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The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series: "Lemnian Earth and Foreign Forms: ceramics at Koukonissi in the Late Bronze Age"

Peter Day, Professor of Archaeological Materials, The University of Sheffield
Monday, April 1, 2019
3:00-5:00 PM
411 West Hall Map
"Only a short distance offshore from Troy, the Bronze Age settlement on the islet of Koukonissi, Lemnos offers important evidence for the local production and consumption of Mycenaean pottery during the 14th century BCE, a time ostensibly of little contact of the North Aegean with the Mycenaean world, with the best evidence for Mountjoy’s “Upper Interface” being represented by Troy (phase VI late). This paper presents new evidence produced by integrated petrographic, chemical and stylistic ceramic analysis for Koukonissi as an outpost of the Southern Aegean, and contrasts this with its neighbor Troy on the Asia Minor coast.

At Troy during LH IIIA2, the bulk of the Mycenaean pottery seems to have been imported, mainly from the Argolid/NE Peloponnese, with assumed local pattern painted wares comprising only a small part of the total assemblage and standard Mycenaean wares (fine plain) being rare. In contrast, typical Mycenaean shapes were commonly imitated at Troy in local fabrics (grey and tan wares).

At Koukonissi, standard Mycenaean pottery, such as fine plain wares, are locally produced and well represented. Most importantly, the common local ware (Red Slipped pottery) seems relatively unaffected by the Mycenaean repertoire. This lies in contrast to other parts of the Eastern Aegean and Troy, where hybrid shapes and decorations are present.

This new identification of previously undocumented, substantial production of Mycenaean pottery on Lemnos has far-reaching implications, as some of the Eastern Aegean Mycenaean chemical compositional groups may have been produced on the island, something quite unexpected. The evidence from Koukonissi, therefore, offers the potential to alter our view of the interface between Mycenaean and other cultures. It suggests the existence of important differences at a social, economic and cultural level between Troy and Koukonissi, and a diversity of interaction with the southern Aegean and Mycenaean Greece between different sites in the North Aegean."


Peter Day teaches and researches in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, running a research group on ceramics which has close ties with the the National Centre for Scientific Research ‘Demokritos’ in Greece and the University of Barcelona.

He gained his BA in Archaeology at the University of Southampton under Colin Renfrew and Peter Ucko as Heads of Department. Having trained in Ceramic Petrography with David Peacock, he worked as Research Fellow in Ceramic Petrology at the Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens from 1984-1986. He subsequently carried out doctoral research in the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Sander van der Leeuw, on ceramic production in East Crete during the Neopalatial period of the Bronze Age and the twentieth century. He held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cambridge before a two year postdoctoral position at NCSR ‘Demokritos from 1991-1993.

From 1994 he has been based in Sheffield, working on analytical approaches to ceramics, both in terms of provenance and especially the reconstruction of ceramic technologies. From 1998-2002, he was Co-ordinator of the GEOPRO European Training Network and has been involved in a succession of other major, collaborative projects funded by the European Union. His research usually has a Mediterranean focus, though he has also been involved in a range of ceramic-based projects in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Although basically an anthropological archaeologist and prehistorian, Peter has been gradually civilized by a number of postgraduates and postdoctoral researchers that he has had the privilege of working with.

The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series presents speakers on current topics in the field of anthropology
Building: West Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: AEM Featured, Anthropology, Archaeology
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology