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Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità siciliana

Dipartimento de Beni Culturali e dell’Identità siciliana
Servizio Museo Interdisciplinare Regionale di Caltanissetta


Dalle apoikiai al 480 a.C.
a cura di
Rosalba Panvini e Lavinia Sole

Atti del Convegno Internazionale

Museo Archeologico
27-29 marzo 2008

] ] ]

Coordinamento scientifico:
Rosalba Panvini; Lavinia Sole

Comitato scientifico:
Luciano Agostiniani; Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli; Nunzio Allegro; Giorgio Bejor; Lorenzo
Braccesi; Juliette de La Genière; Massimo Frasca; Salvatore Garraffo; † Antonella Spanò Giam-
mellaro; Filippo Giudice; Michel Gras; Giovanna Greco; Carla Guzzone; Clemente Marconi;
Dieter Mertens; Madeleine Mertens Horn; Gianpaolo Nadalini; Dario Palermo; Rosalba Panvi-
ni; Lavinia Sole; Edoardo Tortorici

Comitato d’onore:
Nicola Bonacasa; Maria Caccamo Caltabiano; Madeleine Cavalier; Aldina Cutroni Tusa; † Carme-
la Angela Di Stefano; † Antonino Di Vita; Ernesto De Miro; Graziella Fiorentini; Sebastiana La-
gona; Paola Pelagatti; † Giovanni Rizza; Gemma Sena Chiesa; † Vincenzo Tusa; Giuseppe Voza

Segreteria organizzativa:
Francesca Bennici; Irene Cravotta; Rosanna Fisci; Maria Rita La Monica

Coordinamento tecnico:
Giorgio Giordano; Ettore Dimauro; Antonio Catalano; Giuseppe Castelli; Carmelo Mosca

Si ringraziano, in particolare: il Centro Regionale per l’Inventario, Catalogazione e Documenta-

zione, l’Assessorato Regionale Turismo, Comunicazione e Trasporti, la Fondazione Banco di Si-
cilia di Palermo, che hanno contribuito alla realizzazione del Convegno e alla pubblicazione dei
relativi Atti, nonchè tutto il Personale di custodia del Museo Archeologico di Caltanissetta

In copertina:
Statua di kouros (sulla gamba destra, iscrizione: il medico Sombrotidas, figlio di Mandrokles) Ma-
gara Iblea, necropoli sud, 550-540 a.C. (Siracusa, Museo Archeologico Regionale “P. Orsi”)

Progetto grafico e impaginazione:

Splokay studio di grafica editoriale
di Antonio Talluto


© Copyright 2012 by Salvatore Sciascia Editore s.a.s.

ISBN 978-88-8241-408-5

È vietata la riproduzione delle immagini a qualsiasi titolo e con qualsiasi mezzo effettuata senza la
preventiva autorizzazione scritta del Servizio Museo Interdisciplinare Regionale di Caltanissetta

Finito di stampare:
Ottobre 2012

Stampato in Italia / Printed in Italy

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery

«What is its date?» is the first question an archaeologist asks or should ask himself
facing an object or phenomenon.1 Before making any other deductions, he should
wonder and ascertain to which period his conclusions will apply. It makes a world of
difference whether a conclusion, for instance as regards Germany, would pertain to
1906, Kaiser Wilhelm looking for a place under the sun, to 1916 – W.W. I, to 1926,
the Weimar Republic, to 1936, Hitler in power, to 1946, Germany destroyed and
stripped of a great part in the East, to 1956, the Wirtschaftswunder under Adenauer
and Erhard, to 1966, Germany in the European Community and the apogee of eco-
nomic and cultural optimism, to 1976, after the first oil crisis, 1986, Germany loosing
its grip on heavy manufacturing and not really in the front row as regards digital
progress, to 1996 Germany reunited barring surfacing of the economical problems, or
to 2006, the final stage of a long and severe economical depression. Each decade had its
particular political, technological, economical, and social circumstances. In antiquity,
too, each time-span had its unique constellation of these determinants, albeit with a
slower pace.
Now, generally speaking, a dating in archaeology should be understood as a conven-
ient tag to describe chronological relations. Thus, 600 BC will mean that an object
ascribed to this date is understood to belong to the same time as other objects dated 600
BC, to be later than objects dated 620 BC and earlier than objects dated 570 BC.
However, in classical archaeology we think that we are in a position to ascertain very
precise datings, at times accurate to within a time-span of a decade, or even five-years.
What brings us to this belief, often considered hybris by other archaeologists. First,
there is the quality of the material classical archaeologists are dealing with. It is plenti-
ful, on the one hand standardized, on the other showing rapid developments. The
standardization implies that differences within a class of material are generally not hap-
hazard, personal, and therefore more or less meaningless variations. A few observations
in point. I confine myself to Corinthian pottery. First, a sequence of shapes. An amphor-
iskos with black-figure decoration, for example, means a date in the Middle Corinthian
or first half of the Late Corinthian period, a convex pyxis with handles, one from the
transition to the Middle to, usually, early in the Late Corinthian period, etc. Secondly,
the development of elements of shape. The Protocorinthian aryballos (fig. 1), for exam-
ple, develops with an increase of the mouthplate and the height of the neck, and thus
also height and width of the handle, and a reduction of the size of the foot and the max-

1 There is a good introduction to the issue in BÄBLER 2005.

Cornelis Willem Neeft

imum diameter in a gradual process. Then, decorational systems may be adjusted to Fig. 1. Types of Protocorinthian aryballoi
these changing features of shape, they may change subject to a general underlying devel-
opment, or simply be replaced by new fashions. Last, but not least, the development
within the output of a particular artisan.2
Archaeological contexts, especially of graves, enable us to interlock the various stages
of development, but the resulting woven texture is still flexible and stretchable. How
then can we pinpoint this stretchable structure? For the end of the IInd and the first
half of the Ist millennium B.C. there are two sets of data to achieve this goal. For the
Bronze Age, especially its later part, we have the absolute chronology of the Egyptian
pharaos. After the Bronze Age, the first great set of data on absolute chronology is only
available for the last third of the eighth and the seventh century B.C. This means that
the chronology of the Early Iron Age must be inferred by estimation from both ends.
This set of data comes from the foundation dates of the Greek colonies in Sicily as men-
tioned by Thukydides at the beginning of his description of the Sicilian Expedition dur-
ing the Peloponnesian War. The information he provides can be converted into absolute
dates by means of data from other sources for the foundation of Kamarina and Akragas
and by means of the probable date of the destruction of Megara Hyblaea. These three
sets of evidence all yield 733/732 for the foundation of Syracuse and, by corollary, for
the well-known chronological scheme laid out by Dunbabin.3
Being the most widespread and abundant fabric of the time, Corinthian pottery is
the major guide-line to ascertaining the chronology of the 8th-6th centuries B.C.
Johansen observed that globular aryballoi were present in Syracuse, founded 733 B.C.,
but not in Gela, founded 688 B.C., and Payne noticed that the ovoid aryballos present
in Gela was not found in Selinus, founded 628 B.C.4 From this, the latter inferred that
the globular aryballos had run out of production by the time Gela was founded, the
ovoid aryballos when Selinus was founded. Accordingly, Payne proposed 750-700 for
the globular aryballos and 700-625 for the ovoid and piriform types.5 Benton lowered
the beginning of the globular aryballoi to 725 B.C., neatly subdividing the period into
Thus, absolute chronology for this period hinges on Protocorinthian aryballoi, a
product showing well-defined developments of both shape and decoration. Even so,
each of Payne’s key-sites raises problems.

2 Cf., e.g., the development outlined for the Hipponion Painter’s oeuvre, NEEFT 2009.
3 See DUNBABIN 1948, pp. 435-460; cf. also HARRISON 1996, p. 198 ff.
4 JOHANSEN 1923, pp. 181-185; PAYNE 1931, pp. 21-25.
5 PAYNE 1933, p. 20.
6 Cf. DUNBABIN 1962, p. 6.

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery
Therefore, let us have a look at Syracuse first. The material known to Johansen and
Payne has mainly been brought to light in the Fusco necropolis, situated beyond the
railway station, but also near the Athenaion. The location of the Fusco necropolis, far
from Ortygia, the centre of habitation, has always puzzled me. The Fusco site may have
been chosen for a necropolis in the planning at the foundation of Syracuse. However,
there are cemeteries much closer to Ortygia, in Predio Spagna and Achradina, the mate-
rial of which does not date back beyond the last third of the seventh century, though.7
In 1969, Drögemuller assumed that there were several settlements.8 In addition, I
remember Snodgrass once arguing in a lecture that plural names would indicate multi-
ple settlements.9 Di Vita, too, takes the Syracuse settlement to be a kata komas one, an
assemblage of villages.10 To all appearance, this seems going to be confirmed by now.
Last year, Lorenzo Guzzardi told me that he has found late eighth-century settlement
material in his dig near the railway station. Apparently, there once was a distinct settle-
ment over there most likely to have included the Fusco necropolis.11 Also, scrutiny of
the Fusco and Athenaion aryballoi has revealed that these aryballoi belong to rather a late
stage of the globular shape.12
Then, let us have a look at the settlement. First of all, it should be borne in mind
that pottery pertained to three clearly distinct ambiences, viz. those of secular life, reli-
gion, and afterlife. The shares of Corinthian pottery increase in this order, that is, from
houses, to sanctuaries, to graves. Secondly, the types and shapes used within these ambi-
ences may differ greatly, also depending on the economical relations of the site with
Corinth and the customs practised in a site. We can, then, state that aryballoi belong to
the realm of graves and sanctuaries, while the settlement chronology mainly involves
drinking and pouring-vessels. Also, before the mid-seventh century, the correlation of
the drinking and pouring vessels to the aryballoi is poor. There are not many grave-con-
texts available, because drinking and pouring-vessels were not common grave-gifts in
this period, except for Pithekoussai.13 Then, there is another problem to these shapes,
especially to the drinking-vessels. Nearly all show linear decorations. As regards the koty-
lai, after the rapid development in roughly the third quarter of the eighth century when
the shape developed out of the skyphos, the commonest variety got its final form in the
early fourth quarter of the eighth century, the upper part remaining virtually unchanged
for over a century afterwards. The same, though a little less pregnantly, applies to the
skyphoi.14 Fragments - settlement material is naturally fragmentary - of these shapes are
extremely hard to date precisely.15
For Syracuse, there is an additional problem. The extensive soundings by Pelagatti
under the Jonic temple in the later sixties have not yet been published in toto;16 the same
goes for those at the Piazza Duomo cleared to bedrock by Voza in the nineties17 and for

7 Cf., however, PELAGATTI 1982, p. 126 and note 37bis.

9 Might this be so from as early as the settlements’ very beginnings, from their name-givings?
10 DI VITA 1996, p. 270.
11 VOZA 1976-1977, p. 553 mentions late VIIIth century material brought to light in Corso Gelone; cf. also late VIIIth
or early VIIth century material found in Foro Siracusano, for which see PELAGATTI 1982, p. 125.
12 NEEFT 1987, pp. 364-365. Paying a visit to a frontline doctor in Geneva, I noticed a globular aryballos (NEEFT 1987,
p. 41, IX-1; fig. 2 here) he said he had acquired in Syracuse, an aryballos earlier than any other brought to light in con-
trolled excavations in Syracuse or, for that matter, the whole of Sicily. Although the owner certainly acquired pottery and
terracottas in Sicily, I now surmise that he probably had acquired the item in the Swiss Art market where material from
clandestine digging at Francavilla Marittima passed by exactly when he built up his collection. However, globular ary-
balloi were not among the Francavilla material now restituted to the Italian state (for which see VAN DER WIELEN-VAN
OMMEREN-DE LACHENAL 2006), although contemporaneous pottery is.
13 For the graves of Pithekoussai, see NEEFT 1994b, p. 156 ff.; cf. also the comment ibidem, p. 151 (starting from grave
178), p. 152.
14 For Corinthian kotylai and skyphoi, see NEEFT 1975, p. 104 ff., especially p. 110; for typology of the Protocorinthian
varieties, see NEEFT 2001, p. 37 ff.
15 So already VILLARD 1948, p. 24.
16 Cf. PELAGATTI 1982, p. 113.
17 For these excavations, see VOZA 1999.

Cornelis Willem Neeft

Fig. 2. Once (?) Gy, coll. Lauffenburger Fig. 3. Gela 8951, from Spina Santa

the excavations near the railway station by Lorenzo Guzzardi. Eighth-century material
has also been said to come to light at the excavations at the sanctuary of Zeus Olympios
by Maria Musumeci.18 For the present, pending the evaluation of the copious materi-
al, it would be best to refrain from comment.
Secondly, Gela. Because no globular aryballoi had turned up at Gela, Payne conclud-
ed that this shape could scarcely have existed after 700 B.C. However, Payne may have
known no more than two “primitive” ovoid, i.e. conical, aryballoi.19 Since then, three
more “primitive” ovoid aryballoi have become known from Gela.20 In all, not quite an
impressive mass of evidence, which for its scantiness leaves one admiring Payne’s ingen-
ious intuition.
Here, I should point out a problem most aptly formulated by Boardman:21‘It is easy
to fall into the error of saying that the earliest imported vases found at X are Corinthian,
when all that can fairly be said is “the earliest datable vases .....are Corinthian”. This
applies to Syracuse too, of course, but even more to Gela, which, not being a colony of
Corinth, is likely to have had a less close relation with the city in the early phase of its
Then, there is another, even more serious flaw affecting the entire aryballoi chronolo-
gy. Work in Ischia, on the Pithekoussai material, and in Taranto has brought it home to
me that a colony’s early stages do not experience great wealth, as will stand to reason.23
Over 40 % of the graves for adults belonging to the first two/three generations in
18 G. Voza (pers. communication).
19 ORSI 1906, p. 131, fig. 95 = NEEFT 1987, p. 430 no. 2388; another similar aryballos is reported found in the grave.
JOHANSEN 1923, p. 181, n. 4 mentions ORSI 1906, p. 263, fig. 300 as another item. However, the item, NEEFT 1987,
p. 228 list, LXXXVIII, G-1 (430 no. 2369, not from Capo Soprano), belongs to the ovoid shape.
20 I.e. NEEFT 1987, p. 401 nos. 915 and 920, nos. 898 (list XLI, B-2, not from Villa Garibaldi, but from Borgo – infor-
mation Dr C. Lambrugo) being slightly later. Dr C. Lambrugo brought to my attention another conical-to-ovoid ary-
ballos, Gela 175, which she could identify as from Borgo, Via Pecorari, grave 27, ORSI 1906, p. 40.
21 BOARDMAN 1980, p. 15.
22 There is precious little of value in PIZZO 1999. The kotyle type with wire-birds continues until after the introduction
of rays at the base (NEEFT 1975, p. 126, Table XIII, nos. 9-12 and comment), which I suppose to have taken place in
the decade 670-660 (NEEFT 2001, p. 40, n. 24, also p. 45, n. 64).
23 NEEFT 1994b, p. 376, n. 18, also FREDERIKSEN 1999, pp. 251-252, apparently not being aware of fore-mentioned

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery
Pithekoussai, a rich settlement, hasn’t yielded any pottery as grave-gifts at all.24 At Taranto,
only one grave can be dated to the first quarter-century of the colony’s existence on the
basis of its grave-goods, only 45 to the first century, whereas the no more than twenty years
of the Middle Corinthian period alone have yielded 210 graves.25 Grave-goods make
graves datable. Therefore, many of the poor graves, i.e. those without grave-goods, should
belong to the first century of the colony’s existence, specifically to its beginning.
The foregoing shows that one cannot safely link the “primitive” ovoid stage to 690
B.C. However, Coldstream has brought another element into the discussion. A very late
globular aryballos was found in Spina Santa (fig. 3). Coldstream, mistaking the find-
spot for part of the Gela hill itself, considered the burial to belong to the phase preced-
ing the layout of a regular cemetery. In consequence, he down-dated the end of the
globular shape to 690 B.C.26
Scrutinizing the graves with conical aryballoi,27 I came to realize that the globular
shape continued alongside the conical one, Payne’s “primitive” ovoid shape. By the side
of small aryballoi which adopted the conical shape, large aryballoi maintained the old-
fashioned globular shape, probably because their size made them unfit to follow the
new fashion, seeing they would topple over. Large globular aryballoi, thus, did contin-
ue after 700 B.C., presumably up to the decade 670/660 B.C. The Spina Santa arybal-
los is, in my opinion, to be dated ca 680 B.C.
Coldstream and also Hubert Lee Allen III,28 however, strangely ignored another
issue bearing heavily on the problem. Wentker, having scrutinized the phraseology of
the excursus in the beginning of book VI, concludes that Thukydides intended to com-
municate that the 688 colonists joined an already existing settlement, viz. Lindioi, of
which no date is recorded in ancient sources. Unless archaeology should isolate the ini-
tial settlement from its later accretion, will the foundation-date provided by Thukydides
for this later accretion be useless in dating pottery.29
Then, let us have a look at Selinus, hotly debated over the past two decades.30 Here,
we face the same problems as regards the graves, already pointed out by Payne,31 and a
double foundation date.32 In her publication of the Malophoros sanctuary, however,
Dehl states that its Corinthian material started at the beginning of the Early Corinthian
period and tied it to the foundation of the colony, 628 B.C. Interpreted this way, the
Corinthian material from the Malophoros sanctuary would pin-point the beginning of
Early Corinthian to ca 625.33
What kind of Corinthian pottery would one expect in a sanctuary during the Early
Corinthian period? First of all, aryballoi of Protocorinthian shape were still in produc-
tion during the Early Corinthian period, as testified by many graves.34 None is known
from the Malophoros sanctuary. Then, alabastra type A and their pendants, aryballoi
type E. At its introduction into the Corinthian ceramic repertory, the alabastron was
generally35 decorated as contemporary Protocorinthian aryballoi, i.e. with two friezes,

24 NEEFT 1994c, p. 150: 96 + 70 out of 377 (510 minus 133) graves; cf. also FREDERIKSEN 1999, pp. 230, 249 n. 44, appar-
ently, again, not being aware of the evaluation of the San Montano graves. I have not jet been able to consult NIZZO 2007.
25 NEEFT 1994b, p. 384 fig. 7.
26 COLDSTREAM 1968, p. 326.
27 NEEFT 1987, p. 312 fig. 181 where bold prints should refer to conical aryballoi, regular print to globular items.
28 ALLEN 1969, pp. 142-144.
29 Immediately, I will have to add here that not each and every ancient historian shares Wentker’s view. For a fine sum-
mary of the various opinions on the issue, see SAMMARTANO 1999.
30 NEEFT 1987, pp. 370-371; DEHL-VON KAENEL 1995; MORRIS 1996; HARRISON 1996; also BOWDEN 1991.
31 PAYNE 1931, pp. 22-23, cf. HARRISON 1996, p. 202, the problem now to some degree met by the discoveries in the
Buffa necropolis, for which see note 42.
32 For the issues, see HARRISON 1996, pp. 200-202.
33 Note that, first, the foundation is said to have taken place “an den Beginn” of the Early Corinthian style and, then,
that the Early Corinthian is stated to have started ca 620. The question here is, what precisely does “an den Beginn”
mean? Does it mean that the foundation was prior to or during the beginning of the Early Corinthian period?
34 NEEFT 1987, pp. 352-359 figs. 188-190; cf. also HARRISON 1996, p. 196.
35 PAYNE 1931, p. 275.

Cornelis Willem Neeft
an upper one with a heraldic composition, a narrower one below with a hare-hunt, both
friezes bordered by single lines.36 Just before the transition to the Early Corinthian peri-
od, a new system of decoration, a free field, was introduced, i.e. Payne’s Transitional
Alabastra type D = Early Corinthian Alabastra type A.37 In the course of time, the
heraldic threesomes first gave way for confronted animals of a kind, then to confront-
ed animals of different species or a single animal.38 One can see this development in the
oeuvres of the Dolphin Painter, the Painter of Candia 7789, etc.39 Now, in the
Malophoros material, none of the alabastra and only one of the aryballoi shows such a
heraldic threesome, while only one aryballos shows confronted animals of a kind.40
Also, the number of alabastra is very small, actually too small for a sanctuary that would
have received votives during the whole Early Corinthian period.41 Thus, although the
author realizes that the Corinthian imports into the Malophoros sanctuary represent a
younger phase than (some) material from the Buffa necropolis in Selinus,42 the conclu-
sion should not have been that the Corinthian imports have greatly increased in the
later Early Corinthian period, but that they made their first appearance at the time. The
very few earlier items43 should be interpreted as heirlooms.
Should, then, the later stage of the Early Corinthian period be tied to the date of the
second foundation? I don’t think so. The same pattern of no Protocorinthian aryballoi
with scales or the like, a limited number of alabastra type A with late iconography only,
and no seventh-century skyphoi or kotylai, this same pattern can be observed in the
Demeter sanctuary at Bitalemi near Gela, which Prof. Orlandini allowed me to study
in 1979 and 1980, it can be observed in the votive-deposit of the Demeter sanctuary
Prof. Rizza excavated in the fifties in Catania, for which he asked me to write the con-
clusions, in the Demeter sanctuary at Tocra and, as far as I can see now, it also occurs
in the Demeter sanctuary in Cyrene.44 Apparently, there has been a change in the cult
of Demeter at about 600 B.C., provoking the gift of Corinthian pottery as votives.
For this period, there is no help as yet from other Sicilian colonies, Akrai (663),
Kasmenai (643), Himera (650), these sites so far not having yielded pottery dating back
to the periods of their foundations.
How is the situation for the sixth century? Lately, discussion has focussed on Smyrna
and Agrigento/Marseille-Massalia. Ducat comprehensively discussed the case of Smyrna
in 1962.45 The question concerns the “destruction level” of the Athena temple, which
Ducat associated with the capture of Smyrna by Alyattes. The exact date of the capture
not being known, Ducat argues for 595-590 B.C. The material from this layer running
into a late stage of Early Corinthian, Ducat places the end of Early Corinthian at ca 580.
In 1987, the French School in Athens asked me to deal with the Corinthian mate-
rial from the Artemision in Thasos, with 40.000 fragments of Corinthian pottery the
richest votive-deposit of the ancient world I know of. The chronological distribution of
the fragments didn’t seem to make sense to me. In the early nineties, I remarked to

36 Cf., e.g., PAYNE 1931, pl. 9.

37 PAYNE 1931, pp. 275, 281.
38 The single animal, though already introduced at the end of the Transitional period, only gradually takes prominence.
39 In the Dolphin Painter’s early works, characterised by dot-rosettes, there is a dolphin or bird between the lions; in his
middle stage works - belonging to the initial phase of the Early Corinthian period -, characterised by carefully scalloped
leaf-rosettes, there still is a bird between the lions which may now have their heads turned backwards; in his late phase
characterised by sloppily rendered leaf-rosettes, there are only rosettes between the lions which have their heads turned
backwards except for the latest items (see NEEFT 1977-1978, pp. 134-137).
40 DEHL-VON KAENEL 1995, pl. 1 nos. 20 and 42 respectively. Note that the horizontal field of the aryballos invites per-
severance of heraldic composition.
41 Cf. the number of small alabastra at the sanctuary at Predio Sola (ORLANDINI 1963, pp. 50-67, pls. 14-26), the 3000
fragments of such alabastra from the Aphrodite sanctuary at Miletos or the 7000 such shards from the Artemision at Thasos.
42 DEHL-VON KAENEL 1995, p. 33. For the Buffa necropolis, see now MEOLA 1998.
43 DEHL-VON KAENEL 1995, p. 86 no. 352, pls. 5, 77 and probably also DEHL-VON KAENEL 1995, p. 165 nos. 1035-
1037, pl. 26 and p. 198 no. 1253, pl. 34; cf. ibidem, pp. 305 and 314. For heirlooms, cf. also Tocra I, no. 1.
44 For the Demeter sanctuary at Cyrene, see KOCYBALA 1999.
45 AMYX 1988, pp. 409-413 gives a fine summary.

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery
Jacques Perreault, the trait d’union with the French School, that there was no Middle
and no Late Corinthian I pottery among the Artemision material, except for some nich-
es, for instance ring-aryballoi. In 1999, Prof. Volkmar von Graeve invited me to deal
with the Corinthian material from the Aphrodite sanctuary at Miletus, over 9000 frag-
ments. There, I found the same strange distribution: 98 % of the material running into
a late stage of the Early Corinthian period, only 2-3 % dating later.46 I must confess
here, that I had missed out on Anna Gasser’s 1990 publication of the Ephesos materi-
al, in which she already points out the same phenomenon.47 Andreas Furtwängler (pers.
communication) has also observed the phenomenon for Didyma and in the case of the
Heraion at Samos it had brought Vierneisel and Walter to bring the beginning of the
Early Corinthian period down to 600 B.C.48 Apparently, there has been a change in
votive-culture in the East and North-East shortly before the end of the Early Corinthian
period. As yet, I don’t know what may have caused this change. Has there been a rela-
tion to the sudden demand for votive pottery in the West? Possibly so, but how?
Anyway, mere absence of the latest Early Corinthian or Middle Corinthian votive pot-
tery does not date the Smyrna destruction level, this pottery simply had not been in the
market for some time going when Alyattes captured Smyrna.
Amyx advances another argument for down-dating Corinthian pottery from
Agrigento. Pointing out that fragments found in the Montelusa cemetery should be
dated to the transition from the Early to the Middle Corinthian period,49 Amyx infers
that Agrigento’s foundation date should bring the transition down to 580 B.C. Gently
pushing his argument, Amyx then proposes 590, not quite a drastic revision and in
agreement with Payne’s earlier and similar suggestion.50
Since 2000, I have been involved in the publication of the Corinthian pottery from
the Rifriscolaro necropolis at Kamarina, founded 598/7 B.C. The earliest material belongs
to the Middle Corinthian period, but not the earliest phase, except for, as far as I can see
now, one item that belongs to the later Early Corinthian period. Pelagatti also found many
stray fragments, probably remnants of pottery used in funerary practices, most likely dur-
ing the Genesia or the like. These also date from an early stage of the Middle Corinthian
period onwards.51 Moreover, there is one pot going back to the early years of the Middle
Corinthian period, a krater, complete, not a grave-gift, but probably also used in a funer-
ary ceremony.52 We thus face the strange figure that Kamarina, founded in 598/7 B.C.,
granddaughter of Corinth, and abundant in Middle Corinthian pottery, should have far
less Early Corinthian pots than Agrigento, founded in 580 B.C. Of course, Pelagatti and
also Di Stefano may not yet have come across the earliest graves in Kamarina. The Taranto
necropolis, for example, shows that there has been quite some probing for the most con-
venient location of the graves. It took the Tarantines some time to discover the ridge in
soft limestone, which, readily accessible under not too much soil, was easy to cut, thus
possibly combining poor agricultural with a convenient funeral use.53
However, visiting the Agrigento museum will radically change the above view of the
situation. The explanation given to the showcase with the Montelusa fragments makes
perfect sense.54 Like all Greek colonies, Gela expanded, in her case to the hinterland

46 See (October 1999).

47 GASSER 1990, p. 70.
48 VIERNEISEL – WALTER 1959, pp. 28, 57-68; cf. also AMYX 1988, p. 405 and n. 18.
49 AMYX 1988, pp. 420-421; however, I would label pl. 131, 3, 5 and 6 full Early Corinthian.
50 PAYNE 1931, p. 57.
51 Cf., e.g. NEEFT 2009, Hipponion Painter nos. 3 and 9, figs. 2 and 4.
52 NEEFT 2006, p. 91, figg. 7a-c.
53 NEEFT 1994a, p. 190.
54 I discussed the issue during the Camarina congress (NEEFT 2006, p. 92). In the subsequent discussion, De Miro,
ascertaining Montelusa as find-spot of the fragments (cf. AMYX 1988, p. 420 n. 66; HARRISON 1996, p. 211 apparent-
ly refers to this material as «some early pieces without a proper provenience from Akragas») did not comment on the fact
that Montelusa is not part of the Agrigento site. My thanks are due to Prof. F. La Torre, Messina University pointing
this circumstance out to me.

Cornelis Willem Neeft
and to the West; to the East they would immediately have come into conflict with the
Syracusans who founded Kamarina in 598 to safeguard their territory against Gela. In
their Westward expansion, the Geloans reached and founded settlements at Licata
(Eknomos), the valley of Palma di Montechiaro with the centres of Piano della Città and
Castellazzo, the sanctuary at the sulphurous waters of Tumazzo, and Montelusa or
Maddelusa (San Leone), all hill-sites parallel to the sea as in the case of Gela.55 In this
Westward expansion, they reached the site of Agrigento in 580 B.C. The date of only
this foundation has been handed down to us by Thukydides because only this place had
developed into an important city by the time. The Montelusa material, thus, has noth-
ing to do with Agrigento’s foundation date. The site itself can be considered to have
been settled before Agrigento,56 on account of both the direction of expansion and the
Corinthian pottery brought to light.
While, so far, the published evidence from Marseille, Massalia, founded in 600 B.C.
by Phokaia, is scarce, its proportion of Early Corinthian is certainly noteworthy.57 Here
again, however, it is very likely for there to have been a pre-colonial settlement. The
extensive excavations under way at “La Bourse” may solve this problem.
A vigorous counterblast has come from various directions in the last two decades.
The debate was initiated by James and co-authors in 1991,58 who suggested to bring
down the end of the Late Bronze Age to 950 B.C. in order to fill the gap they feel there
is for Egypt in the ninth century B.C. Very few have adopted their supposition,59 and
specifically not from among those involved in Greek archaeology. However, in a com-
pletely different region, Hennig suggested a date of 800/780 instead of the convention-
al 700 B.C. for the transition of Hallstatt B to Hallstatt C on account of radiocarbon
dating of material from tumulus 8 in Wehringen (Germany). In other words, the ninth
century B.C. is filled, not by labelling earlier material later as suggested by James and
co-authors, but by labelling later material earlier. One reason to embrace these new data
provided by Central European prehistory is in the feeling that there is a constipation in
Italian archaeology for the second half of the eighth century B.C. Such constipation I
also felt there to be in Greek archaeology twenty years ago, which is one among many
more reasons why I suggested to bring the end of the Early Protocorinthian ceramics
down to the decade 670-660 B.C. One of the effects of such down-dating will be that
the relatively thin covering of the first half of the seventh century will be filled up as the
constipation of graves at the end of the eighth century will be significantly dis-
solved.60However, down-dating the end of the globular aryballoi and of the Late
Geometric period would certainly not solve the issue of the Hallstatt B to C transition.
Nijboer, therefore, has suggested to raise the dates of the sequences in the Geometric
period.61 Wardle and others have come to the same conclusion as regards
Protogeometric pottery, which they date 1100 instead of 1025 B.C, proposed by
Desborough and Coldstream.62 However, recent work on Hallstatt swords has shown
that the Wehringen specimen does not belong to the transition of Hallstatt B to C as
Hennig would have it, but should indeed be placed as the radiocarbon dating sug-

55 For the expansion of Gela, see LO PRESTI 2004.

56 DE MIRO 1984-1985, p. 458 and, even more vaguely, DE MIRO 1988, p. 251, however, states that some material
from Agrigento dates from the Early Corinthian period. The material is unpublished and the descriptions too imprecise
to serve dwelling on the issue.
57 DENOYELLE-HESNARD 2006, p. 61 fragments.
58 JAMES ET ALII 1991.
59 For reactions, see; Morkot’s views are also not favourably met among
Egyptologists, see TÖRÖK 1995, pp. 52-55 and TÖRÖK 1997. My thanks are due to Prof. Török for this information.
60 The constipation plays a role in McKamp’s theory of a drought in Attica and is the point of departure for Snodgrass’
arguing for an exponential growth-rate and rise of the Greek state in his Cambridge inaugural lecture (cf. NEEFT 1987,
p. 380); cf. also NIJBOER 2005, p. 537.
61 NIJBOER 2005, p. 541.

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery
gests.63 The interpretation given to the Assiros material by Wardle and co-authors has
also been challenged.64
Raising dates in the ninth century seems also to wreck on the Tell Rehov evidence.65
Tell Rehov stratum IV contains two Attic sherds, dating from early in the Middle
Geometric period. Radiocarbon data give 940-820 B.C. for this stratum. However, for
stratigraphical reasons and for radiocarbon data obtained for other levels, a date 880-
840 B.C. is preferred, not a really drastic updating from the traditional 850 B.C. Tell
Rehov, thus, seems to support the traditional chronology. But then again, the situation
is much more complicated than can be outlined here. Stratum IV is especially found in
the lower city of Tell Rehov. The destruction that brought it to an end has been associ-
ated with the turmoil following the fall of the Omrid dynasty. This interpretation falls
into line with the low chronology advocated in Israel and followed by Coldstream in
1968. However, for strata VI-V, the excavator follows the high chronology. The result
is a time-span of almost 150 years of an almost identical pottery assemblage.66
I think that the discussion will come to focus on Pithekoussai grave 325 containing
a scarab with the cartouche of pharaoh Bocchoris. The discussion pertains to three
issues: does the scarab date from Bocchoris’ lifetime (718-712), how long has it been in
use before it ended in the grave, and where should the grave be put in the Early
Protocorinthian series.67 Abiding by the traditional interpretation of the scarab as being
produced during Bocchoris’ reign and not being worn too long, the place I would give
to grave 325 in the chronology of the Pithekoussai graves would imply that the globu-
lar aryballoi, i.e. the Early Protocorinthian period, would not have started before 715
Now, one probably wonders what this all comes to and what my own ideas are about
the issue. Let me first strike a positive chord. So far, the evidence from the various
colonies excellently fits the sequence in Thukydides’ report. Whether the dates drawn
from his wording fit reality, is another question. Also, I must say that we have always
been much too optimistic, even simplistic, in relating the material to the dates provid-
ed by Thukydides. As the evidence mostly comes from grave-contexts, it does not allow
us to tie it directly to the foundation-dates Thukydides mentions. This all leaves us with
a tabula rasa, especially for the seventh and the later eighth centuries. It implies that the
pace of development cannot yet be gauged accurately. To achieve a greater degree of cer-
tainty, excavations must yield material dating from the very beginning of a colony. This
is more likely to be found among the remnants of funerary practices than among votive-
gifts, but the most probable source is the settlement itself. As the material found there,
in all probability, is of linear character, we need a lot of it to be able to define the devel-
opment and to ascertain the stage represented by the earliest material. Therefore, exten-
sive excavations in settlements and the publications of its results are imperative to solve
the issue.
Destruction levels, of course, would be most helpful. Unfortunately, Smyrna has
dropped out. The consequences of the dramatic drop in the import of votive-pottery in
the East are not yet clear to me. Many, but not all cemeteries show the same drop.
Whether this drop for sanctuaries and cemeteries also implies a drop in the import of

63 MILCENT 2004. My thanks are due to Stephane Verger for bringing this study to my attention.
64 Information due to Stephane Verger.
65 COLDSTREAM-MAZAR 2003; COLDSTREAM 2003; FINKELSTEIN 2004; MAZAR 2004, with newly found joining frag-
66 COLDSTREAM-MAZAR 2003, p. 38. Mazar ties the destruction of Rehov stratum V to Sheshonq’s campaign into
Palestine. The issue being beyond my competence and interest, I only would like to point out here that Wilson, dis-
cussing Pharaoh Shoshenq’s campaign to the Northeast, suggests that it was more directed to Judah and Rehoboam than
to Israel and Jeroboam, the latter having been at Shoshenq’s court in the preceding period (cf. also Wilson’s comment
on Meggido, WILSON 2005, p. 97).
67 For the first two issues, see the arguments advanced by GILL-VICKERS 1996 and JAMES 2003 advocating a low
chronology and by RIDGWAY 1999 defending the traditional reckoning.
68 See NEEFT 1987, pp. 372-379.

Cornelis Willem Neeft
Corinthian pottery for the settlements, is a question I cannot yet answer satisfactorily.
For Miletus, the amount of Corinthian pottery in the settlement is slight and I would
say that there is no break.
I completely agree with Ann Harrison that quarter-century datings would better
transmit the artificiality of the system, that is, the estimative character of the dating.
This estimative character would, however, immediately disappear behind the horizon
the moment we give precise datings within the quarter-century as the material certain-
ly allows us to do. Again, then, a date given should be understood to describe precisely
relations within a frame of which one should realize that the parameters are of uncer-
tain value. Datings, thus, should still be seen as tags of convenience within a system.
That such a dating corresponds to reality is more likely for the sixth century B.C. than,
increasingly, for the period before and should be understood as implying a degree of
probability. Thus, 600 BC means, let’s say, a 50 % probability that the date actually falls
between 605 and 595 B.C. and a 80 % one that it falls between 615 and 585 B.C., and
a 100% one that it falls between 625 and 575 B.C.

Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery

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Colloquio Per servire alla storia di Gela, Kokalos 45 (1999)


323 Siculi e Greci a Centuripe nel VI secolo a.C.

Filosofia pitagorica e imitazioni di terrecotte greco-orientali

335 Stili, culture, identità.

La coroplastica della Sicilia arcaica tra importazioni e produzioni locali

345 Una statua fittile di divinità seduta da Capodarso: ipotesi di ricostruzione


359 Prime considerazioni su una nuova area sacra arcaica di Messina


375 Santuari arcaici nella chora di Gela. Ritrovamenti ed interpretazioni

del Gela-Survey 2002-2006

385 Acropoli di Gela: una nuova statua per la dea?


393 Il problema dei culti più antichi delle colonie calcidesi della Sicilia

403 Il thesmophorion in contrada San Francesco Bisconti a Morgantina.

Scavi e ricerche 2002-2004

417 Il santuario di Demetra in contrada San Francesco Bisconti a Morgantina.

Terrecotte figurate di età arcaica
425 Continuità e cambiamento: nuovi dati dall’Acropoli di Polizzello di età arcaica

437 Tra Elimi e Sicani: ideologia religiosa e luoghi sacri

449 Anfore da trasporto nella Sicilia arcaica: un aggiornamento


459 La ceramica figurata attica nella Sicilia di età arcaica: spunti di riflessione

479 Ceramiche della Grecia dell’Est in Sicilia


485 Absolute Chronology and Corinthian Pottery


497 Nuovi dati archeologici e archeometrici sulla produzione

di ceramica indigena della Sicilia occidentale

509 La rappresentazione del mito sulla ceramica attica

della Sicilia centro-meridionale tra il VI secolo e il 480 a.C.

523 Distribuzione delle forme della ceramica attica

nella Sicilia arcaica: il quadro di riferimento

541 Osservazioni sulla ceramica orientalizzante di Leontinoi


549 Ceramiche greche di età arcaica dalla Montagna di Polizzello


561 La distribuzione delle ceramiche nel territorio imerese:

proposta di una nuova metodologia di indagine

573 Pratiche funerarie dei Greci in Sicilia


585 La comunità di Polizzello. Aspetti antropologici


593 Una nuova tomba gentilizia dalla necropoli indigena

di contrada Serpellizza da Licodia Eubea

605 Materiali dalla necropoli di Porrazzelle (Mineo)

611 I Dinomenidi a Delfi: evidenze epigrafiche, nuove interpretazioni

621 Ripostigli di bronzi nella Sicilia di età arcaica.
Contesti di rinvenimento, funzioni e aspetti ponderali

647 La Sicilia in età arcaica: un’altra prospettiva.

I percorsi della storia per una nuova definizione delle strategie didattico-culturali


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