Thursday 12 March 2009

Luca Girella
University of Catania

The tholos tomb of Kamilari near Phaistos: new light on an old excavation
Studies of funerary data have been quite prolific for the Late Bronze Age Crete, and inspired several crucial summaries, though concentrated, in recent years, especially on the Mono- and Postpalatial periods (LM II-III). Many contributions have likewise explored aspects of Prepalatial mortuary practices, and special attention was paid also to tholos tombs and collective burials. However, aside from limited studies on individual cemeteries, analysis of Neopalatial (MM III-LM I) funerary evidence remained in the shadow. The study of the tholos tombs of Kamilari provides therefore a unique opportunity to shed both light on still cloudy periods (such as the MM III) and to understand phases of its reoccupation over the time.
The two largest tholos tombs, both about 1.5 km north of the village of Kamilari, were excavated by the Italian scholar Doro Levi in 1959. A quite exhaustive preliminary report drew attention to the key-role of this pair of tombs, since they provided insights in the comprehension of Minoan architecture, religion and funerary rites. The larger of the two tombs, built at the beginning of MM IB, was most intensely used during MM III, but there are also some deposits datable from LM I to LM IIIA. Thanks to the generous permission of Prof. V. La Rosa, the Greek authorities, and the financial support of INSTAP, an ongoing project is currently focusing on the complete study and publication of the Kamilari material.
The emerging picture is admittedly rather fragmentary, but a careful reading of excavations notebook and a study of a large body of the so far unpublished material allow us to present new information on the nature and amount of grave offerings. These are represented mostly by the pottery and the tomb indeed offers an impressive assemblage of pottery, currently being studied by Ilaria Caloi and the present speaker. Furthermore, by relating vessels shapes to specific areas of the tholos, it is now possible to draw a clearer picture of vessel distribution, and to examine it diachronically. Such a distribution can also offer new threads of evidence to analyze ritual offerings, as well as the activities carried out within the tomb and in the external courtyard nearby. 


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...