Tracing Networks

Craft Traditions in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond

Plain cooking: ceramics, networks of technological transfer and social change, from the late bronze age to the iron age in the Greek world

Ian Whitbread, Sara Strack

How far did the radical shift from LBA mainland palace economies to IA societies change everyday production and consumption? This sub-project investigates technological, economic and socio-political developments in this formative period through the Lefkandi (Euboea) ceramic assemblage, a key site with a full sequence of ceramic material, comparing it with transitions in ceramic production elsewhere in the Greek world. This sub-project links closely with those of Foxhall, Brysbaert, van Dommelen, and Harding. Utilitarian ceramics manifest renegotiation of social relationships and technological traditions in choices of materials, manufacturing methods and distribution, reflected in the range of vessel forms and functionally specific wares, such as cooking wares (sometimes more difficult to produce proficiently than finewares). Comparison of utilitarian-ware manufacturing processes can show changes in raw-materials procurement and manufacturing techniques as changing social structures introduce new potters (perhaps working in different traditions) operating in a landscape, or make available resources previously unavailable through changing control of the landscape. One example is the debate on „Handmade Burnished Ware‟: an introduced foreign technology, or a new technological tradition – a local response to the collapse of palace-supported ceramic production? Recent work in the Berbati Valley observed that changes in settlement organisation between LBA and IA coincided with an apparent shift in preference from calcareous clays (LBA) to non-calcareous clays (IA). It might be assumed that a key element in establishing a new settlement would be local production of utilitarian ceramics. Yet, from the archaic period onward special products, such as cooking pots and mortars, were exported around the Mediterranean in considerable quantities. Euboean Greeks are well documented as active in early „colonial‟ enterprises in Sicily and southern Italy: did they take their ceramic traditions with them, and to what extent were these new communities dependent on imported utilitarian ceramics compared with local products?

Plain cooking