Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


15 November 2010

Patterns of exchange and mobility. The case of the Grey Ware in Middle and Late Minoan Crete

Luca Girella Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici 51 (2009) [2010]: 279-314.

Abstract (from the Introduction)

New finds and important contributions have recently offered a fresh overview on wheel-made grey ware on Crete and have also provided an occasion for as update on pottery imported from outside Crete. As a result the list of Grey Ware in LM III contexts has been expanded, but mentions of such a ware in previous periods have been surprisingly neglected. The aim of this article is to re-examine the evidence of the Grey Ware on Crete, from the first appearance of Grey Minyan Ware to the later distribution of Grey Ware up to the LM IIIC period. As will be understandable from the following overview, most of the information comes from old excavations and publications, when both the identification and terminology of this ware were far from being neatly recognizable (i.e. the use of term bucchero). As a second aim of this contribution, drawing upon Grey Ware circulation, we shall inquire into patterns of mobility and exchange; in fact, as a ‘foreign ware’, the phenomenon of Grey Ware on Crete can be the ideal theatre for the exploration of pottery and human mobility.

For convenience’s sake we shall distinguish four moments with distinct patterns of distribution: (1) the small scale world of the late Prepalatial period, when the unique Minyan bowl from Knossos – a MH I import – confirms the picture of the asymmetrical relationship between the Greek Mainland and Crete, which saw a large quantity of Minoan and Minoanizing pottery at coastal sites of southern and northeastern Peloponnese, but not the contrary. (2) A similar model is proposed here also for the Protopalalial period, when neither imports nor imitations were documented. (3) The Neopalatial period, when Grey Ware did remain a rare item and did not include any imports from Greek Mainland. Grey-burnished wheel-made vessels were exclusively produced in Minoan shapes and so far suggest a more internal circulation that seems to keep out the Greek Mainland. (4) The Mycenaean period, the sole period when evidence for Grey Ware increases dramatically, and Crete again participated in a more international circuit, in which both the Greek Mainland and western Mediterranean had active roles. Grey Ware examples from the cemeteries were usually closed shapes, miniaturized, and they might be interpreted as part of the Mycenaean funerary custom similarly attested in eastern Aegean. On the other hand, Grey Ware from the settlements was concentrated at Kommos and Khania, and it showed elements of local production, besides, in the latter case, vague reminiscences of pseudominyan ware from southern Italy.


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