Conference: The gods of SMALL THINGS
Ure Museum, Department of Classics, University of Reading:
21-22 September 2009
Session 1: Toys for life
Oliver Pilz (Johannes-Gutenberg-Universitaet, Mainz), "The Semantics of Greek Miniature Objects"
In the archaeological sciences, the notion of "miniature" is generally used to denote the imitation of a functional item in a considerably reduced scale. This, however, as I will argue in my paper, does not imply that non-functionality is intrinsic to miniature objects. In Greek antiquity, miniature objects are widely attested in the archaeological record appearing in a variety of contexts such as household assemblages, sanctuaries, and tombs. From a diachronic point of view, miniature versions exist from a wide range of items ‒ a fact that has somehow obscured that the process of miniaturization is, in a synchronic perspective, largely confined to a comparatively small group of symbolically meaningful items.
In previous research, the role of miniature objects was often downplayed by generally interpreting them as cheap offerings of lower social strata or children's toys. Due to this simplifying approach, the symbolic value of Greek miniature objects has frequently been overlooked. Nevertheless, meaning and function of miniature objects cannot be understood in an appropriate way without considering that these items are, by means of their normal-size prototypes, symbolically related to various conceptions and beliefs of the Greek society. In my paper, I suggest that the current social role models played an equally important role as the ritual practice in the process of miniaturization. The principal aim of my paper is therefore to conceive miniature objects as a sign system in the semiotic sense. In a number of case studies, the attempt will be made to decode their specific connotations.
Marcie Handler (Cincinnati), "Ancient Animation: Articulated Figurines from Roman Athens"
Scholars have long identified terracotta figurines with separately molded and articulated arms and legs as dolls, puppets, and marionettes. In Greece, this type of figurine was first produced in the Geometric period, and the type persisted—though not without changes—through the Roman period. Two new articulated figurine types were recently unearthed in a 1st-2nd century A.D. coroplast's dump near the Athenian Agora. These two types—a warrior, dressed and armed as a hoplite soldier, and a dancer in Eastern dress consisting of a tunica manicata and anaxyrides—provide a fresh perspective on the use and reception of articulated figurines.
In early studies of articulated figurines, scholars dismissed these figurines as children's playthings, designed to amuse children in life and, in the grave, after death. A detailed examination of the dress and pose of the new types from the Athens, along with their cultural context, however, reveals that these puppets served as more than mere toys. Like most terracottas, articulated figurines were inherently portable. But unlike figurines with a flat base, figurines with articulated limbs were unable to stand on their own and only performed their function when they were in use. These figurines required the direct participation of individuals, and were designed for manipulation by users for the entertainment of self and/or others. Just as the gods were seen to pull the strings of mortal men, so did humans control and animate articulated figurines.
Amy C. Smith (Reading), "Knucklebones: playful prayers or sacral symbolism?"
While literary sources provide insights into the use of astragaloi (sheep or goat knucklebones) for games, they provide little more than hints as to their religious significance. Finds of astragaloi, in houses, graves and sanctuaries, however, attest their manifold use in a continuum of religious activity.
Astragaloi could be used in lieu of dice or tokens for other games, or in lieu of pebbles for the purposes of cleromancy. Playing with astragaloi in groups is, at its most primitive, a game of skill, i.e., to catch them on the back of one's hand. On a more complex level it is a game of chance: values were given the different manners in which each astragalos might land. The inherent attraction of astragaloi as a game of chance as well as skill doubtless contributed to its understanding as a symbol of chance or luck.
Some astragaloi might have been casually deposited as mere faunal remains. Yet the number, context, or even material (metal, glass, ceramic, and stone) of excavated astragaloi demands a more thorough interpretation. Like their natural counterparts, artificial astragaloi came to be understood as symbols of chance, luck, and fortune. They were therefore appropriate votive dedications to deities, not least Tyche, the goddess of fortune. The understanding of such tokens as symbols of luck, as well as enjoyable games, surely also led to their frequent use as love gifts.
Interpretations of archaeological finds of astragaloi are therefore complicated by their manifest value as toys, tools, gifts, or religious dedications. These categories overlap: astragaloi were cherished private possessions, whether at home or in transit. A nuanced contextual approach is therefore warranted. This paper will consider the use of natural and artificial astragaloi as dedications in mainland Greece until the Roman conquest. It will address questions such as: Would an astragalos' value be enhanced through its own biography (use in a variety of contexts)? Were astragaloi preferred dedications in particular sanctuaries/locations, according to the identity of donors, economic considerations, regional preferences and/or those of donors or deities concerned?
Session 2: Women's toil and trouble
Elisabetta Pala (Cagliari), "Pinakes, astragaloi and epinetra: some 'small' dedications from the Athenian Acropolis"
This paper aims to understand some religious aspects linked to small objects dedicated on the Athenian Acropolis. The study intentionally omits great dedications, such as great kraters and fine kilikes signed by very famous artists, in order to demonstrate how the "smaller" objects, created by the lesser known painters, also allow to draw a varied picture of dedications as a microcosm of the devoutness shown by faithful and pilgrims on the great polyadic sanctuary.
Pinakes, for instance, were found in greatest quantity on the Acropolis. A deepened analysis of their iconography reveals which divinities were object of specific cult: figured scenes depicted on them not only show that Athena was the "queen" of the Acropolis, but also illustrate that Herakles occupied a privileged place near his protectress".
Tightened connections between the religious and domestic sphere are illustrated by epinetra, female objects typically, used in the workmanship of the wool. Fragments of epinetra coming from the Acropolis must be interpreted as dedications to a female divinity. It is, however, difficult to determine to which divinity the vows are directed since the greatest part of them has been recovered in the perserschutt. Nevertheless a lot of these sherds, found near the south-western side of the Parthenon, not far from the Sanctuary of Arthemis Brauronia and the foundations of the primitive temple of Athena Polias, show connections with the cult of one of these two goddesses.
Moreover other small and rather rare objects such as astragaloi, but also head vases and kantharoi, have been found on the Athenian fortress in larger number than in other sanctuaries. Their decoration gives us further indication about the dedication.
In conclusion, the coexistence of extremely precious and refined products near the more cursive others allows a glimpse into a certain social stratification of purchasers; surely different choices by faithful derived maximally from economic possibilities of each. Thus, the presence of inferior quality ex-votos attests that actions of Athenian devotion were not merely privileges of the aristocratic class but rather each gift was worthy to be offered to the divinity in both the form of individual and collective dedications.
Chiara Albanesi (Scuola di Specializzazione in Archeologia di Matera) & Ilaria Battiloro (Alberta), "The mundus muliebris within Lucanian sanctuaries: Tales of women and social life in small votive offerings "
The system of votive offerings can be considered as the most meaningful indicator of cultic practices and religious ideology in contexts which lack written sources, such as the indigenous world of Southern Italy.
This paper puts under scrutiny the rich documentation of small votive objects from the sanctuaries of ancient Lucania, which are related to the feminine sphere. Such ex-votos are typologically differentiated, as the dedications made by women can be clearly distinguished from the offerings made by the male component of Lucanian society.
The analysis of the female dedications shows that the women's world was "transposed" into the sacred places by means of the votive objects which encompassed the whole parabola of the woman's life, from childhood to the status of nymphe and mother. Therefore, the values of the oikos were literally "embodied" in these small sacred objects, which reconstruct – like mosaic tesserae – the communal environment in which women performed their role within the society in which they lived.
This research proposes a "sociological" approach to the archaeological phenomenology of votive dedications in the world of ancient Lucania, and addresses the following questions: what is the message of which the feminine votives are vehicles? What can we infer from them about the social role of the female component of Lucanian communities? Can these data contribute to shedding light on the role of women within the oikos, which is the elementary cell of the Lucanian societal structure, and on the way in which women were perceived within it? This study makes its aim the expression of how the sacred space can be considered the mirror of the society which performed rituals and dedications, as a strong connection existed between the religious sphere and daily life.
Alexandra Sofroniew (Brasenose, Oxford), "Women's work: the dedication of loom weights in the sanctuaries of southern Italy"
Loom weights are a common find in the sanctuaries of the ancient world; simple, small, portable, and inexpensive, they are often discounted as low status dedications, or merely a remnant of weaving taking place at the site.
In this paper, I will emphasise the significance of the loom weight as an offering rather than a tool, arguing for examples of intentional dedication, and exploring their direct connection to women through weaving. My evidence will be drawn from sanctuaries in central and southern Italy, focusing on the territory of the Samnites and Apulians and the nearby coastal Greek colonies, in order to explore any differences between rural and urban settings and Greek and indigenous practices.
Loom weights can form a significant proportion of the votives from sites in this area, at once both supporting intentional dedication and providing valuable evidence for the involvement of women in votive cult. As well as coming in various shapes and sizes, some loom weights are inscribed or incised with patterns, figures, or letters, which make explicit the transformation from domestic item to decorated offering. I will look closely at these decorated loom weights to understand how the objects act as dedications and reflect female concerns. Furthermore, I will consider the ritual significance of weaving and links to specific female deities such as Athena, Hera, or Demeter, and female rites of passage such as the transition from childhood to adulthood or marriage. Finally, I will argue for the importance of the loom weight as an offering with symbolic significance for women, representing their work, and their role in the home and society at large.
Session 3: Preparing the feast
Elisa Perego (University College, London), "Between religion and consumption: Culinary implements in Venetic ritual practice"
The aim of this paper is to illuminate cultic practices in Iron Age Veneto (first millennium BC) through a focus on culinary implements, a class of artefacts often undervalued in mainstream archaeology. The area under study is roughly coincident with the territory occupied today by the administrative region of Veneto, located in Northeast Italy between the Alps, the Adriatic Sea and the Po Valley. Circa 15 cult places are known from different Venetic localities, ranging from peak sacred sites to suburban sanctuaries surrounding the main settlement of Este. Evidence of large quantities of animal bones, vegetal remains and culinary implements excavated in sacred sites testifies that food and beverage consumption was one of the main aspects of Venetic religious practice. Culinary equipment consisted of a wide array of artefacts, including instruments for meat butchering and roasting, humble food containers and elegant cups for wine consumption imported from Greece. By drawing on anthropological research which has long recognised the importance of eating and drinking as powerful metaphors and practices engaged in the negotiation of socio-political and economic dynamics, this paper explores how material culture specifically related to food preparation, distribution and ingestion was employed to frame narratives of identity, sociality and power. Analysis of the typology, provenance and chronology of culinary implements is devoted to identify patterns of use related to the pursuing of specific collective strategies involving diverse social actors (deities and worshippers, elite and non-elite members, local people and foreign merchants). Given the value of culinary equipment as a vehicle for the expression of social concerns regarding the relation with the supernatural, the value of food as a medium of affiliation and the elaboration of political strategies via ritual commensality, I argue that such categories of artefacts bear multifaceted meanings and deep social significance, and would deserve further attention.
Stefanos Gimatzidis (Greek Archaeological Service), "Feasting and Offering to the Gods in Early Greek Sanctuaries"
Over the last decades there were many long discussions on the pottery distribution patterns during the Early Iron Age in the Mediterranean and many theories were built on such evidence. The Pan-Hellenic or regional Greek sanctuaries were kept out of these debates because they were excavated a long time ago and the ceramic evidence from them was meager. Some of the most common finds from old excavations in the Greek famous sanctuaries were and in many cases still are metal or other artifacts than ceramics, because undecorated and fragmentary pottery used not to be appreciated as a significant find. It is now very tempting to take a closer look on this issue since modern excavations and research have offered in the last years new knowledge on the pottery used or offered in early Greek sanctuaries such as those of Olympia, Eretria, Kalapodi or Samos. Although we have at our disposal only few final publications of modern excavated sites, it is tempting to explore the diversity of sanctuary pottery assemblages – simple table and ritual pottery – during the Early Iron Age and Early Archaic times and to examine it by contrast with other sanctuary offerings or household ceramics. It is interesting to see how far the cosmopolitan character of some cult places in the Aegean revealed from the written sources and some metal votive offerings is also reflected in pottery. A characteristic example for the interrelation of pottery consumption trends in sanctuary and domestic assemblages is the early archaic cult place revealed in the settlement of Sane on Pallene, Chalkidike, where people used to consume a lot of East Greek and Corinthian pottery next to many different categories of local Macedonian wares.
Session 4: Domestic trinkets?
Craig Hardiman (Waterloo), "Little gods in the Hellenistic home"
Just as in contemporary homes, the ancient Greeks decorated their dwellings with small scale (usually 1m or less) marble statues that often depict deities. Previous research into these statues has suggested that this primarily Hellenistic phenomenon should reflect an almost exclusive religious function. Central to this question, however, is our poor knowledge of domestic religious practice among the Greeks. An investigation of the scant references to domestic cult and cult practices illustrates that the majority of gods worshipped in the home do not appear as subjects in the sculptural record. In addition, those smaller material finds that are normally associated with domestic ritual - portable altars, cult tables, louter bases, miniature dedicatory vessels and the like - are very rarely uncovered along with an associated statue. The depositional contexts for these domestic sculptures would suggest that they were meant to be admired primarily as decoration and recent scholarship in the field has stressed the decorative and status functions that such material may have fulfilled. While one should avoid promoting a clear and absolute religious/decorative dichotomy, after all the subjects for many of these statues were gods and goddesses and many domestic cult rituals may have left no trace in the archaeological record, the non-religious aspects of domestic sculpture should be emphasized. Hellenistic domestic sculpture, then, was as much of a cultural expression of status, wealth and, to a lesser extent, piety as any public sculpture and its decorative and architectural contexts show as much a concern for visual display as has been traditionally seen in Hellenistic sculpture in general. While the discovery and analysis of any such material may help in an understanding of domestic religious practices in specific cases, the notion that sculpture in the home was "largely religious" should be re-evaluated.
Sanda Heinz (St. Cross, Oxford), "The small-scale votives of Herakleion-Thonis"
In the past ten years, some truly amazing discoveries have been made at Herakleion-Thonis, a submerged site off the coast of Egypt, dating from approximately the 7th century BC through the Ptolemaic period. Some of these finds include colossal statues, impressive architectural structures, and even large-scale stele with governmental proclamations. Of the many finds, however, some of the most intriguing are the small-scale votive objects that have been uncovered by the hundreds. Of these votives, many are more prestigious objects, such as bronze statuettes of deities; alongside those prestige objects, however, numerous small, less prestigious objects were also discovered: miniature anchors, miniature vessels, fertility figurines, and lead models of processional barks.
Throughout most of the site, because of various underwater disturbances, the stratigraphy is often unclear. The mixed stratigrahpy, however, does not necessarily detract from the value of the site; instead, the material brings to the foreground the question of the interrelationship between public and private spheres. Many of the objects, particularly the amulets and fertility figurines, would be just as comfortable in a private setting as in a religious one. How, then, can we separate the two realms here, or should we even make such an attempt?
In a few cases where the stratigraphy can be determined, votives of non-prestigious materials are grouped together with those made of more precious metals; they seem to be given equal priority and importance as gifts for the gods. Acknowledging this, it seems that we cannot determine the value of a votive object by cost alone, but what other criteria should be involved?
The Herakleion-Thonis material, with its abundance and variety, offers a wealth of information and prompts some of the questions described above, and more. This paper will attempt to answer some of those questions as it investigates the role of these objects in the community of Herakleion-Thonis.
Lisa Trentin (Wilfred Laurier University), "Taming the 'Other': The hunchback in miniature"
In 1961 Bieber recognized that genre or 'lowly' subject matter "by its very nature lends itself better to small than to monumental size." Thirty years later Bartman observed, "minor size would seem to be equated with minor social status." In the case of, so-called, "grotesques," specifically representations of the deformed and disabled, these statements seem to ring true. This paper will investigate one specific type of deformity; that being the hunchback, since the single most conspicuous feature of these representations is their miniature scale. Of the fifty hunchback representations I have catalogued, forty-five are rendered in miniature, ranging from 5.1 cm to 19.0 cm in height. The majority of these representations have been connected to the workshops of Alexandria in Egypt and Smyrna in Asia Minor, with some having been discovered in Rome, and broadly dated between the third century BCE and first century CE. In the past, these figurines have been attributed a votive function, though few have been discovered in votive contexts. Rather, those with known archaeological provenances are associated with a domestic context. This paper therefore examines these representations as they appear in the private sphere and considers some of the reasons why a person might have wanted to own such representations and where/how they were displayed. It begins with an analysis of their technical details (size, materials of production, methods of manufacture, and decoration) in order to evaluate their aesthetic appeal as objects of display. It will thus be shown that the hunchback type was stylistically finer than most other representations of grotesque figures, demonstrating a high quality in workmanship and decorative detail. It then explores some of the motives underlying the miniaturization of the hunchback, suggesting that this was part of the widespread desire to tame and domesticate (and thus normalize) the 'Other'.
Session 5: Inscribed tokens
Kathryn Lomas (University College, London), "Crossing Boundaries: The Inscribed Votives of Southeast Italy"
The sanctuaries of south-east Italy are rich in votive deposits, but the nature of the votives is very different from those found in sanctuaries in some other regions of Italy. Unlike (for instance) the Veneto, where many items in the votive deposits of the archaic period appear to be purpose-made, the votives of Puglia principally consist of everyday objects, probably not specially made for ritual purposes, and of little intrinsic value. Typically, votive deposits consist mainly of local and imported Greek pot-sherds and other small portable items such as loom-weights. Many are found at ritual sites which were used by both the local Italian population and various groups of outsiders (principally Greeks in the 6th-3rd centuries and Romans or groups from other areas of Italy in the 2nd century). A significant number of these votives were inscribed. This paper explores the significance of these inscribed votives from the 6th-2nd centuries BC, and in particular what they can tell us about votive and ritual practices in areas of cultural contact between Greeks and the indigenous Italian populations. It also explores changes to votive deposits and ritual behaviour over a period of time in which this area of Italy was subject to major ethnic, cultural and political change.
Jane Draycott (Nottingham), "Size Matters: Reconsidering Horus on the Crocodiles"
In Egypt, from the Late Period (746 BC), through the Hellenistic Period (332 BC) and into the Roman Period (30 BC onwards), a type of artefact known as the 'Horus cippus' was manufactured. Typically, these artefacts depicted Horus trampling upon crocodiles and holding a number of wild creatures. Their purpose was to both protect people against attacks by the wild animals native to Egypt, and heal the wounds inflicted by them.
Previous studies (Seele 1947, Ritner 1989, Sternberg-El Hotabi 1999 etc) have focussed primarily upon the religious and magical aspects of these cippi and the extensive selection of spells inscribed upon them. However, this concentration upon the magical spells has ensured that little attention has been paid to the iconography, more specifically the selection of animals that Horus is depicted defeating: the crocodile, serpent, scorpion, lion and oryx. Why these particular creatures, out of all the dangerous species of animal resident in Egypt? I intend to show that these animals were not necessarily chosen because they correspond to certain episodes in ancient Egyptian mythology, but because of the very real danger they posed to the inhabitants of Egypt, particularly travellers and pilgrims; according to Diodorus Siculus, writing in the middle of the first century BC, 'the upper part of [Egypt] is to this day desert and infested with wild beasts'.
Horus cippi were available in a variety of sizes, from small enough for an individual to wear as an amulet or carry around in their pocket to large enough to set up as a monument in the courtyard of a temple. I will focus on the smaller, portable Horus cippi that travellers and pilgrims carried with them on their journeys, using specific examples to indicate definite instances of mobility, in an attempt to both ward off dangerous animals and treat their bites. I will show that this reflects a continuum between the religious and domestic spheres, with people adapting institutional religious practices for their own pragmatic purposes.
Nick West (Reading), "Gods ON Small Things: Egyptian Monumental Iconography on Late-Antique Magical Gems"
Over the last century of mass media we have all become familiar with the imagery depicted on ancient Egyptian temples ranging from the victorious Pharaoh in the act of delivering the final blow to his defeated foe to the activities of various gods such as Horus and Set contending for the throne of the kingdom. On the tomb walls we witness Anubis in the act of embalming the deceased and on the ubiquitous cippi of Horus, the young god stands on crocodiles grasping venomous animals.
Equally fascinating are the miniature representations of these images which endured for millennia now engraved on small magical gems produced with a personal function in mind. Many of these gems are believed to be of Christian origin and presumably descend from the same ritual tradition as the Coptic spells dating from the same period. But how did iconography from Pharaonic Egyptian tradition make their way from the walls of temples and tombs onto magical gems used by Christians and other individuals in Late-Antiquity?
In this paper we will compare the functions of these magical gems with their iconographic predecessors to see if we can detect a continuum between the 'religious' and 'domestic' spheres especially in terms of the relationship between the gems and the body on which they adorned. Comparative material from the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri will be used to set the imagery on the gems in the context of the Graeco-Egyptian ritual tradition.
Session 6: Depositional acts speak louder than words
Julia Farley (Leicester), "Transformations of Scale: The deposition of miniature weaponry in Iron Age Lincolnshire"
Miniatures are deceptive. Holding one in the palm of your hand, it is easy to feel a sense of connection to the people who made and used such artefacts in the past. Yet, despite their inherent appeal, uncovering the social roles of miniature artefacts, particularly in prehistoric contexts, is fraught with difficulties. In order to appreciate their significance, we must remove them from the category of archaeological curiosities, and return them to their wider social and landscape contexts. Whether depositional acts involved full-size objects or miniatures, these practices would have played a significant role in the construction, maintenance and negotiation of identities within socially and cosmologically structured landscapes. The various ways in which people employed material culture to perform their identities can reveal how both objects and places were conceptualised.
This paper will consider the deposition of miniature weapons as part of the wider phenomenon of metalwork deposition in Iron Age Lincolnshire. This approach reveals a sharp distinction between the landscape locations selected for the deposition of full-size weapons and their miniature counterparts. As settlement-based deposition became common in the Late Iron Age, votive offerings of weapons and tools underwent a drastic transformation in scale. While full-size weaponry was almost entirely excluded from deposition in settlements, miniatures seem to have been considered appropriate offerings. The possible reasons for this will be explored, through an investigation of design factors, including portability, singularity and uniqueness, and the apparent preference for offensive weaponry (e.g. swords, spears) in full-size objects chosen for deposition, compared to a predominance of defensive objects (shields) amongst miniatures. These shifts in the nature of depositional practices will be related to contemporary social changes, such as the development of large, agglomerated settlements, as Late Iron Age societies in Lincolnshire were drawn into an ever closer relationship with the Classical world.
Sheila Kohring (Cambridge), "Bodily skill and the aesthetics of miniaturisation"
Significant consideration has been paid to the symbolic and ritual importance of miniature objects in the archaeological record. Whether found in specific religious contexts or in domestic settings, these objects have been variously as mimetic or symbolic representations, but also as toys or teaching accoutrements. However, with increasing interest in embodiment and aesthetics in archaeology, the act of miniaturization maybe seen as a very personal act entailing personal meanings requiring skill and delicacy in technique and investment. It is a magical transformation of the mundane into something symbolic and even aesthetic.
This paper explores the production of miniature vessels for deposition as both an intimate bodily act of production as well as a transcendental technology (per Gell 1992). Taking an embodied and technical perspective towards production and depositional acts, I explore the specific techniques and skills required to produce miniatures and how, when combined with appropriate deposition and practices (per Pollard 2001), creates a personal knowledge and aesthetic which transcends either technological or depositional practices. Examples are taken from the Late Copper Age through Bronze Ages in southern and eastern Iberia. While the focus is on the prehistoric Western Mediterranean, the understanding of the physicality of production acts as interwoven knowledges of technology and deposition can be expanded to talk about ritual production and deposition elsewhere.
Katerina Volioti (Reading), "Travel tokens at the Korycian Cave near Delphi"
The Korycian Cave, five kilometres to the North East of Delphi, was sacred to the Pan and the Nymphs. The excavated deposits of the cave reflect a local preference for small non-prestige dedications, including Attic late black-figured lekythoi of a common type. In this paper, I take as a case study the hastily-drawn lekythoi attributed to the workshop of the Haimon Painter (ca. 480-460 BC) and argue that such offerings acquired signification as tokens of travel activity.
First, I shall discuss how these lekythoi related to the human body through their size, shape and functionality. As light and small closed vessels, they were suited for the ascent to the cave and the transport of liquid contents (presumably oil or perfume). Second, I shall examine find locations of Haimonian lekythoi near the Korycian cave and explore possible continuums between the cultic and sepulchral domain. The burial record shows no correlation between the deposition of Haimonian lekythoi and any specific age, gender or status group. Their dedication at the Korycian cave then may not have made a statement about the persona of the individual dedicator. It may, however, have been a gesture representative of one's travel. The wide geographical distribution of Haimonian lekythoi testifies to their portability and mobility.
The large number of these lekythoi in the Korycian cave reinforces the pulling power of the cave, which enticed those travelling out to the countryside, and the fact that in this cave cultic practice was not simple, rustic or of a small scale. Travel activity was meaningful for the consumption of Haimonian lekythoi both in a practical sense, in view of the size and shape advantages of these vessels, and in a symbolic sense, in that travel could be represented through a widely travelled lekythos.
Session 7: To the grave
A considerable number of small ceramic containers, most of them products of late Archaic Attic workshops, comes from the recent rescue excavations of Nea Kallikrateia in Chalkidiki.
Our aim in this conference paper is to explore the find locations of previously unpublished pottery that can be attributed to large Attic workshops, such as those of the Haimon, Beldam and Bowdoin Groups. In particular, we shall emphasise the relation between the pot and the body of the deceased and the symbolism of this relation within the burial context. Black-figured lekythoi and amphoriskoi have been excavated inside and outside the grave. Such vessels have often been found in large sets and seem to have been used for individuals of a certain age group (children and adolescents). Their precise find spots within the grave can be diverse. Sometimes such pots are next to the hand or the shoulder of the deceased. Some other times they are aligned along the grave wall. They are, however, always closely related to the human body.
We would like to look beyond the functionality of these vessels as oil containers. They are often found as an almost exclusive grave offering in a region where a new political situation is taking shape after the Persian Wars. This could account for the presence of these vessels in ritual contexts through which a community appears to care for the human body and represent the body symbolically in terms of the journey to the underworld and in terms of how the deceased carries on him or her small ceramic containers.
Michael Vickers (Oxford), "Coins and pebbles: small finds from graves in Colchis"
The Oxford-Batumi Pichvnari expedition has been active on the Black Sea coast of Georgia for the past dozen years. Excavation has been conducted in the settlement and in the Colchian and Greek cemeteries that date to the fifth to third century BC. Apart from the usual grave-goods, pottery and glass for the most part, there are two regular classes of small finds, one that has been closely studied, and one that has not. Coins are regularly found at the head of the deceased, and presumably served in the minds of the bereaved as "Charon's obols", or payment for the ferryman across the River Styx. The other class of grave offering occurs even more frequently in the form of small stones,"beach pebbles or pumice," that had been placed on graves by mourners.
Veronica Tamorri (Durham), "Predynastic cosmetic palettes: one object, two biographies"
The aim of this paper will be to discuss a particular kind of artefact, the cosmetic palettes produced throughout the Predynastic age in the Nile valley.
The original purpose of these objects as cosmetic grinders seems unquestionable, as the traces of coloured powders found on their surface prove. Furthermore, archaeologists agree in attributing to these small and portable artefacts also others and more ritual-related meanings, as this paper will clarify later on. Research has focused on how the shape, the dimensions and the aesthetical features of cosmetic palettes evolved from Naqada I (4000-3500 BC) onwards. The modifications in the appearance of these artefacts go together with a substantial change in their context of use. If at first cosmetic palettes of reduced dimensions were employed as grave goods, towards the end of the Predynastic period (final fourth millennium BC), the number of small shaped palettes declined to be replaced by larger ones of ceremonial purpose. Decoration also underwent significant evolution. The earlier geometrical and animal-shaped examples, uncarved, were substituted by exquisitely decorated items such as the Narmer Palette, which seem to be endowed with political meaning.
This paper will explore the different biographies entailed by palettes both in funerary and in votive contexts. I will highlight how palettes recovered in the funerary domain were integral to the reconstruction and negotiation of the identity of the deceased after death. The palettes' attachment to the corporal sphere was further enforced firstly by the deposition of these items near the corpse of the dead, secondly by their strict use as cosmetic grinders, to produce substances directly linked to the manipulation of the bodily appearance. On the contrary, I will show how palettes come to light in sanctuaries were connected to different kinds of biographies. Firstly, out of the funerary context, the relationship between body and schist palette was attenuated, to be substituted by the creation of a new knot between the object and the deity. Furthermore, as offerings placed in temples which hosted the first manifestations of royal cult, palettes were associated with kingship and, therefore incorporated into narratives of power.
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