Monday 8 November 2004

Anna Lucia D'Agata

Cretan warriors of the Early Dark Age: A figured krater from Thronos Kephala (ancient Sybrita)
and the rise of a 'microstate' on Central-Western Crete

Greek-Italian excavations, carried out in collaboration between CNR/ICEVO (Rome) and 25th  Ephoria of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (Khania), have confirmed the existence of a large Dark Age – and later – settlement, on the south-west slopes of the Psiloritis massif in Central-Western Crete. The site, located in the territory of the Greek and Roman city of Sybrita, is situated on the summit of the Kephala hill and appears closely linked both to the valley of Amari, which lies to the south, and to the slopes of Psiloritis, which share similar environmental and cultural features.
The earliest settlement on Kephala was established at the end of the Late Bronze Age and represents one of the new foundations which, at the very beginning of the 12th century BC, spread across the Cretan landscape and, in most cases, were continously inhabited until the early 7th century BC.
In 2002 excavation soundings carried out in Building 3 on the north plateau, where the settlement is located, recovered a clay bell-krater which displays what appears to be one of the earliest figured scenes of Greek vase painting. Warriors and a group of objects are depicted on both faces of the vase.
Figured scenes on clay vases are known on Crete, as on the Mainland, in LM IIIC. Later on, they appear at Knossos in the 9th century BC, showing that – in contrast to what is known for the Greek mainland – during the Late Dark Age a figured repertoire was employed on Cretan pottery, which made use of elements of both Minoan and Near Eastern derivation.
The bell-krater from Thronos Kephala is a novelty: it is quite early, being assignable to the end of 11th/beginning of the 10th century BC, and the scene depicted on it appears to be entirely new.
It is the aim of this paper to present this outstanding document of Early Dark Age Crete, whose analysis may help reconstructing some aspects of the mental attitude and social behaviour of a Cretan elite in the very centuries of formation of the early Greek society.



Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...