The Annual of the British School at Athens


From Fabrics to Island Connections: Macroscopic and Microscopic Approaches to the Prehistoric Pottery of Antikythera1

A. Pentedekaa1, E. Kiriatzia2, L. Spencera3, A. Bevana4 and J. Conollya5

a1 Fitch Laborarory, British School at Athens

a2 Fitch Laborarory, British School at Athens

a3 Institute of Archaeology, University College London

a4 Institute of Archaeology, University College London

a5 Department of Anthropology, Trent University, Canada


An intensive archaeological survey covering the entire extent of the island of Antikythera has recently revealed a sequence of prehistoric activity spanning the later Neolithic to Late Bronze Age, with cultural affiliations that variously link its prehistoric communities with their neighbours to the north, south and east. Here we present and discuss the results of a programme of both macroscopic and petrographie study of the prehistoric ceramics from Antikythera that defines a considerably varied group of fabrics and explores their implications with regard to regional potting traditions, on-island production versus imports, and changing patterns of human activity on the island through time.

Μια εντατική επιφανειακή έρευνα που κάλυψε το σύνολο της έκτασης των Aντικυθήρων αποκάλυψε πρόσφατα μια ακολουθία προïστορικής δραστηριότητας που χρονολογείται από την προχωρημένη Nεολιθική μέχρι την ´Yστερη Eποχή του Xαλκού, και αντανακλά ποικίλες πολιτιστικές σχέσεις των προïστορικών κοινοτήτων του νησιού με γειτονικές περιοχές στα βόρεια, νότια καν ανατολικά. Eσώ παρουσιάςουμε και (τυςητάμε τα αποτελέσματα ενός προγράμματος μακροσκοπικής και πετρογραφικής μελέτης της προïστορικής κεραμικής από τα Aντικύθηρα, που προσδιορίςει μια σημαντική ποικνλία κεραμικών υλών και διερευνά τη σημασία τους σε σχέση με τις τοπικές παραδόσενς κεραμικής στην ευρύτερη περιοχή του Aιγαίου, την αντιδιαςτολή εγχώρνας παραγωγής καν ενσαγωγών, και τις δναχρονικές μεταβολές στο χαρακτήρα και την ένταση της ανθρώπινης δραστηριότητας στο νησί.

(Online publication June 10 2011)


1 We should like to thank the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Greek Archaeological Service (26th EPKA, 1st EBA) and three main external funding agencies over the duration of the survey project—the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. The survey's sponsor in Athens was the Canadian Institute in Greece, and we are especially grateful to Jonathan Tomlinson for his assistance. The petrographic analysis discussed here was undertaken at the Fitch Laboratory, British School of Athens with the help of a British Academy small grant (SG-45163) and we would like to thank both of these institutions for their support. The co-director and synergast for the Antikythera Survey Project was Aris Tsaravopoulos, and we could not have undertaken this research without his generous assistance and guidance. We are also extremely grateful to Cyprian Broodbank, co-director of the Kythera Island Project, who provided a wide range of discussion, advice and support from the project's beginnings. In addition, Birgitta Hallager, Julie Hruby, Jenny Moody, Eleni Nodarou, Jerry Rutter, Cynthia Shelmerdine, and Todd Whitelaw were also kind enough to offer their thoughts on particular issues or artefacts. Denitsa Nenova illustrated the sherds catalogued here, with further assistance by Marek Maciusowicz, James O'Neill, and Natalie Willimott. Finally, we would like to thank the referees of this paper for their extremely useful comments and suggestions.

At the time of writing, the various digital ASP datasets can be accessed from the ASP website at either or and are being archived more permanently with the UK Archaeological Data Service (

The following abbreviations are used in this article: Arf = argillaceous rock fragment; ASP = Antikythera Survey Project; ASPGS = Antikythera Survey Project Geological Sample; CAL = Calcite tempered fabric; CAS = Calcareous and Sedimentary fabric; EB, EBA = Early Bronze Age; EM = Early Minoan; FN = Final Neolithic; FPal = First Palace period; GRO = Grog-tempered fabric; LM = Late Minoan; LN = Late Neolithic; LPrePal = Late Prepalatial period; MIC = Micaceous fabric; MM = Middle Minoan; MN = Middle Neolithic; MUT = Mudstone-tempered fabric; OUT = Outlier fabric; PPL = plane polarized light; SAT = Sand-tempered fabric; SHA = Phyllite/shale fabric; SPal = Second Palace period; Tcf = textural concentration feature; TPal = Third Palace period; UTM = Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system; XP = crossed polarized light; WGS = World Geodetic System.