EARLY CRET AN TOMBS : THE POTTERY

Most of our know ledge of Minoan Crete is based on finds from palaces and settlements, and the material from tombs has added relatively little to the general picture. Part of this has, of course, to do with the overwhelming importance of the excavations at Knossos, Phaistos and Mallia at the beginning of this century and with the fact that Evans used very little evidence from tombs when he painted his picture of the Minoan civilization in The Palace of Minos. Even studies of the prepalatial period are to a large extent focused on the finds from settlements such as Myrtos and Vasiliki. After Xanthoudides's publication of The Vaulted Tombs of Mesara in 1924, scholars have been interested mainly in tomb architecture and problems such as the roof construction of the tholoi 1. The architecture of the Mesara tholoi has been discussed by Hood and others, and Soles has studied the architecture of the Gournia house tombs and, recently, the evidence of social ranking in prepalatial cemeteries. The finds from the Mesara tholoi as a whole have been used as a point of departure for reconstructions of Early Bronze Age society in the villages of southern Crete 2 . There are, however, very few studies of specifie types of finds from the tombs. Branigan's study of copper and bronzeworking 3 is largely based on tomb material, but is not exclusively focused on the evidence from the tombs. Yule's study of early Cretan seals includes much tomb material 4, and my own study of provincial Middle Minoan pottery deals with Middle Minoan ceramics from tombs, settlements and sanctuaries 5. None of these studies are, however, concerned with the function of the objects in the tombs and with their role in the funerary context from which they come. Branigan's study of the Mesara tholoi includes surveys of the different types of material found in the tombs, but these surveys are, of course, rather brief. Pottery forms the largest class of material from early Cretan tombs and is, therefore, especially suit able for investigation. By studying the material from different types of tombs in different parts of Crete -pithos burials and ossuaries in eastern Crete as well as the Mesara

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

S. HOOD, Antiquity 34 (1960) p. 166 sq.; J. SOLES, The Gournia House Tombs : A Study of the
Architecture. Chronology and Use of Built Rectangular Tombs of Crete (Univ. Microfilms 1973).

BRANIGAN, Foundations, p. 114 sq.; BRANIGAN, Tombs, p. 121 sq. K. BRANIGAN, Copper and Bronze Working in Early Bronze Age Crete (SIMA XIX [1968]). P. YULE, Marburger Studien zur Vor-und Frühgeschichte 4 (1980). WALBERG, Pottery.

likely to reflect especially chronological changes. and the material from them is. A homed jug of a type found in CK sanctuaries at Phaistos was found in the earth above tholos E. therefore. from the MM 1 phase. were presumably used to hold small-sized personal belongings of the dead. Four large lids can also be connected with early burials in the tomb. An askos in the shape of a woman with one of her arms (or a snake) wrapped around the spout of the vessel is to sorne extent reminiscent of the so-called Myrtos Goddess from the sanctuary at Myrtos. much disturbed by subsequent burials. as weIl as the r II (6) XANTHOUDIDES. 101-102.1 hope to determine whether the pottery is different in different types of tombs and in different parts of Crete. 1 also hope. p. Later pottery. Among the EM 1 vases are suspension pots and also sorne pyxides. Tholos B at Koumasa is. if possible. but the y must have been large and coarse. There were also several jugs with the dark cross-hatched decoration which has given the name to the so-caIled Koumasa Style. Three jugs with three vertical handles have a barbotine decoration which belongs to phase 2 and has several parallels from the palace at Phaistos and from the tholos tomb at Hagia Triada. These vessels. The material was. The homed jug and the askos in the shape of a woman. There are also several animal. of which one can be identified as a bul!. The tholos tombs of Central Crete contained large amounts of pottery brought to the tombs over long periods. The same shape has been found above tholos at Platanos.54 Gisela W ALBERG tholoi. as is well known. The decoration shows that it belongs to phase 1 and the motif has parallels on teapots from the setùement at Paterikies. There is no special preference for any particular type of motif. The vessels to which the lids belonged could not be identified. cups and jugs of EM III and provincial MM phase 1 type. but enough observations have been made of the location of various vessels to permit sorne conclusions about their use. which are small and have a diameter averaging 10 cm. whether any significant changes take place during the Early and Middle Bronze Age and whether there is any particular preference for certain shapes and decorative motifs in the tombs. The painted decoration is abstract and corresponds closely to that of vessels from contemporary settlements and the palace at Phaistos. See also WALBERG. Vaulted Tombs. The area outside the tholoi contained chiefly bowls. includes a small necked jar and a jug. comparatively large and contains material from the EM 1 to the MM 1 phase 6 . The lids are reminiscent of lids found in Minoan sanctuaries and caves and it is generally assumed that the lids in these contexts were used to protect ingredients for ritual meals. cups and animal-shaped vessels are dominant. The material from the Koumasa tholoi thus suggests that there was a change during the EM phase from small closed or lidded vessels to small jugs and that in EM III and MM 1. .jugs. askoi. Pottery. p. among other vessels. to obtain sorne more information concerning funerary rites. One bull-shaped askos and two small jugs have human figures c1inging to the spout. The find-context of a vase shaped like a pair of legs is not specified. The material from outside the tombs also included a feeding-bottle. The area between tholos B and the smaller tholos A contained. 3 sq. for instance..and bag-shaped askoi.

conical cup or "eggcup" 10. which is decorated with alternating red and white elements has several parallels from Phaistos and other sites. 88 sq. which like the jugs must have been used for the storing of liquids. 102-103. Pottery. p. but from burials outside the tholoi. 76 sq. The decoration of the vessels is. p. What was the function of the vessels found within and outside the tholoi ? Branigan has (7) (8) (9) (10) XANTHOUDIDES. There are also animal-shaped askoi. representing early as well as late stages of phase 1. spouted bowls and cups. The tholoi and small square tombs at Platanos contained EM TIl and phase 1 and 2 material 9. Tholos A contained a bridge-spouted jar. 99-100. p. p. 100-101. cups. sq. p. A spouted bowl is probably as early as EM TIl. p. p. The finds from the so-called Tholos II at Porti confirm the observations about the change in pottery shapes in EM ID 7.. can be connected with cult and sanctuaries. The cups are reported to have been found in small groups of two or three. Vaulted Tombs. ln addition to these vessels the tomb contained pithoi. The most common shape at Varou. used for burials and larnakes of Late Minoan date. Sorne of the motifs are paralleled at Paterikies and at Geophyrakia. The decoration of the jugs consists of knobs and barbotine ridges of a type which is found in Geophyrakia and in the Upper East Well deposit at Knossos. XANTHOUDIDES. lamps and an offeringtable of clay.. therefore. bowls or plates and jugs. from contexts of non-funerary type. of which one must have belonged to a pithos or a large jar. Pottery. but there is also sorne EM ID material 8. northeast of Gortyn. The material from the site of Drakones. It appears in several different varieties. is the based. as in the case of the Koumasa vessels. does not come from the two tholoi excavated at the site by Xanthoudides. Pottery. a teapot with basket handle and a cylindrical cup. The shapes include jugs.EARLY CRETAN roMBS : TIIE POTTERY 55 animal-shaped askoi. WALBERG. Xanthoudides dated the material in MM 1. The decoration is also here abstract and of a kind that has parallels at many other sites and in non-funerary contexts. MARINATOS. Mo 1tproÏjlOt JltVWïICOl-ru<pOt ÈICBapou Mwapâs. Pottery. where there may have been a small sanctuary. The tomb seems to have been built in EM ID and to have been in use mainly during the Middle Minon period. WALBERG. WALBERG. that the custom of storing material in the tombs in large coarse vessels continued from the early part of the Early Bronze Age. ArchDelt 9 (1924-1925). . There were also teapots of which one belongs to phase 2.. 53 Sp. a spouted bowl.. The cup. 54 sq. 103-104. which is reminiscent of spouted bowls from other Mesara tholoi. XANTHOUDIDES. and there are several teapots and bridge-spouted jars. three kilometers east of Koumasa. WALBERG. p. There is also a small necked jar and two large lids. The shapes are again teapots. Vaulted Tombs. The shapes are jugs. Outside tholos A a great number of sheepbells were found. Most of the pottery from tholos B at Platanos belongs to phase 1 and 2. of a kind that appears on vessels from other types of sites. Vaulted Tombs. teapots. bowls and cups. A bull-shaped askos recalls the bull-shaped askos from Koumasa. There is also a large jar with horizontal ridges and two leg-shaped vases of the type that we have already encountered at Koumasa. It seems. and a jug and two cylindrical cups that may belong to phase 3.

from areas near the tombs. Branigan finds it possible that every man and woman might have owned his own cup and plate or bowl but not a jug as weil 12. however. BRANlGAN. The pottery found outside the tholoi cornes partly from antechambers and partly. SCHORGENDORFER.Tombs. p. LEVI.s. (18) (19) D.). Branigan dismisses the possibility that the vessels may have held food gifts to the dead. 105-106. We have. as we have seen. BRANIGAN. fig. p.. in (11) (12) (13) BRANIGAN. Vorou A and Kamilari 1 contained masses of conical cups 13. AnnScAlene n. according to mm. p. The ritual would. buried with them. it is not probable that he or she would stay for very long. and also the possibility that the vessels were the personal belongings of the dead. poured into one or several cups and a token meal. p. in Fr. Apesokari II. have involved "toasting" and libations from animal-shaped askoi in connection with the funeral. A. and the tholoi also contained stone palettes of a kind that appears. however. 136. p. p. as the grouping of the cups at Vorou would indicate 15. inv n. but rather forerunners of the ceremonies later held on the palatial courts 19. Forschungen auf Krela 1942 (1951). reminiscent of cups found in various sanctuaries and sometimes covering the remains of vegetable matter. MARINATOS. because very few food remains have been found in the tholoi. 149. because while anyone entering a Minoan tholos tomb in use may need a stiff drink. 1909 and 1943. fruit and bread. BRANIGAN. slightly off center 16. (14) (15) (16) (17) Tombs. cil. Several of the tholos tombs had surrounding pavements or enclosures. The picture given by Branigan is that of a very brief and simple ceremony with two or three participants. there were flat stone slabs placed on top of each other 17. Lebena II. The ritual would.Tombs. BRANlGAN. p. because so many of the vessels are jugs. according to him. 18. 101. conical cups. MATZ Schôrgendorfer does. 80 sq. have involved the drinking of a liquid (wine ?). 93. Branigan suggests that the se ceremonies involved ritual dancing and that they were not primarily connected with the burials. seen that several vessels found inside the tholoi have parallels in sanctuaries. XANTHOUDIDES. op. Branigan takes these cups to be mass-produced for ritual purposes and suggests that the "toasting" ceremony may have been removed from the main part of the tomb to the outside chamber 14. Apesokari 1 possibly had an altar within the enclosure. for instance.56 Gisela W ALBERG suggested that the vessels found inside the tombs may have been used for sorne kind of "toasting" ceremony in connexion with the deposition of the body in the tomb 11. But a ritual me al held inside the tomb seems rather unlikely. 98. pl. consisting of meat. The presence of three bronze double-axes outside the tombs at Platanos also suggests that sorne kind of ritual must have taken place in front of the tombs 18. identify il as a roof support. ln a corner of the paved area of Kamilari 1. Tombs. 92.. Tombs.Vaulled Tombs. p. On the slabs were inverted. . 23-24 (1961-1962). Antechambers at Hagia Triada A. (ed. LVI.

Gesell has suggested that these palettes were used for the crushing of pigments. II-N. we wou Id have an explanation of the proportionally high number of jugs found inside the tombs and also of the lack of food remains. 16. GESELL. pl. It seems like1y that the rites performed outside the tombs were the funerary rites and that sorne of the vessels and other equipment used during the ceremonies were brought into the tomb in connexion with the deposition of the body or. we find that the material from them is in many cases sirnilar to the material from the Mesara tholoi. 71. A bull-shaped askos was found in tomb XI and in tomb Xill an askos in the shape of a woman holding her breasts 29. See also WALBERG. Mochlos. Palace and House Cult in Minoan Crete (SIMA LXVII [1985]). Pottery. The vessels in the antechambers are likely to represent the bulk of the vessels used for the ritual and the chambers may have served as storage rooms. pl. If libations and ritual meals took place outside the tomb and the vessels that had contained the food and the liquids were buried with the dead. p. Pottery. XXI. The pottery from the premier charnier at Mallia consists mainly of jugs. Mochlos. 41. intended for the decoration of cult objects 21. XXXI-XXXIII.29 and p. fig. Nécropoles. The fragments are mainly of cups. LIX-LX. bowls. p. Tomb XIX contained a lid or fruitstand of the same type as the lids from Koumasa and tomb il an offeringtable of stone 28. Most of the vessels from the EM il-MM 1 Molchos tombs are jugs. 34. and nothing suggests that any decorative motifs were specifically painted for funerary use 30. which again shows a strong connexion between cult and burials 26. The decoration of the vases from the Mochlos tomb is of a type found in sanctuaries and settlements elsewhere. 111-112. 64. WALBERG. . p.EARLY CRETAN TOMBS: TI-IE POTTERY 57 sanctuaries at Phaistos 20. The second charnier contains cups. 15. Festos e La Civilta Minoica 1 (lncunabula Graeca 60 [1976]). This means that there is no reason to believe that the rites performed in the outside area were unrelated to the tomb. dressed in a loin-clotho There was also a small bull's head and an askos in the shape of a woman reminiscent of the one from Koumasa 23. small jars and a jug decorated with an incised representation of a man. Most of the material from the so-called Chrysolakkos came from a deposit north of the tomb. p. Nécropoles. The (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) XANTHOUDIDES. The decoration has parallels from several other sites. D. V-IX. of course. WALBERG. p. LEVI.Vaulted Tombs. SEAGER. cups and bowls 22. pl. 28. 129-130. left in the antechambers. DEMARGNE. DEMARGNE. p. Nécropoles. Town. among them sorne from Paterikies 25. SEAGER. 32. SEAGER. pl. teapots and cups 27. XII-XXI. 60. have been the personal belongings of the dead. fig. Mochlos. One rnight. expect ceremonies taking place in the enclosure in front of a tomb to be focused on the tomb. when space was lacking. G. One of the chambers of the tomb contained an altar and another a cupule stone. Mochlos. If we turn to tombs in other parts of Crete. fig. DEMARGNE. 87. Pottery. XXXVIII and XLIII. indeed. p. XXVII-XXX. 69. p. but there are also a few fragments of jugs 24. Sorne of the vessels found inside the tombs may. teapots. SEAGER. 11.

p. p. pl. of course. p. E1tpar~Éva 'toû B' ôu:9voûç n KPll'tOMyt. 1 kilometer south of tholos A 33. Sorne objections can. single burials in larnakes and pithoi were introduced in EM III. There (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37) DEMARGNE. SEAGER. 152-153. St. pl. BRANIGAN. p. stone-working and architecture 34. Branigan has connected the appearance of individual burials with the establishment of large urban settlements and the breakdown of the clan solidarity. BRANIGAN. 'A1to TI]V iCHopiav 'trov KPllnKrov ÀaPVa. . impossible to prove. cit. Tholos A at Varou contained several larnakes of a later date and also pithos burials as did tholos B ca. Tombs. Foundations. Vaulted Tombs. very similar to EM IIB and later domestic jars for a child burial at the so-called Maison des Morts at Mallia supports the connexion between larnakes and household vessels37.. Rutkowski sees the pithos burial as a continuation of Early Minoan tradition. XANTHOUDIDES. but the use of a jar. The pithoi and the larnakes in the tholoi may have been used to protect the body from the repeated disturbances that new burials would have created and in order to keep sorne objects with the dead person. 76. RUTKOWSKI.B. Van EFFENTERRE. R. MÉras 1tpClYto~LVo>ïKOÇ 'ta. Since bath pithos burials and larnakes appear in the same tomb. a Mesara village may not have encouraged individualism more than a Minoan palace. op.KO>V. p. This is.KOÛouvEôpiou A (1%7). XXXIX. RUTKOWSKI. The tombs we have dealt with so far are all intended for several burials. and material from Gournia and Palaikastro points in the same direction. Early larnakes have been found in tholos D at Drakones together with two seals of MM 1 date. op. There are also EM ID child burials in vessels as far east as Pachyammos 32. XANTHOUDIDES. The two most interesting sites with burials in larnakes and pithoi are Pachyammos and Sphoungaras. 177. Fewer burials were evidently made inthe East Cretan tombs than in the Mesara tombs and they are not reported to have been filled up with banes to the same extent as sorne Mesara tombs. Crete (1916). 33-38. cit. 136 sq. p. Nécropoles. p. The cemetery at Pachyammos was 150 meters long and 40 meters wide. ArchDelt 4. 234-235.<poç nupyoç. however. B. be made to their suggestions. Nécropoles. MARINATOS. Besides. Rutkowski has also suggested that the larnakes are adapted from domestic vessels and that one type is derived from wooden troughs 36. whereas he regards the larnax burial as an innovation which he links with innovations in metallurgy. The fact that the larnakes and pithos burials appear at small sites and not in the vicinity of palaces or large settlements also makes the idea of individual burials as a reaction to urban life improbable. p. 236. 131. Both explain it as a growth in individualism and a reaction to urban life 35. While they were in use from EM II-MM III. The Cemetery of Pachyammos. 9.. XLVII-LI. p.. V and VI was paved in the same way as the area outside sorne of the Mesara tholoi 31. it seems unlikely that they should represent different and separate traditions. This suggests that funerary rites were performed in the northeastern part of Crete as in the south-central part of the island.58 Gisela WALBERG area outside tombs IV.

p. p. G. Excavations in Eastern Crete. the bodies had been placed sitting up with the knees close to the chin and with the jar or pithos over the head 44. 61-62. The cemetery at Sphoungaras contained sorne hundred and fifty burial jars 43. Many of the burial vessels were undecorated. E. Uppsala Sept. larnakes are found in sorne cases within the tholos tombs from the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age and at the same time burials were made outside the tholoi. while the more elaborately decorated examples were painted with zones of spirals and foliate bands. however. which had been placed inside the large vessels with the body 38. The funerary rites may to sorne extent have been similar to those performed in connexion with the tombs with multiple burials. Since the cemeteries of this type offered no coyer. There are also more elaborate spiral motifs and rosettes. As we have seen. but sorne of them were painted with various motifs. Do the cemeteries with single burials indicate a radical change in beliefs and attitude towards the dead ? 1 do flot think that this is necessarily the case. in Gifts to the Gods (symposium. (38) (39) (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) SEAGER.. Ibidem. "Early Cretan Sanctuaries : The Pottery". Several vessels have a dark-on-light network of disc-spirals of a type that is frequent at many sites in eastern Crete.. Many were undecorated and sorne had the same simple trickle pattern as the previously mentioned jars from Pachyammos. Octopusmotifs appear on vases from the Kamares Cave and from Grotta M at Phaistos. cit. there is no conclusive evidence 41. decorated with leaping dolphins. 45. cil. The material does. A leaping dolphin in relief decorates the stem of a fruitstand from Phaistos and dolphins are also represented on the fresco from the Queen's Megaron at Knossos. op. and several have a simple trickle pattern 39. IV-VII. etc. IX. WALBERG. cit. XIV. The burials outside the tholoi in Central Crete may be the result of a wish to reserve the tholoi for certain important dead and the comparatively fewer burials in the East Cretan Mochlos tombs suggest that sorne restrictions and limitations existed there. and while it is possible that the octopus-motif had sorne religious connexion. cult objects. which may suggest a religious connexion. Sorne had a dark-on-light network of disc-spirals.. No enclosures or pavements are reported from these cemeteries and the religious element is less obvious here than in the tombs with multiple burials. pl. XIII. a more unusual decoration.. SpJwungaras (1912). forthcoming). op.. ID. It is obvious in many cases that sorne of the tholoi were filled-up. A few vessels have. One is. . The cemeteries at Pachyammos and Sphoungaras could in that case represent groups of persons not entitled to be buried in such a tomb.. op. 20-22 1985.EARLY CRETAN lDMBS: TIIE POTTERY 59 were very few objects placed with the dead.. HALL. pl. pl. cit. ID. must have been removed and stored elsewhere between the ceremonies. even though we do not find objects with religious connexions immediately together with the burials.. for instance. ID. XXXIX. op. another with dolphins and rocks and a third with an octopus motif 40. but again the material does not permit any safe conclusions 42. At both cemeteries. except for a few clay cups. vessels.

which indicates that the funeral rites may have been related to the cult in the sanctuaries and that they included more than a simple "toasting" ceremony. Gisela W ALBERG . there is a change from small closed vessels. such as suspension pots and pyxides suitable for holding small objects. eating and drinking such as jugs. jugs. coarse vessels. A study of the material thus shows that the same pottery types appear in aIl communal tombs in different parts of Crete. There are also large lids indicating the continued presence of large. ln EM n. with the exception of the' vessels in the shape of two legs and the askoi in the shape of animaIs and women. There is no particular preference for certain decorative motifs in the tombs and the vessels found in the tombs were probably not specificaIly made for funerary purposes in this period. The presence of altars outside the tombs points in the same direction. plates and bowls suggest that the ceremonies included libations and ritual meals and the se are likely to have taken place outside the tombs. finally. teapots and bridge-spouted jars. Several vessels and other objects from the tombs have parallels from contemporary sanctuaries. combined with large coarse vessels. represent a less substantial change in attitude towards the dead than it seems to be. to vessels for pouring. The introduction of individual burials in pithoi and larnakes in cemeteries may. The use of larnakes and pithoi for burials should not be seen in sharp contrast to each other. The many cups.60 Gisela W ALBERG obviously. but the absence of objects usuaIly found with the multiple burials does not necessarily mean a vast difference in funerary rituals. not allow any conclusions. in sorne cases. but rather as the employment of two different types of large vessels to protect the bodies. cups and plates and.

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