A Study of the Form and Function of a Select Group of Minoan Utilitarian Ceramics
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This study of Minoan utilitarian ceramics has been undertaken in order to review and re-assess several select vessel types of problematical function. The pieces were chosen on the basis of similarities in form and other characteristics held in common. The. problematical nature of the selected vessels is demonstrated by wide variations in the interpretations of functions assigned by various scholars.
The majority of the pertinent artifacts are located in the Heraklion Museum, Crete. All of these were inspected, catalogued, drawn and photographed. New material from the recent excavations at Kato Zakro, Crete (excavated from 1961 to 1972) is also included. Additional material was observed and recorded at the museums of H. Nikolaos and Chania in Crete, the Athens National Museum, and the University Museum, Philadelphia. Some material was secured from publications. All available data on these ceramic objects are recorded in this dissertation.
A typology was set up in order to present the vessels in an orderly fashion and to enable their characteristics to be systematically reviewed. All types are amply illustrated by sections and photographs.
The various pertinent aspects of each type are herein tabulated and analysed. Each_ type is analysed individually in terms of frequency, primary and secondary characteristics as well as distribution in time and space and specific distribution within sites. Next the data are reviewed as a whole in order to determine general trends.
Earlier evaluations are presented and reviewed. These form a basis for developing new ideas on vessel function.
A series of conclusions are drawn concerning the nature of the vessels and their possible functions. The former evaluations and the results of the analysis made possible by this typology_,,.. are taken into consideration.
The conclusions reached concerning function indicate that a) some vessels were used as incense burners, b) some vessels may have been associated with the production of aromatics, c) others have no specific function which is demonstrable but they can be determined to predominate in either settlement or cemetery context; d) the vessels are found primarily in Crete but not outside of the Aegean sphere and occur only during the Bronze Age .
The Appendices include A) information pertaining to the use of aromatics in antiquity and B) technical data on the manufacture of aromatics in order to provide a basis for connecting certain vessels with aromatics production. A third Appendix, C) gives the results of the analysis of five carbon samples from five vessels which was undertaken in order to determine the contents of the vessels and the type of wood.