chapter  7
23 Pages

Interactions between Basketry and Pottery in Early Iron Age Attica, Greece

WithJUDIT HAAS-LEBEGYEV

Objects are rarely made and used in isolation; by looking at them in broader terms than within the confines of individual crafts and relating them to products of other crafts, we can better understand the developments and creative processes that took place in craft traditions in the past and the social aspects behind these practices. Craft interaction can take many forms (McGovern et al. 1989: 1): the interrelationship between crafts can be a result of contacts among workshops and their craftspeople working with different materials. Examples of such workshop interactions are known from many places and periods, for example from Late Bronze Age contexts in Amarna, Egypt, where recycled bronze metal scraps were used by glass makers to colour their glass; the metal and glass workshops were situated next to each other, which explains the interaction between materials and knowledge (Shortland 2000: 72). In Mycenaean palatial centres in Greece, workshops operated in close proximity to each other. Clear evidence for cross-craft material connections has recently been presented from Tiryns (Brysbaert and Vetters 2010; Brysbaert in this volume). A unique alabaster vase inlaid with gold ornaments found in a Mycenaean tholos tomb at Ano Dranista (Ano Ktimeni), Thessaly, is an eye-catching example of how individual objects can provide evidence for such multicraft workshop contacts in palatial centres (for illustrations, see Hourmouziadis 1982: 55, fig. 27; Stamatopoulou 2011: 74, fig. 117). Another example, this time from an Early Iron Age context, is known from Oropos in Euboea, where a building first associated with metalworking later became a site for ceramic production, with evidence for kilns (Doonan and Mazarakis Ainian 2007: 371). The clay for the building of both the furnace and the ceramic firing kiln had the same composition (Doonan and Mazarakis Ainian 2007: 371). In this context, not only is the technological knowledge shared by two crafts, but also the location of the workshops attests to their close relationship. Such clear archaeological evidence of technology and knowledge transfer between craftspeople through workshop contacts was until recently described as considerably rare and necessarily restricted to crafts working with durable materials and fixed

workshops, such as metal-and glassworking (McGovern 1989: 6). Besides that, the observations taken were mainly based on the evidence for crafts that have aspects of their procurement and production technology in common, such as is the case with pottery and metallurgy or glass-making. In recent years, however, more scholarly attention has been paid to understanding how knowledge and technology transfer worked in the past, and specifically to the ways in which it was shared between artisans across crafts; the variety of interconnections seems far larger than was previously thought (see for example the detailed analyses of A. Brysbaert on a wide range of cross-craft interactions observed in the Aegean painted plaster craft, Brysbaert 2007: 338-343, 2008).