Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


6 April 2016

The rise and fall of the transport stirrup jar in the Late Bronze Age Aegean

Catherine E. Pratt American Journal of Archaeology 120.1 (January 2016): 27-66


It is generally accepted that Cretan transport stirrup jars were the preferred bulk liquid transport container of the Late Bronze Age Aegean, but the reasons behind their invention, relatively rapid dissemination and widespread use, and sudden disappearance are not well understood. To explain the rise and fall of the transport stirrup jar, this article offers a quantitative comparison of the distribution and production of Cretan transport stirrup jars in relation to the amphora, the other major transport container on the island, from the Middle Minoan II to the Late Minoan (LM) IIIC period. Based on these data, it seems that the mode of production and distribution patterns remained relatively consistent for amphoras, but production of the transport stirrup jar fluctuated greatly, rapidly reaching an apex during the LM IIIB period. In the LM IIIC period, however, the production and distribution patterns of both shapes changed, and the amphora was reestablished as the dominant transport container. I suggest that the comparatively short lifespan of the transport stirrup jar may be due to political intervention in the LM IIIA2–B periods. This article therefore contributes to our understanding of the sociopolitical underpinnings of changes in broad ceramic trends visible in the archaeological record.


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