STUDIES ON THE NEW MYCENAEAN PALACE OF AYIOS VASILEIOS IN LACONIA


Rhyton in form of a bullʼs head from Building A (©A. Vasilogamvrou)
Aerial view of the Ayios Vasileios hill and the central laconian plain in the background (© A. Vasilogamvrou)

The study carried out by R. Jung and E Kardamaki represents an interdisciplinary research that focuses on the analysis of the ceramic finds from the recently discovered Mycenaean palace of Ayios Vasileios in Laconia. The excavations of the newly identified palace are directed by Adamantia Vasilogamvrou, Director Emerita of the Antiquity Service at Sparta and are conducted under the auspices of the Archaiologike Hetaireia at Athens. With the help of modern excavation methods the ongoing research at Ayios Vasileios offers insight into the rise and fall of a palatial region seen against the background of its political and economic development.

Already in the course of the first excavations in 2008 it became evident, that the very good preservation of the rich finds and remains of Ayios Vasileios would offer a unique chance to investigate with the help of modern methods all aspects related to the material culture and organization of a palatial center. In the meantime, an archive, a cult place and a monumental courtyard came to light. Elaborate rebuilding programs as well as massive destruction contexts with remains of feasting deposits demonstrate the dynamic and complex development of the palace – which is being continuously excavated – from the early Mycenaean period until its severe fiery destruction at the end of the 14th or the beginning of the 13th century BCE. For the exact reconstruction of the building history and development of the palace the typology of ceramics from sealed and closed contexts that date from the 17th century until the end of the 13th century BCE will be studied. Following this, the results of the latter study will be compared to the situation known from other important centers located close by (Menelaion, Ayios Stephanos) or in a bigger distance from Ayios Vasileios (Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Kythera, Chania) in order to understand the regional and interregional importance of the palace.

Another focus of the research – apart from the establishment of a local pottery typology – is related to aspects of pottery production. All the wares identified will be analysed in terms of their typology and examined with the help of archaeometric methods (in order to identify their provenance). Consequently, their presence in the various subsequent levels will be quantified in order to understand their development and the possible changes in the pottery production in the periods considered. Given the significance and geographic position of the site, it is furthermore possible to gain important new data regarding the emergence of the Mycenaean pottery in general by analyzing the mentioned pottery from the earlier levels of the palace and from the Early Mycenaean cemetery located on the north tip of the hill. In addition, organic residue analyses conducted by C. Debono Spiteri (University of Tübingen) will shed light on the use of the various vessels and the consumption practices at this Late Bronze Age site. In the course of the project, selected pottery classes from Ayios Vasileios will be compared with their equivalent fabrics from contemporary sites outside the Aegean (among others Punta di Zambrone in Calabria). The latter study will highlight the differences and similarities in the use of pottery between two regions, the inhabitants of which – based on other evidence – were in direct contact to each other.