Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2014.05.14 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014.05.14

Gudrun Klebinder-Gauß, Keramik aus klassischen Kontexten im Apollon-Heiligtum von Ägina-Kolonna. Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie, 70; Contributions to the chronology of the eastern Mediterranean, 30.   Wien:  Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012.  Pp. 440.  ISBN 9783700169499.  €112.00.  


Reviewed by Thomas Mannack, Beazley Archive: Classical Art Research Centre; Ioannou School for Classical and Byzantine Studies (thomas.mannack@beazley.ox.ac.uk)

The sixth report on the excavations in the Kolonna Sanctuary in Aegina in 2001 presents the local and imported pottery found in Classical contexts with special emphasis on Aeginetan “cooking ware,” which was hugely popular beyond the confines of the island. The volume has been written by Klebinder-Gauß with contributions by A. Pentedeka, M. Georgakopoulou, E. Kiriatzi, and J. Weilhartner, and a preface by the editor of the series, F. Felten. The weighty tome is exceedingly well-illustrated with profile drawings and colour illustrations of many of the specimens. Use of the plates is easy, since all objects have been labelled with their catalogue numbers.

The preface explains that the Kolonna hill, the acropolis of ancient Aegina, has been largely obliterated, and that the finds from closed deposits published here are among the very few remains of the Classical period.

The main body is preceded by a substantial bibliography and is subdivided into nine chapters, two appendixes, the catalogue, three concordances, and an index. The introduction includes acknowledgements, a brief presentation of the site and the results of the 2001 excavation conducted on the southeast slope of the Kolonna hill, which may have been the Thesmophorion mentioned by Herodotus, the structure of the volume, and instructions for use.

The excavations explored two shafts and five wells, each of which is dealt with in a separate chapter. Their locations are clearly marked on two maps of different scales; tables and charts support the exemplary presentation of the finds.

Chapter II discusses the 6m deep well SH C4/05 in the courtyard of the building. As in the following chapters, the author clearly distinguishes between the rather short period of use and the fill. Most of the pottery of the period of use is local, with some Attic and a few Corinthian and Laconian imports. The shapes are connected with the collection of water and were therefore probably lost during use; a few—including lamps—were probably discarded in the well. Only very few items can be dated with some degree of certainty and suggest a very brief period of use between 480 and 470 B.C. The fill is homogenous, suggesting that the well was filled in to allow a more efficient use of the yard and that the well belonged to an earlier structure of which no trace has survived.

Well SH D1B/09 cannot be connected with any buildings. Dateable finds indicate that it was in use for a relatively short time around 430/420 B.C. and filled in in a single rapid process. During use, a number of vessels, among them Attic black painted vases and containers with ivy leaves in added paint made from the 3rd quarter of the 5th century, were dropped into the well

Chapters IV and V discuss two shafts with refreshing brevity. Shaft SH D1A/01 is about 20cm deep, lined with poros stone, and used between ca. 475-425 B.C. before it was filled in. Its purpose is unknown and the pottery is too fragmented for a deposit. Shaft SH D1C/02-03 belonged to an unknown structure. Its walls were lined with bricks, the bottom paved; it cannot be connected with a building. The filling contained fragments of Athenian black painted pottery, Aeginetan cookery ware, Corinthian vases, transport amphorae and terracottas.

Well FG 306 was part of a house probably used for the cult in the sanctuary and it contained a number of complete vases used for dining and drinking, including Athenian black painted vases, Corinthian cups and small oinochoes, and two Laconian kraters as well as numerous Aeginetan cookery pots dated around 450-420 B.C. The lack of containers of water suggests that the well dried up very quickly after it had been built.

Well F 12 (FG 300) is not well documented and parts of the finds appear to have been discarded. Fragments include specimens from the geometric period, and containers made in Aegina, East Greece, Corinth, and Laconia. It was probably filled in towards the end of the 5th century B.C.

Well 21C/14 is 15m deep. Relatively complete water containers at its bottom show that it was in use until around 430 B.C. and slowly filled in thereafter. Finds include Aeginetan cookery wares and transport amphorae.

Chapter IX is written in English and dedicated to an exhaustive, exemplary and detailed analysis of the clay of the classical finds from the Kolonna sanctuary, describing colour, consistency and mineral composition of all the wares. The findings are supported by clear tables and photographs of the microscopic analysis.

Chapter X reverts to German and discusses production, shapes (among them chytriai, leopades, sieves and others), technique, and distribution of Aeginetan cooking ware largely neglected by scholars, containers made for cooking, frying, baking and storage. Production of widely exported cooking wares began in the 7th century, although there may have been Middle Bronze Age antecedents. They flourished from the late 6th to the late 5th centuries, when a range of other shapes was added to the traditional one-handled chytriai, and declined sharply towards the end of the fifth century, probably after the Athenian occupation of the island. In the fourth century production began again, but Aeginetan workshops produced fewer vases and shapes, which were not widely exported. Final observations cover historical and economic contexts.

Appendix I deals with a misfired batch of cooking wares fused in a kiln, thereby providing clues to the production and the shapes fired in one process. Appendix II covers the literary evidence on Aeginetan pottery: Herodotus (V.81-88) mentions a decree that forced Athenian women to use only Aeginetan drinking vessels in the sanctuary.

In summary, this is a highly useful and exceptionally well presented volume on an important Classical site and on hitherto little studied Aeginetan coarse wares.

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