Kontopigado: A Mycenaean Industrial Area South of Athens


The Mycenaean workshop installation of Kontopigado/Alimos in Attica (Greece) represents the largest “industrial” area discovered so far in the Late Bronze Age Aegean (ca. 1700–1100 BCE). It is a possible case of a regional “industrial” center. Therefore, it offers a unique chance to investigate a series of crucial questions related to Mycenaean technology and production during the palatial era of the 14th to 13th centuries BCE.

Under the direction of K. Kaza-Papageorgiou the local ephorate of antiquities had excavated a complex of rock-cut pits, wells and channels, one of which reaches 64 m in length. These structures either represent the whole range of workshop facilities existing at Kontopigado, or else they were only part of the infrastructure related to workshops located close by. The precise function and utility of that workshop area remains undefined so far, but it seems to have involved water use and management. Due to its size and distinct morphological features, the workshop installation of Kontopigado still remains unparalleled in all the prehistoric Aegean. The envisaged project focuses on the analysis of the uncovered architectural remains as well as pottery and small finds of that “industrial” area.

A partially contemporary settlement located in a distance of only a few hundred meters from the workshop installation has also been investigated by means of archaeological excavation and thus provides the possibility of a direct comparison including structures and movable finds from both the residential and the workshop areas. The interdisciplinary approach of the research project combines a series of archaeological and archaeometric studies. Detailed measurements of the excavated remains shall be combined with geophysical prospection on neighboring plots, in order to unravel size, layout and construction details. Typological, technological and archaeometric analyses of the pottery shall provide the chronological framework as well as evidence for determining the activities conducted at the site. Further clues to those activities can be expected from archaeometric analyses of small finds such as querns, which are present in significant numbers. The collected data will serve to determine the relation of the “industrial” installation to the settlement excavated nearby and to reconstruct its role in Mycenaean society in general.

Workshops located outside the palaces figure prominently in the written archives of the period and seem to have played a crucial role for Mycenaean economy. However, such workshops – apart from rare exceptions – are barley known from the archaeological record. The project aspires insights into highly debated aspects of Mycenaean Greece, especially regarding the period of the palatial administration system and economy (1400–1200 BCE), such as technology, settlement organization and production management.