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The Minoan and Mycenaean Pottery Vessels

18 Aug

                                                                            THIS POST IS  PART OF MY FINAL THESIS

           It covers the pottery vessels and their uses from the Neolithic period  and continues with the Minoan and Mycenaean periods in further posts.

 

In ancient times, as today ceramic pots are both utilitarian and works of art. They also offer a key to knowledge of many types, from chronology to the very history of culture to the development of technology. This post is about the history of ceramic vessels during  the ancient Minoan and Mycenaean times . Pottery is undoubtedly the most common archaeological material surviving and this is because it does not disintegrate when buried for many years, therefore is important to archaeologists for two main reasons.

 Firstly as a chronological indicator when other dateable objects such as, coins are lacking and secondly for the information it can provide, like trade and communications. It is the durability of pottery which makes it so important on archaeological excavations. Once finds from excavations have been washed and marked with identifying codes i.e. as to where and what layers the object was found, it is then sorted into groups of various items such as,  pottery, pieces of worked stone, coins, jewelry and so on. At this stage these may be sent to various specialist to study.   In the case of pottery vessels if broken, are sub-divided by sorting each group into base shards, body and rim shards and then handles and feet (if any).

For some types of finds, scientific methods are used in the process of analysis which would involve sorting by colour of the pottery and any other indications, like how the surface of the pot is finished such as burnishing and decoration, also inclusions in the clay like phyllite, calcite, limestone and any other rock fragments,  which would be studied under a Petrographic microscope where a thin slice (section) of the pot in question is mounted on a microscope slide and the inclusions can be identified and the original source of the material confirmed. 

Above is  an example showing inclusions in pottery under a Petrographic microscope.  In this case the pottery was from Mochlos East Crete, revealing that the local pottery inclusions consisted of fine phyllite, calcite and limestone rock fragments, whereas pottery imported from the Cyclades revealed inclusions of quartz, feldspar ,sandstone and metamorphic rock fragments within a jug/jar fragment

 

 

 

The Beginning of Pottery Production.

The first known pottery makers began in the Neolithic period at Knossos Crete, where a date of 6000 plus or minus 180 B.C. (J.D. Evans 1964 was confirmed) Most Neolithic Cretan houses were made of mud brick or more perishable materials, set on stone foundations so as to raise the walls above the dampness of the ground. Families lived in villages close together. Caves were sometimes used as homes and were symbolic to the religion. These people would make offerings of pottery which contained other goods placed within them.

Most Cretan houses were made of mud brick or more perishable materials and set on stone foundations so as to raise the walls above the dampness of the ground. Families lived in villages close together. Caves were sometimes used as homes and were symbolic to the religion. These people would make offerings of pottery which contained other goods within them. Most Neolithic Cretan vessels were utilitarian and serviceable, the best pieces being carefully decorated. All Neolithic pottery is made by hand and fired to a low temperature.  The texture is normally course and often additional gritty fragments are mixed with the raw clays to make them even courser – gritty clay shrinks less when drying and will not crack so easily.

Neolithic Pottery Shapes

The most common Neolithic pottery shapes are, open mouth bowls, some smaller than others but large enough for storage. Others include narrow mouthed jars, small mouthed bowls and pedestal bowls. Patterns consist of short horizontal lines, stripes and triangles, as well as horizontal bands. Cups and jars of several types were also made. Most Neolithic Cretan vessels are black in colour.

                                   

 

                                                                                                    Early Neolithic Pottery Shapes

 

                                                                          

                                                                           Neolithic pot c 4500 – 3000 BC with incised decoration

 

        THE NEXT POST WILL BE POTTERY FROM THE EARLY MINOAN PERIOD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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