The pithos makers at Zagora: Technological identification of the potters who met the storage demands of a prosperous mixed farming community in the northern Cyclades in the Early Iron Age
- McLoughlin Beatrice
The EIA settlement site Zagora, on the island of Andros, has produced three pithos types made from local clays: the rope band, the relief band and the applied relief pithos, which together met the ceramic storage demands of the farming community that dwelled there. A macroscopic analysis of the corpus of pithos fragments from the site has made it possible to identify two distinct ceramic traditions: the first two pithos types can be reliably associated with that employed in the production of the local handmade coarsewares, while the applied relief pithos exhibits a completely different technological signature. The Zagora applied relief pithoi can be associated technologically and stylistically with the sub-group known as the Tenian-Boiotian group, which it can now be confirmed were made by traveling potters who took advantage of an existing localised exchange network between specific settlements in Euboia and the northern Cyclades in the late 8th century. Through extensive use of ethnographic studies on pithos makers active in Greece in the early to mid 20th century, it has been possible to establish both the relative value of each pithos type in terms of the investment of labour, time and fuel, and the range of functional uses each pithos type might best meet. In this context the applied relief pithos is shown to be less expensive to manufacture, and less versatile in its potential uses than the relief band pithos. Therefore its production at Zagora must be re-evaluated in terms of what it may reflect both with regard to the storage needs of the inhabitants, and to the community's relationship with the other settlements participating in local exchange network that these travelling potters use.
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