
(Thrane 2005, 62122). Kristian Kristiansen argues
that the Bronze Age weapons, especially the sword,
represents the emergence of a system of martial arts
that defined the warrior as an institution (Kristiansen
2008, 42). In the study which follows, I will consider
how an innovation the sword was treated when
it came to Scandinavia compared with its use (and
how it was deposited) in the Carpathian Basin.


Sophie Bergerbrant

Depositions of swords on Lolland

The first swords on Lolland and in Denmark
On the Island Lolland all the earliest swords are
found deposited in wetlands (Fig. 11.3). There are
four swords belonging to Period IB (16001700 BC).
Three of them originate outside the local area. Two
are original HajdsmsonApa type of swords, one
a Wohlde blade and the last is a locally made (i.e. in
southern Scandinavia) copy of a HajdsmsonApa
sword (Vandkilde 1996, catalogue nr 707, 711, 721 and
722). The determination of an original versus a local
copy is based on a number of deviations in shape,
decoration or casting technique in the local copies
that make them unlikely to have been made in the
Carpathian Basin (Vandklide 1996, 225).
Both HajdsmsonApa swords were found in
wetlands. One (Stensgaard, Stokkemarke parish)
was found while ploughing an almost dried out
bog, and was found with the tip placed downwards.
Unfortunately, the other one (Torupgaarde, Bregninge
parish) has less detailed information, but was found
while digging for peat in a bog (Aner and Kersten 1977,
8689; Det Kulturhistoriske Centralregister 07051104,
Internet source 20080319).
The information about the Wohlde sword (identified
by Vandkilde 1996, catalogue nr 711) is lacking and
there is no secure find spot however, it is likely to
have come from wetlands since it has the dark brown
patina that is typical for bog finds (Aner and Kersten
1977, 93; Vandkilde 1996, catalogue nr 711).
The locally made copy (Bgeskov, Engestofte) of
a HajdsmsonApa sword is also lacking direct
information about its find spot and as the Wohlde sword
the original deposition in wetlands is indicated by the
so called bog patina (Aner and Kersten 1977, 88).
As far as modern Denmark is concerned, three of
the local copies of a HajdsmsonApa sword were
single finds and have a patina that indicates that they
had also been deposited in wetlands (Vandkilde 1996,

Find context

Period IB

catalogue nr 692, 707, 884). One derives from a burial

on the island Funen (Vandkilde 1996, catalogue nr 720).
The remaining eight Danish swords were part of an
assemblage known as the Dystrup hoard (140119248
Det Kulturhistoriske Centralregister webpage) Jutland
(Winzent Rasmussen and Boas 2006). Most stray finds
and hoards are occasional finds that have little or no
information about the find circumstances; this hoard,
however, was excavated. The swords were deposited
on a roughly flat, elevated part of the terrain, not far
from a series of mounds at least some which are
from the Bronze Age which dot the landscape, near
to Dystrup Lake (Winzent Rasmussen and Boas 2006,
88; see also Det Kulturhistoriske Centralregister webpage).
The swords were found relatively near the surface, and
had been placed close to each other, as if they had been
bound together. It seems, based on the imprint in the
soil, that they had been placed under a stone. Prior to
the find of the swords a large and unusually flat stone
had been removed by the farmer (Winzent Rasmussen
and Boas 2006, 8889). There are settlement remains
from the Bronze Age in the surrounding vicinity;
however, there are only a few remains that date to the
early Middle Bronze Age,4 and most remains seem to
belong to the Late Bronze Age (1100500 BC) (Winzent
Rasmussen and Boas 2006, 89).

The later swords

Only five swords on the island of Lolland from the
Middle Bronze Age are full metal hilted; four of these
are discussed above and one belongs to Period II
(Rgblle s, Ke 1684 5). This was deposited in a lake,
where it was found stuck into the lakebed. The sword
found in Rgblle s was found within the same water
system as the local copy of a HajdsmsonApa sword
in Bveskov (from Period IB). This may indicate a
continuation of ritual practise.
The swords in burials are found in clusters, i.e.
in smaller regions (see Fig. 11.2). This distribution
is probably due in part to modern archaeological

Period II

Period III

Unknown or mixed finds


Probable burials
Hoards (Wetlands)





Figure 11.3 Contexts with swords from Lolland and respective chronology, based on Aner and Kersten 1977. One of the Period II burials
only contains a pommel, but it is here used as an indication of the original existence of a sword.

11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword depositions on Lolland 16001100 BC

excavation practices. However, there are other areas
with excavated mounds on Lolland where burial
finds do not include swords, i.e. the burials found in
the excavated mounds in Ravnsby (Ke 16541659).
It is therefore likely that these clusters are due to
prehistoric structures. This means that swords were
not widespread across the island, but existed just in
isolated parts of it.
There is a clear increase in the number of swords
during Period III (13001100 BC), and these are
found in burials (Fig. 11.3). None of these swords are
full-metal hilted; instead, they are all organic hilted
swords/sword blades. The full-metal hilted swords on
Lolland seems to have been deposited in a dierent
kinds of rituals in wetlands, in contrast to the organichilted swords that seem to have been regarded as an
individuals personal property, thus were deposited
with the deceased at the time of burial.
The question What is a sword without a warrior,
and what is a warrior without a sword? was asked
by Kristiansen (2008, 42). It is clear that on Lolland in
the early phases there is no clear connection between
the sword and the warrior; however, by Period III
swords seems to have become closely connected with
individual warriors.

Lolland and the larger Bronze Age world

The earlier swords
In order to understand how this innovation, the sword,
came to be accepted on Lolland one must consider
comparable depositional practices in other areas of
The distribution of the HajdsmsonApa swords
and their copies, which is mainly limited to eastern
Denmark, is in accordance with the geographical
distribution of Period IB bronze artefacts from
the Carpathian Basin (Vandkilde 1996, 225). The
HajdsmsonApa swords derive from the eastern
Carpathian Basin, and there are four finds from
Hungary; the three with known find circumstances
are found in eastern Hungary (Kemenczei 1991, 7, pl.
80). These were found in hoards, or probable hoards,
alongside other objects. There are three swords known
from two hoards in present day Romania (Bader 1991,
3839). There are c. 32 HajdsmsonApa swords from
Europe, all of which were found in hoards or as stray
finds, except for one from a settlement 6 (Bader 1991,
40; Vogt 2004, 2627). The distribution ranges from
Macedonia to Sweden, and from western Germany
to Transylvania (Kemenczei 1991, 10). There are
other types of metal-hilted swords in the Carpathian


Basin during this early phase, e.g. Au-swords, most of

which seem to have been found in hoards with other
types of artefacts or as stray finds, and none of them
appear to have a connection with burials (Kemenczei
1991, 1013).
It is evident that the deposition of the earliest swords
in the region does not follow the depositional character
observed in their area of origin. In the Carpathian Basin
the full metal-hilted swords were generally deposited
in larger hoards, while the Scandinavian imports or
locally made copies were deposited as single finds in
wetlands. It has not been possible from the literature
to determine if the Carpathian Basin hoards were
found in wetlands or former wetlands. The fact that
the Apa hoard was found by railroad workers while
constructing railways, and the Hajdsmson hoard
while ploughing, probably indicates that these were
dry areas (Bader 1991, 38; Mozsolics 1967, 128, 139).
It appears that one of the South Scandinavian types
of full-metal hilted swords, the Valsmagle type7,
was deposited in a similar way to its Carpathian
forerunners. The Valsmagle sword is considered
to have been influenced by a number of central
European swords such as the swords from Au, Zaita
and Spatzenhausen (Lomborg 1969, 102; Vandkilde
1996, 238). The two hoards from Valsmagle, Zealand,
contain a number of dierent objects, i.e. they are multitype hoards8 (Vandkilde 1996, catalogue nr 511, 676).
These can be compared with the Hajdsmson, Apa
and Zajta hoards (Kemenczei 1991, 812). However,
five of the twelve Valsmagle type swords found in
Denmark are single finds; six are from rich burials and
one is from a multi-type hoard (Vandkilde 1996, 236,
238). Therefore, from an early stage, these full-metal
hilted swords were accepted as part of the burial
tradition. In eastern Denmark, however, only locally
developed sword types seem to have this function. The
foreign swords either originated from a long distance
away, such as the HajdsmsonApa swords, and have
travelled with one or many people to reach southern
Scandinavia, or local sword types from areas other
than eastern Denmark in Period IB, such as the Sgel
and Wohlde type swords, seem to have been deposited
in wetlands as single finds.
Kristiansen (2008, 4243) describes the deposition of
swords in hoards during the Bronze Age as a strategy
of keeping while giving. In this way, the sword was
given to the gods at the same time as it was kept in
the landscape, and its power was retained among the
living. In many myths the hero retrieves a mythical
sword from a lake9. It is tempting to view the early
deposition of full metal-hilted swords on Lolland
with these concepts in mind. There are indications
that at least two were deposited with the tip down


Sophie Bergerbrant

and the handle standing up, as if to facilitate retrieval

when it was needed again. This pattern of deposition
clearly diers from the multi-type hoards and the
large sword hoard from Dystrup, which seems to have
other purposes and meaning. It also clearly separates
it from the area of origin. The foreign full metal-hilted
sword has a mythical communal meaning in contrast
to the later Period III swords, which appear to have
been more utilitarian, having been regarded as a
part of ones personal equipment. These early fullmetal hilted swords do not seem to have come with a
migrating group of people as the form of depositional
practice changed to something very dierent. It is
more likely that they are the result of a temporary
movement by a very small group of people. Whether
they were exchanged through long distance movement
or shorter, down-the-line exchange is dicult to say.
As the skill to make local copies and local sword types
accompanied the material it seems likely that a few
people were involved in some kind of career migration,
in order to gain knowledge, either of dierent culture
traits or new artisan skills.

The later swords

In Scandinavia swords are most often found in burials
during the Middle Bronze Age (16001300 BC): 83%
burials, 15% single finds, 2% hoards (Thrane 2006,
498). According to Harding (2006 and 2007, 97103)
there is much variation in the density of sword finds
from area to area in Europe, and how they were
deposited varies, too. Southern Scandinavia has the
highest density of swords during the Bronze Age.
Due to recovery history and, in many cases, the lack
of information about the find circumstances, Harding
(2007, 126) cautions that these numbers can only be
regarded as a guidelines. In Britain the way the swords
are deposited also varies between dierent periods.
In both pre-Wilburton (c. 11001100 BC) and Hallstatt
phases (600 BC0) depositions in wetlands dominate,
while in between these phases, in the Carps Tongue era
(800600 BC), most swords were deposited in hoards.
The other Bronze Age phases have more consistent
depositional practices between the hoards, wetlands
and burials (Harding 2007, 127). Unfortunately the
depositions for central Europe are classified only very
generally in a single Middle and Late Bronze Age
grouping, and have not yet been categorised according
to specific periods. As shown for Lolland the material
does change from one period to the next, and in the
Late Bronze Age depositions are more evenly divided
across the categories: 28.5% burials, 26.7% water, 20.7%
single finds, 13.9% unknown, 6.3% hoards and 3.9%
settlements (Harding 2006, 510).

It seems clear, then, that swords were not accepted in

the same manner in dierent parts of Europe. It cannot
therefore be claimed that this innovation came with
large scale migration with a group of people, or that
one idea was spread by travelers all over Europe.
We can here see that swords in the early phases were
accepted into society, but in the depositional moment
were not treated in the same manner as they were in
their area of origin. As there are two swords from the
same area and a number of locally made copies of this
sword type some form of chain or career migration
is indicated. The reason for this is that a long journey
was made for which one would have needed in-depth
knowledge. Based on this it is dicult to say whether
the purpose of the trip was to trade, work or get an
education. The two swords could have been brought to
the area on one occasion, but this does not explain the
relationship between the Hajdsmson-Apa swords
and all the other bronze objects in Period IB from the
Carpathian Basin. They have a similar distribution
pattern which indicates that there was some kind
of travel or exchange route from the Carpathian to
southern Scandinavia.
Therefore it seems likely that the journey had been
arranged through the knowledge of socially related
people who had conducted the journey before, which
is common in chain and career migration (see above).
After the initial introduction, the sword was accepted
into the society and then took on its own function
and use. One can say that it is transculturation in the
full meaning as described above, although it appears
that full metal-hilted swords maintained their mainly
ritual function in society, as for example advocated by
Kristiansen (e.g. 2008). Kristiansen has interpreted the
dierence based on use-wear analysis. He argues that
the full-metal hilted swords show less wear and were
re-sharpened less frequently than the organic-hilted
swords, revealing important clues as to their role or
function. He connects this with a dual leadership
model, where there is a ritual leader and a warrior
chief (Kristiansen 1983). The distinction in sword
types in burials observed by Kristiansen cannot be
seen on Lolland; however, the point, adopted here,
is that the full-metal hilted sword probably had a
slightly dierent and more ritually significant meaning
than the organic-hilted sword. Evidently there are
local variations in the role and functions of swords
within the Scandinavian Bronze Age society, but
clearly the full-metal hilted swords at times served
a ritual function and were at some level imbued
with more symbolic meaning than the organic-hilted
The later dominance of sword depositions in burials
as seen on Lolland and in the Nordic Bronze Age

11. Migration, innovation and meaning: Sword depositions on Lolland 16001100 BC

in general demonstrates that the people who lived
in southern Scandinavia were able to retain their
own cultural identity, despite adopting a foreign
innovation. The large number of swords, and later
(Period II and III) the emphasis on sword deposition
in burials, which contrasts with most other parts of
Europe, shows that the sword-owners of Lolland had
a distinctive and flourishing cultural identity, even
while maintaining close ties with other European
areas. They modified the new commodities, swords in
particular, but also bronze in general, to fit conditions
in local society.
In the later Periods II and III, the depositional
practice relating to the sword is restricted to burial
and the meaning of the sword seems to go from
a communal ritual/mythical object to an object of
personal prestige that seems to be limited to a few
areas, possibly kin structures or other stable social
institutions. In both these cases, the early mythical
connection and the later personal status, a clear
transculturation of the use of the sword has occurred.
Through contact between dierent groups, possibly
through chain or career migration of people from
Lolland to the Carpathian Basin (or the other way
around), a new idea and object was accepted into
the local society, but it was given a dierent meaning
from the start. After its introduction it evolved along
its own trajectory.
One can see that the influences went in two
directions: the first sword types in the Carpathian
basin, such as the HajdsmsonApa swords, seem
to have been deposited in multi-type hoards on
dry land (see above). However in later Bronze Age
phases (13th12th century BC) in Hungary many
swords were deposited in rivers (Szathmri 2005,
62). This means that the meaning and deposition of
the sword changed and here, too, acquired a ritual
connection with water of dierent kinds. The River
Thames is famous for its many depositions of Bronze
Age swords (Bradley 1998, 108109). So, in the late
Middle and Late Bronze Ages there seems to have
been change and a lot of exchange of ideas regarding
the use of the sword and the placing of swords in
rivers, which became common in many areas of
Europe (Bradley 1998, 99109). This shows that many
dierent types of migration probably occurred during
the Bronze Age, despite the lack of indications for
full group movements such as we have from later
periods, for example that of the Angles and Saxons
to Britain. This suggests that we are talking about
other kinds of migration, such as chain, career and
circular migration, rather than coerced or full scale


In this article it has been shown that when studying
large pan-European phenomena such as the introduction of the sword, we need to conduct analyses of
the depositional structures in both the area of origin
and in the new area/s. Without this, we will never
understand how the movement of people and meeting
of dierent cultures in prehistory worked, nor will
we understand the local or the larger structures in
prehistoric societies.
Here it has been shown that the early swords on
Lolland were given their own meaning, as evidenced
by the depositional practices which are dierent from
those in the Carpathian Basin. Also, from the start, in
eastern Denmark it seems that locally made swords
and foreign sword types were used dierently. Only
the locally made type, i.e. Valsmagle, was used as a
personal prestige object. The other kinds of sword seem
to have had a communal importance. This changes,
as shown by Kristiansen (2008), in the later periods
(from Period II and III), when foreign swords are
also deposited in burials. This shows that the Middle
Bronze Age South Scandinavian society was not a
static society, but a vibrant one where meanings and
structures shifted over time: sometimes this change
occurred through contact with other cultures, but
change was also possible within its own framework.

1 I will discuss southern Scandinavia (defined here as
modern Denmark, parts of northern Germany and parts
of southern Sweden) in general, while the primary focus
of the investigation is the Danish island, Lolland. The
article treats the entire Early Bronze Age in Scandinavia,
i.e. 17001100 BC, but it should be noted that there are
no swords dating to Period IA (17001600 BC) from this
2 Migration period is the archaeological name for a period
of north European prehistory, the exact chronological
dates of which vary from region to region, but it generally
dates to between AD 300 and 700. It is the name of a
period in which many researchers have identified dierent
Germanic tribes moving across large parts of north and
central Europe.
3 This sword type can be found in Greece, Romania, former
Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Denmark and
Sweden (Vogt 2004, 2627).
4 Vandkilde (1996, 11) renames the Danish Early Bronze Age
to the Danish Older Bronze Age. She does this in order
to distinguish it from the central and western European
Early Bronze Age, which is generally earlier than the
Scandinavian. In order not to confuse the reader when
comparisons are made, the periods in this study are


Sophie Bergerbrant

mainly contemporary with the central European Middle

Bronze Age, the time period between 1600 and 1300 BC,
which is described as the Middle Bronze Age regardless
of which area is being discussed. This may be justified
by the fact that so many traits and structures are similar
around Europe during the time in question and many
changes happen more or less simultaneously in dierent
regions. For a discussion of when the Bronze Age starts
in Scandinavia and what dierent terminological criteria
we should use see Bergerbrant 2009.
Reference to Ke XXXX (Ke followed by 4 dierent digits)
are the number they have in the catalogue of Aner, E. and
Kersten, K. dierent volumes.
Bader mentions the short swords found in a burial in
Rastorf, Schleswig-Holstein, but according to Bokelmann
and Vandkilde it is a sword of Rastorf-Roum type
(Bokelmann 1977, 96; Vandkilde 1996, 226). The find
from the settlement is from Donja Dolina, in present day
Bosnia (Vogt 2004, 26).
In Valsmagle, Zealand, two hoards have been found.
These two hoards contain a specific type of style and the
hoards have given its name to specific type of objects
carrying a specific type of ornamentation. The dating of the
Valsmagle type objects has long been debated, however
Vandkilde (1997, 159) has shown conclusively that that
these types of objects belong to period IB.
The term multi-type hoard refers to an assemblage
containing more than one artefact category (cf. Vandkilde
1997, 33).
For examples see Kristiansen 2008 or read about the Lady
of the Lake (e.g. in Bradley 1998, 13).

I would like to thank the editors for inviting me to
contribute to this volume, and for their insightful
comments which undoubtedly improved the text.
I would also like to thank Dr Kristin Bornholdt
Collins for her invaluable assistance in improving
the language of the article.

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p at fastlgge grnsen mellem perioderne I og II, Aarbger
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Internet resource
Det Kulturhistoriske Centralregister,
[20080319] /Currently (2011) renamed Fund og Fortidsminder

Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond
the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age
Jutta Kneisel

This paper focuses on ornamented lids found within
the realm of the Pomeranian Culture and neighbouring
regions. The Pomeranian Culture is one of several
Iron Age-Groups in the nothern part of Poland. It
is localized northeast of the groups of the Lusatian
Culture, between the Baltic Coast, the River Vistula
in the East, Varta River in the South and does not
quite reach the Odra River in the West (e.g. van den
Boom 1980/81, 241, fig. 2). The Pomeranian Culture
is known for its face urns which appear alongside
unfaced urns. About 2000 face urns are published so
far (e.g. Kwapiski 1999 and 2007). Chronologically
we are dealing with the time span between the later
Hallstatt-time (end of Ha C) and the beginning of phase
La Tne A (c. 7th5th century BC, see Jensen 1997;
Trachsel 2004) with a distinct climax in phase Hallstatt
D (c. 620530, see Jensen 1997; Trachsel 2004).
The lids belong to grave pottery of multiple burials
in stone cists from small cemeteries of not more than
20 graves. To understand them, we must first take a
closer look at the urns, the greater number of which
depict anthropomorphic ornamentation or pictographs
of jewellery and weaponry giving them a human
appearance (so-called face urns, see below and e.g.
La Baume 1963; uka 1966; Kneisel 2002; 2005; 2012).
The ornamented lids are frequently found together
with face urns but occasionally also with faceless
vessels. The long history of research (e.g. Reusch 1724;
van den Boom 1980/81) about these lids and their
specific characteristics implies many specimens coming
from antiquarian ensembles, without information
about their context of provenience. These items are
published as single finds in the latest catalogues by

Marian Kwapiski (i.e. Kwapiski 1999; 2007). The

overall number of lids is barely measurable, but the
following analysis relies on 1200 items, 500 of which
are ornamented.
The next paragraphs briefly introduce the phenomenon of face urns in general, their distribution and
use within the funerary context in order to provide a
deeper understanding of the lids special role outlined
in this article.

Face urns
The Polish face urns of the Iron Age are part of the
Pomeranian Culture, which sometimes is also termed
as Face Urn Culture (Gesichtsurnenkultur). Face urns
are so called because of their more or less distinct
anthropomorphic ornamentation (eyes, eyebrows,
noses and ears, rarer a mouth, hair or a chin). Typical
decoration elements are pierced ears, protruding
eyebrows and nasal applications, as well as incised
eyes on the upper part of the vessels body. 1300 urns
have been published so far and form a sucient data
set for the following work. Kwapiskis catalogue (1999
and 2007) includes aside from anthropomorphic urns
vessels with specific ornamentation or figurative
motifs, as well as some ornamented lids. His catalogue
consists of 3000 artefacts, in total about 2000 urns.
The facial features may be outlined in a naturalistic
or a purely abstract manner and can be found in a
great variety of combinations. Hands and arms are
less frequent.
A considerable number (approximately 300 urns)
display jewellery and weaponry as well as scenic

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age
designs on shoulder and neck of the vase. These
pictographs can be linked to actual metal objects such
as needles, fibulae, ring-neck-collars (Ringhalskragen),
combs, spears, and shields. Sometimes the pictures
have been strongly abstracted to so-called ideographs.
The imagery is often linked to fauna and flora, showing
for example dierent kinds of animals such as horses,
deer, birds and dogs, and furthermore plants, wagons
and human figures as part of a scenic representation
on the body of the vessel.
Several patterns cannot be linked to any part of
material or mental culture and are generally referred
to as logographs (e.g. Kneisel 2005, 640643). Another
sort of ornamentation on the urns may have been
purely decorative and is common within neighbouring
cultural groups.
The picto- as well as the ideographs can be separated
into male and female attributes or garb, the former
represented by weaponry and/or two parallel needles,
the latter by jewellery (e.g. La Baume 1963; Kneisel
The relative lack of burial objects accompanying
these cremations makes it dicult to give a precise
chronology. Some of the fibulae and more prominently
the pictographs point to phase Hallstatt D and the
beginning of La Tne A. La Tne B does not feature the
face urn as part of the burial custom any more.


grave inventories, we find dierent kinds of urns: those

displaying a facial likeness and/or pictographs and
those having no decoration at all. Furthermore it can
be observed that cremation remains vary considerably
with regard to age and gender. Anthropological
analyses often revealed mixed human ashes (i.e.
Gadykowska-Rzeczycka 1968; 1974; 1979; Fudziski
and Gadykowska-Rzeczycka 2000; Fudziski and
Ronowski 2002), so it is obvious that one urn may
well hold more than one individual or rather parts of
other individuals.
The analyses also brought to light that a mature
or senile male was frequently buried at the far end
of the stone cist chamber, so it is not farfetched to
assume a burial custom distinctly motivated by
social dierentiation (see for further elaboration on
social implications: e.g. Kneisel 2002; 2005). Vessels
containing children are often smaller than those of
adults (e.g. Kneisel 2012).
In addition to the few anthropological gender
determinations, it is possible to take into account the
ornamentation on the outside of the urn. Analyses
show that the incised jewellery is still mostly linked
to female, and incised weaponry to male, burials.
Jewellery and weaponry are mutually exclusive. But
because of the sometimes mixed burials, it is better to
speak of a pattern of attributes (Ausstattungsmuster)
solely relating to the urns outer appearance instead
of the buried person (e.g. Kneisel 2002).

The face urns range from northern Poland along the
coast of Gdask to the river Varta. Along the Baltic
Coast and in the Kashubian Lakeland the sites lie
close together, sometimes as close as only a few
Another concentration appears to the North of the
Note between the Pia and the Vistula bend near the
town of Bydgoszcz. Further south, face urns are less
frequent, but may be found as far as Silesia. These two
areas of concentration coincide with the distribution
of ornamented lids.

Burial custom
Face urn graves appear as rectangular stone cists
with a central chamber walled by flagstones and
covered by cobblestones. The entrance area also used
flagstones and densely packed cobble stones. The cists
are usually oriented northsouth with the entrance
facing South (e.g. Kneisel in press, figs 211218). One
grave may hold up to 20 urns but the average burial
consists of 46 urns. If we take a closer look at the

The lids
The design of Pomeranian lids diers from that of other
Iron Age urn-lids. Neighbouring regions use upsidedown bowls or plates to cover the urns (Lusatian
Culture), and stone- or lime-slates serve the purpose
in northern Germany (e.g. Hingst 1974; Kaiser 2003).
Only the Pomeranian Culture has these exceptional
lids which do not have a parallel in vessel forms,
and their appearance allows no other interpretation
than their use as lids. The lids are flat or domed with
a plug or a fold around the edge, and some of them
even have brims. Three major types of lids (Fig. 12.1)
can be distinguished: cap-like lids, lids with plugs
and those with folds around the edge (e.g. La Baume
1956, 122, fig. 14). The cap-like lids usually look like
inverted bowls mostly with flat bottoms, they sit on
top of the urn and enclose the outside of the vessels
upper part. The plug-lids are put inside the vessels
neck, in such a manner that the brims sit on the urns
rim. The lids with a fold lie on the rim. In contrast to
the plug-lids the inner fold is always shorter than the
outer rim of the lid (Fig. 12.2).


Jutta Kneisel
include finds from outside Pomerania, which were
connected with face urns1.
Lids with plugs are by far the most frequent lid
form associated with face urns, followed closely by
those with folds. Cap-like lids are very rare; they are
more commonly found together with faceless urns
and hardly ever show any ornamentation.
The dierent phenotypes of lids cannot be linked to
any sort of attribute pattern, save for one special kind
resembling a rounded cone (sugar loaf shaped). These
lids are frequently found together with weapons and
the male attribute pattern. The association with face
urns gives a second connotation to the lids as they
assume the characteristic of a headpiece (rather than
just sealing the urn).

The lid ornamentations

Figure 12.1 Dierent types of lids after La Baume 1956, Abb. 14.
A cap-like lids; B plug-lids; C fold-lids.

Figure 12.2 Technical details of Pomeranian lids. Above: plug-lids.

Below: fold-lids. The top surface may be flat or domed, others might
be cone-shaped. The ornamentation appears only on the top side.

The following analyses comprise 1200 lids, 500 of

them with ornamentation (i.e. Kneisel in press, 397),
and are chiefly based on Pomeranian lid finds (between
the Baltic sea and the River Note), but they also

The ornaments are mostly found on the lids upper

surface; ornaments on the edge or brim are very rare
and will not be taken into further consideration. The
ornaments have been classified according to their kind,
style and form.
The ornamentation kind (Fig. 12.3) defines the
distribution of the pattern on the lids surface. The
ornaments may be arranged as solitary pictographs,
alternatively they can divide the surface into halves
or quarters, symmetrically as well as asymmetrically.
The patterns take on the form of wheel spokes (35
crossing lines), coronae (more than 5 crossing lines),
arrows, as well as a so-called Troddel-Fransenmuster
(tassel-fringe-pattern). Extraordinary patterns involve
stars, total surface patterns and concentrically arranged
decoration elements.
The ornamentation style (Fig. 12.4) describes the
dierent ways to create the pattern, that is with plain
incised lines, dotted lines, and lines with supplementary
dashes at the ends. Furthermore there are filled lines
and patterns resembling a fir branch (Tannenzweig).
The ornamentation form refers to the number of lines
used to build up the pattern.
Between these categories, multiple combinations are
possible, thus the same ornamentation kind may make
use of one to three or more lines done in the same style.
Combination tables can be used to describe every lid
variety. For example, Figure 12.5 shows a symmetrical
pattern, dividing the lid surface into quarters (henceforth
referred to as symmetrical four-section-ornamentation).
The use of such combinatory analysis gives not only
the possibility to single out lid types, but also to
investigate their spatial distribution. Furthermore the
use of numbers and letters to distinguish kind, style
and form paves the way to analyze even the single

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age

Figure 12.3 Schematic drawing of the dierent ornamentation kinds.

Figure 12.4 The dierent ornamentation styles.


Jutta Kneisel

discrete ornamentation elements and compare their

regional distribution.
The scope of this minute analysis, which renders
more than 250 lid variations, is therefore not to link
each of them to a certain type, but to present the
whole range of variations for further investigation. The
example of Figure 12.5 the symmetrical four-sectionornamentation is the commonest ornamentation
kind, followed by the corona, the wheel spokes and
the tri-section-ornamentation.
As for the ornamentation style, the plain incised
line is the most frequently used stylistic element,
while the above mentioned filled line or the line with
supplementary dashes are comparably rare.
The most common number of lines (ornamentation
form) is the simple, single line. It is even possible to
state that the more complex a decoration pattern gets,
the fewer lines are used to draw the pattern which
is most likely due to a problem of space (i.e. Kneisel
2012, figs 229 GH).
A certain connection between the aforementioned
symmetrical four-section-division of the lid and the
male attribute pattern can be observed, whereas the
female attribute pattern seems to be associated with the
tassel-fringe-pattern and asymmetrical four-sectionornamentation (i.e. Kneisel 2012 386389).

Spatial distribution patterns of the lids

Some of the ornamentation elements show very
significant spatial limits, especially the stylistic element
of the filled line and the line with ornamented endings.
The filled line is found mostly alongside two major
river routes. The first route starts east of the Vistula
bend, follows the Note and the Gwda to the river
Parsta. The other one begins at the Vistula delta
and runs along the coast of the Baltic Sea, c. 2030km
inland, following several small rivers until it finally
reaches the Reda River and the Baltic Sea. The area
between the Vistula and the Gwda remains untouched
in this respect.
Incised lines with supplementary endings are limited
to the burial sites found in the region between the
Vistula to the east and the Parsta to the west. On
the other hand, this style is rarely observed further
south near the Note and is even completely absent
in the area to the east of the river eba. Alongside
the river eba, which flows into the Baltic Sea, this
style is fairly common, though.
The fir branch ornaments are a little more widespread
than the other two styles but all of them are found
around the Bay of Gdask.

Figure 12.5 The representation of the four-section-ornamentation. The ornamentation style is divided in lids with or without a central indentation.


The dent ornament and the tassel-and-fringepatterns as well as the asymmetrical four-sectionornamentation are limited to the Kashubian Lakeland

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age
and the adjacent areas to the north and east, meeting
the Baltic Sea at the Bay of Gdask.
Other motifs, such as certain wheel spokes patterns
(RK4), tri-secting motifs (DR6; DR8) or the foursection-ornamentation (VR8) are strictly limited to
the Kashubian Lakeland, whereas yet another motif
from the latter group (VR9) seems to belong to the
region around the Vistula bend.
One special type of pattern a tri-section resembling
a T (DR2f) is bound to the region North of the
Kashubian Lakeland.
Analysing the ornamentation applied to the lids, I
have been able to observe minute distribution patterns,
similar to those derived from the analysis of the
imagery on the urns themselves (e.g. Kneisel 2001).
However, the much greater frequency of the lids allows
a better insight into the regional dierences than the
decorated urns do.


The measurement of distances between the lids

Mapping the sites of the lids, we are immediately
aware of their distribution along a general axis going
from north to south. This linear distribution pattern
can be observed more than once and will therefore
be closely looked at in the following sections of this
To be able to fully grip the significance of these linear
patterns, it is necessary to get a correct measurement
of the distances between the dierent sites. A GIS was
utilised to buer the places with a 812km radius
(Fig. 12.6). If two buers touch or overlap each other,
the distance between the places lies between 16 and
24km. The chosen maximum of 24km is known as the
Roman iter iustum and shall serve as a mark for a daily
walking distance carrying a military pack.2
The linear patterns emerge when connecting all the
sites lying within this maximum walking distance.

Figure 12.6 Mapping of lids decorated with the ornamentation style lines with supplementary lines at the end. The discrete find-places
are buered with a diameter of 12km.


Jutta Kneisel

Usually, one would expect the distribution pattern to

resemble point clouds (e.g. Zeeb-Lanz 2003) which are
totally missing in our case. Instead, four linear patterns
can be distinguished (Fig. 12.7):
(A) One line from north to south, running parallel
to the Vistula River at the Eastern rim of the
Kashubian Lakeland.
(B) One line taking on a northwestsoutheast direction,
from the Vistula delta to the Lakeland, until
reaching the Baltic Sea.
(C) One line lying more to the South, but running
otherwise parallel to (B). It starts at the Vistula
bend, crosses the Drawskie Lakeland and reaches
the Baltic Sea.
(D) The fourth, very short line, follows the Note.
It is extraordinary to see that the same ornamentation
styles are rarely found outside these linear distribution

patterns. Only the four-section-ornamentation is so

frequently found to the northeast of the Kashubian
Lakeland, so that no linearity could be made out.
South of the area, however, sites once more lie within
a distance of 24km from one another.
Other ornamentation forms or styles produce similar
distribution lines, mostly to the east of the Kashubian
Lakeland, parallel to the Bay of Gdask (i.e. Kneisel in
press, fig. 299). The most important connections are
shown all together on a map (Fig. 12.8). This map gives
a very good representation of the ecological settings
beyond these distribution patterns, as for example
the Southern distribution area demonstrates, lying to
the North of the river Note, just at the edge of the
river valley.
Looking at the distribution patterns as a whole, four
major directions may be identified, each connecting the
Baltic Sea with the great river systems of the Vistula
and Note in the south.

Figure 12.7 Linear distribution of several styles. The find-places which are 1624 km apart from one another (buered with a radius of 812
km) are connected by lines. In the area of the Bay of Gdask the connection between the places featuring the four-section-ornamentation
(VR) was left out. AD indicate the dierent routes described in the text.

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age


Figure 12.8 All linear distribution of styles on a high-level map.

Communication and contact areas

The analysis outlined in this paper utilized two
communication models.
The first by Martin Wobst (e.g. 1977) states a direct
linkage between style, communication and identity,
a relation which needs a little further explanation.
Following Wobst, style may consciously or unconsciously be the bearer of information as part of
a larger communication network. National dress in
former Jugoslavia for example conveys identity and
group aliation. Depending on the way the style is
worn or the information conveyed, it may relate to a
region, a subregion, a valley, a village or an event. It
may even relate to the social standing of one individual
within the smallest social unit (Wobst 1977, 336 Tab.
II). Identity or group aliation may also be linked
to dierent pottery styles, thus forming the base for
regional categorization of such assemblages (e.g. ZeebLanz 2003; Furholt and Stockhammer 2008).

The second model serving as interpretation basis

for the analysis of the lids is the exchange model
by Karl Polanyi (e.g. Polanyi 1957; see also Renfrew
and Bahn 1996, 354). This model defines dierent
relationships between groups of similar or dissimilar
significance that are based on the distribution of goods
and bilateral transactions. These models also describe
dierent levels of exchange, relating to the settlement
structures and the centrality of places (reciprocity,
redistribution and market exchange). The custom of
exchange between the groups is in any case bilateral,
but the significance or emphasis on one side or the
other may dier considerably.
Style, as well as exchange, requires communication.
Communication between individuals implies almost
always the exchange of knowledge. And as already
stated above style furthermore conveys information
or content regardless of whether the sender or recipient
is aware of it or not (e.g. Wobst 1977, 321).


Jutta Kneisel

The ideal case would be that the sender communicates

in every direction. With regard to communities, that
would make the communication content spread
towards the environment in concentric circles. The
areas within these circles could be defined as contact
areas or contact zones. The farther from the centre,
the less content reaches the edge of the contact zone,
the fewer artefacts are to be expected. This model
however does not apply to the real world since
communication is determined by various parameters,
the most important of them being the boundaries built
by the natural environment. These limiting factors vary
communication in only a few possible directions with
varying impact.
Another parameter that constrains or expedites the
possible spread of content could be the availability of
resources, so that the communication in the direction
in which a desired good is accessible is stronger than
in others (e.g. Haggett 1973, 119; Bernbeck 1997, 169).
The directional communication patterns could be
influenced by resource deposits, trading goods, as well
as political and/or religious central places. Last but not
least the catalysing factor of a well developed route
system should be taken into account. Communication
implies mobility of things and people and spreads
faster by moving along established routes than away
from them.
Comparing these communication patterns with
style, it is possible to make the following reflections.
Styles of ornamentation, the manner of application and
the combination of dierent patterns might be similar
within small communities. The knowledge about these
ornamentations follows ways of communication and
exchange. It should follow that groups living closer
together apply the same style, whereas groups living
farther away maintain quite a dierent style. This is also
true for the intensity of communication and exchange
between the groups and thus between sites. The
direction of communication is determined by factors
such as the natural setting. Any distinct anomaly in
this pattern would need further investigation.
GIS mapping presents contact areas and communication zones in relation to the decoration of
the lids. It is shown in the article that, due the
dierentiation of several ornamentation groups, close
contacts between single sites took place (i.e. Kneisel
2012, figs 232256). Buering takes the analysis one
step further as it visualises the contact area around
the sites to reveal possible communication nodes (Fig.
12.6). As mentioned above, the buer is at most 24km
wide, staying within the realm of a days march.
Some of the decorations of the lids meet exactly the
expected group distribution with irregular borders (see
above), whereas the elements of some ornamentation

spread in a linear way (Fig. 12.8). Therefore we may

assume that the conveyance of these ornamentations
occurred in only two directions and more or less
bypassed the surrounding communities. Theoretically
such a linear distribution pattern would most likely
develop in connection with the distribution of resources
(e.g. by road or river), which also influenced the area
where the founding of settlements took place (e.g.
Haggett 1973, 119). Linear communication follows
similar rules as directional exchange systems. Trade,
exchange and the exploitation of natural resources
may provide a possible explanation as well as the
utilisation of roads.

Amber is an important natural resource at the Baltic
Coast, especially in the region around Kaliningrad
and the Bay of Gdask. More than 4000kg per year
might be found on the shore even until recently (e.g.
Jensen 1982, 14). Amber can be found in various areas
between the Baltic and North Sea and England, but the
findings around Gdask are by far the greatest and
outshine all other places where amber might wash
ashore. Amber plays a minor role in the inventories
of the Pomeranian Culture and it is limited to a small
urn group around the Kashubian Lakeland, where it
is part of large ear decorations including glass beads
and bronze as well (e.g. Andrzejowska 1981). To the
east and south it seems to be wholly lacking. Even the
sphere of the Lusatian Culture shows only few amber
finds, even though this might be at least partly due
to the bad preservation (e.g. Rottlnder 1978; Markov
2003, 352 map 2).
The Lusatian Culture settlement of Komorowo,
district Szamoutly in Greater Poland should be
mentioned though (Fig. 12.7; i.e. Malinowski 2006).
The settlement is situated near the burial site of
Gorszewice (e.g. Gedl 1991). It dates back to Hallstatttime and presents extraordinary amounts of amber
raw and partly processed (e.g. Malinowski 1971) by
far more than what would be necessary for a small
community. Therefore the material should most likely
be considered as trade good. This interpretation carries
greater weight when considering that Gorszewice held
the richest graves with imports from the southern
Hallstatt Culture. Some of the metal types found
there have not yet been found farther North (e.g. Gedl
1991). Amber from the Baltic Sea spreads as far as the
Mediterranean, especially to Italy and the Balkans (e.g.
Negroni Catacchio 1993, 191; Palavestra 1993).
To conclude, we could say that amber is a natural
resource having its origin at the Baltic Sea and one

12. Long and close distance trade and exchange beyond the Baltic Coast during the Early Iron Age
major deposit around the Bay of Gdask. However,
the most significant finds come from the site of
Komorowo, which lies farther South close to the Vartas
major river systems. The settlement of Komorowo lies
on an island and presents large amounts of raw and
processed amber. In addition the exceptional nearby
cemetery of Gorszewice includes a lot of Hallstatt
import from the south.

The context of long and close distance trade/

The material analysed in this paper consists of
ornamented lids limited to burial sites. Settlements are
rare and show totally dierent inventories of pottery.
The cemeteries of the area, with around 4 to 6 urns
per grave and not more than 20 graves per site, can
be undoubtedly linked to small burial communities
of similar size. The organisational structure of the
settlements may be assumed to be also based on small
units (households, small villages). Another possibility
could be that larger villages used several burial sites
according to specific social patterns. Since we do not
have traces of any larger village in the area of the
Pomeranian Culture, this seems rather unlikely.
Provided that we may equate burial communities
with the settlement communities, similar pottery
styles on burial sites may indicate close contacts/
communication between the respective groups.
The linear contact zones presented in this paper
seem to be part of a larger network of trading routes,
used to move goods between the Baltic Sea and the
Note River. These routes were presumably used to
trade amber. The hypothesis of areas of linear contact
indicating a trading route, which passed over the
ridge of the Kashubian Lakeland, is supported by the
regular distribution of sites at a distance of at most
24km (a days march carrying heavy equipment, see
the discussion above).
There is no direct evidence that face urns were
traded along these routes as well, but some stylistically
very similar urns seem to imply this possibility. Several
groups of strikingly similar vessels are known from
burial sites less than 12km apart from one another (i.e.
Kneisel 2012, fig. 190). Of course, social factors, such
as marital connections, could also explain stylistic
resemblances (e.g. Bernbeck 1997, 159163). The spatial
linearity of the communication process would remain
unaected in that case.
The analysis presented in this paper is not based on
the mapping of settlements, but of burial sites, which
can only be indirect indicators for the postulated
trading route network. However, the corresponding


settlements may have been oriented along such

presumed trading routes.
The analysis of decorative elements of lids can
serve as an indicator for close distance exchanges
along certain trade routes. The most probable trading
good in our case is amber, which must have also
been the reason for the roads being oriented along
a northsouth axis connecting the Baltic Sea with
the southern European sphere. Several settlements
indirectly represented by burial sites were bordering
these routes at a distance of a days march from one
another. The routes passed over the otherwise sparsely
populated Kashubian Lakeland. The trading network
began and ended at the Vistula, a fact that cannot
be considered purely accidental. The access to the
Vistula river system and to the material amber also
implies long distance exchange with centres of amber
processing and trade, as for example Komorowo, the
faktoria na szlaku bursztynowym (trading-post on the
amber-route e.g. Malinowski 2006), to Europe and
further to the South.
The contact and communication zones outlined by
the analysis of dierent lid ornamentations mirror a
small scale exchange system (Baltic Sea Kashubian
Lakeland Vistula bend). The face urns or Pomeranian
Culture are indicated as an origin of the amber trade
towards Southern Europe (Fig. 12.10). Settlements like
Komorowo and the rich burial site of Gorszewice,
which do not belong to the Pomoranian Culture,
suggest that this trade had been controlled from
farther South. So we can assume that the people who
are buried in face urns and stone cists are a part of
the greater exchange routes from the Baltic Sea to the
far Southern Europe, but do not benefit from these
trading connections. Southern imports come only
as far as Komorowo/Gorczewice. The question now
should be: were there other commodities making their
way towards Pomerania? On one hand there are glass
beads with a possible South-eastern provenience (e.g.
Malinowski 1990, 113), on the other there is a very small
distribution of nearly 30 cowries at the periphery of the
Kashubian Lakeland, to the West of the Vistula delta
(Fig. 12.9). Their finding places are all along the rim
of the Kashubian Lakeland and seem to point towards
long distance trade (Schnfelder 2001, 319 fn. 66; fig.
12.7; Dudeck 2005, 58).3 Besides this material evidence,
we can record some immaterial influence within the
cultural realm of the face urns connected to the warrior
imageries equipped with wagon, horse and two spears
(e.g. Kneisel 2005) which clearly imply the warrior ideal
of the eastern Hallstatt Culture (e.g. Kneisel in press).
Even the custom of burying cremated remains inside
a face urn may have been conceived in regions as far
away as central Europe and Scandinavia; proof once


Jutta Kneisel

Figure 12.9 The distribution of cowries in Pomerania (kindly

outlined by Stefan Dudeck).

Figure 12.10 Distribution of amber finds in Middle Europe in

Hallstatt Period after Stahl 2006; Markov 2003.

again the far-reaching communication network of the

Pomeranian Culture.
Only a small part of this exchange network could
be touched upon in this paper. The network comprises
substantial commodities such as amber, cowries and
glass beads but also immaterial goods like the ideal of
the warrior or the use of house urns. So even if no metal
goods during the change from Hallstatt C to D period
arrived in the area of the Pomeranian Culture, and the
transfer of amber to the South was regulated by other
groups, we found the same pictograms (incised on the
surface of the urns) as in southern Germany, Hungary,
Slowenia or Italy. There also appear within the
Pomeranian Culture some house urns, a phenomenon
which reaches from Italy to Scandinavia and Middle
Europe (e.g. Sabatini 2007 and in this volume), so that
the people in the far north of Poland seem to be a part
of a more widespread cultural sphere.

1 The recently published material in the second catalogue

of Marian Kwapiski (2007) with about 90 newly recorded
lids could not be taken into account in the current
2 Roman soldiers marched fully equipped 20 to at highest
26km per day, less equipped accordingly more (e.g.
Junkelmann 1986, 233 .).
3 Only two kinds of cowries are endemic at the Mediterranean
Sea, but those kinds from the Pomeranian Culture seem
to come from the Indian Ocean or Pacific. Unfortunately,
the archaeozoological investigations were carried out
in the 19th century and the few published pictures hint
only at a Far Eastern origin. For discussion and further
bibliography see Kneisel 2007. Only one cowry from Halle
is known from the Hallstatt Period D in Germany. It is an
area where face urns are also known (e.g. Sabatini 2007
and in this volume). Some more cowries appear during
La Tne A/B in Southern Germany (i.e. Schnfelder 2001,
319 f. fig. 7).


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Ceramic technology and the materiality of Celtic
graphitic pottery
Attila Kreiter, Szilvia Bartus-Szllsi, Bernadett Bajnczi, Izabella Azbej
Havancsk, Mria Tth and Gyrgy Szakmny

The Celtic graphitic ware is a widespread, distinctive
type of pottery, found in most parts of the Central
European Celtic world. In Celtic research the term
graphitic ware is commonly used for a special
typological group of ceramics, the most characteristic
of which are the situla-like pots or beakers that have a
wide mouth, an inverted or swollen rim, accentuated
shoulder and a wide, flat bottom. They are typically
decorated with vertically incised bundles of lines (e.g.
Gebhard et al. 2004, 200).
This paper examines the technological aspects
of Celtic ceramics obtained from a settlement at
Dunaszentgyrgy (Hungary) (Figs 13.113.2). They
were examined by using polarising microscopy, X-ray
diraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy
(XRF) and electron microprobe analysis (EMPA). In
this paper we will concentrate on the well-known, yet
little-understood graphite-tempered situla-like pots of
the Celts. The possible similarities and dierences of
graphitic and non-graphitic wares are also examined
in terms of raw material compositions.
Multidisciplinary research has the potential to
provide valuable insights into social aspects of
prehistoric graphite procurement and their reasons for
manufacturing pottery. It should be emphasised that we
need to move beyond mere functionalist interpretations
of pottery technology and raw materials because these
practices divorce past human interactions with minerals
from wider cognitive, symbolic, phenomenological and
social contexts. Within pre-industrial societies minerals
are frequently interwoven into not just economic
and material, but also social, cosmological, mythical,
spiritual and philosophical aspects of life (e.g. Taon

1991; Thomas 1999; Jones 2002b; Parker Pearson 2002;

Scarre 2004).
In this paper we consider that the use of graphite for
tempering Celtic pottery has likely played more than
just a straightforward utilitarian role and consider the
evocative ways graphite was used for tempering. By
considering graphite from dierent social perspectives
we can gain valuable insight into elements of this
minerals symbolic and social associations, and the
meaningfulness of human interactions with the
material world.

Graphitic pottery of the Celts: a review

The importance of graphite in Celtic pottery making
started during the early La Tne period (e.g. Jerem
and Kardos 1985) and became more common during
the early LT B2 (beginning of the 3rd century BC)
(e.g. Szab et al. 1999, 181). Graphitic pottery was a
substantial element of Central European Celtic pottery
right up until the decline of the Celtic world (first half
of the 1st c. AD in Hungary). Curiously, in contrast
with many other pottery forms and techniques,
graphitic ware was not taken over or adopted for use
by the Romans.
Archaeological evidence shows that graphitic wares
were produced in the same kind of pottery kiln as
the other types of Celtic pottery: the two-chambered,
vertical kiln known from numberless Celtic sites in
Europe. This kiln type was suitable for creating the right
temperature and atmosphere needed to fire graphitic
ware with the lowest possible loss in graphite content
(e.g. Kappel 1969, 4547; Duma and Ravasz 1976).

A. Kreiter, S. Bartus-Szllsi, B. Bajnczi, I. Azbej Havancsk, M. Tth and G. Szakmny