Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


11 June 2013

Peter Pavúk & Barbara Horejs, 2012. Mittel- und Spätbronzezeitliche Keramik Griechenlands, Sammlung Fritz Schachermeyr, edited by Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy (Faszikel III), Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Paperback, 201 p., 22 plates, 29,2 x 20,8 cm, ISBN: 978-3-7001-7086-0

Reviewed by Iro Mathioudaki, BA, PhD, Archaeologist at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, A. Papandreou 48, Marousi 15122, Athens (iro.mathioudaki [at]


This synthetic work presented by Peter Pavúk and Barbara Horejs covers a large part of Mainland Greece and focuses on the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. The book is divided into an introduction and six chapters, followed by a summary in English (p. 172-175).

The main text is divided into two parts; the first (p. 13-129), by Pavúk, is devoted to the advanced part of the Middle and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age in central Greece with additional chapters dealing with Grey Minyan ware (hereafter GM) in the Aegean. The second part (p. 130-171), by Horejs, is devoted to the Late Bronze Age of northern Greece, i.e. Macedonia and Thessaly, with a short chapter on chronological issues of the Macedonian Late Bronze Age. The periods and areas referred to are further illustrated by the detailed annotated catalogue of the Middle and Late Bronze Age finds from the Schachermeyr Collection (Chapters 4 and 7). The catalogue is arranged chronologically and contains ceramic material from the sites of Lianokladi, Orchomenos, Lefkandi, Mykene, Lerna/Myloi, Kastro Paroikias, Aegina-Kolonna, Gona, Perivolaki, Stiwos, Thermi A and Argissa Magoula. Of particular interest is the sherd material from Paros, Kastro Paroikias, accompanied by Pavúk’s comments, since this is one of the few useful references to the site and its contribution to Aegean Bronze Age archaeology. The material from Kolonna, Aegina, is also impressive and one of the best represented.

The thorough presentation of Schachermeyr’s Collection speaks in favour of the use of sherd collections in pottery studies. The authors have also studied material from other collections and make good use of it. Chapter 2 (p. 13-39) on the development and distribution of GM ware in Greece draws heavily on Pavúk’s study of relevant material from the collections of the British and the American Schools at Athens. Typological and technological observations at an inter- and intra-regional level are greatly facilitated through the examination of sherds of a specific ware that appeared in different regions, as with the GM presented here. Sherd collections are particularly useful in this respect, since they make direct comparisons possible. Thus, the method used in the book offers a good alternative in cases where primary material is lacking.

The examination of this kind of material led the authors to one of the main conclusions of the book concerning the advanced Middle and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age: the dual character of the eastern part of central Greece, i.e. northern Boeotia/Euboea on the one hand, and central Boeotia on the other (p. 16, 38, 87). Based on the typology and quality of the GM pottery from several central Greek sites (e.g. Dramesi, Thebes, Skala Atalantis), Pavúk is able to differentiate the central part of Boeotia and its main site, Orchomenos, from the eastern area and its main site, Lefkandi, concluding that the eastern Boeotian plain was dependent on Euboean ceramic production. Although this is mainly based on survey data it offers potential for future studies in the area.

Chapter 2 (p. 13-39) is particularly instructive for many reasons. For the first time the corpus of GM pottery is presented in a comprehensive way, including sites in the Cyclades and Crete. The author gives us clues concerning pottery production and consumption patterns for a large part of the Mainland and the Aegean through the treatment of GM, its percentages in pottery assemblages (wherever possible) and its relationship to local pottery types. The information should be treated in tandem with Sarri’s contribution on the GM pottery from Orchomenos (Sarri 2010). In addition,  the value of GM as a chronological indicator is enhanced. It is important to note Pavúk’s comment on Dickinson’s phasing (p. 15); he believes that Dickinson’s Decorated and Mature Minyan phases (cf. Dickinson 1977)—based  on the evidence from Lefkandi—are not found separately at any of the other sites where GM pottery occurs. Pavúk also criticizes Dickinson’s Late Phase (op.cit), which corresponds mainly to the early LBA (p. 36). However, it would have been nice to have had the author’s view on the character of the MH III period in central Greece. This is not so clear in the book due to the character of the material surveyed. Central Greece is still in need of a better definition of the MH III phase.

Chapter 3 (p. 40-88), the largest chapter of the book, is a tour de force demonstrating a deep knowledge of the material. In this chapter the author chooses to present pottery from a selection of sites in stratigraphical and typological detail, namely Eutresis, Kirrha, Korakou, Thermon Aitolias, Orchomenos, Drachmani and Dramesi (p. 41). It would have been useful to have included Kiapha-Thiti in this analysis. The author preferred to treat the site alongside Pefkakia in Thessaly as reference points in his study. Of particular interest is the presentation of the evidence from Kirrha (p. 50-57) and Thermon Aitolias (p. 64-70). Pavúk not only uses all the available stratigraphical, quantitative and qualitative evidence concerning the transitional period from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age in a structured manner, but also offers clues on typological and chronological issues covering a large part of the Aegean Bronze Age.

Chapters 5 and 6 written by Horejs cover the northern part of Greece and focus on the Late Bronze Age. Chapter 7 presents the handmade pottery of Schachermeyr’s Collection of the same period. The catalogue is impressively detailed. The second part of the book does not relate to the first, but this is understandable since the object of the book was the presentation of the collection. The concentration of handmade wares from northern Greece forms a nice body of evidence for investigating production patterns in the area. Shapes, nevertheless, fall within the spectrum of those already known from central Macedonia. Most of the material belongs to the advanced phases of the Late Bronze Age.

Pavúk and Horejs’s book on Mainland pottery of the Middle and Late Bronze Age presents Schachermeyr’s Collection of sherds from various sites in a competent and well-structured way. Its presentation allowed the authors to express their views on typological and chronological matters concerning two large areas of Greece that fall within their areas of expertise. This was a good opportunity to update the evidence and make the book a reference point in future studies. A weak aspect of the book is the lack of cohesion among the chapters. It is difficult, for example, to understand the relationship between the collection’s catalogue and issues concerning the transitional period from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. In several cases information of other periods, wares and regions infiltrate the text and impede the arguments making it difficult for non-experts to follow.

The main ideas on chronology, pottery analysis, regional developments and the important issue of the ‘Mycenaeanisation’ process (p. 86-88) are based on material already published and its detailed and insightful analysis by the authors. In this respect, the book does not add much new material. It fully succeeds, though, in giving new perspectives on how pottery studies can be used to address important chronological issues. In reading, it becomes evident that the material published in the last few decades has not been fully digested by the scholarly world and that synthetic works like that of Pavúk and Horejs are needed in order to understand and evaluate it properly.



Dickinson, O.T.P.K., 1977. The Origins of the Mycenaean Civilization, Göteborg.

Sarri, K., 2010. Orchomenos IV. Orchomenos in der mittleren Bronzezeit, München. 


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