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Northern Intruders in MYC. IIIC?

Author(s): Gisela Walberg

Source: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Spring, 1976), pp. 186-187
Published by: Archaeological Institute of America
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Accessed: 22-11-2015 01:50 UTC

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NORTHERN INTRUDERS IN MYC. IIIC? in decoration from Trojan VIIb pottery. Hole-mouthed
In an article, "Ceramic evidence for Northern In- jars are not frequent in the Trojan material. A
Knobbed Ware wide-mouthed jar with horseshoe lug
truders in Southern Greece at the Beginning of the handles has been published from Troy.6 It is, however
Late Helladic IIIC Period," AJA 79, I (1975) 17-32, -if one is going to discuss such fine distinctions-
Jeremy B. Rutter identifies some pottery from Myce- taller and narrower than the Korakou jar. Its maxi-
naean IIIC contexts at Korakou as non-Mycenaean mum diameter is at a proportionally lower level. Cups
and takes it as evidence for an intrusive population with high vertical handles in Knobbed Ware have also
related to invaders in the Troad and with an ultimate been found at Troy,' but these taper more towards the
origin in Bulgaria or possibly Roumania. rim than the Korakou cup and their handles are
His theories are based on the following arguments: turned outwards at a more oblique angle. The struc-
(i) The fabric--described as made of coarse clays ture of these vessels differs from that of the Korakou
containing large amounts of mineral inclusions ranging vessels. No parallel to the two-handled jar is pub-
up to four millimeters in diameter, generally red, lished from Troy. The applied plastic decoration of
brown, or gray-is non-Mycenaean. one of the Korakou vessels consists of smooth applied
(2) The vessel types are non-Mycenaean. bands. No parallels to these smooth bands are pub-
(3) The decoration-plastically applied in some lished from Troy. Rope patterns consisting of oblique
cases and painted in one instance-is non-Mycenaean. cuts in a ridge, such as appears in another Korakou
(4) The pottery in question is closely connected vessel (the wide-mouthed jar), occur at Troy, but the
to Trojan VIIb Coarse and Knobbed Ware ("Buckel- cuts are broader and more widely spaced. Rope pat-
keramik'") and to pottery of the Late Bronze Age terns formed by rounded or oval impressions are far
from Bulgaria or Roumania. more common there. Decoration consisting of incisions
Some of these points are open to discussion. To sum in the surface is frequent in Trojan Knobbed Ware
up my objections:' and so are of course the knobs after which this cate-
(i) Most Mycenaean ware is wheelmade, as Rutter gory is named.
points out, but it must not be forgotten that coarse Beside the above points it may also be observed that
handmade ware was made throughout the Mycenaean the Korakou material on which Rutter bases his the-
era. Burnishing is not common in Mycenaean pottery, ory is not homogeneous. The fabric, decoration and
but it did exist and occurs, for instance in an askos vessel types vary within this group of sixteen vases and
from the Athenian Agora, tomb XVI.2 It also occurs fragments. Rutter has divided the material into five
in two vases from Prosymna. One of them is illus- groups. Considering the limited number of objects,
trated in Prosymna II.3 The latest material from the this seems somewhat hazardous. Comparative material
tomb in which it was found is of Myc. IIIA I date. from other Mycenaean sites is to a great extent miss-
(2) The vessels which can be identified in the ma- ing. Coarse pottery-in so far as it is not discarded-
terial in question are in most cases domestic. Some is seldom published from early excavations.
of them are basic and hardly classifiable according From recent excavations, where coarse pottery pre-
to distinct types and have a long history in the Aegean sumably has been more carefully studied, signs of a
from the Early Bronze Age on (hole-mouthed jar, coni- possible increase of handmade and burnished ware in
cal jar with opposite horizontal handles, and wide- Myc. IIIC have been reported. To judge from the
mouthed jar). One vessel type, the angular cup with Korakou material such pottery seems to form a rather
high vertical handles, is found in Mycenaean con- heterogeneous group. Parallels have been sought in
texts from Myc. I onwards.4 The oldest Mycenaean widely different areas. The common features of the
specimens have close affinities to the Minyan "kantha- vessels belonging to this group are the quality and
roi." Lug handles, which occur in the Korakou ma- treatment of clay. On the other hand, in the absence
terial, appear already in Myc. IIIA and IIIB vases.5 of a systematic study of coarse ware it may be safer
(3) Applied plastic decoration is common in many to look upon them as one special group. Rutter has
classes of Bronze Age pottery from various areas, presented one explanation to its lack of correspon-
especially on large vessels. The painted decoration is dence to standard Mycenaean pottery: it was made by
reported to differ in texture from that of Mycenaean northern intruders. One may, however, ask if some
pottery in general. The motive, however, corresponds internal Mycenaean explanation would not be possible,
to Furumark's motive 53, Wavy Line. especially since hand-made and burnished vases were
(4) There are differences in vessel types as well as made earlier than in Myc. IIIC." A change in the
1I wish to thank Prof. A. Furumark for reading this note and C. Blegen and M. Rawson, The Palace of Nestor at Pylos in
for his encouragement. Members of the Uppsala seminar, es- WesternMesseniaI, part 2 (Princeton 1966) fig. 355, shape 18.
pecially Dr. R. Higg, have contributed with discussions to this 5MP 34, 95, 655-
note. L. Troy checked my English. 6 C. Blegen, C. Boulter, J.
Caskey and M. Rawson, Troy IV.
2 S.A. Immerwahr, Athenian Agora XIII: The Neolithic and Settlements VIIa, VIIb and VIII, part 2 (Princeton 1958) fig.
Bronze Ages (Princeton I97I) pl. 47 (Grave XVI). 267.
3 C. Blegen, Prosymna, part 2 (Cambridge 7 Ibid. figs. 260-61.
1937) fig. I10o.
4 A. Furumark, The Mycenaean Pottery. Analysis and Classi- 8 See notes 2-3.
fication (Stockholm 1942)-hereafter abbreviated MP-55 and

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conditions of pottery production may also be con- narrow range of time which makes the Korakou
sidered. When the Mycenaean citadels were destroyed, pieces and a very few comparable vases from other
the workshops with large-scale production, closely con- Mycenaean sites atypical and hence "non-Mycenaean."
nected with the larger centres, could be assumed to To cite instances of the occurrence of no more than
have been supplanted to a considerable extent by one of these features on any given vase in a series of
small local workshops with a limited production or truly "Mycenaean" vases which are scattered over a
even household production. The production at Berbati, wide range in both space and time fails, in my opin-
for instance, ceased at the end of Myc. IIIB. The ion, to establish a valid Mycenaean pedigree for the
influence from the larger centres would have dimin- Korakou vessels.
ished. The clay for the local workshops may have been I have argued that pottery closely similar to the
obtained from the neighbourhood and not from the Korakou handmade and burnished material was
old clay-beds and a proportionally greater number of found in Troy VIIb. That the Trojan comparanda are
vessels ought to have been made by hand. This may not identical to the Korakou pieces in terms of their
help to explain the existence of large mineral and other shape proportions or in the precise outline of the
inclusions in the clay of some of the Korakou ma- decorative impressions on their applied cordons is
terial. Mica and other inclusions, which makes the neither contested nor surprising. What is significant
clay harder, is desirable when a vase is built up by is the overall resemblance in terms of shapes, decora-
hand instead of thrown on the wheel. Not only coarse tion, and method of manufacture between the two;
or rather coarse domestic pottery, but also fine Myc. it seems to me undeniable that as a group the Korakou
IIIC pottery is often unslipped.9 Slipping and burnish- vases are far more closely related to this Troy VIIb
ing serve the same two purposes: first to close the pottery than to any "Mycenaean" handmade vessels.
pores of the clay to make the vessel water-tight and, Furthermore, both at Korakou and at Troy the respec-
secondly, to give it an attractive surface.10The prepa- tive groups of comparable handmade and burnished
ration of a slip takes more time than the preparations pottery were considered to have no immediate ante-
for burnishing. Slipping is thus more suitable for large- cedents in the recognized local wares. It is this last
scale production. For a potter who only makes a few fact which led me to suggest that the handmade and
vessels at a time it may seem easier to leave as many burnished pottery from early LH IIIC Korakou was
as possible unslipped and to burnish those which must the product of immigrants rather than of local pot-
hold liquid for some time, such as domestic vessels. ters, since very similar pottery seemed to have been
These technical conditions rather than actual con- introduced at Troy in a comparable fashion at about
nexions may explain a similarity to Italian, Rou- the same time.
manian, and Bulgarian pottery. Extensive foreign ele- Other interpretations of the Korakou handmade pot-
ments requiring an external explanation cannot be tery are certainly possible, and Walberg's alternative,
identified in this Myc. IIIC pottery. that this pottery is in fact an inferior "Mycenaean"
GISELAWALBERC product to be explained by the collapse of palatial
UNIVERSITY OF UPPSALA civilization at the end of LH IIIB, is worthy of con-
sideration. However, it is clear from Korakou and vir-
tually every other site at which LH IIIC occupation is
"NON-MYCENAEAN" POTTERY: attested that fine painted pottery, as well as coarse
A REPLY TO GISELA WALBERG cooking wares, continued to be produced in quantity
in standard "Mycenaean" fabrics, technique, shapes,
Of the sixteen vases and sherds from Korakou and decoration during the LH IIIC period; although
which I recently published in this journal, eleven de- pottery may possibly now have been made by non-
monstrably come from contexts of early LH IIIC date; specialists at the household level, the claim cannot be
none of the remaining five must necessarily belong made that standard Mycenaean wares were not avail-
to an earlier or later period. Their identification as able. What is peculiar about the Korakou handmade
"non-Mycenaean" rests in their handmade manufac- and burnished pottery is that it does not appear to rep-
ture and burnished surface treatment and in the fact resent the poor attempts by unskilled potters to pro-
that the shapes which they represent combined with duce a familiar "Mycenaean" range of shapes and
the decoration which they exhibit are decidedly ab- decoration, but rather is indicative of a taste for shapes
normal in Mycenaean ceramics. This is not to say that and decorative treatments with no immediate local
individual Mycenaean vases were never handmade, ancestry. One could maintain that these unusual new
never burnished, never plastically decorated with cor- shapes and approaches to decoration represent the sur-
dons or grooves, or never painted with a wavy line. facing of a popular tradition in ceramics buried since
It is rather the particular combination of 'these fea- late Middle Helladic times under the Minoan forms
tures on a small group of vases occurring within a favored by those arbiters of taste who had controlled
9 MP 14. notably in jugs and alabastra of the Myc. I and II periods, but
10 V. Hankey observes in "A Late Bronze Age
Temple at it is a slow process and was not, as far as I know, used in the
Amman," Levant 6 (1974) 143, that burnishing is often, but mass production of small closed shapes of Myc. III." It may
not exclusively associated with handmade pottery and that be noted that slipping and burnishing often occur on the
"evidence of burnishing can be seen in a few Mycenaean pots, same pot.

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