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Prehistoric Laconia: Part I

  • Helen Waterhouse and R. Hope Simpson


This survey (Part II of which will be published shortly in the Annual) includes all Laconia, as far as the ancient borders with Messenia and Arcadia, the Thyreatis, and the islands of Kythera and Antikythera. Most of the results have been established by surface research alone, in 1936–8 and 1956–8. Little was previously known about the distribution of prehistoric sites in Laconia, and few settlements have been excavated.

Much of Laconia is either mountain or hill country. The ranges of Taygetus and Parnon form the bones of the province, while between them the Eurotas flows through the fertile alluvial plains of Sparta and Helos down to the Laconian Gulf. The Spartan plain, the central Eurotas valley, is bounded to the north by broken hill country, to the west by the great mountain wall of Taygetus (Plates 15a and the map, Plate 24), spurs of which also enclose it on the south, and to the east by the great Parnon range. It is one of the most fertile plains in Greece, and must at all times have been able to support a considerable settled population.



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Abbreviations in addition to those ordinarily used in the Annual.

Asea = Holmberg, , The Swedish Excavations at Asea in Arcadia (1941).

Asine = Frödin, and Persson, , Asine (1938).

Chambers Tombs = Wace, , Chamber Tombs at Mycenae (Archaeologia 82).

ChronMP = Furumark, , The Chronology of Mycenaean Pottery (1941).

Documents = Ventris, and Chadwick, , Documents in Mycenaean Greek (1956).

Ergon =

Eutresis = Goldman, , Excavations at Eutresis in Boeotia (1931).

Frazer = Frazer, , Pausanias' Description of Greece (1898).

Gournia = Hawes, Boyd, Gournia (1908).

Korakou = Blegen, , Korakou (1921).

Leake, Morea = Leake, , Travels in the Morea (1830).

Leake, Peloponnesiaca = Leake, , Peloponnesiaca: A Supplement to Travels in the Morea (1846).

Malthi = Valmin, , The Swedish Messenia Expedition (1938).

Mochlos = Seager, , Explorations in the Island of Mochlos (1912).

MP = Furumark, , The Mycenaean Pottery (1941).

Mylonas, N. Ἐ. ἐν Ἑ. = Mylonas,

PM = Evans, The Palace of Minos.

Palaikastro = Dawkins, The Unpublished Objects from the Palaikastro Excavations (BSA Suppl. 1).

Prosymna = Blegen, , Prosymna (1937).

Protogeometric Pottery = Desborough, , Protogeometric Pottery (1952)

PT = Wace, and Thompson, , Prehistoric Thessaly (1912).

Pseira = Seager, , Excavations on the Island of Pseira (1910).

SMC = Wace, and Tod, , A Catalogue of the Sparta Museum (1906).

Stais, NM = Stais, , Mycenaean Collection of the National Museum vol. ii (1926).

Tiryns iv = Müller, , Tiryns iv (1938).

Tsountas = Πρϊστορικαὶ, ΑιἈκροπόλεις Διμηνίου καὶ Σήσκλου (1908).

Valmin = Valmin, , La Messénie ancienne (1930).

Weinberg, Corinth = Weinberg, , Remains from Prehistoric Corinth, in Hesperia vi (1937) 487524.

Zygouries = Blegen, , Zygouries (1928).

1 Without the inspiration, constant encouragement, and support of the late Professor A. J. B. Wace this work could not have been attempted. I am indebted to Cambridge University, and in particular to Girton College, for generous moral and financial support. May I here record my thanks also to the friends who braved the discomforts of Laconian travel to assist me (and to Miss Benton also for taking the photograph of the vases from Vaskina to be shown in Part II), and to the many Laconians who gave generously of their hospitality, time, and information; particular mention must be made of Messrs. I. Karavitis, Mayor in 1938, and P. Sykokis of Palaiochori, the Gymnasiarch and Mr. A. Katsingri of Leonidhi, Dr. Lyras and his family at Daimonia, and Mr. N. Collins (Kollivopoulos) of Neapolis, Vatika. The staff of the National Museum in Athens helped in the search for obscure inventoried items with their usual courtesy and patience.

It will be clear also, from a comparison of this Report with the relevant sections of the table in BSA li (1956) 170 f., how much new material has been added by Mr. Hope Simpson; he has, in addition, carried out the greater part of the final preparation of the Report. (H. Waterhouse.)

2 I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. M. S. F. Hood, Mr. Ch. Christou the Ephor of Laconia, Professor and Mrs. John L. Caskey, Miss Betty Courtney, and Dr. O. W. von Vacano; and to friends in Laconia, particularly the staff of the Sparta Museum, the Demarch of Gythion, Mr. Petrocheilou the head of the Gymnasion at Kythera, Mr. Koroneas of Phoeniki, the Proedros of Elaphonisi, Mr. Maniatakos of Vezani, and Mr. Philippas Samios of Mitata, Kythera.

The work was carried out with the aid of the School Studentship (held in 1955–6 and 1956–7) and of a grant from the Oxford Craven Fund. I was assisted in the field by Mr. David French in autumn 1956 and spring 1957. Mr. J. N. Coldstream gave invaluable help with some of the photographs of the pottery, and most of the drawings were made by Mrs. G. L. Huxley or by my wife. Miss Lucy Talcott and Miss Virginia R. Grace gave information concerning the post-Mycenaean pottery from Kythera and Antikythera, and Mrs. D. French has added a detailed description of the Mycenaean figurine from Lekas. My greatest debts are to the late Professor A. J. B. Wace, who first suggested that I should complete the survey of Prehistoric Laconia; and to Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Wiegand, of Connecticut, U.S.A., upon whose support and generosity the work has very largely depended. (R. Hope Simpson.)

3 The term ‘prehistoric’ is here used arbitrarily to describe all periods up to the end of the Mycenaean Age, and does not reflect any particular view as to when ‘Greek History’ may be said to have begun (cf. Wace, in foreword to Documents. B.B.C, listeners may remember a series of talks on this subject in 1958–9).

4 The situation was summed up by Wace, in BCH lxx (1946) 629; and again by Mrs.Waterhouse, in BSA li (1956) 168–71. The first Mycenaean discoveries in Laconia were made by Tsountas, who excavated the tholos tombs at Vaphio and Arkines (both published in 1889) and Kambos, and began work on the early settlement at the Amyklaion. During the first decade of this century members of the British School at Athens made a detailed study of the classical topography of Laconia. Earlier travellers, in particular Leake, the Expédition Scientifique de la Morée, Curtius, Bursian, and Philippson, also studied the district in greater or less detail.

5 The produce of the Spartan plain (mainly olives, oranges, and corn) and of the Helos plain (cotton) is still the basis of the Laconian economy.

6 With the exception of the Vardhounia plain and the valley in which lies the kastro of Passava on the east, and on the west the fertile plateau between Mezzapo and Gerolimena. A good account of the Mani has recently been written by Fermor, Patrick Leigh (Mani, 1958).

7 The village of Kitta, which once had about 1,000 inhabitants, now has under 100; while the population of Lagia, another formerly prosperous village, in spring 1957 numbered 14 souls, including 6 policemen.

8 This area has already been dealt with in BSA lii (1957).

9 On Taygetus there are varieties of beautifully coloured marble, and Laconia also boasts the famous dark-green Lapis Lacedaemonius (pp. 105 ff. below) and the purple Antico Rosso.

10 Philippson, , Geologische Karte des Peloponnes (1891) Blatt iv.

11 Loc. cit. (called ‘Neogen-Mergel und Sand’ or ‘Neogen-Conglomerat’).

12 From north to south: Pellanes, Vrondama, Lekas, Asteri, Mavrovouni, Epidaurus Limera, Goulas (Plitra), Daimonia, Neapolis, Elaphonisi. The same conditions occur in south Messenia (at Thouria, Karteroli, and Kardamyle), and also in the Pylos area, western Elis, and Corinthia.

13 i.e. Tyros, Leonidi, Epidaurus Limera, Neapolis (Vatika), Plitra, Elea, Helos, Gythion, Kotrones, Kyprianon, Mezzapo, Oitylos, Kardamyle, and Kalamata.

14 The main routes were: (a) From Arcadia via Megalopolis or Tegea, (JHS xv (1895) 36 ff.). (b) From the east coast via (1) Astros and Ayios Petros, (2) Leonidi and Palaiochori (Frazer 305–10, esp. 307), (3) Leonidi-Kosmas-Geraki, (4) Monemvasia and Molaoi. (c) From the south coast via (1) the Eurotas valley, (2) Gythion and the Vardounia river, (d) From the west coast across Taygetus via (1) the Langada Pass, (2) Giannitsa and Anavryte, (3) Kardamyle-Arkines, and to Goranoi or Xerokambi, (BSA xvi (19091910) 66 f.).

15 The plain is well described by Leake, , Morea i. 128 f.

16 BSA xvi (1909–10) 5.

17 Leake, , Morea i. 135 f.

18 The three Neolithic stone idols and the two stone vases said to have been found in the neighbourhood of Sparta (Wolters, , AM xvi (1891) 52 f.) cannot be included as finds from classical Sparta, where one would not in any case expect Neolithic occupation. It is more likely that they came from Kouphovouno 2 km. to south-west of modern Sparta (see pp. 72 ff.). They appear to be a homogeneous group, and are certainly genuine (Wace, , AJA supp. viii (1949) 423 f.). They are now in the National Museum, Athens (Inv. nos. 3929–31, 3949, 3979).

19 BSA xxviii (1926–7) 38 f., 79, and pl. 5. Skeat, T. C., The Dorians in Archaeology (1934) 31, n. 4, dismisses the sherds as non-Mycenaean. But, apart from the categorical statements made by the excavators, the mention of buff slip and red glaze as well as of two kylix stems in the group should be sufficient to allay such doubts.

20 BSA xxviii. 38; xxvi. 249–52.

21 BSA xlv (1950) 298, fig. 19. From the shape of the spout and the decoration it appears to be L.H. IIIB.

22 JHS lxxviii (1958) suppl. 10.

23 Dawkins, , in BSA xvi (19091910) 5, commented that after five years of work at the site of classical Sparta nothing Mycenaean had been found except a single gem from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

24 Artemis Orthia, index s.v. ‘Mycenaean Gems’, and esp. 378 f. The most interesting are fig. 144e and ƒ, fig. 146, and pl. 204, B.1, B.2, C.1, C.2.

25 Op. cit. 248.

26 Excavation reports: Tsountas, , AE 1889, 130–1; BSA xv (1908–9) 108–57 (the shrine); BSA xvi (1909–10) 4–11 (the Mycenaean house).

27 BSA xvi. 5.

28 Loc. cit.; cf. BSA xv (1908–9) 109–10. Tsountas, op. cit. 131, recorded two querns; and in 1957 part of a hand axe was found on the surface (Plate 23c, 6). L. 0·10 m.; W. 0·045 m.; H. 0·053 m.; well polished and finely made. Possibly E.H. (cf. Asine fig. 175, 7, bottom right, and Asea fig. 115, 12), but the long shape and fine workmanship suggest L.H.

29 BSA xvi (1909–10) 4–11.

30 Op. cit. 5.

31 ChronMP 52, and MP 540. To L.H. IIB are assigned BSA xvi, pl. 2d, and some on p. 8, fig. 3 (the sherds with ‘Myc. Flower’, ‘Net Pattern’, and ‘Foliate Band’). On the top left-hand corner of fig. 3 is a pattern similar to Furumark's ‘Ogival Canopy’ (Mot. 13), and this sherd is probably also L.H. II or L.H. IIIA.

32 ChronMP 70. To L.H. IIIB are assigned BSA xvi, pl. 1, and pl. 2a, b, and i.

33 The two sherds with panelled patterns in BSA xvi, fig. 3, which resemble MP fig. 72, 29, might be L.H. IIIB or C; while the two sherds at the bottom of fig. 3, if not the product of a local eccentric, might also be L.H. IIIC (cf. AM lii (1927) 46, Abb. 26, from the Amyklaion).

34 BSA xvi. 10, fig. 5.

35 Op. cit. 11.

36 Cook, J. M., The Cult of Agamemnon at Mycenae (Γήρας Ἀντωνίου Κεραμοπούλλου 1953) 112–18, esp. 113–14; cf. BSA xv (1908–9) 114.

37 AA 1942, 156. The site is wrongly spelled ‘Kouphorouna’ in JHS lxiv (1944) 82 and BCH lxx (1946) 629.

38 Fig. 1. On the way to Ayios Ioannis, about 700 metres beyond a small tannery, is a concrete bridge over the stream Parori. The bridge is the third on the road from Sparta. About 120 metres beyond it, on the left of the road, is a tower of mud brick, where a track branches from the road past a farm. About 200 metres along this track is a fig grove, and the centre of the mound lies about 150 metres to the right, a little to west of the stream.

39 AA loc. cit.

40 It is conceivable that the existence of this settlement was one of the factors which gave rise to the tradition (Pausanias iii. 1. 1, 20. 2) of the Leleges, ‘the original in habitants of Laconia’, who were located by Pausanias near Alesiae. It is a curious coincidence that there is a hamlet called Δέλε marked on a local map of Laconia (on sale in Sparta) a short distance north-west of Kouphovouno.

41 Zygouries 221.

42 Paus. iii. 18. 7–19. 6. Excavation reports: Tsountas, , AE 1892, 1 ff.; Fiechter, , JdI xxxiii (1918) 107 ff.; Buschor, and von Massow, , AM 52 (1927) 1 ff. Early finds: SMC 225–6, and nos. 693 (19), 794 A (1), 794 B (1) and (2), 796, 798 (1), and 802.

43 Mycenaean sherds are also found on the lower spur which runs west from Ayia Kyriaki (see panorama in JDI xxxiii. 107, Abb. 1).

44 There is no definite proof, since it is not clear that the terracottas were found in a votive deposit; but the female figurines are all of Psi type (cf. the majority at Delphi), and the large wheel-made animals are suggestive.

45 AM lii (1927) 10; Protogeometric Pottery 284.

46 Protogeometric Pottery 290; AM loc. cit.

47 The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion (1950) 470 f., 556 ff.

48 AE 1888, 199.

49 AE 1889, 131.

50 AE 1889, 136 ff.; cf. AE 1888, 197 ff.

51 Apparently of more than one body (AE 1889, 143).

52 PM iii. 127–9 (flying-fish design).

53 Including a bronze axe, said by Evans, (PM iv. 418–19) to be of Syrian form.

54 Many of these are exhaustively discussed by Evans in PM (index s.v. ‘Vapheio Tomb’ under ‘sealstones’).

55 The alabaster jars and a silver spoon are of Egyptian provenance, of the XVIII and early XIX Dynasties (Pendlebury, , Aegyptiaca (1930) 43 f.).

56 One vase was ‘reconstructed’ on paper by Marshall, in JHS xxiv (1904) 317 f., pl. 11.

57 Tsountas, , AE 1891, 189 ff.; BSA lii (1957) 236 ff.

58 It resembles most the Panagia Tomb, (BSA xxv. 316–20; cf. Wace, Mycenae, index s.v. ‘Tholos Tomb, Panagia Tomb’).

59 The vase (AE 1889, pl. 7, 19) which Evans, (PM ii. 489 f., fig. 29A, b; iii. 177) assigned to L.M. IB is classed Myc. IIA by Furumark (ChronMP 49). Evans thought that the Gold Cups belonged to ‘the earlier phase of L.M.I’ (PM iii. 177; cf. PM i. 245, ii. 364, and iii. 177 ff.).

60 The northern cutting is roughly circular, 2·50 m. in diameter, with sides preserved to 1·50 m. in height, and entrance 0·70 m. wide. The other cutting, 30 metres to the south, was originally circular (about 2·50 m. diameter), but over half of the rock has disappeared. The back wall of the cutting is now only a metre high.

61 iii. 364.

62 AM xxix (1904) 6. This is part of a list of contributions for the Peloponnesian War.

63 Dr. Kommenos (author of Δακωνικά 1896) thought that the church of Arkasadhes was built over a tholos tomb, and there are rumours of other tombs in this neighbourhood.

64 The abacus is 0·72 m. wide, and the total height of abacus and echinus is 0·25 m. The diameter of the column at the top is about 0·40 m. There is no fluting below the abacus, and the style is suggestive of the late 6th or early 5th century B.C. It is rather like AM lii (1927) Taf. xvi–xvii (from the Amyklaion).

65 Leake, , Marea ii. 519 ff.; BSA xxiv. 144 f.

66 BSA xvi. 65.

67 From ‘Urfirnis’ sauceboats and shallow bowls. These often have the high hollowed foot (cf. Fig. 15, 10–14). There was also a celt of PT Type A. L. 0·06 m., of lightgreen coarse-grained stone, well smoothed.

68 Over 20 fragments; cf. BSA xvi. 65.

69 Cf. Leake, , Morea i. 510 f. (Neapolis, Vatika).

70 BSA xxiv. 145; cf. AM 1877, 303. With the hero relief was found an inscription referring to Hermes and Zeus Teleios (?).

71 Calculating that 2½ km. = ½ hour in this case.

72 AA 1942, 156. ‘Eine andere jungsteinzeitliche Siedlung wurde in dem Parnonberg südöstlich von Sparta festgestellt.’ Dr. von Vacano kindly gave me directions to find the site (R. H. S.). The local name for the caves is

73 Leake, (Morea i. 194 ff.) found traces of a carriage road between Grammousa and Tsasi (a stretch of which is shown here on Plate 18c), cf. BSA xv. 162. The road is preserved in many more places than those described by Leake, and can be followed in sections for practically the whole distance between Grammousa and Tsasi. To west of Tsasi there is a branch running westward towards Skala.

74 Paus. iii. 22. 6–7; cf. BSA xv. 163–4.

75 E.H. is common, Zygouries Class A II (fine slipped and polished), Class B II, and Domestic Coarse Wares (Classes D and E) are all represented. Shapes include bowls, widemouthed or with incurving rim, sauceboats, and heavy crater-like bowls.

76 BSA xv. 164 and xvi. 75. A surface sherd found in 1937 seems very like Neolithic Red-on-white ware, as Kosmopoullos, , Corinth i, pl. 2 (d).

77 Reports in BSA xi. 91 ff. and xvi. 72 ff.

78 A great deal of Matt-painted (esp. BSA xvi. 73 (B), (C), (D), and 74, figs. 3 and 4); some Grey Minyan (N.B. BSA xvi. 72, fig. 1 (d) is a local imitation of Minyan Ware—cf. Plate 16c, 8 from Palaiopyryi above) and Argive Minyan.

79 Especially BSA xvi. 74, figs. 3 and 4. Of similar style are AM lii (1927) Beil. i (in the centre) from the Amyklaion; and cf. prosymna pl. 43. One sherd (BSA xvi 73, fig. 2 f.) has added white.

80 Most of the sherds called ‘Local Mycenaean Ware’ (BSA xvi. 73) are in fact M.H. Matt-painted. The three figurines with ‘shapeless columnar bodies’ and ‘arms extended horizontally’ are L.H. III. They seem early in type (cf. Phylakopi pl. 39. 15, 20 and p. 202) and do not belong to any of Blegen's classes at Prosymna (Prosymna 355 ff.). Another was found at the Amyklaion (SMC 794 A 1).

81 BSA xi. 93 ff., figs. 1–3; cf. Plate 17b here.

82 Valmin, , La Messénie ancienne (1930) 116.

83 Cf. BSA xi. 94 f. ‘From its style the wall need not necessarily be prehistoric, but from the early occupation of the site as proved by the pottery found in the course of our excavations it probably dates at least from the Bronze Age’, and ‘… fairly large unworked stones, patched up here and there with smaller stones to help the joints. …’

84 Recherches scientifiques dans La Morée 95.

85 BSA xv. 162–3.

86 PT 14; Tsountas 177 ff.

87 Cf. sherds from Tsangli and Zerelia in the Museum of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge.

88 Weinberg, , Corinth 497 f, fig. 14 (cf. Mylonas, Ν. Ἐ. ἐν Ἑ. 81).

89 Mylonas, op. cit. 83.

90 Gonia 67 and fig. 14.

91 AJA 1928, 534.

92 Prosymna category B III, pp. 370 f., fig. 623, nos. 1, 2, 5.

93 Asea 46–47, fig. 46 and pl. 2.

94 Gonia 69 and pl. 2.

95 PT 16, Tsountas pl. 8, 6 and 10, 1.

96 Prosymna 373 f., colour pl. 3.

97 Mylonas, , Ν. Ἐ. ἐν Ἑ. 87, but contrast AJA 1928, 534.

98 Malthi pl. IV, 21, looks similar but is not described in the text.

99 An early L.H. III date is suggested for Plate 18b, 9, a Crater fragment, by the excellence of its fabric—hard reddish clay, black shiny micaceous paint on interior, light buff polished slip on exterior; the pattern of hatched stemmed spirals (in lustrous black) is assigned by Furumark (MP fig. 63, nos. 8 and 9) to L.H. IIIB–C.

100 Plate 18b, 10. Crater, part of rim (D. 0·32 m.). Hard buff-red clay. Micaceous paint on exterior on buff ground. Cf. AM 1927, Taf. 3, 7 (from the Amyklaion) and Protogeometric Pottery pl. 38, 1, 3, and 13 (also from the Amyklaion).

101 Another small classical (and Hellenistic) site lies midway between Apidia and Gouves, on a small elevated plateau (300 by 200 m.) about ½ km. from the summit of the small mountain of Vonda, south of the track from Apidia to Gouves. There is a fine spring on the east, which flows into an artificial basin carved in the rock. The whole area is covered with dressed stones, classical black glazed pottery, and tiles (the purple variety). Not far away on the east is the small chapel of Ayios Konstandinos. The site probably lies on the ancient route from Apidia (Palaia) to Geraki (Geronthrai).

102 It reverts to marshy conditions from November to March.

103 Especially near Asteri and Vezani, Tsasi, and Lekas.

104 Some sherds from Grey Minyan bowls. A bored celt (BSA xv. 161, n. 4) is probably M.H., like most of those from Asea (Asea 122 f.).

105 Sherds from craters and jugs of a hard purple-grey fabric like that of L.H. sherds from Asteri (below).

106 Two are exactly like miniatures from the Amyklaion, (AM lii. 60, Taf. 15. 17). One is illustrated here (Fig. 17, 8). It is of rough orange clay, handmade, covered all over with an orange slip. It resembles BSA xi. 85, fig. 6, nos. 1–7, from Angelona. Similar votives were found at Artemis Orthia (JHS suppl. v, 106–9) and these were roughly contemporary with Laconian I pottery. But there are Hellenistic examples from the Athenian Agora (Hesperia xxi (1952) pl. 42: 86 and xxiii (1954) pl. 18, nos. 13, 15–16), and the Agora votives range in general from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period.

107 Neolithic (classified mainly according to Weinberg, Corinth).

(a) ‘Variegated Ware’ (Class I A). The sherds are all from Deep Bowls, as Corinth 495, fig. 4. Eight fragments are from straight rims (two illustrated on Fig 15, 1 and 3). One is from a rounded base, as Corinth fig. 5 (a). Twenty-five other fragments were recovered, several highly burnished, and many showing the characteristic changes of colour (Corinth 494).

(b) ‘Red Slipped Ware’ (Class I B). Two slightly incurved rims (one in Fig. 15,2). The shapes resemble PAE 1951, 106, fig. 18α–β, from Kokkinia (Peiraeus). Several other fragments.

(c) ‘Coarse Monochrome Ware’ (Class I D). (Probably = Asea Class A 5, ‘Coarse Burnished Ware’.) Three flat vertical handles from large bowls are shown on Plate 19 a, 2–4 (Plate 19a, 3 = Fig. 15,4). Clay coarse and micaceous. Several other fragments.

(d) Asea Class D (Coarse Ware). Two sherds with finger impression bands are illustrated (Plate 19a, 1 and 7), cf. Prosymna fig. 626, nos. 2–4, 6–7, and 10. Two sherds with holes bored from the outside (Plate 19a, 8 and 9), cf. Asea 54 ff. Two pithos fragments with plastic rope decoration might also belong, if they are not E.H. (Plate 19a, 5 and 6).

108 Straight rims of coarse red fabric, from large bowls.

109 Two Grey Minyan sherds and one of Matt-painted, and a lid resembling Eutresis fig. 249, 4.

110 L.H. II. A naturalistic spiral on a closed shape. L.H. IIIA. Some sherds with lustrous monochrome paint. L.H. IIIB. A rim of a deep bowl. To L.H. may be attributed several wheel-made coarse-ware fragments, and the foot of a tripod cooking-pot (L. 0·15 m.).

111 Of tholos type, revealed in section by a track. Two L.H. III jug bases were found, whose shape resembles those from the tomb at Tsasi (below).

112 BSA xv. 161.

113 Ibid.

114 150 metres to west is the church and cemetery of Ayios Nikolaos, surrounded by a grove of cypress trees.

115 Early Helladic: two sauceboat fragments of Zygouries Class A II, with grey-blue wash. Three sauceboat fragments of Zygouries Class B II (Urfirnis). Several ‘E.H. II’ rims of deep bowls, of coarse fabric with reddish-brown slip (cf. Asine fig. 157, 4–5, and Asea fig. 82, e). Part of a Bridge-spouted Jar (cf. Zygouries fig. 100, 4). Several pithos fragments, mostly from straight rims, of hard red fabric. One sherd (Plate 22a, 1) has a raised band with finger impressions.

Middle Helladic: two sherds of Grey Minyan.

Late Helladic III: two kylix fragments.

116 Three sherds of Weinberg's Class I A (Variegated Ware). Three sherds of ‘coarse burnished ware’ (Asea Class A 5), with small knobs like Asea fig. 37, t and u. A sherd with incised parallel lines on the exterior and burnishing marks on the interior is probably Neolithic.

117 The pottery all belongs to the ‘E.H. II’ period. Small bowls and sauceboats of blue-grey ‘faience ware’ (Zygouries Class A II) are represented (e.g. Plate 22a, 3); also ‘Urfirnis’ (Zygouries Class B II)—a high sauceboat foot is shown on Fig. 15, 10. Typical are ‘E.H. II’ bowl rims (e.g. Plate 22a, 2). Various stone objects are probably E.H. (1) A marble pestle (Plate 23c, 9). L. 0·018 m. D. 0·012 m. Of black-and-white-veined marble. Cf. Zygouries 197–8 and pl. 22 13–21; Eutresis 201, fig. 271; Asine fig. 175, 5; Korakou 104; Asea fig. 114, 16. (2) A stone scraper (Plate 23c, 8). Of hard dark-green stone. (3) A small serrated flint (light grey); cf. Zygouries fig. 18, 7. (4) Part of a small celt of PT Type A, of grey stone.

118 Grey Minyan

Several sherds from large bowls or goblets (Fig. 16, 1–2 and 12) and (from jugs or jars (Fig. 16, 13); a few sherds of incised Grey Minyan (e.g. Plate 20a, 3, cf. Asea fig. 93, g).

Imitation Grey Minyan

Local hard purple-grey fabric. Very common, both plain (Fig. 16, 8 and 12) and incised (Plate 20a 1–2, 4–5, 7–8). Plate 20a, 1 = Fig. 16, 7, cf. Asea fig. 91, g. Plate 20a, 5 is like Asea fig. 93h–j; cf. Asine fig. 188, 2 and 5, Korakou fig. 23, 7, Eutresis fig. 199, and Malthi pl. 18, 3. Plate 20a 7 = Fig. 16, 11.

Imitation Argive Minyan

Incised sherds (e.g. Plate 20a 6, cf. Asea fig. 93h, Eutresis fig. 181, and Hesperia xxiii (1954) pl. 7 (c) from Lerna).


Not as common as Minyan. Same purple-grey local fabric as the Imitation Minyan ware above, Plate 22b, 1, from a jug, may be an example of the variety of matt-painted recognized at Lerna (e.g. Hesperia xxiv (1955) 35 and pl. 17d). Plate 22b, 2 and 3, are from a large bowl and a large jar respectively, Fig. 16, 14 is a typical handle of a pithos or large jar.

Coarse Ware

Fragments from large jars and bowls (e.g. Fig. 16, 9).

Probably Middle Helladic

A spindle whorl (Plate 23a, 5 = Fig. 17, 10; cf. Eutresis fig. 265, nos. 6–7 in middle row). A stone bowl rim (Fig. 15, 9). ?Cretan.

119 Late Helladic I–II

Plate 19b, 2. (L.H. I or II) Cup. Base (D. 0·04 m.) of fine buff clay and slip; lustrous brown paint on exterior, streaky monochrome on interior; polished. For shape cf. MP fig. 13, form 211, Medium (L.H. IIA), and Asine fig. 204, 1 (L.H. I), and Prosymna fig. 679 (L.H. II). Plate 6b 1. (L.H. II) Deep Bowl. Rim (D. 0·22 m.), of yellowish clay, buff slip, and lustrous paint; polished. For shape cf. MP fig. 13: 279 (L.H. IIB). Decoration resembles MP fig. 37, 3 (L.H. IIB). For shape and decoration cf. Korakou fig. 64 and AE 1889, pl. 7, no. 19 (from Vaphio). Plate 19b, 7 Jug? Of hard purple-grey clay.

Late Helladic II–IIIA

Several sherds from Kylikes and Stemmed Bowls, with lustrous paint and high polish, usually in the same hard fabric as the Imitation Minyan of M.H. Plate 19b, 5–6, from Kylikes, are typical, Fig. 17, 13–14, from Stemmed Bowls, are examples of the commonest shapes (cf. MP fig. 16: 263 and 269).

Late Helladic IIIB

Most of the L.H. pottery is of this date. The commonest shapes are Kylikes, Stemmed Bowls, Deep Bowls, and Craters. Frequently occurring shapes are MP fig. 17: 267 and fig. 18: 305. Other ‘fine ware’ shapes include alabastra, stirrup vases, and piriform jars. The fabric is mostly hard, as the M.H. and L.H. II–IIIA above, but there is also a softer buff fabric, especially for Deep Bowls and Kylikes (the latter have neatly hollowed bases), Plate 19(b), 8. Kylix. Rim (D. 0·6 m.), of hard orange-buff clay, and slip. Lustrous orange paint. Shape as MP fig. 16, 264 (L.H. IIIA2). Design very like MP fig. 42, 11 (‘Myc. Flower’). Plate 19b, 9. Deep Bowl. Part of a horizontal handle (wrongly photographed vertical), of soft buff clay, and decoration in dullish paint. Pattern as MP fig. 67, Mot. 58, 2–3 (‘Accessorial Chevron?’), Plate 19b, 11. Stirrup Vase. Spout (Top D. 0·02 m.). Of hard reddish clay, with band of black matt paint round rim. Shape as MP fig. 22, ‘IIIB–C: 1 e’. Plate 23a, 4. Mycenaean ψ Figurine. Body and part of arms preserved. H. 0·08 m. W. 0·02 m. Hard, well-levigated clay. Two vertical bands of lustrous paint at each side of body, and two horizontal bands, one at the foot (which is hollowed) and another just below the arms.

Late Helladic IIIC?

Some Deep Bowl and Stemmed Bowl fragments of soft greyish fabric with poor dull paint. These are probably early L.H. IIIC.

Late Helladic Coarse Ware

Shapes mostly jugs and jars, in a hard micaceous fabric. Also pithoi in the same fabric (e.g. Fig. 17, 7).

120 L.H. II. Alabastron (Plate 19b, 3–4). Two fragments, of hard buff clay, with buff slip and decoration in lustrous paint (‘Sacral Ivy’, as MP fig. 36, Mot. 12: 24 (L.H. IIB), cf. Korakou fig. 71, Prosymna fig. 345 (bottom right), Chamber Tombs pl. 5, 7, and especially BSA xlvii, pl. 15,438 Δ′, from Chalcis). There were fragments from rims and bases of at least two other alabastra. L.H. IIIB. Sherds from Deep Bowls (as MP fig. 18,305) with monochrome decoration inside and linear bands outside.

121 These are from the bases of jugs and craters, in the shiny metallic glazed ware typical of the Protogeometric from the Amyklaion. The classical pottery does not appear to antedate the 5th century B.C., and much is apparently 4th century.

122 The pottery was all L.H. III, of shapes and fabric similar to those from Karaousi. Predominant were Craters and long stemmed Kylikes, and there were many L.H. IIIB fragments with linear band decoration.

123 Column drums were reported from Vlakhioti, (BSA xxiv. 150).

124 Zygouries Class A II.

125 Referred to by Mackeprang, , AJA xlii (1938) 539, n. 10, as being ‘at Zasi near Trinasos’ (sic). Presumably Mackeprang was misinformed by Karachalios who, incidentally, never published the finds.

126 Op. cit. pl. 21, 8.

127 It is of hard reddish-buff clay, with a buff slip and lustrous reddish paint. The patterns on the shoulder zone are stylized floral (one is MP Mot. 18:113). For the shape cf. Prosymna fig. 124, no. 233 and Chamber Tombs pl. 47, 9. It is more developed than Zygouries pl. 19, 2. The date is L.H. IIIA Late or L.H. IIIB Early.

128 Of the same shape and fabric as Fig. 12a. It has a raised ridge at the junction of neck and body (cf. Prosymna fig. 327).

129 Fine wares predominate, especially sauceboats and small bowls of ‘faience ware’ (Zygouries Class A II). The slip is more often blue or grey in colour than yellow, and the fabric is soft, usually buff or orange. Hollowed bases are common. There are also several examples of ‘Urfirnis’ ware (Zygouries Class B II), especially from sauceboats with high hollowed bases (Plate 22a, 10 = Fig. 15, 12). Some of these have ridges as Asea fig. 74, i and j.

A large quantity of ‘E.H. II’ pithoi and large open bowls are represented (some shown on Plate 22a, 4–9. Plate 22a, 4 = Fig. 15, 6; Plate a, 7 = Fig. 15, 7). We may compare Eutresis fig. 146, 5 and figs. 147–8; Tiryns iv, pl. 14, 12–19, and pl. 23, 1–4; Asine fig. 157, 6 and 8; Asea fig. 82, e and g; Hesperia xxv, pl. 46ƒ (Lerna); PAE 1951 89–90, figs. 15–17 (Raphina). For Plate 22a, 4 and 6, compare especially Tiryns iv, pl. 23, 8; PAE 1951, 90, fig. 178; and Asea fig. 85b. This ware is very common in Laconia, especially on sites in the Helos plain and Elaphonisi (see Part II, forthcoming). Compare Plate 22a, 1, from Dragatsoula, Plate 22a, 2, from Asteri, Plate 22a, 12, from Lekas, south, and Plate 22a, 11, from Xeronisi.

130 All L.H. III. One, with lustrous monochrome paint in and out, seems to be L.H. IIIA–B and, since it was found immediately below the dromos of the tomb and only a few metres farther down the slope, it might easily have been part of the contents of the tomb.

131 Compare an E.H. III example from Eutresis (Eutresis fig. 164).

132 This ware has hitherto been found mainly in the Argolid; at Mycenae, above the shaft-graves by Schliemann (Furtwängler, and Loeschke, , Myk. Thongefässe, pl. 6), and in the bothros by Keramopoullos, , AE 1918, 52 f.; at Tiryns (Schliemann, Tiryns pl. 27, d); at Asine (Asine 260, 275, 277, fig. 191). These are all of better quality than the Laconian pieces (see especially the splendid pots shown in Asine colour pls. i and ii). Outside the Peloponnese a few sherds were found at Eleusis (Mylonas, , Προϊστορικὴ Ἐλευσίς 87 f., fig. 65), and Eutresis (Eutresis 186). It is to be distinguished from M.H. Class D at Korakou, which is wheel-made, with lustrous paint (Korakou 32 f. and pl. 2).

133 Sauceboats and Shallow Bowls of ‘faience ware’ (Zygouries Class A II) exactly resembling those from Palaiopyryi, Asteri, and Tsasi.

Sauceboats of ‘Urfirnis’ Ware. A high hollowed base (Plate 22b, 11 = Fig. 15, 13), of hard buff clay with shiny ‘Urfirnis’ paint, closely resembles the feet of pedestal bowls from Isthmia, (Hesperia xxvii. 2829, pl. 12 (a) a–b) and from Askitario, near Raphina, (BCH lxxix (1955) 226, fig. 7). An ‘E.H. II’ rim (Plate 22a, 11) of a pithos, is probably an example of the class with ‘thin white wash’ (Asea 84 and fig. 85; Eutresis 83 and fig. 108). It is of gritty clay, with a cream slip. The thumb impressions are similar to those on the sherd from Asteri (Plate 22a, 2).

134 Two sherds of grey Minyan. One is from a large goblet.

135 L.H. IIIA–B monochrome painted Kylikes and Stemmed Bowls. The paint is orange and lustrous, as on examples from Asteri and Ayios Stephanos (below). The fabric is very hard. Other fragments, from closed shapes, have linear band decoration on buff slip. The clay of these is usually coarser. Some Deep Bowl sherds with dullish paint are either late L.H. IIIB or early L.H. IIIC.

136 ‘E.H. II’ rims, similar to those from Tsasi. Two fragments from pithoi, with incised decoration, one like Asea fig. 78ƒ and another with a zigzag on a raised cordon below the rim.

137 Three sherds of Imitation Grey Minyan, from goblets or stemmed bowls. One sherd of Matt-painted ware.

138 Mainly Kylikes, Low Stemmed Bowls, and Deep Bowls. L.H. IIIB predominates, with linear band decoration and bases hollowed beneath. The quality is not so good as at Asteri and Ayios Stephanos (below), and there is the same carelessly applied streaky paint as noted at Ayios Vasilios (above). There were also fragments from Craters, and Coarse Ware jars and pithoi.

139 This clay is similar to that of the local pottery. (R. H. S.)

140 I am grateful to Professor Blegen for permission to refer to this figurine. The latest pottery from the tomb appears to be of L.H. IIIA date (AJA lxii (1958) 178). (Mrs. D. French.)

141 Nos. 417, 418, 420, Tomb 29. Prosymna 80, figs. 155 and 156; No. 1139, Prosymna 140, fig. 330.

142 ChronMP 130.

143 Fine wares, including ‘Yellow Mottled Ware’ of Zygouries Class A II, similar to that from Asteri and Tsasi. ‘E.H. II’ rims (e.g. Plate 22a, 12) and raised bases of ‘Urfirnis’ sauceboats (e.g. Fig. 15, 14).

144 Grey Minyan ware and imitations.

145 Two painted fragments from stemmed bowls (L.H. IIIB).

146 A few sherds only of Zygouries Class A II, and ‘E.H. II’ rims (very similar to the Tsasi examples) of very micaceous clay, with cable patterns. Also part of a Sauceboat rim of Zygouries Class B II; and a ladle (Fig. 15, 5) of coarse buff clay, very gritty, with a thick buff slip. It resembles Tiryns iv, Abb. 6, and pl. 23, 13. A Piths fragment (Plate 21d, 1) was found, similar to another from Palaiopyryi (above).

147 Grey Minyan. Several pieces (e.g. Fig. 16, 3, in local clay). Some are very finely polished, and could be ‘imported’.

Imitation Grey Minyan. Many more than the Grey Minyan. Typical sherds are Fig. 16, 4–5 and 10, from large bowls, in the hard local clay. There are also incised examples, similar to those from Asteri shown on Plate 20a.

Matt-painted. Ten sherds. Two are shown (Plate 22b, 4–5). Plate 22b, 4, is from a Pithos. Gritty red clay, with thick cream slip outside and in. Dark brown matt paint. Shape probably as Karakou fig. 28; cf. Hesperia xxiv, pl. 12 (b).

Light-on-Dark. A fragment from an open shape is shown on Plate 22b, 6. Of gritty red clay (local). Dark buff slip on interior. Reddish-brown paint on exterior with decoration in added white. This is of ‘M.H. Ill’ Light-on-Dark ware; cf. Asine figs. 191–2, and Korakou fig. 47 (the pattern appears to resemble fig. 47, 17).

148 L.H. I–II

Yellow Minyan (Fig. 17, 1–2 and 12). Fig. 17, 1 is from a low Stemmed Bowl or Cannateci Cup. The clay is hard and well levigated, buff-orange. Light brown slip, burnished. Shape as Korakou fig. 58 or Prosymna fig. 641. Fig. 17, 2 and 12 are of similar clay, but polished only. From Goblets.

Imitation Yellow Minyan (?). Fig. 17, 5, from a large bowl. There is an unusually large quantity of L.H. I–II patterned ware.

‘Vaphio’ Cups (Plate 21d, 2–6). Plate 21d, 2–4, have ‘ripple pattern’ (MP fig. 73, Mot. 78), cf. Korakou fig. 53, 3, fig. 62, 10, and pl. 4, 5–6. Plate 21d, 6, has part of a linked spiral decoration as, e.g., Korakou fig. 53, 9.

Palace Style’ (Plate 21 d, 7.) Large Jug or Amphora. Lustrous decoration, cf. PM ii. 122, fig. 58a. L.H. IIIA

Shallow Rounded Cup (Plate 21d, 8). Part of base (shape as MP fig. 13: 220, cf. Prosymna fig. 125: 258 and Zygouries fig. 131 (bottom right).


The period from L.H. IIIA to the middle of L.H. IIIB appears to have been the ‘floruit’ of Ayios Stephanos. Typical of this period are many Kylix and Stemmed Bowl fragments with fine lustrous monochrome paint. The fabric is always extremely fine and hard, varying from light buff to the purple of the M.H. Minyan wares. Splaying rims and ‘disk’ bases are common. Also typical are Deep Bowl and Crater fragments of similar fabric and paint, with monochrome painted interiors (e.g. Plate 21d, 9–10). A typical Kylix base is illustrated (Plate 21d, 14).


Kylikes and Deep Bowls are the most common shapes in the painted ware. Most of these have monochrome painted interiors and linear bands on the exteriors. Patterned fragments include: Plate 21d, 11, from a Deep Bowl. Pattern similar to MP fig. 72, Mot. 75: n. Plate 21d, 12, from a Deep Bowl. Pattern includes vertical wavy lines (MP Mot. 53:32). Plate 21d, 13, from a Kylix. Pattern as Plate 21d, 12 above. Plate 21d, 15, Base of a Tankard. Buff slip and thin bands of lustrous paint round base below. Part of a whorl-shell design (as MP Mot. 23). Highly polished.


Some sherds of rather poor fabric (mostly grey) and dull paint. These are probably early IIIC. To the same period might be ascribed Plate 21d, 16, from a Deep Bowl, with monochrome paint on interior, and part of a panelled pattern on exterior (antithetical spiral with central triglyph, similar to MP Mot. 50:11).


Most of the plain ware is probably IIIB, but some may be early IIIC. The commonest shapes are angular bowls (MP fig. 17, 267) and shallow bowls with high stems (MP fig. 17, 266).

149 Miniature Three-handled Jar (Fig. 17, 9). Nearly complete profile. Part of top handle missing. H. (preserved) 0·08 m. W. 0·04 m. D. of base 0·025 m. Coarse buff clay, not well fired. Late classical or Hellenistic miniature votive jar; cf. AM lii, Taf. 15, 31–32, and pp. 58–61 (from the Amyklaion), and BSA xlv (1950) 292, nos. 15 and 16 (pl. 29) from the Sports-ground site at classical Sparta.

150 They are not readily distinguishable from the latest L.H. painted wares in most cases. Two sherds from bowls have the shiny metallic glaze of Laconian Protogeometric, but they cannot be securely dated.

151 The surface conditions at these sites indicate that there was no M.H. occupation, but this cannot, of course, be proved without excavation.

152 Il. ii. 584. Ayios Stephanos was probably on the sea in Mycenaean times.

153 Paus. loc. cit., cf. BSA xv. 161 f.

154 Cf. BSA xiv. 162.

155 Cf. BSA xiii. 243 and Frazer iii. 402 on the distance between Messa and Oetylus.

156 Cf. BSA xxiv. 150.

157 JHS lxxvi (1956) Suppl. 15; BCH lxxx (1956) 277. Mr. Christou informs me that the pottery was of the L.H. II–III period. (R. H. S.)

158 It resembles in construction a tomb at Eleusis, (Ergon for 1956, 17 and fig. 14).

159 Mostly from Deep Bowls and Stemmed Bowls. A pithos fragment is illustrated (Fig. 17, 6). It resembles others from Asteri (Fig. 17, 7) and Mavrovouni, near Gythion (see Part II, forthcoming).

160 Two bases of small pedestalled bowls (cf. Eutresis fig. 131) and sherds of ‘Yellow Mottled Ware’ (Zygouries Class A II) from sauceboats, as well as sherds of Zygouries Class B II. The pottery closely resembles that from Tsasi.

161 A Kylix fragment (plain), and a rim from a large storage jar of wheelmade micaceous fabric. The L.H. occupation is so slight that it may only have been a small farm in this period.

162 BSA xiii. 230.

163 Handmade coarse wares (Zygouries Class D and E). One sherd is similar to Eutresis fig. 168.

164 A high swung handle from a goblet of Imitation Minyan Ware (shape as Korakou fig. 18) and the rim and handle of a coarse-ware vessel (as Asea fig. 103, c or ƒ).

165 L.H. II. A sherd from a ‘Vaphio’ Cup, with a central rib, in lustrous monochrome paint. L.H. III. Deep Bowls and Kylikes, mostly with monochrome paint on interior and streaky decoration on exterior (cf. sherds from Ayios Vasilios and Lekas above). These are L.H. IIA–B. Only a few have band decoration. Long-stemmed Kylikes with hollowed bases predominate.

166 A good description of the stone is given by Frazer iii. 374.

167 Geologische Karte des Peloponnes (1891) Blatt iv.

168 Paus. iii. 21.4; cf. Pliny, , NH xxxvi. 55. The ‘modern’ references to the Psephi quarries were collected in BSA xvi. 68 f. There is a recent short discussion by ProfessorWace, , in BSA 1 (1955) 182; cf. Wace, , Mycenae (1949) 136.

169 Philippson, , Der Peloponnes (1891) i. 215.

170 Two small lumps were found at Apidia, but no natural deposits were located.

171 PM iii. 268 ff. This date is not universally accepted (cf. BSA l. 182, and li. 168).

172 PM iv. 896 ff.

173 PM iii. 270.

174 Since the whole of the ‘life’ of the House appears to fall into the L.H. IIIB period (TAPA 48, part i (1958) 5–6).

175 Since most of the pottery from the well is L.H. Ill (BSA xxiv. 205).

176 The small cylinder from Platanos, (Xanthoudides, The Vaulted Tombs of the Mesara (1924) 101, and pl. 11, no. 1905) is not of Lapis Lacedaemonius, and the stone is black, not green. It is presumably Egyptian stone.

177 Surface finds from Laconian sites:

Vaphio. Two bowl fragments (no. 13 above).

Apidia. Two small lumps.

Lekas, north. Eight small lumps, one a pounder.

Lekas, south. Eleven small fragments, all unworked.

Ayios Stephanos. Ten lumps, of small to medium size, including two pounders and a polisher.

Cranae. Three small unworked lumps.

Prehistoric Laconia: Part I

  • Helen Waterhouse and R. Hope Simpson


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