Tomlinson, J. E.
1996 Chemical Evidence for a Cretan Origin of Heavy Ware Stirrup Jars found at Mycenae. In Proceedings of the Second Symposium of the Hellenic Archaeometrical Society: Archaeometrical and Archaeological Research in Macedonia and Thrace, edited by I. Stratis, M. Vavelidis, K. Kotsakis, G. Tsokas and E. Tsoukala, pp. 371-378, Thessalonica.


This research follows up on the spectrographic analyses of Mycenaean stirrup jars carried out initially at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology, University of Oxford, and more recently at the Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens, using optical emission spectroscopy. These earlier studies suggest that many of the heavy ware stirrup jars excavated at Thebes, Mycenae and other mainland Greek sites may have their origins in west Crete, although there were difficulties in distinguishing between the chemical compositions of east and west Cretan pottery, and between central Cretan and Argolid pottery compositions.

Reference groups giving the range of elemental compositions characteristic of locally-produced material are essential prerequisites in the application of such data to ceramic provenance investigations. In the present work, chemical reference groups were obtained from the multivariate statistical analysis of neutron activation data on Minoan pottery from a number of Cretan sites. Comparison of jars found at the Houses of the Oil and Wine Merchants at Mycenae was then made with these Cretan control groups.

The results confirm the conclusions drawn by earlier studies, in that two thirds of the heavy ware jars found at Mycenae have a chemical profile consistent with that of west Cretan pottery. However, because of the similarities between Argolid and central Cretan chemical profiles, it is still not possible to draw any definite conclusions as to the origins of the remainder of these Mycenae jars.

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