A re-examination of early wheel potting in Crete
Caroline Jeffra Annual of the British School at Athens 108 (2013): 31-49.
The manner in which Minoan potters first employed the pottery wheel has become a matter of some debate. A growing body of work has taken a sceptical approach to the transition from hand-building to wheel-throwing techniques in a number of contexts, finding that the idea of a technological transition of this nature is not supported by the ceramic evidence. Although a small number of publications have addressed this topic as it relates to Minoan Crete, in light of the evidence from contemporary areas around the Mediterranean and Near East it has become necessary to establish firmly what types of techniques and methods were being used as potters first employed this tool. In order to assess the types of primary forming techniques used by potters during the periods between Middle Minoan IB (when the wheel was first regularly used) and Late Minoan IA (by which time vessels of all sizes were regularly formed with some type of rotation), an experimental type set was produced. Analysis was conducted by correlating the macroscopic features produced with specific forming methods, and then comparing those features against material from Knossos, Palaikastro and Myrtos–Pyrgos. The results of that comparison challenge the established notion that potters had developed wheel-throwing skills during these early periods. Instead, a more complex picture emerges which reveals a process of gradual acquisition of combination techniques (wheel and coils). The pattern of uptake indicates a level of cohesion across the potting community of central and eastern Crete, irrespective of the geographical distance between the three sites studied.