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MYCENAEAN AND AEGEAN-STYLE POTTERY IN CANAAN

DURING THE 14TH - 12TH CENTURIES BC


Aegean contacts with the East are well documented for the Late Bronze II period in
Canaan.1 The most ubiquitous evidence for these contacts is Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB
pottery, ceramic styles which appear in the Levant during the 14th and 13th centuries BC.
Significant amounts of this pottery have been recovered from several dozen sites in this region,
mainly from settlements situated along the coast and on major international routes. At the
end of the Late Bronze II period in Canaan, change is discernible in the quality and quantity
of much of the pottery termed Mycenaean IIIB. This pottery, often stirrup jars and f lasks, has
been referred to as Mycenaean IIIB late, Simple Style, or Derivative Mycenaean IIIB.2 In
later stratigraphic contexts, non-locally produced pottery, designated as Mycenaean IIIC:1 or
Mycenaean IIIC:1a, appears at a small number of sites. However, the largest quantities of
Aegean-inspired pottery, termed Mycenaean IIIC:1b, appear on the southern coastal plain of
Canaan during the Early Iron I period. In contrast to earlier Mycenaean-style pottery, the
majority of the ceramic forms are tablewares, with only a few container forms.
This paper examines general trends in the appearance of Mycenaean and Aegean-style
pottery in Syria-Palestine. These assemblages are examined stylistically,3 including their
typological and technological aspects, with an emphasis on the later 12th century Aegean-style
pottery appearing in Canaan. The functional use of Mycenaean and Aegean-style vessels
found in Syria-Palestine during the 14th - 12th centuries BC is discussed, and implications
regarding the mode of ceramic production,4 pottery production centers, and changing trade
relations5 are explored.
I divide the Mycenaean and Aegean-inspired wares into three main phases. The earliest
phase includes a wide range of richly-decorated Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB vessels imported
from the Aegean to Canaan. The second phase comprises a small number of later Mycenaean
IIIB and Mycenaean IIIC:1 vessels, mainly imported f lasks and stirrup jars. The former group
of vessels were decorated mostly with linear painted bands, while the stratigraphically later
Mycenaean IIIC:1 pottery, found in small quantities at several sites, was generally richly
decorated. The third phase is defined by the appearance of locally-produced Mycenaean

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2
3

Canaan refers to a geographic entity, mentioned in ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts and later
biblical accounts, that roughly corresponds to the present-day regions of Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank,
the Gaza Strip, Jordan and southern Syria.
See A. LEONARD, Jr., An Index to the Late Bronze Age Aegean Pottery from Syria-Palestine. SIMA CXIV (1994)
6-10 for a discussion of these various terms.
Style refers to the visual appearance (i.e., typology) as well as less visible aspects, such as the production
precesses which produced it (i.e., technology). Style is an integral part of social contexts ref lecting social
values, and thus is inseparable from archaeological analysis. However, since it is highly subjective and
difficult to define, it is ambiguous by nature.
Modes of ceramic production can be divided into two basic industries: domestic and professional. All the
assemblages under discussion in this paper were produced by professional potters. Professional pottery
modes of production include workshop, village, large-scale and individual industries. See S.E. VAN DER
LEEUW, Studies in the Technology of Ancient Pottery (1976) especially pp. 394-98 and 402-403; and D.P.S.
PEACOCK, Pottery in the Roman World: An Ethnoarchaeological Approach (1982) 8-10, for a discussion of
different modes of production.
Two important publications, Bronze Age Trade and Wace and Blegen, deal extensively with trade relations in
the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean during the 14th - 12th centuries BC. Especially relevant to this
paper is A. and S. SHERRATT, From Luxuries to Commodities: The Nature of Mediterranean Bronze Age
Trading Systems, in Bronze Age Trade, 351-84.

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Ann E. KILLEBREW

IIIC:1b pottery and its related assemblages. It is distinguished by its matt paint decoration and
limited repertoire of decorative motifs. At several sites along the southern coastal plain of
Canaan, as well as at a noteworthy number of sites in other regions of the eastern
Mediterranean, Mycenaean IIIC:1b becomes the dominant pottery group.
The first phase includes Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB wares, imported into Canaan during
the Late Bronze IIA and IIB periods, spanning the 14th and 13th centuries. The import of
these wares reaches its peak during the Late Bronze IIB, with Mycenaean IIIB pottery present
at most sites in ancient Canaan. The largest collection of these wares has been recovered from
Tell Abu Hawam, located at the eastern end of the bay of Haifa.6 Due to its location and its
large quantity of imported Mycenaean wares mainly from the Argolid, as indicated by
provenience studies7 it has been suggested by the most recent excavators of the site that it
served as a major port for trade with the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.8 Similar
assemblages with noteworthy quantities of Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB pottery have been
excavated at sites such as Tel Dan,9 Megiddo,10 Akko (the Persian Garden tombs),11 and the
Amman Airport.12
Containers, or closed forms, including stirrup and piriform jars, amphoroid kraters,
f lasks and alabastra, are the most common imported objects in the Levant (Pl. XIV).
Tablewares, mainly open forms, comprising the kylix, cups, bowls and jugs, appear in smaller
quantities (Pl. XV).13 Noteworthy is the paucity of large storage containers.14 Provenience
studies have indicated that most of these vessels were produced in the Argolid and
surrounding regions,15 while a smaller number of Mycenaean IIIB vessels may have originated

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8
9
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11
12
13

14

15

R.W. HAMILTON, Excavations at Tell Abu Hawam, QDAP 4 (1935) 1-69; E. ANATI, Excavations at the
Cemetery of Tell Abu Hawam (1952), Atiqot (ES) II (1959) 89-102; J. BALENSI, Les fouilles de R.W. Hamilton
Tell Abu Hawam, Niveaux IV et V. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Universit de Strasbourg (1980).
F. ASARO and I. PERLMAN, Provenience Studies of Mycenaean Pottery Employing Neutron Activation
Analysis, in V. KARAGEORGHIS (ed.), Acts of the International Archaeological Symposium The Mycenaeans
in the Eastern Mediterranean, Nicosia, 27th March - 2nd April 1972 (1973) 222-23.
J. BALENSI, M.D. HERRERA and M. ARTZY, Abu Hawam, Tell, in E. STERN (ed.), The New Encyclopedia
of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Volume 1 (1993) 12.
A. BIRAN, Biblical Dan (1994); for an incomplete, but representative, sample of the imported Mycenaean
pottery from Tel Dan, see Ills. 78, 81, Pls. 13, 17.
J.B. LAMBERT, C.D. MCLAUGHLIN and A. LEONARD, Jr., X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopic Analysis
of the Mycenaean Pottery from Megiddo, Archaeometry 20 (1978) 107-122; A. LEONARD, Jr. and E.H.
CLINE, The Aegean Pottery found at Megiddo: An Appraisal and Reanalysis, BASOR 309 (1998) 1-37.
V. HANKEY, The Aegean Pottery, in S. BEN-ARIEH and G. EDELSTEIN, Akko Tombs Near the Persian
Garden. Atiqot 12 (1977).
V. HANKEY, A Late Bronze Age Temple at Amman, Levant 6 (1974) 131-78.
See A. LEONARD, Jr., Considerations of Morphological Variation in the Mycenaean Pottery from the
Southeastern Mediterranean, BASOR 241 (1981) 87-101, esp. 90-91 and IDEM (supra n. 2) for the most
recent and comprehensive catalogue of Aegean pottery appearing in ancient Canaan during the Late
Bronze Age. Other earlier studies of Mycenaean IIIA and IIIB pottery in Syria-Palestine include F.
STUBBINGS, Mycenaean Pottery from the Levant (1951) and V. HANKEY, Mycenaean Pottery in the Middle
East: Notes Since 1951, BSA 62 (1967) 107-147. While I refer to the results of these studies, in this paper
I focus on several sites in Canaan which I feel best illustrate the nature of Aegean contacts in Syria-Palestine.
Significant numbers of storage containers originating in Syria-Palestine are found on Cyprus and in the
Aegean, indicating the nature of some of the goods being exchanged for the Aegean luxury products.
Regarding Cyprus, see e.g. M. HADJICOSTI, Part 1: Canaanite Jars from Maa-Palaeokastro, in V.
KARAGEORGHIS and M. DEMAS, Excavations at Maa-Palaeokastro 1970-1986 (1988) 340-81; R.E. JONES
and S.J. VAUGHAN, Part 2: Study of Some Canaanite Jar Fragments from Maa-Palaeokastro by
Petrographic and Chemical Analysis, in KARAGEORGHIS and DEMAS (supra) 386-95. Regarding
Greece, see e.g. A. RABAN, The Commercial Jar in the Ancient Near East: Its Evidence for Interconnections
Amongst the Biblical Lands. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (1980) 5*-6* and CLINE, SWDS, 95-97 for an upto-date summary of the evidence and its significance.
See R.E. JONES and H.W. CATLING, Cyprus, 2500-500 BC; the Aegean and the Near East, 1550-1050 BC,
in R.E. JONES, Greek and Cypriot Pottery. Fitch Laboratory Occasional Paper 1 (1986) 529-625, especially
570-71 and 608-609. See also V. HANKEY, The Mycenaean Pottery, in F. JAMES and P. MCGOVERN,
The Late Bronze Egyptian Garrison at Beth Shean: A Study of Levels VII and VIII (1993) 103-110.

MYCENAEAN AND AEGEAN-STYLE POTTERY IN CANAAN

161

in Crete.16 A similar picture appears on Cyprus, where most of the Mycenaean IIIA2 and
IIIB1 pottery also originates in the Peloponnese, especially the Argolid region.17 In the
Aegean proper, provenience studies have also indicated a predominance of Argolid wares
(especially Mycenaean IIIA2 wares) in the Cyclades and Dodecanese.18 The wide-ranging
distribution of 14th and 13th century BC Mycenaean wares produced mainly in the Argolid
region indicates that a small number of professional pottery workshops were producing a large
quantity of vessels for export which reached the entire eastern Mediterranean region. The
preference for specialty containers and, to a lesser degree, tablewares probably ref lects that
these vessels were desired for their contents and also for their intrinsic beauty and high quality.
The large numbers of vessels produced at a limited number of centers probably was the result
of a large-scale industry19 and indicates a high degree of craft specialization or even a
monopoly on the production of these vessels.
A second phase of Aegean inf luence in Canaan emerges towards the end of the 13th
century BC. It is characterized by the appearance of Mycenaean-style vessels which are usually
simply decorated with painted bands and consists mainly of stirrup jars and f lasks in a style
referred to as Simple Style, Derivative Mycenaean or Mycenaean IIIB late. During recent
excavations at Tel Nami, a harbor site located south of Haifa and presently being excavated by
M. Artzy,20 numerous Mycenaean-style stirrup jars were recovered in the Late Bronze II
cemetery. Based on the sites location and the relatively large number of imported objects,
the excavator has suggested that Tel Nami replaced Tell Abu Hawam as the major port of the
area at the close of the Late Bronze II period.21 It should be noted that Tel Nami is located
at the western end of one of the major routes connecting the Mediterranean with the Jezreel
Valley and, further east, the Jordan Valley.
The Mycenaean-style vessels at Tel Nami were found in tombs alongside collared-rim
storage jars, a type of pottery which appears at the close of the Late Bronze II period and
becomes a predominant type during the Iron I Age.22 Neutron Activation Analysis of these
stirrup jars has indicated a variety of origins not corresponding to any of the known reference
groups, as well as several locally-produced examples.23

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19

20

21
22

23

See LAMBERT et al. (supra n. 10) but see JONES and CATLING (supra n. 15) 565-66 and 570-71, who
suggest a Boeotian origin for this assemblage.
JONES and CATLING (supra n. 15) 597-98.
See R.E. JONES and C. MEE, Spectrographic Analysis of Mycenaean Pottery from Ialysos on Rhodes:
Results and Implications, JFA 5 (1978) 461-70; for a summary of the results from provenience studies of
Mycenaean pottery in the Aegean, see R.E. JONES and C.B. MEE, Provenience Studies of Aegean Late
Bronze Age Pottery, in JONES (supra n. 14) 439-519, especially 517-18. See also S. SHERRATT, Regional
Variation in the Pottery of Late Helladic IIIB, BSA 75 (1980) 175-202.
Large-scale industry is characterized by substantial capital investment in production for a maximum output
and minimal cost per unit. Full-time professional potters are employed in this type of pottery production.
The technical and technological level of large-scale industries is high, in this case utilizing carefully prepared
clays to fashion vessels on a fast wheel (see VAN DER LEEUW [supra n. 4] 397 and D.E. ARNOLD, Ceramic
Theory and Cultural Process [1985] 230-31).
For a recent discussion of the excavations at Tel Nami and the significance of the site, see M. ARTZY,
Nami: A Second Millennium International Maritime Trading Center in the Mediterranean, in S. GITIN
(ed.), Recent Excavations in Israel A View to the West (1995) 17-40.
See M. ARTZY, Routes, Trade, Boats and the Nomads of the Sea, in S. GITIN, A. MAZAR, and E. STERN
(eds.), Mediterranean Peoples in Transition: Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries B.C.E. (in press).
For a summary of the collared-rim jar and its significance, see e.g., M. ARTZY, Incense, Camels and
Collared Rim Jars: Desert Trade Routes and Maritime Outlets in the Second Millennium, OJA 13/2 (1994)
121-47; D. WENGROW, Egyptian Taskmasters and Heavy Burdens: Highland Exploitation and the
Collared-Rim Pithos of the Bronze/Iron Age Levant, OJA 15/3 (1996) 307-326.
I would like to thank M. Artzy for allowing me to mention these unpublished NAA results.

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Megiddo,24 Tel Beth Shean,25 Tell es-Saidiyeh,26 and possibly Tell el-Farah (S) are also
key sites with Derivative Mycenaean f lasks and stirrup jars,27 and their strata and cemeteries
are conventionally dated to the close of the Late Bronze period (end of the 13th - early 12th
centuries BC). At Megiddo, provenience studies have indicated a different, but non-local,
origin for these later Mycenaean-style vessels than for the Mycenaean IIIA and IIIB imports.28
These conclusions, pointing to new and multiple manufacturing centers for the later
Mycenaean pottery, concurs with preliminary results from Tel Nami. The decline of Argolid
wares and the production of a very limited number of vessel shapes at new workshops outside
of the Peloponnese indicates a change in customer demand (or simply the inability to produce
other functional shapes?) and corroborates evidence for the change in production centers and
trading practices. During the 14th and 13th centuries BC, the centralized, inter-regional trade
was controlled by the palaces, as illustrated by the centralized production in the Argolid
region (especially during the Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB1 periods). Corresponding with the
decline of the palatial centers in Greece, pottery production and trade were rapidly taken over
by peripheral groups who specialized in opportunist manufacture and trade in small
vessels.29
Chronologically following the Simple Style and late Mycenaean IIIB wares is a group
of imported pottery termed Mycenaean IIIC:1. It comprises a small number of vessels in
Syria-Palestine stratigraphically located in levels following Phase 2 imported and locally made
Derivative Mycenaean wares. Most of these vessels in Canaan are closed vessels, usually
stirrup jars, and occasionally bowls. They are characterized by their more elaborate
decoration. The largest number of Mycenaean IIIC:1 sherds was found at Tel Beth Shean.
Stratigraphically these sherds appear in Lower Level VI, following Level VII where later styles
of Mycenaean IIIB pottery were found.30 Another complete stirrup jar, apparently imported,
was recovered from Tel Keisan in the Akko plain.31 Several additional sherds were excavated
at Tel Akko.32 Though the provenience of the Mycenaean IIIC:1 pottery in Canaan has not
been identified with certainty, petrographic analysis of several sherds from Tel Beth Shean
indicates a foreign, perhaps Cypriot, origin.33
A third phase of Aegean inf luence in Syria-Palestine is characterized by the appearance
of a locally-produced Aegean-inspired pottery commonly termed Mycenaean IIIC:1b

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26
27
28
29

30

31
32
33

LEONARD and CLINE (supra n. 10).


Recent excavations by A. Mazar have uncovered additional Derivative Mycenaean pottery in Level VII,
contemporary with a collared-rim storage jar. Petrographic analysis of these sherds from Mycenaean-style
vessels by the author has indicated non-local, but unidentified sources, for the clay. I would like to thank
A. Mazar for allowing me to examine this pottery.
R.B. KOEHL and J. YELLIN, The Origin and Provenience of Mycenaean Simple Style Pottery, AJA 86
(1982) 273.
The stirrup jar and f lask were shapes that were used as containers for previous oils. See LEONARD (supra
n. 13) 87-101.
See LAMBERT et al. (supra n. 10) 119 for a summary statement regarding the multiple production centers
for the Simple Style Mycenaean pottery.
A. and S. SHERRATT (supra n. 5) 370-76; see also S. SHERRATT, Patterns of Contact: Manufacture and
Distribution of Mycenaean Pottery 1400-1100, in J.G.P. BEST and N. VRIES (eds.), Interaction and
Acculturation in the Mediterranean II (1982) 179-95.
See F. JAMES, The Iron Age at Beth Shean: A Study of Levels VI - IV (1966) Fig. 49:4; V. HANKEY, Late
Mycenaean Pottery at Beth-Shean, AJA 70 (1966) 169-71; P. WARREN and V. HANKEY, Aegean Bronze Age
Chronology (1989) 172. Several additional pieces have been found in Level VI during the renewed
excavations directed by A. Mazar; see A. MAZAR, Four Thousand Years of History at Tel Beth-Shean: An
Account of the Renewed Excavations, Biblical Archaeologist 60 (1997) 70-72 and photo on p. 70. All of these
sherds were imported from unidentified regions outside of Canaan.
J. BALENSI, Tell Keisan, tmoin original de lapparition du Mycnien III C:1a au Proche-Orient, Revue
Biblique 88 (1981) 399-401.
M. DOTHAN, Archaeological Evidence for Movements of the Early Sea Peoples in Canaan, in S. GITIN
and W.G. DEVER (eds.), Recent Excavations in Israel: Studies in Iron Age Archaeology (1989) 59-70, esp. 60-64.
This study was conducted by A. Cohen-Weinberger.

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pottery.34 It appears in large quantities at a select number of sites in Syria-Palestine, especially


along the southern coastal plain. The term Mycenaean IIIC is misleading. In Canaan,
Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery refers to a class of Aegean-inspired forms and decorative motifs
which appear in significant quantities throughout most of the Aegean, in Cilicia, Cyprus, and
at a number of coastal sites in Syria and Palestine during the 12th century BC. Its
development and typology were first discussed by A. Furumark35 who saw in the shape and
decoration of Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery clear Mycenaean mainland Greek antecedents and
cultural inf luences.
On Cyprus, Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery first appears in small quantities during the Late
Cypriot IIC period and then in larger quantities during the Late Cypriot IIIA period,
eventually replacing the dominant Base Ring and White Slip wares of the Late Cypriot IIC
period. Based on the excavations at Enkomi, Sinda, and Kition, its appearance was initially
associated with the Achaean colonization of the island.36 Further excavations and a reexamination of the Late Cypriot IIC and Late Cypriot IIIA ceramic assemblages, however, have
shown that Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery was not a completely isolated phenomenon. It shared
features of fabric, technique, shape and decoration with Decorated Late Cypriot III wares, a
class of Late Cypriot IIIA wheelmade pottery having a light fabric decorated with a dark matt
paint.37 In this paper, I use the terms Mycenaean IIIC:1b or Aegean-style pottery to refer
to all shapes included in the White Painted Wheelmade Cypriot assemblage and its associated
coarse wares, as is customary in publications dealing with early Philistine pottery in Canaan.
At Tel Miqne-Ekron, an uninterrupted stratigraphic sequence spanning the 16th
through 7th centuries BC was excavated in Field INE.38 During the Late Bronze II period, Tel
Miqne-Ekron was confined to the 10 acre Northeast Acropolis.39 Stratum IX, comprising a
ceramic assemblage typical of the 13th century Canaanite pottery and small quantities of
imported Cypriot and Mycenaean vessels, dates to the Late Bronze IIB period. Stratum VIII
represents an even smaller settlement, thus far confined to the eastern slope of the Northeast
Acropolis. A series of beaten earth surfaces and poorly-preserved mudbrick architecture, with

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35
36

37

38

39

Neutron Activation Analysis and petrographic thin section analysis have proven conclusively that this
pottery was locally produced at Ashdod and Tel Miqne-Ekron; see e.g. F. ASARO, I. PERLMAN and M.
DOTHAN, An Introductory Study of Mycenaean IIIC:1 Ware from Tel Ashdod, Archaeometry 13 (1971)
169-75; J. GUNNEWEG, T. DOTHAN, I. PERLMAN and S. GITIN, On the Origin of Pottery from Tel
Miqne-Ekron, BASOR 264 (1986) 3-16.
A. FURUMARK, The Mycenaean Pottery Analysis and Classification (1941); IDEM, The Mycenaean IIIC
Pottery and its Relation to Cypriote Fabrics, Opuscula Atheniensia 3 (1944) 194-265.
V. KARAGEORGHIS, Cyprus from the Stone Age to the Romans (1982) 86-89; IDEM, New Light on Late
Bronze Age Cyprus, in V. KARAGEORGHIS and J.D. MUHLY (eds.), Cyprus at the Close of the Late Bronze
Age (1984) 19-22.
In 1972, P. strm created a new ceramic term White Painted Wheelmade III ware which includes Late
Mycenaean IIIB, Decorated Late Cypriot III, Rude Style, and Mycenaean IIIC categories of pottery; see P.
STRM, Relative and Absolute Chronology, Foreign Relations, Historical Conclusions, in P. STRM,
The Late Cypriot Bronze Age, The Swedish Cyprus Expedition Vol. IV, Part 1D (1972) 276-88; B. KLING,
Mycenaean IIIC:1b Pottery in Cyprus: Principal Characteristics and Historical Context, in
KARAGEORGHIS and MUHLY (supra n. 36) 29-38; Eadem, Pottery Classification and Relative Chronology
of the LC IIC - LC IIIA Periods, in D. RUPP (ed.), Western Cyprus: Connections (1987) 57-112; Eadem,
Mycenaean IIIC:1b and Related Pottery in Cyprus (1989); Eadem, A Terminology for the Matt-Painted,
Wheelmade Pottery of Late Cypriot IIC-IIIA, in J.A. BARLOW, D.L. BOLGER and B. KLING (eds.),
Cypriot Ceramics: Reading the Prehistoric Period (1991); S. SHERRATT and J.H. CROUWEL, Mycenaean
Pottery from Cilicia in Oxford, OJA 6 (1987) 97-113; S. SHERRATT, Cypriot Pottery of Aegean Type in
LC II-III: Problems of Classification, Chronology and Interpretation, in BARLOW, BOLGER and KLING
(supra) 185-98 for a discussion of these terms and the development of Cypriot LC IIB-IIIA ceramic
terminology.
T. DOTHAN, Tel Miqne-Ekron: An Iron Age I Philistine Settlement in Canaan, in N.A. SILBERMAN and
D. SMALL (eds.), The Archaeology of Israel: Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present (1997) 96-106; A.E.
KILLEBREW, Tel Miqne-Ekron Report of the 1984 Excavations Field INE/SE (1986); Eadem, Tel Miqne-Ekron
Report of the 1985-1988 Excavations in Field INE: Areas INE.5, INE.6 and INE.7 (1996).
B. GITTLEN, The Late Bronze Age City at Tel Miqne/Ekron, Eretz Israel 23 (1992) 50*-53*.

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Ann E. KILLEBREW

an accumulation of over one meter in depth, was divided into four main architectural phases.
Few, if any, imported Cypriot and Mycenaean wares were recovered from Stratum VIII. Most
of the pottery was locally produced, continuing the Canaanite tradition of earlier levels.
However, two imported vessels one, a grey-burnished Trojan ware krater,40 and a second
sherd, apparently an imported White Painted Wheelmade III bowl from Cyprus, were
recovered together on a beaten earth f loor.
Stratum VII, covering most of the 200-dunam site, represents a large urban center,
complete with city fortifications, impressive public buildings and a series of potters kilns41
located on the eastern slope of the Northeast Acropolis. Corresponding with this rapid
development, quantities of locally-produced Aegean-inspired Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery and
its associated assemblage appear suddenly, largely replacing the ceramic tradition of Stratum
VIII and the locally-produced Late Bronze II pottery. These shapes are mainly tablewares and
include: bell-shaped bowls or skyphoi; carinated bowls with strap-handles; shallow, straightsided open bowls; bell-shaped kraters; kalathoi; and very small numbers of jugs, spouted jugs
and a few fragments of stirrup jars (Pl. XVI).42 These represent only a select and limited
repertoire of Mycenaean shapes known on mainland Greece and in the western Aegean. Two
shapes from the earlier Canaanite Late Bronze II assemblage continue to appear the
Canaanite storage jar and the f lask. Both were produced at many locations throughout the
eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze II period and may be considered a type of
international style.
Aegean-inspired decorative motifs on Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery, executed in a
brownish-black to brownish-red matt paint, bear no resemblance to Canaanite designs. The
most common motifs include simple painted bands, spiral patterns, and the hallmark of
Philistine pottery the bird. It is noteworthy that, as in White Painted Wheelmade III Wares
on Cyprus and in Cilicia, early Philistine pottery is decorated with a matt paint, while the
painted design on Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery in the Aegean is usually lustrous.
Not only did tablewares change from the Late Bronze to the Iron I periods at Tel MiqneEkron, but also the types of cooking pots. With the appearance of Mycenaean IIIC:1b wares
at Tel Miqne-Ekron, the typical handleless open cooking pot of the Late Bronze Age tradition
almost disappears. Instead, a type of cooking jug previously unknown in Canaan becomes the
prevalent type alongside the Mycenaean IIIC:1b wares. This vessel has a closed globular shape,
a f lat base and one handle extending from the upper rim to the shoulder of the vessel (Pl.
XVI:10). Dark black soot appears on the exterior surface of these cooking jugs, clearly
confirming their use as cooking vessels. The form is well-known in Cyprus at sites such as
Athienou,43 Enkomi,44 and Kition,45 at Tarsus on the southern coast of Anatolia46 and, to a
lesser extent, in the Aegean at Perati47 and Lef kandi.48 Coinciding with the sudden change
in cooking vessels at Tel Miqne-Ekron, a shift occurred in the animal production systems that
supported the city. During the 12th century BC, pigs and cattle became more important in
the economy at the expense of sheep and, in particular, goats.49 This change in diet and herd

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42

43
44
45
46
47
48
49

S.H. ALLEN, Trojan Grey Ware at Tel Miqne-Ekron, BASOR 293 (1994) 39-52.
A.E. KILLEBREW, Pottery Kilns from Deir el-Balah and Tel Miqne-Ekron, in J.D. SEGER (ed.), Retrieving
the Past: Essays on Archaeological Research and Methodology in Honor of Gus W. Van Beek (1996) 131-59.
A.E. KILLEBREW, Ceramic Typology and Technology of Late Bronze II and Iron I Assemblages from Tel
Miqne-Ekron: The Transition from Canaanite to Philistine Culture, in GITIN, MAZAR, and STERN (supra
n. 21).
T. DOTHAN and A. BEN-TOR, Excavations at Athienou, Cyprus 1971-1972. Qedem 16 (1983) Fig. 50:7-8.
P. DIKAIOS, Enkomi Excavations 1948-1958 (1969) Pl. 106:3.
V. KARAGEORGHIS and M. DEMAS, Excavations at Kition V (1985) Pl. XXXIII:318: Coarse Wheelmade
ware jug.
H. GOLDMAN, Excavations at Gzl Kule, Tarsus, Volume II: From the Neolithic through the Bronze Age (1956)
Pl. 324:1220-21.
SP.E. IAKOVIDIS, Perati III (1969) Pl. 62:720.
M.R. POPHAM and E. MILBURN, The Late Helladic IIIC Pottery of Xeropolis (Lef kandi): A Summary,
BSA 66 (1971) Fig. 2:5.
B. HESSE, Animal Use at Tel Miqne-Ekron in the Bronze Age and Iron Age, BASOR 264 (1986) 17-28.

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management, together with a different shape of cooking vessel, indicates a different cuisine for
the 12th century BC inhabitants of Tel Miqne-Ekron.50
Technologically, Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery also represents a complete break with
previous pottery traditions. Late Bronze Age potters at Tel Miqne-Ekron utilized a wadi clay,
located next to the site, for the production of their vessels. This clay is characterized by its
calcareous matrix with silt- to sand-sized quartz typical of sediments in the region. In contrast,
the producers of the Mycenaean IIIC:1b Aegean-style tablewares and containers selected a
fine, well-levigated mixture of marl clay with a high chalk content and loess. In appearance
and texture, it was similar to clays used in Aegean-style wares on Cyprus and in the Aegean.51
The Iron I cooking jug also demonstrates a different tradition of pottery production.
The f lat-based cooking jug was made out of a loess clay with some silt- and sand-sized quartz.
The earlier Late Bronze II cooking pot was formed out of a wadi clay with moderate to large
quantities of limestone and shell added to the matrix. This cooking pot ware is similar to wares
from other cooking pots in the region, such as Lachish52 and Deir el-Balah.53
Other aspects of the pottery production sequence confirm the break in potting
traditions between the Late Bronze and Mycenaean IIIC assemblages. During the Late Bronze
Age in Canaan, potters often used a combination of handmade techniques, often on a slow
wheel and limited use of the fast wheel. In contrast, 12th century BC potters of Mycenaean
IIIC assemblages used the fast wheel to produce their delicate wares. Lastly, firing techniques
were also different; potters apparently used significantly lower temperatures to fire their clays,
where large amounts of chalk in the matrix acted as a f lux during firing.54
The mass production of Aegean-inspired Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery at numerous
centers in the eastern Mediterranean represents the diffusion of Aegean-style and
technological knowledge. No longer are Mycenaean fine wares mass-produced at a few select
centers, probably controlled by a central authority which carefully guarded its production
secrets. This diffusion of Aegean-style pottery indicates the diffusion of professional potters
well-versed in Aegean pottery production techniques. It also corresponds to the cessation of
imported pottery from the Aegean to Canaan, Cyprus, and coastal regions of Anatolia and
Syria. The strong resemblance between Mycenaean IIIC:1b wares, both typologically and
technologically, on Cyprus and at sites in the southern coastal plain of Canaan, indicates a
direct and close connection between the two regions at the close of the Late Bronze Age.
This survey of three hundred years of Aegean inf luence in Syria-Palestine has focused
on a stylistic analysis of Aegean-style pottery as a key to tracing the changing relationship
between the Aegean and Canaan during the 14th - 12th centuries BC. During the 14th - mid
13th centuries BC, Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB pottery consists mainly of containers for
precious oils and ointments and a much smaller percentage of tablewares. Selected
provenience studies indicate that the majority of these vessels originated on mainland Greece,
most notably in the Argolid region. The very limited number of production centers, the
selective export of particular Mycenaean forms, and their overwhelming functional use as
containers indicate the existence of trade relations rather than colonies in Canaan.
At the close of the Late Bronze II period, even fewer forms appear, mainly confined to
stirrup jars and f lasks, both of which served as containers for precious oils. The classification
and terminology of these Aegean-inspired vessels variously referred to as late Mycenaean
IIIB, Derivative Mycenaean, Simple Style, and Mycenaean IIIC:1 with their multiple
production centers, are difficult to define and probably ref lect the gradual breakdown of

______________________
50
51
52
53
54

S. BUNIMOVITZ and A. YASSUR-LANDAU, Philistine and Israelite Pottery: A Comparative Approach to


the Question of Pots and People, Tel Aviv 23 (1996) 88-101.
A.E. KILLEBREW, Ceramic Craft and Technology during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages: The Relationship
Between Pottery Technology, Style and Cultural Diversity. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis (1997).
P. MAGRILL and A. MIDDLETON, A Canaanite Potters Workshop at Lachish, Israel, in I. FREESTONE
and D. GAIMSTER (eds.), Pottery in the Making - World Ceramic Traditions (1997) 68-74.
KILLEBREW (supra n. 51).
KILLEBREW (supra n. 47); A. NISSENBAUM and A. E. KILLEBREW, Stable Isotopes of Carbon and
Oxygen as a Possible New Tool for Estimating Firing Temperatures of Ancient Pottery, Israel Journal of
Chemistry 35 (1995) 131-36.

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Ann E. KILLEBREW

central control on the Greek mainland. The shape and technique of manufacture visually
resemble Mycenaean pottery produced in the Aegean; however, the clay and overall quality of
this pottery is often inferior. Limited provenience studies have hinted at the fragmentation of
workshops, with a large number of workshops producing a limited repertoire of vessels for
export. The non-local, and occasionally local, origin of these vessels convincingly argues for
the continuation of trade during the final stages of the Late Bronze II/Iron IA period;
however, the trading partners seem to have changed, with the focus on those located in the
eastern Mediterranean region and excluding much of the Aegean. The relatively small
number of vessels seems to indicate less intensive and less extensive trade relations, with fewer
and very specific products being exchanged. Chronologically, Mycenaean IIIC:1 pottery at
sites such as Beth Shean Level VI provides clear evidence for a limited continuation of trade
well into the 12th century. I would like to suggest that the phenomenon of multiple workshops
producing a very limited number of forms represents the diffusion of the west Aegean style to
the east, where this pottery was produced, perhaps by local potters, using Mycenaean
techniques and limited adaptation of decorative motifs. Its appearance in Canaan most likely
is a result of trade with the eastern Aegean, the southern coast of Turkey and Cyprus.
The third type of Aegean inf luence is manifested at several sites in Canaan during the
Iron I period, where Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery overwhelmingly replaces the previous
indigenous Late Bronze material culture. This is evident not only in the pottery but in other
aspects of the material culture as well. The locally-produced Aegean-style pottery was clearly
inspired by earlier Aegean-produced Mycenaean pottery, evidenced in many of the shapes of
the Mycenaean IIIC:1b assemblage and in the technological aspects of its production.
Nevertheless, several features distinguish Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery produced in Canaan
from Mycenaean IIIB and IIIC pottery produced in the Aegean. First, the repertoire of shapes
and motifs is limited when compared to Mycenaean style pottery produced in the western
Aegean. A number of these shapes are Cypriot in tradition, rather than Aegean. In addition,
the characteristic glossy-painted exterior is replaced by a matt paint or is even undecorated.
As has been observed by a number of scholars, nearly identical pottery is being locally
produced on Cyprus, Rhodes, probably the southern coast, and perhaps western coast of
Anatolia. Thus, in my opinion, the appearance of large quantities of Aegean-inspired locallyproduced Mycenaean IIIC:1b and its related wares at a number of sites in Syria-Palestine is a
classic case study in material culture of the incursion of new peoples settling at several centers
on the southern coastal plain of Canaan at the close of the Bronze Age. Though the material
culture has its tradition in the Aegean, these peoples, termed Philistines in the biblical
account, probably originated on Cyprus, Rhodes, and/or in southern Anatolia.
Ann E. KILLEBREW

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167

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Pl. XIV
Pl. XV
Pl. XVI

Imported Mycenaean IIIA and IIIB closed containers appearing in Canaan during the 14th and 13th
Centuries BC (Scale: 1:5). (After LEONARD [supra n. 13] Fig. 1B).
Imported Mycenaean IIIA and IIIB tablewares and open forms appearing in Canaan during the 14th
and 13th Centuries BC (Scale: 1:5). (After LEONARD [supra n. 13] Fig. 1).
Locally Produced Aegean-Style Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery and associated wares appearing in the
southern coastal plain of Canaan during the 12th Century BC (Scale: Nos. 1-10: 1:5; No. 11: 1:2). (After
KILLEBREW [supra n. 51] Ills. III:25-26).

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Ann E. KILLEBREW

Discussion following A.E. Killebrews paper:


V. Karageorghis: I was interested in what you said about a class of pottery resembling Mycenaean IIIC,
for which Neutron Activation Analysis has not been able to tell us the provenience; they simply
tell us that it was not locally made. This is not the only class of pottery for which Neutron
Activation Analysis may not be in a position to tell us the exact provenience. I was examining,
about two months ago, the material from the tomb at Sarepta of which you showed a whole page
from the publication. We stopped in front of three or four stirrup jars, and an equal number of
lentoid f lasks. We could not decide whether they were made locally or whether they were made
of good Mycenaean clay. I am not offering a solution, and in fact, I am going to suggest something
that will worsen this situation. We should consider, I think, the possibility of the trade of clay. I
see Dr. Bass, who is smiling, and who has something to say about this, which supports what Im
going to say now. I was discussing this matter after my visit to Sarepta with a philologist, and he
informed me that some years ago, a papyrus was found in Egypt mentioning that in the fifth
century BC, clay was imported to Egypt, obviously for a specific kind of pottery. Probably George
Bass will be able to say something more about this.
G.F. Bass: Id like to mention this import of clay. Not only is it known from antiquity, from the
palimpsest from Elephantine, from the fifth century [BC], but also in modern times. A cargo ship
carrying a shipment of clay from the southern United States to Spain went down in the Atlantic
within the last decade. Youd think that Spain has been making roof tiles forever and why would
they need clay? But that was the major cargo of a freighter just in the last few years. So, we had
it both in antiquity and in the present. We dont have any proof [for it] in the Bronze Age, but it
seems like this has been going on for a long time.
A.E. Killebrew: I agree that this is definitely a possibility; however, the ethnographic studies that Ive
read indicate that its a fairly uncommon practice. I would just like to point out that the potters
who were creating the Mycenaean IIIC pottery at Ashdod and Miqne-Ekron could find proper
clay sources or could levigate and prepare the clay in such a way that they would be able to achieve
the quality of the clay that was needed to produce these vessels.
J.B. Rutter: I wondered if you might be willing to comment on the first of the three stages that you were
talking about. The imported Mycenaean pottery, some of it takes the form of drinking vessels,
some tablewares, as you call them, and most of it takes the form of these small transport vessels
for precious oils, or what have you. In the context in which these vases are found in Canaan, do
you find the distribution of those two kinds of pottery significantly different? That is, do you
find the drinking vessels in one kind of deposit and the small oil containers in another kind of
deposit? Would you care to comment on the way in which the Mycenaean drinking vessels are
used in a Canaanite context?
A.E. Killebrew: I have not done a study of the context of all the Mycenaean IIIA2 and IIIB vessels;
perhaps Al Leonard would be more qualified to comment on this. However, I have noticed that
f lasks and stirrup jars have a high frequency in the tombs, particularly f lasks; that may be related
to their function and their context. As far as the small amounts of tablewares which are found in
Late Bronze II sites in Canaan, I would suspect that these may be even be bric-a-brac, or
heirlooms, or just beautiful items, because they really are found in such small quantities that I
doubt if they were being used on any type of regular basis.
A. Leonard: There was nothing, no pattern at all, in the over 2000 sherds or whole vessels that I used
in the Corpus of Mycenaean Pottery in Syria-Palestine. I tried everything, trying to get some kind of
pattern out of it, and there wasnt anything. Could I use the opportunity to make just one other
comment? A couple of years ago, a group of us did a program at the British Museum on Tell esSaidiyah stirrup jars, where we had Vronwy Hankeys daughter Veronica making stirrup jars,
while we academicians who dont know anything about making pottery were talking about them
in a different room. Then we tested them with Neutron Activation Analysis and examined them
by Xeroradigraphy. We had all of these weird little derivative stirrup jars, and it turned out that
they were all made in different manners, and the clay tested, most of it, as local Tell es-Saidiyah
clay, east of the Jordan River, except for one vessel which looked like a piece that had come from
Enkomi, which was our test sample. As for the four little stirrup jars from Tell Nami, the one with
the line groups, not just the band groups, is almost identical visually to one from Tell es-Saidiyah,

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and the little pink one on the right [on the slide] is almost identical to that outlier which is going
to come from Cyprus. And, as an aside, the Mycenaean pottery from Megiddo which never been
published in one place, Eric Cline and I have just finished an article on it that BASOR has
accepted. We would be glad to send you a copy of the draft.
A.E. Killebrew: I think that there is a very close relationship between Tel Nami, Beth Shean, Tell esSaidiyah, and Deir Alla during this period of time.
E.S. Sherratt: Can I just comment very brief ly on this question of containers versus non-containers
arriving in the East Mediterranean? Actually, on the basis of Al Leonards figures, I did calculate
not terribly long ago and I dont have the actual numbers in my head that we are talking
about something like 30% of non-container vessels arriving in the Levant. And certainly on the
basis of the vast quantities of imported pottery that have been already published from the
trenches at Hala Sultan Tekke, we are talking again of something like 30% non-container vessels.
So, its really quite a significant number. By non-container vessels, I mean ones that one could
suppose were not actually traveling because of their contents. This would also include widemouthed jugs.
B.B. Kling: I have a chronological question. In the slides of the first Mycenaean IIIC:1b [pottery] that
you showed from Tell Miqne, you showed examples that have what I consider [to be] the
elaborate version, with the filled spirals and some dark-filled loops. They are very similar to
things which we have in Cyprus, which I think appear not at the very beginning of the Mycenaean
IIIC:1b in Cyprus. I wonder if you could comment on that phenomenon, do you see any
development in the Mycenaean IIIC:1b at Miqne and other sites in Canaan?
A.E. Killebrew: Trude [Dothan] may be commenting on this in her lecture, but Ill just say that the
pottery which I showed you represents the earliest phases of our Mycenaean IIIC:1b sequence.
Of course, later it develops into Bichrome ware, alongside the Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery, but Ill
perhaps let Trude [Dothan] address that in her lecture.