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Finds from the Hake-Kitchener excavations

Overview

The following notes, in the absence of any contextual information on the original excavations, are intended to provide a general overview of the material from Kourion excavated by George Hake in 1882. The discussion is not exhaustive and the reader should refer to the individual object records, as well as to general literature on the subject flagged in the accompanying essays, for fuller discussion of the individual object types, including parallels recovered from scientifically-recorded archaeological contexts.

With the exception of the lamps which were described in detail by Donald Bailey in an article which appeared in the journal Opuscula Atheniensia in 1965,[1]very few of the items presented here have been published before now. Many of the objects preserved by Hake belong to fairly commonly occurring types, particularly the majority of Iron Age, Hellenistic and Roman vases, as well as the spindle whorls, beads and other small finds. Most have close parallels in burials of their respective periods, but also in contemporary settlements or sanctuary deposits. Examples are discussed in the section on the History, culture and burial customs of the Kourion area in this Catalogue.

Pottery items are discussed in approximate chronological order, from the very end of the Late Bronze Age down to Late Roman times, though several of the major ceramic categories develop in parallel during the Iron Age. This will allow the reader to put these finds within a broader cultural and historical sequence and understand them as examples of the material culture of the Kourion area over a 1500 year period. Where possible, the familiar terminology developed by the Swedish Cyprus Expedition (SCE) is used, though in some cases items cannot be precisely assigned to any of the types presented in Gjerstad’s seminal studies of the Iron Age pottery (1948, 1960) or those used or devised by Benson in his publication of the Kaloriziki material in 1973.

It should also be stressed that the system used by the SCE often artificially divided vessels of essentially (or exactly) the same shape, technique and fabric into different wares. It classified pottery principally based on details of surface treatment, such as painted or incised decoration or the use of slips or fired surfaces of specific colours. This tended to obscure the fact that many vessel types were made within the same workshops by the same potters. While this is often visible from intact burials which contain a full range of contemporary types, it is less obvious when vases are classified in the manner employed by the SCE, especially in the absence of an archaeological context. The items preserved by Hake are a case in point.[2]It should be borne in mind therefore that the various terms used by archaeologists to describe pottery and other material reflect scientific convention rather than actual distinction which would have been made by the original makers and users of the objects. More recent studies have also questioned the validity of the traditional subdivisions of types proposed by Gjerstad for a variety of reasons, including relative dates during which specific types were used.[3]

Miscellaneous small items such as beads/spindle whorls or bone objects are treated separately at the end. Many are of very common type and cannot be dated closely in the absence of an archaeological context. As with the pottery, parallels from published tomb and settlement contexts from Kourion and other Cypriot sites, but also from around the Mediterranean in the case of the Hellenistic and Roman material, allow these small, essentially personal items to be understood within their original historical and cultural framework.

  • ^ [1] - Bailey 1965.
  • ^ [2] - Smith 2009, 220–33 provides an up-to-date survey of the problems.
  • ^ [3] - E.g. Schreiber 2003; Smith 2009, chapter VII provides a more radical reassessment.