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    Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    Kotsonas, A.

    Published in:Identità culturale, etnicità, processi di formazione a Creta fra Dark Age e Arcaismo: per i centi anni dello scavo diPriniàs, 1906-2006: convegno di studi (Atene 9-12 novembre 2006)

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    Citation for published version (APA):Kotsonas, A. (2011). Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete. In G. Rizza (Ed.), Identitàculturale, etnicità, processi di formazione a Creta fra Dark Age e Arcaismo: per i centi anni dello scavo di Priniàs,1906-2006: convegno di studi (Atene 9-12 novembre 2006) (pp. 133-155). Catania: Consiglio Nazionale delleRicerche, IBAM, Sede di Catania.

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    Download date: 15 Mar 2020



    Per i cento anni dello scavo di Priniàs1906-2006

    Convegno di Studi(Atene 9-12 novembre 2006)


    a cura diGIOVANNI RIZZA


  • Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete*


    Crete of the early first millennium B.C. is aflourishing field of study. This was most force-fully confirmed in 2006, which commencedwith a conference on ‘Crete of the Geometricand Archaic period’, hosted by the GermanInstitute in Athens,1 and closed with a similar

    one, represented by the volume at hand, on theisland’s ‘Dark Age’, held in the Italian School ofArchaeology at Athens.2 Interestingly, the latteractually occurred exactly eleven years after anoth-er conference on largely the same subject, organ-ised in London by the British School at Athensand titled ‘Post-Minoan Crete’.3 It is notable that,although all three mostly cover the island’s 12th to6th centuries,4 they called the period by differentnames. I personally hold, however, that the lasttwo names (Dark Age, Post-Minoan) carry pejo-rative connotations5 that do no justice to theflourish of the island’s culture at the time, whilethe first excludes – if taken literally – the periodbefore the application of Geometric ornamentson ceramics. I therefore prefer to call the periodin question the Early Iron Age.6

    A conference discussing cultural identityand ethnicity is particularly fitting to the context


    Crete in the Geometric and Archaic Period; its proceedings are tobe published as Kreta in der geometrischen und archaischen Zeit.Akten des Internationalen Kolloquiums, Deutsches ArchäologischesInstitut Athen, W.-D. Niemeier, I. Kaiser and O. Pilz (eds.).

    2 The conference, held in 9-12 November 2006, wascalled Identità culturale, etnicità, processi di formazione aCreta fra Dark Age e Arcaismo.

    3 CAVANAGH - CURTIS 1998. The conference was heldin London, in 10-11 November 1995. Although the vol-ume published was subtitled Proceedings of the FirstColloquium on Post-Minoan Crete, no second colloquiumwas held thereafter.

    4 All remaining dates are B.C.5 For problems with the term ‘Dark Age’ see

    DICKINSON 2006, pp. 1-9. For roughly similar problemswith the term ‘Post-Minoan’ see WHITLEY 1998, p. 611.

    6 Cf. DICKINSON 2006, p. 7.

    * I am delighted to contribute to a conference that cele-brates the centenary of excavations at Priniàs. This is becausenot only I greatly admire the setting of the Patela, but also holdthat publication will eventually establish Priniàs as the type-sitefor Crete of the end of the second and the early first millenni-um B.C. The paper draws from my unpublished PhD thesis(KOTSONAS 2005), which discusses a large corpus of clay vasesfrom Eleutherna, dating to he 9th-6th century B.C. I am deeplygrateful to Professor N.C. Stampolidis for inviting me to studythis material and to Dr. I.S. Lemos for supervising my work,which was generously funded by the J.F. Costopoulos Foun-dation, the University of Edinburgh and the N.P. GoulandrisFoundation. I owe much of my acquaintance with Cypriotprototypes of Creto-Cypriot ceramics to a study-trip in Cy-prus, funded by the Council for British Research in the Levant,as well as to a visit in the Stratigraphic Museum at Knossos,which was greatly facilitated by the curator, Dr. D. Evely. I amalso thankful to Professor J.N. Coldstream for his criticism onthe relevant section of my thesis, as well as to Dr. M. Caskeyand Professor N. Kourou for their important comments andcriticism on the oral presentation of this paper. ProfessorKourou is also to be thanked for providing a copy of Cold-stream forthcoming. Thanks are also due to Professor Stam-polidis for his comments and suggestions. The bibliographycited stops at 2006. I also explore the issue of foreign pot-ters/painters (referred to simply as ‘potters' in the rest of thisarticle) working in Early Iron Age Crete in A. KOTSONAS, TheArchaeology of tomb A1K1 of Orthi Petra in Eleutherna: The EarlyIron Age Pottery, Athens, 2008, pp. 65-78.

    1 The conference, held in 27-29 January 2006, was called

  • 134 Antonios Kotsonas

    of Early Iron Age Crete. The theme has preoccu-pied literary references to the island, sinceHomer’s description of Crete as the home ofdiverse people.7 In fact, the presence of foreign-ers, particularly Phoenicians, on Crete wasaccepted in scholarship8 before archaeology hadfurnished any corroborative evidence at all, in aperiod that is viewed by some as the heyday ofanti-Semitism in Classical studies.9 This is mostpeculiar given that Crete has yielded no writtendocuments providing information on foreigners,particularly craftsmen, residing on the islandduring the Early Iron Age. Such documents doexist for the Near East and – to a much lesserextent – the Aegean of the Late Bronze and EarlyIron Age,10 but pose their own problems of inter-pretation and have led to contradicting views.Some scholars maintain that craftsmen wouldonly travel in response to requests of high-rank-ing individuals or communities,11 while othersaccept that they were also free to travel on theirown volition.12 Nevertheless, it is not always easyto distinguish between forced and deliberatecraftsmen mobility.13 In the light of the limitedquantity, as well as the questionable quality andapplicability of the written testimonies available,the present discussion is largely limited to therelevant archaeological finds.

    The earliest argument for the associationbetween foreign styles and the presence of for-eigners in Early Iron Age Crete is found in themonograph on the finds from the Idaean Cavethat was published by Halbherr and Orsi in1888.14 They connected the manufacture of the

    bronze vessels found in the cave with residentPhoenicians.15 The conclusion of the two schol-ars is hardly acknowledged in recent literature,which credits Kunze or Dunbabin with the earli-est discussion of the issue.16 Later, in the mid-20th century, discussions regarding the presenceof foreigners in Early Iron Age Crete becamevery common. Arguments for Phoenician andNorth Syrian craftsmen manufacturing ivories17

    and gold jewellery,18 as well as for Near Easterntraders and non-specialists,19 were raised. Byacknowledging the possibility that foreignbronze-workers, goldsmiths and ivory-workerswere active in Crete of the period, scholars actu-ally identify the island (especially the central partof it) as the most cosmopolitan Aegean region interms of artefact production.

    Against such a background, one is surprisedto realize that the relevant discussion largelyoverlooks the case of pottery. Only in 198420 didpotters join the list of foreign craftsmen alleged-ly working in Early Iron Age Crete. In the lastfifteen years that arguments for foreign pottersworking in Crete of the period have multiplied.21

    Nonetheless, the relevant suggestions have hith-erto remained independent of each other andattract little or no attention in relevant scholar-ship. They are, for example, hardly mentioned intwo recent reviews of ceramic correspondences

    7 Odyssey 19.172-177. Cf. HALL 1997, pp. 177-179.8 CURTIUS 1868, pp. 70-71.9 BERNAL 1987.10 References on the issue are collected in HOFFMAN

    1997, p. 153, footnote 1. Add MUHLY 2005.11 ZACCAGNINI 1983; MUHLY 2005.12 BURKERT 1992, pp. 23-25.13 PAPADOPOULOS 1997.14 HALBHERR - ORSI 1888, pp. 207-215. Discussions

    over the origins of the craftsmen that stimulated the pro-duction of the Idaean bronzes culminated in recent years:HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 160-165.

    15 Admittedly, however, they considered those Phoe-nicians not as newly arrived immigrants, but as descendantsof people from the Near East that settled in the island beforethe arrival of the Dorians. Cf. CURTIUS 1868, pp. 70-71.

    16 As done, for example, in HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 162,164; MUHLY 2005, p. 685.

    17 HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 156-160.18 HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 191-245; KOTSONAS 2006.19 HOFFMAN 1997; STAMPOLIDIS - KARETSOU 1998;

    STAMPOLIDIS - KOTSONAS 2006.20 COLDSTREAM 1984 (the second case discussed in the

    present paper).21 KOUROU 1994, pp. 278-279 and KOUROU 2004, p.

    81 (the third case of the present paper); COLDSTREAM2000 (my first case); STAMPOLIDIS 2004a, p. 246, number275 (my fourth case). The last reference is to a catalogueentry that summarises a view of mine explored at length inmy unpublished PhD thesis (KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 76-77,86-92), where all cases of foreign potters residing in EarlyIron Age Crete are discussed (KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 76-81).

  • 135Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    between Greeks and non-Greeks in the EarlyIron Age Mediterranean.22 Moreover, pottershardly figure in Hoffman’s important mono-graph on immigrant craftsmen in Early Iron AgeCrete,23 or other publications on the connectionsbetween Crete and the Aegean or the EasternMediterranean.24 Similarly, a publication thatfurnishes evidence for the mobility of Cretanpotters within the island25 has received no atten-tion. Overlooking or underestimating the evi-dence of pottery is, however, highly question-able, given that this is the most well-representedand copiously published class of materialremains in the Aegean of the period.

    Another bias that affects much of the rele-vant scholarship regards its persistent focus onforeigners, craftsmen and other, that came toCrete from the Near East, rather than theAegean. The volume and variety of culturalinteractions manifested between the island andthe rest of the southern Aegean26 suggests, how-ever, that the bias in question can henceforth notbe sustained. Aegean ceramic styles in particularproved influential to the pottery of some Cretansites or sub-regions. For example, Knossian EarlyProtogeometric - Middle Protogeometric potteryis much indebted to Attic Protogeometric27 andKnossian Middle Geometric displays an over-whelming influence from the Attic Geometricstyle.28 Further, the Late Geometric pottery ofKhania heavily draws from Corinthian and Argive

    Late Geometric,29 while East Cretan LateGeometric pottery owes much to concurrentCycladic styles.30 I therefore see particular meritin introducing a discussion on potters thatmigrated to Early Iron Age Crete from both theNear East and the Aegean. In treating the issue,I do not wish to dive into art-historical ques-tions, but explore inquiries regarding artefactproduction, dissemination and consumption.31

    This will in turn – and on a different, futureoccasion – allow for a reconstruction of econom-ic and social mechanisms and shed importantlight in the society and culture of the Aegean inthe Early Iron Age.

    Mobility of potters: evidence and interpretations

    Craftsmen mobility is agreed to form animportant interpretative tool in studies ofprocesses of transmission of material traits.32

    Unfortunately, however, its archaeological corre-lates largely remain unexplored by ethnoarchae-ology.33 Similarly, there is little correspondencebetween scholarship on the mobility of potters inthe Classical Greek world34 and relevant reviewson traditional Aegean pottery making.35 Studiesproposing the mobility of potters in ancientGreece often face more shortcomings. They, forexample, hardly assess the argument for thearrival of such individuals against the diachronicpermeability of the local ceramic tradition(s) toforeign styles. Should those tradition(s), howev-er, display a long history of copying and borrow-ing from abroad, the argument for foreign pot-ters is considerably weakened and alternative

    22 BOARDMAN 2004; COLDSTREAM 2006. Coldstreamonly mentions the Cretan copies of Cypriot Black on Red.

    23 HOFFMAN 1997. Although clearly aware ofColdstream’s suggestion for an immigrant potter (COL-DSTREAM 1984, p. 137), Hoffman only cares to repeat –not discuss – it in a footnote (HOFFMAN 1997, p. 178,footnote 98). This is most disappointing for a monographon immigrants in Early Iron Age Crete.


    25 HAMPE 1967-1968.26 BOARDMAN 1961, pp. 152-157; D.W. JONES 2000,

    pp. 83-142; KOTSONAS forthcoming b.27 COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 414-415; COLDSTREAM

    2001, p. 65.28 COLDSTREAM 1968, pp. 242-244; COLDSTREAM

    1996, p. 418; COLDSTREAM 2001, p. 69.

    29 ANDREADAKI-VLASAKI 1997, pp. 238-239.30 TSIPOPOULOU 2005, pp. 539-540. 31 The potentials of such methodological inquiries have

    been advertised by several scholars and are laid out inKOTSONAS 2005.

    32 CLINE 1995, pp. 265-270, 275-276; PAPADOPOULOS1997; HOFFMAN 1997, p. 8.

    33 DAVID - KRAMMER 2001, p. 356.34 PAPADOPOULOS 1997, pp. 454-455 with references.

    Add: CRIELAARD 1999, pp. 55-57; PAPADOPOULOS -SMITHSON 2002, pp. 190-191.

    35 PAPADOPOULOS 1997, pp. 454-455 with references.Add: LEONTIDIS 1996; PSAROPOULOU 1996.

  • 136 Antonios Kotsonas

    interpretations come forward.36 Scholars havefurther rightly criticised the occasional treatmentof the mobility of potters as an all-embracingconcept of convenience applied to a range of ‘dif-ficult’ cases of stylistic dissemination.37 The con-cept is questionable when applied largely inresponse to unsuccessful attempts to chart routesof artistic transmission by other, more popularmeans, like actual imports.38 Such an attitude isexplicit in Dunbabin’s interpretation of the so-called ‘Idaean cave type shields’, which was pub-lished half a century ago.39 It also pervades, how-ever, recent scholarship, including studies con-cerned with Aegean ceramics of the Early IronAge. It is, for example, apparent in the way thearguments for the immigration of Naxian pottersto Knossos around 700 (se below)40 and theinvolvement of Cypriot potters in the produc-tion of Cypriot type, Black on Red pottery in 8thcentury Cos41 are phrased.

    On these grounds, I emphasise that argu-ments for the mobility of potters should rely onpositive – rather than negative – evidence. Thosearguments should also take into account widerarchaeological and social anthropological deba-tes,42 problems inherent in straightforwardlyequating objects, particularly pots, with people43

    and complexities involved in inferring ethnicityfrom artistic style.44 The relevant discussions

    have demonstrated that ethnic identity cannotpersuasively be determined solely on the basis ofartefact style and are increasingly emphasizingthat identifications of such identity or, at least,cultural training should rely on assessments ofthe artefact’s production techniques.45 In fact, ithas lately been argued – with reference to pottery– that ‘technical details of craft-practice are sure-ly no less indicative of ethnic identity than thestandard characteristics of language, armour anddress cited in a variety of circumstances byancient authors’.46

    There is, I uphold, particular merit in adopt-ing a methodological approach that lays empha-sis on technical aspects. Correspondences intechnique are a way out of never-ending debatesover the interpretation of stylistic resemblanceand are further acknowledged a key importancein the identification of the work of foreign crafts-men.47 My emphasis on technical aspects is obvi-ously not to discard stylistic and wider archaeo-logical analyses, but to advertise a way to over-come their ambiguities and limitations. The lat-ter clearly emerge in two recent publications byBoardman48 and Coldstream,49 who – independ-ently of each other – pursue such analyses onlargely the same cases of ceramic correspondenc-es in the Early Iron Age Mediterranean, butcome up with markedly different conclusions.50

    36 MORGAN 1999, pp. 224, 228-229 (with reference toMiletus).

    37 See the contribution of Franciosi, which largelyrefers to potters, in the discussion recorded in CÉBEILLAC-GERVASONI 1982, pp. 195-196.

    38 HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 8, 153-155.39 DUNBABIN 1957, pp. 40-41.40 KOUROU 1994, pp. 278-279.41 BOUROGIANNIS 2000, p. 19.42 See the commendable discussion in HOFFMAN 1997

    for the mobility of craftsmen other than potters.43 Modern scholars rightly challenge former assump-

    tions on ‘pots and people’ and produce more sophisticatedinterpretations on the dissemination of ceramics. On theother hand, the criticism is occasionally taken to extremes,as suggested in: RIDGWAY 2004, pp. 24-26; BOARDMAN2004, pp. 149-150; DICKINSON 2006, pp. 200-201.

    44 HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 10-14; HALL 1997, pp. 111-142 (see the debate over this monograph in CAJ 8.2, 1998,

    pp. 265-283, as well as Ancient West and East 4.2, 2005,pp. 409-459); JONES S. 1997, pp. 106-127; DAVID -KRAMMER 2001, pp. 189-224.

    45 HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 16-17; DAVID - KRAMMER2001, pp. 145-157.

    46 RIDGWAY 2004, p. 26.47 Arguments based on the transmission of techniques are

    not altogether missing from early scholarly works that do notengage in archaeological theory (references are collected inHOFFMAN 1997, p. 17). This is particularly so in the case ofthe appearance of re-appearance of some production tech-niques, particularly in metalworking, in the Aegean of theEarly Iron Age, which is often attributed to person-to-personcontact between a foreign master and a local pupil.

    48 BOARDMAN 2004.49 COLDSTREAM 2006.50 The limitations of the two analyses prove most pro-

    nounced in the case of the Phoenician Red slip plates pro-duced in Pithekoussai. Coldstream finds it ‘hard to resist

  • 137Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    The limitations embedded in assessments thatrely solely on style and the broader archaeologi-cal background are also illustrated in the case ofa Late Archaic ceramic workshop on the island ofThasos. The workshop was originally supposedto have been run by Parian potters, on thegrounds of the Cycladic style of some of its out-put and the testimonies for the Parian colonisa-tion of Thasos.51 In later discussions, however,the potters are no longer identified as Parians,probably due to a reappraisal of the secondarydifferences between the Cycladic prototypes andthe Thasian products, the chronological gapbetween the establishment of the Parian colonyand the foundation of the workshop, as well asthe evidence that the majority of the pottery pro-duced concurrently in the same installation imi-tated Attic styles.52 This last evidence suggeststhat the workshop’s styles say more about localdemand and the potters’s skill to comply with it,rather than about the origins of the staffemployed. In any case, these few examples, drawnfrom recent scholarship, suggest that, notwith-standing the need for assessing all classes of evi-dence available and treating each case on it merits,53

    discussions of the mobility of potters, urgentlyrequire consistent methodological approaches thatlay emphasis on ceramic technique and technology.

    According to the approach pursued here,secure identifications of potters working awayfrom home should rely on evidence suggestingtransmission of technical skills (fabric, firingtechniques, surface treatment) and tools (kilns,potter’s wheel, brushes) of some sophistication.

    This has most satisfactorily been achieved in thecase of Miletus of the early second millennium,where large numbers of locally produced copiesof Minoan pottery (largely including domesticwares) were found together with kilns and a pot-ter’s wheel of distinctively Minoan type.54 Thecase of Miletus is, however, exceptional andarchaeologists, especially of the Early Iron Age,normally only rely on scrutiny of the actualmaterial for drawing invaluable hints on techni-cal aspects.55 As early as 1959, Boardman offeredan exemplary application of this method with ref-erence to some Greek style, late 8th centuryskyphoi found at Al Mina.56 Beside the style,Boardman studied the fabric, slip and paints ofthose vases, as well as use of the potter’s tools toargue for the presence of Greek potters at the site.This range of technical aspects, I argue, shouldreceive particular attention in any relevant discus-sion. This perhaps sounds as self-evident, but iscommonly – if only surprisingly – underrated insome treatments of the material discussed below.

    Information on ceramic technique and tech-nique and technology also draws largely fromarchaeological science. True, scientific analysesare largely still developing and databases are onlyslowly growing. Further, only relatively recentlyhas any consensus over the suitability of tech-niques for particular tasks been reached and havelaboratories been systematically relating theiroutputs and the outputs of different tech-niques.57 Applications of archaeological scienceon Cretan Early Iron Age pottery are rare (con-siderably rarer than on Bronze Age)58 and only

    the conclusion’ that they were produced by residentPhoenician potters (COLDSTREAM 2006, p. 49), butBoardman claims ‘there seems nothing decisive’ over the ori-gins of the manufacturers (BOARDMAN 2004, p. 155). None ofthe two experts elaborates on his view and the reader is left indespair. Had this material attracted a scientific analysis of thekind employed for Greek imports and their locally producedcopies (see below) or, at least, an in-depth study of its techni-cal peculiarities, interpretations would have been more secure.

    51 BLONDÉ - PERREAULT - PÉRISTÉRI 1992 (particularlyp. 40).

    52 PERREAULT 1999a; PERREAULT 1999b.53 Cf. BOARDMAN 2004, p. 149.

    54 NIEMEIER 2006, pp. 3, 6.55 For a collection of references to scientific and other studies

    concerned with the technology of Greek Early Iron Age potterysee: CRIELAARD 1999, pp. 54-55; MORGAN 1999, pp. 222-225.

    56 BOARDMAN 1959, pp. 163-166. Later research hasquestioned the localisation of production at Al Mina:BOARDMAN 2004, p. 152; COLDSTREAM 2006, p. 52.

    57 JONES - BUXEDA I GARRIGÓS 2004, p. 109; ASHTON -HUGHES 2005.

    58 Some references to chemical and petrographic stud-ies on Cretan Bronze Age pottery are collected in: TOM-LINSON - KILIKOGLOU 1998, p. 385, footnote 5; MORGAN1999, p. 221.

  • 138 Antonios Kotsonas

    involve chemical analyses of pottery fromKnossos59 and – to a lesser extent – Khania60 andEast Crete,61 as well as petrographic analyses ofpottery from Eleutherna,62 Knossos and Sy-brita.63 A project employing gas chromatographyfor the identification of the contents of vasesfound in the cemetery of Eleutherna64 is also inpreparation and will eventually throw importantlight on the contents of unguent vases, like theCretan copies of Cypriot Black on Red discussedbelow. Ideally, vases like those of the first twocases described below should be included in aproject that would combine gas chromatographywith petrography and other provenance stud-ies.65 Appraisals like the present one would alsolargely benefit by the application of methods likeMössbauer spectroscopy, which shed light uponfiring techniques.66 This method has, for exam-ple, suggested the immigration of Euboean pot-ters to the Euboean colony of Pithekoussai byestablishing that the firing techniques of Euboeanstyle pottery produced at the site,67 as well as inthe Etruscan site of Veii68 were similar to thoseregularly found on pottery from Lefkandi andother sites in the homeland.69 It has further cred-ited those potters with the production of some

    Corinthian style pottery at Pithekoussai.70 Onthe other hand, Corinthianizing ceramics pro-duced at the site have also been attributed toimmigrant Corinthian potters on the basis ofstyle.71 Nevertheless, the slip that is applied onthem does not conform with Corinthian pottingtraditions72 and the attribution finds no solidsupport in scientific analyses.73

    To sum up, the identification of craftsmenmobility on the basis of finished products is anissue that involves important methodologicalcomplexities and one or more interpretative stepsremoved from the physical evidence.74 Tradi-tional approaches relying on style and the widerhistorical context face particular limitations andoften furnish highly debatable results. On theother hand, the methodology advertised heredraws from such approaches, but lays particularemphasis on determining the transmission oftechniques on the basis of artefact analysis andthe applications of archaeological science.

    Foreign potters in early Iron Age Crete

    The following analysis treats in a roughchronological sequence four possible cases of for-eign craftsmen engaged in ceramic production inEarly Iron Age Crete.75 These regard groups ofvases of diverse shape and decoration, producedin various locations of the island. Two more casescan currently not be properly assessed since theyhave only been raised with reference to individ-ual vases. One of them regards an imitation ofCypriot Bichrome oinochoai produced in Knos-

    59 LIDDY 1996; TOMLINSON - KILIKOGLOU 1998.60 JONES R. E. 1997.61 Analysis by Jones R. in TSIPOPOULOU 2005, pp.

    543-546.62 E. NODAROU, Appendix: Petrographic analysis of selected

    Early Iron Age pottery from Eleutherna, in KOTSONAS, TheArchaeology of tomb A1K1 of Orthi Petra cit., pp. 345-362.

    63 Developing project run by Dr. M.-C. Boileau,Professor A.-L. D’Agata, Dr. J. Whitley.

    64 The project is directed by Professor N. Stampolidis.65 Cf., for example, KNAPPETT, KILIKOGLOU, STEELE

    and STERN 2005.66 For the range of methods available see JONES -

    BUXEDA I GARRIGÓS 2004, pp. 86-88.67 DERIU - BUCHNER - RIDGWAY 1986; RIDGWAY 2004,

    p. 26.68 RIDGWAY - DERIU - BOITANI 1985; RIDGWAY 2004,

    pp. 25-26.69 For a recent word of caution on the application of

    this technique and the archaeological inferences cited seeJONES - BUXEDA I GARRIGÓS 2004, pp. 93-94.

    70 DERIU - BUCHNER - RIDGWAY 1986, p. 113; RIDG-WAY 2004, p. 23.

    71 WILLIAMS 1986, p. 296.72 I am not convinced by the interpretations offered in

    WILLIAMS 1986, p. 296. The creamy (or yellowish-white)slip is, to my view, intended to add to the Corinthianizinglook of the vase, by covering the distinct local grey-red fab-ric. The slip may in fact consist of Corinthian clay (NEEFT1987, p. 59).

    73 RIDGWAY - DERIU - BOITANI 1985, p. 139; DERIU -BUCHNER - RIDGWAY 1986, pp. 99-100; JONES - BUXEDA IGARRIGÓS 2004, pp. 89-91.

    74 Cf. HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 9, 16.75 Some views of mine on the first two cases discussed

    below are laid out in KOTSONAS forthcoming a.

  • 139Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    sos76 and the other, which is tentative, an am-phora with Cycladic affinities that was found inEleutherna.77

    The case of a Cypriot potter active in East Crete

    The case regards the production of a homo-geneous class of Cretan small, slow-pouringjuglets, which are made in coarse red micaceousfabric and date from around 1000 to 800 (fig.1).78 Vases of this class regularly carry incised ver-tical ribs (fig. 1a), or less commonly, grooves (fig.1b) on the body. A few vessels of other shapesthat show similar fabric and carry ribs on thebody are also associated with that class and theensemble has been identified as a ware.79 Cold-stream demonstrated that the Cretan jugletscopy Cypriot Black Slip examples of the EarlyIron Age (fig. 2), which in turn, follow earlierCypriot Base Ring prototypes of the Late BronzeAge (fig. 3).80 The ribs on the body of the earli-est, Cypriot Base Ring vases are taken to imitatethe capsule of papaver somniferum and advertisetheir content, which was liquid opium.81

    Coldstream argued that the Cretan vases wereproduced by an immigrant Cypriot potter work-ing in East Crete.82 I have elsewhere questionedboth the involvement of a Cypriot potter and thelocalization of production in East Crete on thebasis of evidence on the production and dissemi-nation of the ware.83 I here avoid repeating myself

    and only return to the issue of the foreign potter.Coldstream identified the involvement of the pot-ter in the substitution of ribs for grooves (fig. 1),which was aimed at reviving a more accuratedepiction of the poppy capsule and advertise thecontents of the vase, which was supposedlyopium.84 Nevertheless, our understanding of therelative sequence of those vases is unsatisfactory, asColdstream himself has demonstrated. True, acouple of vases with grooves have securely beendated to the early 10th century.85 A third examplewith grooves, however, dates no earlier than thelate 9th century.86 This date applies to most of thevases that display ribs, but up to three examplesmay be as early as the 10th century.87 To conclude,no clear-cut change from grooves to ribs can cur-rently be demonstrated. Furthermore, the role ofthe Cypriot potter is questionable. Cypriot pottershad abandoned ribs in favour of grooves roughlyhalf a century before the appearance of the earliestCretan pieces.88 Furthermore, had Cretans wishedto advertise the content assumed (opium), theycould have thought of ribs without the aid of for-eign potters. Lastly, the wide, temporal and spatialdistribution of the Cretan ware89 argues againstthe decisive role of any single potter of whateverorigins.

    Technical aspects further challenge theinvolvement of a Cypriot potter. The productionof the Cretan class in coarse fabric is unmatchedon the concurrent Cypriot Black Slip prototypes(fig. 2). Moreover, the Cretan examples, exclud-

    84 COLDSTREAM 2000, p. 467.85 Knossos: BROCK 1957, p. 14, number 92 (see also

    COLDSTREAM 2000, p. 468, fig. 2, tomb no. VI).Pantanassa: TEGOU 2001, pp. 129, 143, number 6.

    86 BROCK 1957, p. 51, number 509 (see also COLD-STREAM 2000, p. 468, fig. 2, tomb no. X). Two moreunpublished examples are displayed in STAMPOLIDIS -KARETSOU 1998, p. 160, numbers 123, 125. The late 9th -early 8th century date cited should be treated as highly ten-tative before the publication of their contexts.

    87 COLDSTREAM 2000, p. 468, fig. 2.88 COLDSTREAM 1979, pp. 257-258; COLDSTREAM

    2000, p. 468.89 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 78-79; KOTSONAS forthcoming a.

    76 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 137.77 STAMPOLIDIS 2004a, p. 247, number 376. The refer-

    ence is to a catalogue entry that summarises a view of mineexplored at length in my unpublished PhD thesis (KOTSO-NAS 2005, pp. 77-78, 99-102, 119), where two more vasesassociated with the amphora in question, are discussed.

    78 COLDSTREAM 2000. Also: COLDSTREAM 1979, pp.257-258; COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 346-347, type E; COLD-STREAM 1998, p. 256; COLDSTREAM 2003, p. 384.

    79 KOTSONAS forthcoming a. The article cites all rele-vant scholarship in detail; add now KARAGEORGHIS 2006,pp. 81-82 (note that Karageorghis offers an implausiblyearly date for some west Cretan flasks).

    80 See footnote 78.81 COLDSTREAM 1979, pp. 258-259.82 COLDSTREAM 2000. Contra KOTSONAS forthcoming a. 83 KOTSONAS forthcoming a.

  • 140 Antonios Kotsonas

    Fig. 1. a-b. - Cretan copies of Cypriot Black Slip juglets(Reproduced from STAMPOLIDIS - KARETSOU 1998, pp. 160, 162,nn. 124, 129. Courtesy of Professor N.C. Stampolidis).

    Fig. 2. - Cypriot Black Slip juglet of the Early Iron Age(Reproduced from STAMPOLIDIS - KARETSOU 1998, p. 147,n. 98. Courtesy of Professor N.C. Stampolidis).

    Fig. 3. - Cypriot Base Ring juglets of the Late Bronze Age(Reproduced from STAMPOLIDIS - KARETSOU 1998, n. 111.Courtesy of Professor N.C. Stampolidis).

    Fig. 4. - Cypriot Black on Red lekythia imported to Knossos:Knossos North Cemetery nn. 285.45 and 285.49 (Courtesy ofthe British School at Athens).

    Fig. 5. - Knossian close copies of Cypriot Black on Red lekythia:Knossos North Cemetery nn. 218.6 and 218.41 (Courtesy of theBritish School at Athens).

    a b

  • ing a single piece that is probably the earliest,90 donot reproduce the black slip, which gave theCypriot examples in question their name. Lastly,the Cretan vases do not reproduce the buccherotechnique of the Cypriot Late Bronze Age examples(fig. 3).91 Had a Cypriot potter produced theCretan vases, he would not have completely aban-doned the techniques to which he was accustomed.I therefore conclude that it is highly unlikely that aforeign, Cypriot potter would change his culturaltraining to such an extent and towards such a direc-tion. The Cretan examples could therefore not havebeen produced by a Cypriot craftsmen.

    Actual Cypriot imports could have generatedthe Cretan ware. Admittedly, no Cypriot BlackSlip import has hitherto been identified in Crete.The discovery, however, of the closest Cretan copyof that Cypriot ware in a context dating to a peri-od (circa 1000)92 that has hitherto produced rela-tively limited finds throughout Crete underlinesthe hazards of excavation. On the other hand, anearlier Cypriot Base Ring, handmade vessel ofsimilar shape has been located in a 14th centurycontext at Kommos.93 This vase is typical of itsclass in being made in coarse fabric and carryingribs. One should, however, avoid readily attribut-ing the production of the Cretan Early Iron Ageseries to Cypriot Base Ring imports in the light ofthe chronological gap that stands in between.Besides, juglets of the latter class are handmadeand carry a round mouth, as opposed to theCretan wheel-made vases that are equipped with atrefoil lip. The two classes do share the coarse fab-ric; it is possible, however, that the use of coarsefabric for the Cretan vases is due to the ceramictradition of the island’s site or sites that played animportant role in the earliest production of theware. I have elsewhere hypothesised that Lyktoscould have been on of these sites, judging by the

    qualities of the main local fabric and the centralposition the site occupies in the distribution ofvases assigned to the Cretan ware.94

    In conclusion, the suggestion for the involve-ment of a Cypriot potter in the production of theCretan ware in question is considered doubtful. Itremains highly unlikely that such a potter wouldchange his output to the extent supposed. The pro-duction of the Cretan ware was perhaps stimulat-ed by imports, even if the latter are currently miss-ing. This, however, cannot easily be reconciledwith the fact that the Cretan vases draw from bothLate Bronze (Base Ring) and Early Iron (BlackSlip) Age Cypriot prototypes. Despite the relevantuncertainties, one can confidently resist theassumed involvement of a Cypriot potter.

    The case of one or more Cypriot potters working inKnossos

    In the last decades of the late 9th century,Crete witnessed the introduction of a secondware from Cyprus, the Black on Red.95 Theimportation of the ware included lekythia (fig. 4)and oinochoai,96 while local production involvedlekythia, aryballoi and oinochoai.97 Interestingly,some Cretan, mostly Knossian, vessels often imi-tate not only the shape and decoration, but alsothe fine fabric and polished surface of theCypriot prototypes.98 It is therefore no surprisethat Payne, who first studied some of the Cretancopies, was much confused and considered them

    90 TEGOU 2001, pp. 129, 143, number 6: found in atomb at Pantanassa, dating to around 1000.

    91 COLDSTREAM 1979, p. 258; COLDSTREAM 2000, pp.464-466.

    92 TEGOU 2001, pp. 129, 143, number 6.93 RUTTER - VAN DE MOORTEL 2006, pp. 528, 586,

    657, number 56e/10.

    94 KOTSONAS forthcoming a.95 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132; COLDSTREAM 2001, p.

    42. For further references see below.96 Knossos: COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 123-131; COLD-

    STREAM 1996, pp. 406-408. Eleutherna: STAMPOLIDIS2004a, pp. 256-257, numbers 294-295; KOTSONAS 2005,pp. 719-721.

    97 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 157-158, 166-170, 178-180.Also: COLDSTREAM 1984; TSIPOPOULOU 1985.

    98 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132; COLDSTREAM 1996, p.353, type Cii; TSIPOPOULOU 1985, p. 44. The reference toprototypes is to be treated with caution. Coldstream has pru-dently clarified – with reference to lekythia – that the fabric,technique and decoration of Cypriot imports found inKnossos is not entirely uniform (COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 131).

    Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete 141

  • Antonios Kotsonas142

    imported.99 On the other hand, scientific studieson examples from both Knossos100 and EastCrete101 have confirmed local production. Furt-hermore, Coldstream has established a set of cri-teria for distinguishing the Cypriot imports fromthe Knossian close and free copies.102

    The striking similarity of some Knossiancopies, particularly lekythia (fig. 5), to Cypriotoriginals has reasonably been taken to suggestmore than the mere copying of the casual Cypriotimports that were arriving at the time.103

    Coldstream briefly explored the possibility ofCypriot potters producing some of the close copiesof Cypriot lekythia, but concluded that they aremore likely ‘to have been made by Cretan pottersthan by immigrants’.104 In the case of an oinochoe,however, Coldstream noted that it ‘must have beenmade by immigrant potters trained in the Cypro-Levantine tradition’.105 Although Coldstream, dis-cussed the Knossian copies of Cypriot Black onRed on several occasions, he never returned to thepossibility of foreign potters he had readily dis-missed. He has long favoured instead that Cretanpotters manufactured the vases to order for thebottling of unguents produced by a small factorymanned by immigrant Phoenicians,106 an interpre-tation that has lately been challenged by quite afew scholars,107 including myself.108 Leaving asidethe relevant criticism, I wish to focus on the possi-ble attribution of the Knossian close copies ofCypriot Black on Red lekythia, which date to the8th century, to one or more Cypriot potters resid-ing at the site.

    I maintain that the possibility attracted lessattention than it deserves by Coldstream, but Iam most surprised that the scholar’s critics havelargely failed to notice or explore its poten-tials.109 I personally find some merit in the ideaof immigrant potters, especially in the case of theaforementioned oinochoe. This fragmentary pieceis not only the closest and earliest,110 but also themost sophisticated Knossian copy of CypriotBlack on Red oinochoai. It is only the differencein fabric that sets it apart from the originals.Coldstream’s attribution of the vase to a Cypriotpotter is also supported by the complexitiesinvolved in rendering its decorative scheme. Thelatter comprises diverse groups of concentric cir-cles of varying number, which were in all proba-bility rendered by more than one pivoted multi-ple brush. The use of different brushes of thiskind for the decoration of a single vase is notuncommon on Cypriot pottery of the Early IronAge, but rare on Greek ceramics.111 My personalstudy of almost 1000 vases from Eleutherna hasconfirmed that the use of two (let alone more)such brushes for the decoration of a single vase ishighly exceptional.112 I therefore doubt whethera Knossian potter could closely imitate such aCypriot vase, especially without much earlierexperimentation.113

    Having established the probability that aCypriot potter produced versions of Black onRed oinochoai in Knossos, I wish to revisit thelocal production of lekythia of the same ware.The production of such lekythia commenced just

    99 PAYNE 1927-1928, p. 256, numbers 119-122.100 LIDDY 1996, pp. 473, 476, 487.101 TSIPOPOULOU 1985, p. 44; TSIPOPOULOU 2005, p. 545.102 See, mostly, COLDSTREAM 1984.103 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 123-131; COLDSTREAM

    1996, pp. 406-408.104 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 137.105 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 137.106 COLDSTREAM 1979, pp. 261-262; COLDSTREAM

    1984, p. 137; COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 354; COLDSTREAM1998, pp. 256-257; COLDSTREAM 2003, pp. 272, 402.

    107 JONES D.W. 1993; HOFFMAN 1997, pp. 176-185;SCHREIBER 2003, pp. 293-306.

    108 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 78-81; KOTSONAS forthcoming a.

    109 Hoffman’s brief reference (HOFFMAN 1997, p. 178,footnote 98) is most disappointing for a monograph onimmigrants in Early Iron Age Crete.

    110 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 128, 137, number 15;COLDSTREAM 1998, p. 347, number 60.22. Cf. other, laterKnossian oinochoai that follow Creto-Cypriot prototypes:BROCK 1957, p. 156, type III.ii-iii; MOIGNARD 1996, p.436, type Di.

    111 PAPADOPOULOS - VEDDER - SCHREIBER 1998, p.545, footnote 67.

    112 KOTSONAS 2005, p. 69, footnote 362.113 The dozens of Knossian 8th century tombs excavat-

    ed so far have furnished no evidence for such experimen-tation (in the form of free or unsuccessful copies).

  • Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete 143

    before 800114 and involved close,115 free116 andimaginative117 examples. Coldstream’s originalattribution of the Knossian copies of CypriotBlack on Red lekythia to local potters was con-vincingly argued on the basis of the unpolishedsurface of nearly all lekythia known at the time(1978-1979) from early excavations, mostlythose at the cemetery of Fortetsa.118 Maintainingthis attribution untouched is, however, question-able after the Knossos North Cemetery excava-tions,119 which, in Coldstream’s words, broughtto light ‘almost exact local copies, closer to theoriginals than any of the Creto-Cypriot class in F[Fortetsa]’.120 I would argue that some of thoseexact copies (fig. 5) should perhaps be attributedto Cypriot hands, albeit not necessarily to thosethat produced the aforementioned oinochoe.Before the discovery of the Knossos NorthCemetery, Coldstream had understandably takenthe lack of polishing on the surface of the For-tetsa vases as suggestive of their manufacture bylocal potters. He had further contrasted this evi-dence, with that of Rhodes, where the techniqueand surface treatment argued – in his view – infavour of potters from the east.121 Coldstream,however, maintained his suggestion even afterthe discovery of local examples, the fabric andsurface treatment of which closely resemblethose of Cypriot originals.122 He defended his

    case by pointing out that those characteristicswere known to Knossian potters from aroundthe mid-9th century, just before the introductionof the Creto-Cypriot vases; they are found on aclass of plain aryballoi, which display an orangepolished surface.123 The connection betweenthose aryballoi and the Creto-Cypriot vases shouldbe qualified, however. The earliest known Knos-sian plain aryballoi, which are the only that pre-date the production of the lekythia under discus-sion, are handmade, display no orange polishedsurface and are suspected to be Corinthian im-ports.124 Corinthian influence further pervadesthe entire class and is identifiable in the habit ofpolishing the surface125 and probably in the oran-ge colour of this surface as well.126 This line ofargument dissociates the aryballoi from the leky-thia and re-introduces the issue of the Cypriotpotter(s), which had in the past been dismissed.

    My suggestion for one or more Cypriot pot-ters producing versions of Cypriot Black on Redlekythia in Knossos does not regard all vases clas-sified by Coldstream as close copies. I tend to ex-clude the few that are uncommonly oversized.127

    The ‘maladroit, lumpy and degenerate appear-ance’128 of others is not determining for my pur-poses, since similar shortcomings are identifiedon Cypriot prototypes imported to Knossos.129

    114 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132.115 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 353, type Cii; COLDSTREAM

    1984, pp. 131-133, numbers 38-52.116 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 354, type Ciii; COLDSTREAM

    1984, pp. 133-134, numbers 53-61.117 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 353, type Ci; COLDSTREAM

    1984, pp. 134-135, numbers 62-68.118 COLDSTREAM 1979, pp. 261-262.119 COLDSTREAM - CATLING 1996.120 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 419. Coldstream’s interpretation

    is not as unchanging as it is usually taken to be. In COLDSTREAM1979, pp. 261-262, the unguent factory is associated with thefree copies of Cypriot Black on Red that were only known atthe time. From COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 137 onwards, however,only the close copies are associated with that enterprise. Thisinterpretative adjustment is nowhere explicitly referred to.

    121 COLDSTREAM 1979, pp. 261-262, footnote 35.122 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 137.

    123 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 357, type B.124 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 357. My study of a large

    ceramic corpus from Eleutherna confirms that wheel-made, polished versions were produced already in the late9th century (KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 175-177), but show nopreference for an orange surface.

    125 COLDSTREAM 2001, p. 44.126 Note that the fabric of a Corinthian prototype import-

    ed to Knossos is orange-red (personal inspection; no referenceto the fabric of the vase is cited in COLDSTREAM - CATLING1996). Furthermore, the surface colour of the entire Knossianclass, which is described as ‘pale’ (COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 357,type B. I confirm the ‘pale’ look of those vases), was probablyaimed at imitating Corinthian fabrics.

    127 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132, numbers 42-43;COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 353, numbers 283.83, 218.84.

    128 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132. Note, however, thatsimilar problems do occur on a few Cypriot prototypesimported to Knossos (COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 131).

    129 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 131. Schreiber has hypothe-

  • Antonios Kotsonas144

    Those vases described as ‘exact copies’130 and theothers that ‘even reproduce the deep orange [sur-face] of the originals’131 can, however, reasonablybe attributed to Cypriot potters(s). This is particu-larly because lending the Knossian fabric a coloursimilar to that of the Cypriot originals has beenshown to depend on control of the firing condi-tions.132 This control is, however, identifiable inonly a small portion of the Knossian corpus ofcopies of Cypriot Black on Red, confirming thatthe Knossian potters were not accustomed to it.This evidence suggests that it was probably one oremore Cypriot potters residing in Knossos, ratherthan their local colleagues, that managed to suc-cessfully master a series of techniques concerningthe treatment of the fabric, as well as the quality ofthe shape and decoration, and produce those fewexact copies of Cypriot Black on Red lekythia.133

    To conclude, it appears that one or more Cypriotpotters specialising in the production of the Blackon Red ware of their native island probably exer-cised their craft in Knossos for some time in thefirst half of the 8th century.

    The case of a Naxian potter working in Knossos

    This case is actually a twofold one, since itinvolves two different scenaria for the migration

    of a Naxian potter to 8th century Knossos. Thefirst is based on a homogeneous group of fourneck-handled amphorae found in a Knossiantomb at Fortetsa (fig. 6).134 Brock, who first stud-ied them, found it hard to decide whether they areNaxian imports or Cretan imitations, but men-tioned that the fabric looked Cretan.135 Hisuncertainty actually survives up to the presentday.136 On the other hand, Coldstream con-firmed that the vases are of local fabric, groupedthem with other, similar vessels (none of whichwas fully published), placed them within thesequence of local neck-handled amphorae andassigned them a Late Geometric-advanced da-te.137 Coldstream’s view was not taken intoaccount in two alternative interpretations put for-ward by Kourou. She originally considered thevases as Naxian imports,138 but later attributedthem to a potter, that was trained in Naxos andmigrated to Knossos at around 700.139 Accordingto the later view, the vases are of Naxian style, butof Knossian fabric and technique. Kourou140

    argued that the close resemblance of the Cretanvases to Naxian prototypes represented in DelosGroup Bb141 (fig. 7a-b) could not have beenachieved by mere copying of imports and notedthat no such imports had hitherto been identifiedin Knossos or the rest of Crete. This last remarkremains valid despite the extensive corpus ofmaterial, especially that from the Knossos NorthCemetery,142 published ever since.

    Kourou’s suggestion was challenged byColdstream in a latest article of his.143 Cold-stream argues that both the shape and the zigzagdecoration of the Fortetsa amphorae were at

    sised that those vases may be local products rather thanCypriot imports (SCHREIBER 2003, p. 295), but is appar-ently unaware of the chemical analysis, to which one ofthose vases (Knossos North Cemetery number 292.48) wassubmitted, that confirmed its Cypriot origins (LIDDY1996, p. 492)

    130 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 131.131 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132; COLDSTREAM 1996, p.

    353.132 COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 134.133 The line or band that is rendered around the base of

    most Knossian copies, but is missing from the Cypriot pro-totypes (COLDSTREAM 1984, p. 132; COLDSTREAM 1996, p.353) could be cited against my argument. The ubiquitousaddition of that ornament perhaps adheres to a notion ofappropriateness or is influenced by the local Protogeometrictradition, according to which bands normally adorn thelower part or base of slow-pouring vessels. In any case, it wasevidently determined by Cretan preference and one canenvisage the foreign potter(s) taking it on.

    134 BROCK 1957, pp. 62-63, numbers 652, 673, 680, 681.135 BROCK 1957, p. 62 (see also pp. 60, 190).136 JONES 2000, p. 219.137 COLDSTREAM 1968, p. 250; COLDSTREAM 1996, p.

    335 (with reference to one of the four amphorae).138 KOUROU 1984, p. 111, footnote 47.139 KOUROU 1994, pp. 278-279.140 KOUROU 1994, pp. 278-279.141 DUGAS - RHOMAIOS 1934, pp. 73-75.142 COLDSTREAM 1996; MOIGNARD 1996.143 COLDSTREAM forthcoming.

  • Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete 145

    home in Knossos from the early 8th century, con-siderably earlier than the date of the vases.144 Hefurther argued that the association of the vaseswith a closely datable urn favours a mid-8th cen-tury date (Middle-Late Geometric transition),considerably earlier than that assumed byKourou. Lastly, he noted that the disappearanceof Naxian ceramics from Knossos of the mid-8th

    - 7th centuries implies no salient appreciation forthe Cycladic island’s ceramic output.

    Although I personally share much ofColdstream’s skepticism against the idea of theNaxian potter, I identify some drawbacks in hiscriticism. First comes the issue of chronology.The time-span of the context of the fouramphorae is not narrow at all. They were foundin a niche cut by the dromos of a chamber tomb‘almost certainly’ in the second half of the 8th

    century; the niche housed three urns assigned tothe earlier half of that century and several smallvessels, including some lids dating to its lastquarter.145 Context therefore does not excludeKourou’s view. Moreover, Coldstream’s Middle-Late Geometric date is in some discrepancy withthe relative chronology he had earlier proposedfor one of the amphorae in question.146

    A second issue regards decoration. Althoughthe massed zigzags of the amphorae do conformto a non-Atticizing current that is identifiable onsome Knossian Geometric pottery; this potteryonly covers particular shapes and types and doesnot involve amphorae or related vessels.147 Thispottery is characterised by a peculiar ‘thickcreamy slip’, unlike the rest of the Knossian ce-ramics. Interestingly, Brock identified a slip that

    he described as ‘rather lustrous creamy white’ onone of the amphorae in question.148 Unfortuna-tely, I have not personally examined the ampho-rae to confirm whether their slip is the one foundon the non-Atticizing Knossian pottery andresolve the issue of the Naxian potter in a defi-nite manner. That slip does not, however, seemsimilar to the various slips used by Naxian work-shops, including the one used by the workshop ofthe Delos group Bb amphorae.149 An amphorafrom Archanes (fig. 8),150 which is very similar tothe Fortetsa amphorae, also argues against the sug-gestion for a Naxian potter. This vase, however, isdecorated in white on dark. The use of this tech-nique to an extent peculiar to Crete leaves nodoubt that the vase is local and offers another hintat the local pedigree of the Fortetsa amphorae.151

    Despite the criticism, the concept of theNaxian potter proves unpredictably flexible. Inhis abovementioned article, Coldstream adaptsKourou’s suggestion to argue for the migration ofa Naxian potter in Knossos of the early oradvanced – not the late – 8th century (MiddleGeometric period). Coldstream reckons that theforeign potter contributed to the local Atticizingstyle of the first half of the 8th century, whichinvolved close imitations of Attic prototypes notonly in shape and decoration, but even in fabricand technique.152 He also connects the potterwith the production of cups with reserved panelsof multiple zig-zags, a vessel type which had longdisappeared from Athens, but was still manufac-tured in Naxos (and also in the Argolid).153 The

    144 COLDSTREAM forthcoming associates the shape ofthe four amphorae with a type that is well-represented inthe Knossos North Cemetery (COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 335,type E) and the decoration with a class of KnossianGeometric vases, mostly lids and oinochoai (see footnote147 below).

    145 BROCK 1957, pp. 60 (for the reference); 61-63,numbers 642-681 (for the vases found in the niche).

    146 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 335.147 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 355, type Dii lekythoi; p.

    364, type Bi lids: pp. 355; 375, miniature krater number125.6; p. 418; COLDSTREAM 2001, pp. 35, 42, 68.

    148 BROCK 1957, p. 62, number 652.149 For Naxian slip see: DUGAS - RHOMAIOS 1934, p.

    73; KOUROU 1984, p. 110; KOUROU 1999, pp. 88-89.Naxian vases of Delos group Bb are characterised by athick light slip, yellowish white or brownish, that comesoff very easily.

    150 SAKELLARAKIS 1986, pp. 30-31, p 24349.151 Note that Kourou identifies the technique of the

    Fortetsa amphorae as Cretan (KOUROU 1994, p. 278).152 Coldstream refers to LIDDY 1996, pp. 471, 490,

    Group B.153 COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 388-389, type Ei. Note that

    nipples flank the zigzag panel of Cycladic cups, but are oftenlocated within the panel of Attic examples (KOUROU 1999, p.61). The Knossian example adhere to the former scheme.

  • 146 Antonios Kotsonas

    Fig. 7. a-b. Amphorae from Delos group Bb (nn. 4, 5), assigned to Naxos (Courtesyof the École française d’Athènes. The photograph of 7a is by P. Devambez).

    Fig. 8. - Amphora from Archanes (Repro-duced from SAKELLARAKIS 1986, p. 31.Courtesy of Professor I. Sakellarakis).

    Fig. 9. - Amphora assigned to the‘Eleutherna bird workshop' (Courtesy ofProfessor N.C. Stampolidis).

    Fig. 10. a-b - Amphorae from Delos group Ab (nn. 8, 12), assigned to Paros(Courtesy of the École française d'Athènes).

    a b

    Fig. 6. - Amphorae from Fortetsa, Knossos: nn. 673, 681, 680, 652(Courtesy of the British School at Athens).

    a b

  • 147Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    Knossians were, however, importing Cycladiccups of this type154 and one should not excludethat importation generated local production.Besides, the association of the Knossian Atticizingstyle of the first half of the 8th century with aNaxian potter is not well argued. Local imitationcould have been stimulated by the influx of Atticand Cycladic imports, which peaks at the time.155

    After all, Knossian potters had proved competentimitators of Attic and Cycladic Atticizing ceramicstyles since the Early Protogeometric - MiddleProtogeometric period.156 I therefore regard Cold-stream’s view as unconvincing.

    To conclude, I reckon that the proposed invol-vement of a Naxian potter in the Knossian ceramicproduction of the 8th century is improbable.Although stimulating, the suggestions of Kourouand Coldstream remain highly questionable.

    The case of one or more Parian potters working inEleutherna

    The most convincing evidence for the iden-tification of foreign potters in Early Iron AgeCrete is, to my view, furnished by a homoge-neous group of unpublished vases from Eleu-therna (fig. 9), which I have elsewhere assignedto the ‘Eleutherna bird workshop’ and dated tothe early 7th century.157 This involves sevenamphorae found in chamber tomb A1K1 of thecemetery of Eleutherna158 and an eighth, similarpiece without provenance kept in the Museumof Rethymnon.159 The group raises a wide rangeof issues on ceramic production, dissemination

    and consumption that cannot possibly be fullylaid out here and will be thoroughly examinedon a future occasion. The present discussion islimited to the evidence and arguments support-ing the attribution of the vases to one or moreforeign potters.

    A macroscopic examination of the amphoraefound in Eleutherna suggested that their fabricwas not uniform.160 This was lately confirmed bythe preliminary results of a project of petro-graphic analysis mentioned above.161 Theseresults suggested that the fabric of most of theamphorae is actually the prevailing local fabric.Local production is therefore established. On theother hand, the second fabric, identified on onevase from Eleutherna and the Rethymnonamphora, finds no match in the local repertory.

    Stylistically, the group is highly homoge-neous.162 The style of the amphorae is, however,entirely foreign to Eleutherna and finds no closematch elsewhere. Some of the vases carry verticalhandles on the shoulder and others horizontalones. The first shape finds no parallel inEleutherna or the rest of Crete and is onlyknown in the Cyclades at the time concerned(early 7th century).163 The closest parallels arefound in Delos group Ab (fig. 10a),164 which alsoinvolves amphorae with horizontal handles onthe shoulder165 (fig. 10b) and is attributed toParos.166

    Strong Cycladic affinities are also manifestedin the decoration of the ‘Eleutherna bird work-shop’. Although no Cycladic amphora that close-ly matches the vases from Eleutherna can beidentified in the published record, this is not sur-prising given the current state of research.

    154 COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 404, number 283.96.155 COLDSTREAM 1990; COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 393-

    402, 404-405. For a full record of Attic and Cycladicimports in Knossos and the rest of Crete see KOTSONAS2005, pp. 247-251.

    156 See footnote 27 above.157 See the following footnote.158 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 76-77, 86-92; STAMPOLIDIS

    2004a, p. 246, number 275. For the tomb see STAMPOLIDIS2004b, pp. 122-125. I take the opportunity to express mygratitude to Professor Stampolidis for entrusting me with thestudy and publication of pottery from the site.

    159 STAMPOLIDIS 2004a, p. 150, number 7.

    160 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 77, 88.161 See footnote 62. 162 Minor discrepancies do occur and allow for the

    reconstruction of the relative sequence, which is confirmedby context (KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 87-88).

    163 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 86, 89-90.164 DUGAS - RHOMAIOS 1934, pp. 29-30, numbers 6, 8.165 DUGAS - RHOMAIOS 1934, pp. 29-30, numbers 1-

    3, 7.166 See, for example: COLDSTREAM 1968, pp. 176-177.

  • 148 Antonios Kotsonas

    Metopes with birds are popular on Cycladic pot-tery of the time,167 even if none of the Cycladicexamples closely matches the scheme displayedon the amphorae from Eleutherna. Secondaryornaments of the latter are also paralleled onCycladic pottery. Furthermore, the correspon-dences in the number of linear ornaments foundon the vases of the ‘Eleutherna bird workshop’are unmatched on local pottery, but widely occuron Cycladic ceramics, particularly the LinearIsland Style (or ‘Euboean’) amphorae exhibitedin the Museum of Thera.

    It therefore appears that both shape and thedecoration of the amphorae assigned to the‘Eleutherna bird workshop’ are of Cycladic, par-ticularly Parian, pedigree. Nonetheless, most ofthe amphorae are made in Eleuthernian fabric.Although peculiar, the fabric of the two remain-ing pieces shows no affinities with Cycladic onesand must tentatively also be identified as Cretan.The pair perhaps represents the experimentationof the workshop’s staff with different clays or itsrelocation in another, neighbouring site.

    I believe that in this case it was craftsmenmobility that generated the stylistic resemblanceand attribute the local production of the ampho-rae to one or more potters from the Cyclades thatsettled at Eleutherna. The attribution is support-ed by the use of a multiple brush for the render-ing of linear ornaments. The application of sucha tool is otherwise unknown on Eleuthernianpottery, but is commonly found on Cycladic wa-res. Another indication supporting the hypothe-sis of one or more foreign potters is provided bythe painted, dotted X that lies below the handleof some of the amphorae. Potter’s marks or otherrelated marks are missing from Eleuthernian pot-tery of the late 8th and 7th centuries. In this light,one could not convincingly attribute the Cy-cladic influence described to an imitation of theCycladic imports that were arriving in Eleuther-na at the time and include a Delos group Ab

    amphora.168 Local imitation of such importscannot satisfactorily explain the thoroughlyCycladic style of the amphorae, given that theEleuthernian potters generally disregarded Ae-gean ceramic influences throughout the EarlyIron Age.169 It is therefore unlikely that thosepotters would manufacture vessels closely con-forming to an elaborate style that was alien tolocal traditions and far more demanding than whatthey normally produced. On these grounds, I con-clude that both stylistic and technical evidencefavour the assumption that the amphorae dis-cussed were produced by one or more Parianpotters residing in Eleutherna.

    Questions on the character of the mobility of potters

    An inquiry into the conditions thatmobilised potters and the circumstances thatallowed for their settling in the host communi-ties is essential for gaining an insight in aspects ofAegean society and culture during the Early IronAge. I intend to address the inquiry into the sec-ond and fourth case discussed, in which theadvent of a foreign potter to Crete was creditedwith considerable degree of probability. On theother hand, I exclude references to the first andthird cases treated because of their highly ques-tionable reliability. I shall emphasise that theensuing discussion cannot possibly furnish anyincontestable answers due to the limitationsposed by the nature of the primary evidence. It istherefore only intended to raise problems thatare often avoided in relevant scholarship andpoint out probable interpretations.

    The particular causes that mobilised the pot-ters discussed and other traveling craftsmen can-not be identified solely on the basis of their fin-ished products. Archaeologists have thereforesought to broadly distinguish whether such indi-viduals were free or forced to move,170 even if

    167 DUGAS - RHOMAIOS 1934, pp. 62-63, group Ae,number 72; 79-80, group Bb, numbers 38-39.

    168 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 249-252.169 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 264-265.170 CLINE 1995, pp. 278-279; PAPADOPOULOS 1997, p.

    451; CRIELAARD 1999, pp. 56-57.

  • 149Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    such distinctions occasionally prove rigid.171

    Specialists of the relevant Near Eastern literatureof the second and first millennium agree thatcraftsmen were generally not ‘free-lancers’ mov-ing in search for customers and consider thattheir mobility was imposed by rulers or statesand their misfortunes.172 Nevertheless, the polit-ical geography of the Early Iron Age Aegean isquite different to that of the Near East, whetherin the Bronze or the Early Iron Age. On theother hand, free craftsmen mobility of the kindknown from later to modern periods is unlikelyfor Early Iron Age Greece.173 Further, Homerdoes not include potters in his list of itinerantspecialists174 and one finds it hard to imaginethat such people figured among the specialiststhat elites of early Greek states asked their peersin neighbouring regions to provide. There areother possible causes of forced movement, inclu-ding captivity or enslavement, but none can pos-itively be related to the cases discussed.

    The mobility of potters faces constraintsthat do not necessarily apply to cases of othercraftsmen. First is the conditions of availabilityand accessibility of the raw material and secondare seasons and the agricultural cycle. The latterprobably had a grave effect upon ceramic pro-duction in antiquity, even if a relatively smallnumber of potters might have remained unaffect-ed.175 The traveling potters of the modern Cretanvillages of Thrapsano176 and Margarites,177 forexample, only left their village during the summermonths. This raises questions on the character andduration of the ‘visit’ of the potters discussedabove to Eleutherna and Knossos. Although large-

    ly overlooked in relevant scholarship,178 the issueis instrumental for distinguishing between itiner-ant (or travelling) and immigrant (or sedentary)individuals. Such distinctions are clearly hard todraw, but there is ground for reasonable specula-tion, especially in the case of the amphorae as-signed to the ‘Eleutherna bird workshop’. The‘stratigraphy’ of chamber tomb A1K1,179 inwhich those vases were found, suggests that theirdeposition covers a time span that cannot bereduced to a few years.180 It can therefore be rea-sonably assumed that their manufacturer(s)either settled in Eleutherna for a period of con-siderable length or were regularly visiting thesite. On the other hand, those potter(s) couldhave also worked in another site in the district,judging by the fabric of one of the vases fromEleutherna and the amphora at Rethymno thatfinds no match on local ceramics.181 Relying onthis evidence and taking into account that vasesof this style were – to our current knowledge –not produced outside the Cyclades, the potter(s)in question seem to have settled for long atEleutherna. Interestingly, Cycladic potters werealso residing in Athens at around 700.182

    Assessing the character of the assumed ‘visit’paid by the Cypriot potter(s) to Knossos is hard-er. When viewed against the entire ceramic cor-pus known from Early Iron Age Knossos or therecord of free copies of the Cypriot ware, theactual numbers of lekythia that closely imitateCypriot Black on Red prototypes seem too smallto allow for any suggestion for permanent resi-dence.183 On the other hand, their contexts show

    171 PAPADOPOULOS 1997, pp. 460-461.172 ZACCAGNINI 1983; MUHLY 2005; HITCHCOCK

    2005.173 Contrast the view that potters travelled to join

    established ceramic industries as apprentices and thenmoved elsewhere to set up shops (PAPADOPOULOS 1997, p.455).

    174 CRIELAARD 1999, p. 55.175 ARAFAT - MORGAN 1989, pp. 326, 328.176 VOYATZOGLOU 1974, p. 18.177 LEONTIDIS 1996, p. 72.

    178 A notable exception is found in CLINE 1995, pp.277-278. Expatriate potters are mostly, even if implicitly,considered as immigrants (see, for example, CRIELAARD1999, pp. 55-56).

    179 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 86-92. For the tomb seeSTAMPOLIDIS 2004b, pp. 122-125.

    180 KOTSONAS 2005, p. 351.181 There are, however, alternative interpretations of

    this discrepancy, including the experimentation of the for-eign potters with different clays.

    182 PAPADOPOULOS - SMITHSON 2002, p. 191.183 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 131-132, numbers 38-52;

    COLDSTREAM 1996, p. 353, type Cii.

  • 150 Antonios Kotsonas

    considerable chronological range, from the mid-dle to the end of the 8th century.184 One is there-fore tempted to explore the possibility of one ormore itinerant potters visiting Knossos alongwith other sites in the Eastern Mediterranean(including Rhodes, Cos and the coastal stripranging from Cilicia to Al Mina), where localimitations of Black on Red were also produced.185

    Nevertheless, the Knossian examples are superiorin quality than all other Aegean imitations andcan be distinguished from their Cilician andNorth Syrian parallels on the basis of fabric andsurface treatment, a well as the choice and appli-cation of decorative motifs.186 The suggestion foritinerant potters can therefore not be sustained.

    The reception of the foreign potters proba-bly depended on an awareness of the foreignstyle of their products, as well as on the appealthose products exercised. An awareness of dis-tinctions between regional styles in pottery andmetalwork is documented in later, 5th centuryliterary sources,187 but can also be identified, ifonly indirectly, in Early Iron Age Crete. Thisidentification188 relies on a class of Knossian andother Cretan vessels of the late 9th century, whichcarry Atticizing ornaments on the one side andCretan patterns on the other.189 On the otherhand, the appeal of the vases attributed to theforeign potters is assumed on the basis of theCretan demand for elaborate, local and import-ed, ceramic styles to serve the expression of mate-rial statements in the necropolises of Eleuther-na190 and Knossos.191 The appeal is further sug-gested by the influx of pottery originating from

    the home-regions of the potters. Accordingly,Eleutherna attracted a number of late 8th - early7th century imports, including amphorae, fromParos192 and Knossos imported 8th century Blackon Red lekythia from Cyprus.193 On these grounds,I reckon that the arrival of the potters in question isunlikely to have been fortuitous.

    Important inferences on the integration ofthe potters in the Cretan communities can bedrawn from the non random distribution oftheir products in the two necropolises, a consid-erable section of which has hitherto been exca-vated. All amphorae from Eleutherna attributedto the Parian potter(s) were found in tomb A1K1and had served as urns. Such vases hithertoremain unknown, however, in the rest of theextensive necropolis.194 Judging by its good stateof preservation, the related amphora kept at theRethymnon museum must also come from atomb, the location of which, however, remainsindeterminate. A patterned distribution is alsoidentifiable in the case of the Knossian lekythiaattributed to Cypriot potter(s). Almost half ofthe examples known come from tomb 218,195

    which also produced nearly half of the free copiesof Cypriot Black on Red examples,196 but noCypriot original. On these grounds, the socialgroups buried in Eleutherna tomb A1K1 andKnossos tomb 218 appear to have had a particu-lar preference for the vases discussed and a privi-leged, albeit not exclusive, connection with theirmakers.197 Connections of this sort would havebeen essential for the integration of the foreignpotters in the society and economy of the hostcommunities. The attachment of craftsmen toparticular social groups was probably not an iso-

    184 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 132-133.185 SCHREIBER 2003, pp. 277-280. For Cos add

    BOUROGIANNIS 2000.186 For the peculiarities of the Cilician and North

    Syrian vases see SCHREIBER 2003, pp. 277-280.187 ANTONACCIO 2003, pp. 62-65.188 CRIELAARD 1999, p. 53.189 For the Knossian ‘bilingual’ vases see mostly

    COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 337-338. For the sporadic occur-rence of such vases elsewhere in Crete see KOTSONAS 2005,pp. 108-109.

    190 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 267-303.191 WHITLEY 1986, pp. 251-353 2005, pp. 249-252.

    192 KOTSONAS 2005, pp. 249-252.193 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 128-131; COLDSTREAM

    1996, pp. 407-408.194 KOTSONAS 2006, pp. 281-282, 294, 299-300, 309-

    310.195 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 131-132; COLDSTREAM

    1996, pp. 353-354, type Cii.196 COLDSTREAM 1984, pp. 131-132; COLDSTREAM

    1996, p. 354, type Ciii.197 Cf. CRIELAARD 1999, p. 57.

  • 151Foreign Identity and Ceramic Production in Early Iron Age Crete

    lated phenomenon and has also been arguedwith reference to a gold workshop active in 8th

    century Knossos.198

    To sum up, the causes that moblilised the for-eign potters discussed remain indeterminate.Those individuals cannot be positively identifiedas itinerants, but can reasonably be assumed tohave settled in Crete for a period of some length.Lastly, it appears that specific social groups patro-nised those potters and probably also held a role inthe potters’ reception by the Cretan communities.


    Craftsmen mobility has preoccupied AegeanEarly Iron Age scholarship and has repeatedlybeen addressed with reference to the archaeologyof Crete. Such mobility is, however, persistentlyidentified with the arrival of individuals from theEast. Scholarship on Crete of the period furtherlargely overlooks or underestimates argumentsraised in favour of the mobility of potters.Drawing from scholarly works of the last twenty-five years, however, I have here collected refer-ences to six cases of foreign potters assumed tohave been active in Early Iron Age Crete andexplored four of them at length.

    The analysis has confirmed the complexitiesinvolved in determining the craftsman’s ethnicidentity on the basis of finished products. It hasfurther underlined the limitations embedded ininferences drawn solely from artefact style and thewider historical context and has laid emphasis onthe study of production techniques for the identi-fication of potters working away from home.Applications of archaeological science may wellfurnish compelling evidence on the origins oftechniques involved in ceramic production andthe modes of transmission of technical skills.Important information on the issue can, however,also be deduced by scrutiny over the actual mate-rial, including its fabric, shape and decoration. Bypursuing inquiries along these lines, one can inferthe ethnic identity, or, at least, the cultural train-

    ing of the makers of pottery on a plausible basis.It must, on the other hand, be acknowledged thatsome of the interpretative steps involved in phras-ing such inferences remain vulnerable to criticism,particularly as long as they find no support in lit-erary evidence.

    The methodological framework described wasapplied to four cases of foreign potters assumed tohave worked in Early Iron Age Crete. Only in twoof those cases, however, was the assumption cred-ited with a considerable degree of probability. Ac-cordingly, it was argued that one or more Cypriotpotters produced copies of Cypriot Black on Redpouring vessels in 8th century Knossos, while oneor more potters from Paros manufactured ampho-rae of Cycladic style in early 7th century Eleuther-na. This evidence conforms with broader Cretanattitudes towards clay vessels and ceramic influ-ences from overseas: Cretans of the Early Iron Ageshow a strong taste for Aegean, mostly Attic andCycladic, storage vessels both through imports199

    and local imitations.200 On the other hand, Cy-priot pouring vessels were copiously imported inCrete,201 stimulating a long series of local copies.202

    Several uncertainties remain over the condi-tion of the mobility of the potters discussed. Thecauses that stimulated it cannot be identified.Further, the duration of the Cypriot(s)’s resi-dence in Knossos cannot confidently be estimat-ed. On the other hand, the Parian(s) seem tohave settled at Eleutherna for a considerabletime-span. It appears that, in both cases, the for-eign potters were primarily – albeit not exclu-sively – connected with particular social groupsin the host communities. In any case, these argu-ments suggest that there is much scope for assess-ing the role of foreign craftsmen and their prod-ucts within particular Cretan communities. Theyfurther confirm the cosmopolitan character ofCrete during the late 9th to early 7th centuries.

    198 KOTSONAS 2006.

    199 See mostly: COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 393-402, 404-405.200 See mostly: COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 332-334.201 See mostly: COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 407-408.202 See mostly: COLDSTREAM 1996, pp. 353-355; MOI-

    GNARD 1996, pp. 440-441, 446.

  • 152 Antonios Kotsonas


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