Archaeology and Ceramic Archaeometry together Solve an Old Puzzle: the Bird-Bowl Workshop Located in Teos

Bird Bowl, produced in Teos, found in the Artemision at Ephesos
Bird Bowl, produced in Teos, found in the Artemision at Ephesos

More than 40 years ago, Nicolas Coldstream recognized in the Bird-Kotyle Workshop the most important producer of painted fine pottery in the eastern Aegean during the Late Geometric period (ca. 750–680 B.C.). This workshop was named after its most successful products, the Bird Kotylai, which after ca. 675/650 were replaced by the Bird-Bowls. Where this workshop was located, however, was unknown. Coldstream conjectured that it might have been on the island of Rhodes. 15 years later the first archaeometric analyses by Pierre Dupont revealed that these potteries were not on Rhodes, but should be looked for instead on the mainland, in the northern area of Ionia. A precise localization, however, was not possible, since comparative material from potential sites of production was lacking. Now, nearly half a century later, the combination of archaeology and archeometry has been able to provide the answer.

 

 

At the invitation of Musa Kadıoğlu (Ankara Üniversitesi), who has led the excavations at Teos since 2010, the remains of buildings from the 6th and 5th century have been revealed; these contained a series of misfired pottery. This indicated that either the building remains themselves belonged to potteries, or that the workshops lay in the immediate vicinity. The archaeometric analysis of the ceramic wasters as well as of additional Late Geometric, Archaic and Classical ceramic finds by means of neutron activation (NAA) at the University of Bonn resulted in the identification of a uniform chemical group of origin. This had already been known for a long time as ›Group of Origin B‹, but could now first be localized thanks to the new analyses from Teos. The group encompasses in the meantime 218 units from numerous find sites of the Geometric and Archaic eras in the Aegean, in Western Anatolia, on the Black Sea, in the Levant, from Naucratis in Egypt, and from Sicily. In addition to the Bird Kotylai and Bird Bowls, these workshops, according to the NAA analyses, also produced other types of Geometric and Archaic fine ceramic wares which were exported over long distances: bird tankards, rosette bowls, animal frieze wares in northern Ionian style (so-called Late Wild Goat style), plates with meander borders as well as transport amphorae.

 

 

Teos could therefore be identified as the most significant pottery centre, in addition to Chios, of the 8th–6th centuries B.C. in northern Ionia. From an economic standpoint, it is noteworthy that the workshops in Teos were some of the first in the Aegean area to implement the step towards a standardized mass production, oriented towards the export market.

 

 

Contact

Michael Kerschner (OeaI Vienna)

Hans Mommsen (Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und Kernphysik, University of Bonn)

Musa Kadıoğlu (Arkeoloji Bölümü, Dil ve Tarih Coğrafya Fakültesi, Ankara Üniversitesi)