Studied material

July 15th, 2017

Introductory comments
This is probably the most boring section taken from the author's original doctoral thesis, although at the time of writing it needed to be included in the final volume. The article below presents catalogues with the original material studied by the author, broken down in different typological and chronological groups. This material is also studied in separate articles, that are included in the author's personal website. The analysis below may be useful to some readers as is provides information on the origins of Attic Early Iron Age fineware shapes, and it also introduces a relatively interesting way of breaking down and presenting their information based on different chart formats. The photographs that once were part of the authors original thesis were taken out as there were several issues related to royalties and creative commons rights.

Ware groups and shapes
The author has produced three separate studies on three broader ware groups and has presented the results of his macroscopic analysis conducted according to the chaîne opératoire principles explained in the methodology section. Finewares were grouped together in three broader categories based on vessel size, function, sequence of manufacture and assembling characteristics. These were: large-sized closed ceramic containers, medium-sized pouring vessels and small-sized drinking vessels. The figure bellow presents a summary of the total studied material, divided in these three broader ware groups and their subgroups:

Large-sized closed ceramic containers

  1. Elaborately decorated amphorae of three subtypes:

a) Neck-handled amphorae (abbreviated as N-H). Such shapes with typical elongated bodies and long necks appeared in Athens for the first time in 11th century BC graves at Kerameikos. The most characteristic examples are vessel 3701 from Grave 76 and a similar shape without recorded inventory number from grave 92 (Ruppenstein 2007, pl.43). Such vessels became popular at Kerameikos during MPG times (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.21/n.7-8) and continued to be used in burials from the LPG period onwards (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.33.1, pl.34/n.3). A variation of this class, which appeared in Attica during the LG and was used as a transport vessel, is the SOS N-H amphora (Johnston & Jones 1978).

b) Shoulder-handled amphorae (abbreviated as S-H). Such shapes derived from earlier Protogeometric vessels (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.86/n.1), which often carried a decorated lid.

c) Belly-handled amphorae (abbreviated as B-H). The shapes of Attic belly-handled amphorae and hydriae from the Geometric period show great similarity with popular vessels from Athenian burials of the EPG period. Globular belly-handled amphorae with broad necks such as those from EPG graves 22 (Lemos 2002, pl.3/n.1) and 13 (Lemos 2002, pl.4/n.1) at Kerameikos were rare in Geometric Athens; however; shapes with oval bodies and narrower necks such as those from the EPG Heidelberger grave B (Lemos 2002, pl.5/n.7), which also appeared in Kerameikos during MPG (Lemos 2002, pl.22/n.1) and LPG times (Lemos 2002, pl.32/n.1) match the typical Geometric form that dominates after EGII-MGI (e.g. Kübler 1954, pl.41). Some belly-handled amphorae resembling the ovoid body of typical Geometric shoulder-handled amphorae go back to the Submycenaean era (e.g. 2733 from Grave 101 at Kerameikos) (Ruppenstein 2007, pl.43).

  1. Banded neck-handled amphorae of two types:

a) Banded N-H amphorae with long necks. Their shape is no different to elaborately decorated N-H amphorae; the only difference is that they carry simple banded decoration instead.

b) Banded N-H amphorae with short or almost no necks (abbreviated as N/L= neck-less). Such vessels carry handles that extend from the vessel’s shoulders to the upper rim and have typical banded decoration. This class has been recovered mainly in Late Geometric wells from the Agora. Some elaborately decorated versions of this shape go back to the EPG (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.6/n.2) and LPG periods (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.34/n.1), and have been recovered in burials at Kerameikos.

  1. Hydriae:

This shape is no different to B-H amphorae, except that hydriae carry an extra vertical strap handle that extends from the top of the rim to the vessel’s shoulder. Their decoration is primarily banded with either straight or wavy lines, while necks can occasionally be coated. The earliest hydriae (783 and 784) come from MGII-LGIa Kerameikos (Kübler 1954, pl.50). Although this shape does not seem to have parallels in PG and EG Athens, it resembles PG belly-handled amphorae from Kerameikos and some smaller-sized hydriae from MPG Lefkandi (Lemos 2002, pl.24/n.12); therefore, this shape probably originates in the 11th and 10th centuries BC.

The the author's study on large ceramic containers, greatest attention was placed in the study of neck-handled amphorae for two reasons. Firstly, during the Geometric period these vessels were produced for both domestic and funerary consumption. Elaborately decorated neck-handled amphorae of normal sizes (shorter than 1m) were used in burials together with larger decorated amphorae of monumental sizes, such as those of the Dipylon tradition. At the same time, shorter neck-handled amphorae with banned decoration were produced for domestic consumption and often found their way in graves. Secondly, neck-handled amphorae survived in larger quantities in the archaeological record, by contrast to shoulder-handled and belly-handled vessels.

With regard to amphorae, the author's research project could not include several important artefacts due to access limitations. For example, the belly-handled amphora P27629 from the Grave of the Rich Athenian Lady (Smithson 1968, 84, pl.20/n.1), the monumental Dipylon-style amphora Athens NM804 from Kerameikos (Coldstream 1968, pl.6) and the neck-handled amphora P20177 from the Boot Grave (Blegen 1952, 290-291, pl.74/n.15; Coldstream 1968, 10, pl.1:I) were at that time in display and access would have required special and time-consuming arrangements. The only monumental Dipylon-style vessel included in the author's doctoral thesis was the neck fragment P22435 from the Athenian Agora (Thompson 1953, 39, pl.18a). This was analysed in order to bring up the differences in the production of monumental grave vessels, as opposed to the production of other normal-size closed ceramic containers.

Medium-sized pouring vessels

1) Elaborately decorated trefoil oinochoai belonging to six subclasses:

a) Standard trefoil oinochoai with oval bodies and long necks. Their handle extends from the vessel’s shoulder and levels with the uppermost part of its trefoil mouth. Such shapes appeared for the first time in SM (Grave 105) and EPG Kerameikos (Grave 4), and had short ring bases (Lemos 2002, pl.7.6; Ruppenstein 2007, pl.45). They continued during MPG (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.22/n.3) and LPG times (Lemos 2002, pl.35/n.1-4), and became popular during the Geometric era. A different class of trefoil oinochoai with small conical feet, which appeared for the first time in MPG Kerameikos (e.g. Lemos 2002, 21/n.3), were probably an evolution of SM and EPG Athenian lekythoi (Lemos 2002, pl.6/n.4-5; Ruppenstein 2007, pl.43, 45). This class did not continue during the Geometric era.

b) Giant trefoil oinochoai with oval bodies and long necks. Such vessels are no different to the previous class. They appeared for the first time during LGIa and according to Galanakis (2013) they were first invented by the Dipylon Master. As there are no distinct guidelines for the classification of such vessels, in this project all LG trefoil oinochoai exceeding 35 cm in net height are regarded as giant.

c) Neck-less trefoil oinochoai (abbreviated as N/L). These vessels have oval bodies similar to typical trefoil oinochoai; however, they have no necks and their trefoil mouths extend directly above the vessel’s shoulders. Furthermore, neck-less trefoil oinochoai have handles that form a long curve, which exceeds the net height of the vessel. Such shapes probably derived from MPG (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.24/n.4) and LPG (Lemos 2002, pl.33/n.9) hand-made wares; however, the shapes encountered in this project are all wheel-made and come from the Late Geometric period.

d) Broad trefoil oinochoai. Such vessels have oval or globular bodies and short wide necks, ending at a trefoil mouth. Occasionally, their trefoil mouth seals with a lid. Even though they are no different compared to the previous two oinochoai subclasses, such vessels need to be categorised separately because they are open instead of closed shapes. More specifically, a person’s hand can easily fit through the trefoil mouth and touch the internal surfaces of the pot, which is not possible in the previous two oinochoai subclasses. Such shapes are strictly Late Geometric and the earliest go back to the LGIa.

e) Broad neck-less trefoil oinochoai (abbreviated as Broad N/L). Such vessels are no different to N/L trefoil oinochoai: they have a broad trefoil mouth but almost no neck. They are a hybrid class of the previous two oinochoai subclasses and they also come from the Late Geometric period (e.g. 874 from Kerameikos Grave 9, Kübler 1954, pl.82).

f) Trefoil oinochoai lekythoi. Such shapes are rare and do not seem to descend from the Protogeometric period. The earliest vessel in this thesis (1141) comes from the MGI Grave 13 at Kerameikos (Kübler 1954, pl.83). Such vessels have broad semi-oval bodies and thin long necks, closer to those of lekythoi. Unlike typical LPG lekythoi from Kerameikos (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.34/n.6), such vessels have trefoil instead of flat-rounded mouths, broad bases instead of conical feet, and their handles extend from shoulder to rim instead of shoulder to neck. For the above reasons, their production must be regarded closer to that of standard oinochoai.

2) Elaborately decorated pitchers:

Such vessels used to be popular during the Late Geometric era and are not encountered in the archaeological record during earlier times (Vlachou Forthcoming). They are composed of a globular body, a wide and tall neck that resembles amphorae, and a handle that curves above the vessel’s net height. The author's original thesis did not include any pitchers from the Athenian Agora due to their scarcity. Vessels such as P5053 (Shear 1936a, 31, fig.30) were at that time in display and could not be easily accessed.

Despite their typological variations, the common characteristic encountered in all oinochoai subgroups is their trefoil mouth. This is also the characteristic that defines their function as pouring vessels. Neck-less trefoil oinochoai and their broader equivalents have been produced with short or almost no necks in a single episode on the potter’s wheel. By contrast, standard trefoil oinochoai and oinochoai lekythoi contain long necks that have been attached on the vessel’s body during a separate episode on the potter’s wheel. The same can be said with regard to pitchers.

Small drinking vessels

The author's original thesis discussed two types of drinking vessels: skyphoi and kantharoi. Such pots are found in a variety of Attic Early Iron Age contexts and comprise the largest portion of ceramic artefacts examined by the author. By contrast to large ceramic containers and medium sized pouring vessels, which show greater degree of fragmentation, drinking pots are significantly smaller and survive in better condition in the archaeological record.

In terms of typological variation, kantharoi and skyphoi are subject to typological subdivisions that are not always clear and can generate confusion. A good example relates to the similarity between kantharoi with low handles and two-handled cups. Adjectives used to describe typological variations such as broad, wide, deep, shallow, etc. (according to Coldstream 1968; 1977; 2003b; 2010) are encountered across different publications without specific references to numbers. More specifically, there is no distinct height limit (in cm) to define the difference between a deep and a shallow skyphos, as there are no specific rim diameter and height limits (in cm) to classify vessels with similar shapes as wide skyphoi or bowls. In fact, in older German publications (e.g. Kraiker et al. 1939) such wares were referred to as Näpfe.

All drinking vessels examined by the author were divided in two broader groups based on a simple and widely accepted principle: skyphoi were vessels with horizontal handles while kantharoi were vessels with vertical handles. Furthermore, any open shapes with horizontal or vertical handles that exceeded 15 cm in net height and 20 cm in rim diameter were not included in his work, as these could have probably functioned as bowls instead of drinking cups. Finally, all shape details of kantharoi and skyphoi were recorded in relation to the typological definitions given by Nicolas Coldstream (1968; 1977; 2003b; 2010).

According to their shape differences, Kantharoi comprised four typological subgroups:

a) Typical kantharoi with high vertical handles exceeding the height of the vessel’s rim (abbreviated as H/H= high-handled). All these vessels usually have short lips; however, if such vessels carry high lips, then the abbreviation H/L (=high-lipped) was added next to their description. This shape appeared for the first time during MGII and resembled contemporary skyphoi (Coldstream 1968, 23); however, the majority of kantharoi came from LG and EPA times.

b) Small-sized typical kantharoi with high handles (here noted as Small H/H). Such vessels do not show any chronological or typological differences compared to the first subgroup. However, in the author's study a height limit of 4 cm was set to diversify miniature from functional drinking vessels; therefore, small kantharoi were recorded separately as their net heights ranged between 4 cm and 8 cm.

c) Kantharoi with low vertical handles reaching up to the height of the vessel’s rim (abbreviated as L/H= low-handled). Such vessels derived from LPG black-coated low-handled kantharoi (Coldstream 1968, 11, pl.1b; Lemos 2002, pl.31.4), which were produced without conical feet during the Geometric era. This shape survived until EGII (Coldstream 1968, 14).

d) Footed kantharoi with low vertical handles (abbreviated as Footed L/H). Such vessels derived from black-coated LPG footed kantharoi (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.31/n.4), which continued to be produced between EG and MGI times (Coldstream 1968, 14) while they declined shortly after (Coldstream 1968, 19). For simplicity, in the author's thesis there was no distinction between kantharoi with high or low feet.

Skyphoi were divided in five subgroups based on their shape differences:

a) Typical skyphoi with short horizontal handles. These shapes derived from deeper footed skyphoi of the SM and EPG periods such as the ones from Kerameikos Grave 5 (Lemos 2002, pl.8/n.4) and Grave 76 (Ruppenstein 2007, pl.43). Such shapes continued to be produced during MPG (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.21/n.2 and 22/n.2) and LPG times (e.g. Lemos 2002, pl.36/n.4-5). During the Early Geometric period these vessels lost their conical feet and were produced in shallower versions, which differed completely to their Protogeometric predecessors (Coldstream 1968, 14, pl.2b). Coldstream (1968, 14) names such drinking vessels shallow skyphoi (by contrast to the Protogeometric deep skyphoi), which also appeared in versions with high lips such as K2 from Kynosarges (Coldstream 2003b, 334, pl.40) and A343 from the collections of the British School at Athens (Coldstream 2003b, 345, pl.52). In the authors study the general name skyphos was used to describe Coldstream’s shallow skyphos. Additionally, if such vessels had high lips, they were abbreviated as H/L (=high-lipped).

b) Wide Skyphoi. According to Coldstream’s (1968) typology, such vessels are typical shallow skyphoi with horizontal handles; however, in the author's reserahc project they were recorded as a separate class due to their wide rim diameter: it always exceeded 15cm and was likely to explain functions other than drinking.

c) Wide skyphoi with stirrup handles (abbreviated as STR/H = stirrup-handled). This class is a short-lived variant of the shallow skyphos produced after EGII (Coldstream 1968, 18). It was recorded as a separate class of wide skyphos by following the example of Coldstream (1968).

d) Gadrooned skyphoi. In previous pottery publications, gadrooned skyphoi such as A342 (Coldstream 2003b, 345, pl.52), Kerameikos 324 and 325 (Kübler 1954, 242, pl.99) were treated as ordinary shallow skyphoi; however, such vessels are generally considered to have derived from metallic prototypes (Coldstream 2003b, 345) (1). In the author's thesis they were examined separately in order to test if their conceptualisation (sensu Van der Leeuw 1994, 136-7) was similar with that of other ‘non-metallic’ skyphoi.

Skyphoi and kantharoi were selected among a broad typological range of Attic Early Iron Age drinking vessels because of their relatively higher degree of technological complexity compared to simpler forms such as drinking cups with one or two handles, miniature cups, phialae and kotylae.

Breakdown of wares groups by sites and contexts
The ceramic material studied in the author's research project derived from five locations: three archaeological sites in Athens (the Classical Athenian Agora, the Kynosarges burials and the Kerameikos cemetery) and two museum collections (the British School at Athens and the British Museum in London). A full summary of the studied material divided by sites or locations is presented below:

Detailed contexts were recorded separately for each artefact in the final catalogue of the study and presented in the form of an appendix. The original study compared different types of artefacts in relation to their function, divided in three broader contexts:

1) Burial contexts (=BR): such artefacts were recovered in graves and their final function was ceremonial. All the material from Kynosarges (K-artefacts) and Kerameikos (plain number-artefacts) derived from such contexts; however, the exact grave numbers from Kynosarges are unknown (see Droop 1905). The material from the Agora (P-artefacts) included only few finds recovered in graves, mainly coming from the Areopagus region.

2) Non-burial contexts (= non-BR): these were mainly wells and pits from the Athenian Agora and related to the majority of the material coming from there (P-artefacts). The function of this pottery could have varied. According to Papadopoulos (2003) many of these sherds used to be test pieces or production debris from Athenian Early Iron Age workshops. Shear (1993) argued that some intact vessels recovered from the lower levels of Athenian Geometric wells were used in domestic contexts and they were dropped accidentally inside during the effort to extract water. Shear (1993) suggested that mixed Geometric pottery coming from the upper levels of such wells was most likely non-domestic; it probably came from Geometric graves near by the Agora, which were purposely destroyed and their artefacts were dumped in the wells by the Persians during the destruction of Athens in 480 BC.

3) Unknown contexts: such artefacts used to belong to private collectors of the 19th and 20th centuries, and were neither properly excavated nor recorded in the past. At some point they ended up in museum collections and their publication took place after their context information was lost. In the author's original project, all artefacts from the Museum of the British School at Athens (A-artefacts) and the British Museum in London (GR-artefacts) belonged to this specific category.
The breakdown of the total studied material according to contexts is presented below:

Chronological breakdown of ware groups

The author's research project investigated ceramic technologies mainly related to one chronological period of the Attic Early Iron Age, the Geometric era (c.900-700 BC). Few ceramic artefacts from the Orientalising period were included to test any continuity of Geometric ceramic technologies during the 7th century BC. With regard to the Orientalising samples, these primarily belonged to the Early Protoattic and Subgeometric styles; however, few samples that cannot be securely dated were recorded as broadly Protoattic (PA). Few Protogeometric samples (mainly LPG) were used to supplement the assemblages from some sites that did not include adequate Early Geometric material (e.g. the collections of the British Museum). Such Protogeometric shapes survived in the Early Geometric period and mark the continuity in pottery production between the late 10th and early 9th centuries BC.

The total ceramic material examined was divided in chronological groups according to the system developed by Nicolas Coldstream (1968, 330). Artefacts from the Kynosarges burials, the Geometric and Orientalising collections of the British School at Athens (Coldstream 2003b), and Protogeometric and Geometric pottery from the British Museum (Coldstream 2010) had already been dated according to this system by Coldstream himself. However, the material from Kerameikos had been previously dated according to the German chronological system, based in five divisions for the Geometric period (according to Kraiker et al. 1939; Kübler 1954), or even ten divisions for the entire Attic Early Iron Age (according to Krause 1975). Furthermore, many artefacts from the Athenian Agora had already been published according to Coldstream’s (1968) chronological system (e.g. Papadopoulos 2003; 2007); however, others (e.g. Brann 1962) had been dated in more conventional ways, by quarters or halves of a century.

In order to generate a mutual chronological framework for the following analyses, the material from the Agora and Kerameikos was selected and cross-referenced according to known contexts that have already been dated by Coldstream himself in his Greek Geometric Pottery (1968). Still, few finds from the Athenian Agora dated in conventional ways, stood somewhere between two or even more of Coldstream’s chronological divisions. For example, a sherd dating in the last quarter of the 8th century BC (c.725-700 BC) could have belonged somewhere between the last years of LGIIa and the whole LGIIb. Despite the existence of transitional phases in Coldstream’s (1968) Greek Geometric Pottery, the chronological span of artefacts dated in conventional ways became an issue.
To resolve the problem, it was decided that conventions for transitional phases discussed by Coldstream (1968) (e.g. MGII-LGIa) would have beeen used to describe two different chronological groups of artefacts: firstly, the ones that were indeed transitional and could be cross-referenced by transitional contexts mentioned in Coldstream’s Greek Geometric Pottery; secondly, artefacts of ambiguous date that could have related to larger chronological spans. For example, the above mentioned sherd dating c.725-700 BC needed to be recorded as LGIIa-LGIIb, even though this might not have necessarily been transitional.

It was obvious that such conversions could generate problems if the study needed to be period-specific. However, the author's project targeted five broader chronological groups (Middle/Late Protogeometric, Early Geometric, Middle Geometric, Late Geometric, and 7th century); therefore, transitional or supposedly transitional finds fell under larger chronological divisions and did not affect the results of statistical analyses. In the original study, transitional phases were grouped with regard to the beginning of the transition: for example, MGII-LGIa groups were included in MG clusters, or LGIIb-EPA groups were included in LG clusters. The breakdown of the total ceramic material divided by date groups is summarised in the chart below:


  1. The connections between metal and ceramic vessels in relation to their broader production has already been discussed by Borell (1978, 93-4) and Markoe (1985, 117-27).