Craftsmanship at Athens in the 11th Century BCE: Improvisation, Networking and Pottery Making
We find pottery so often and yet we tend to understand so little of it. When we look at the current scholarly debate regarding the pottery from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Aegean, strong emphasis is placed on the chronological and technological characterisation and synchronisation of material from different regions or individual sites. A good example of the first is the ongoing discussion as to whether ‘Submycenaean’, conventionally placed in the first half of the 11th century BCE ( Figure 8.1 ), can be regarded as a distinct chronological phase and, if so, whether it is possible to subdivide this period even further (for a recent discussion, see Papadopoulos, Damatia and Marston 2011). Submycenaean pottery has not had the best press over the years. The pottery is generally characterised as ‘bad’ (Whitley 2001: 79), ‘unambitious in range and poorly executed’ (Osborne 1996: 24) and ‘utterly derivative’ (Snodgrass 1971: 34). Consequently, the appearance of this pottery is often taken as a sign of cultural decay and a general loss of skill.