Skip to main content Accessibility help

Statistical Evaluation of the Asaro-Perlman neutron activation data on Mycenaean pottery from the Peloponnese1

  • Jonathan E. Tomlinson (a1) and E. B. French


The statistical evaluation of NAA data for 250 Mycenaean potsherds from the Peloponnese (Achaea, Ayios Stephanos, Chora Ano Englianos, Nichoria, Olympia-Kolosakos, Peristeria, Palaiokastro and Platanos-Renia) resulted in twelve chemical groups defining the composition of pottery from the different regions. Earlier groupings of pottery from Ayios Stephanos and Nichoria were confirmed and chemical profiles were also produced for pottery from western Messenia and the north-east Peloponnese.

The north-east Peloponnesian groups are chemically very similar to Argolid pottery groups, such that the provenance of a group of early (LH I/II) pottery identified in this study, and of this chemical type, remains uncertain. This aside, the groups' chemical profiles are quite distinct from those representative of other areas of mainland Greece and Crete.



Hide All

2 See also French, E. B., ‘Wace and Blegen: Some Introductory Thoughts and a Case Study’, in Zerner, C., Zerner, P., and Winder, J. (eds), Proceedings of the International Wace and Blegen Conference ‘Pottery as Evidence for Trade in the Aegean Bronze Age, 1939–1989’ (Amsterdam, 1993), 36; S. M. A. Hoffmann and V. J. Robinson, ‘Neutron Activation Groupings of Imported Material from Tell Abu Hawam’, appendix to the above, 7–10.

3 Hoffmann, S. M. A., Robinson, V. J., French, E. B., and Jones, R. E., ‘The Problems of the North East Peloponnese and Progress to Its Solution: Effects of Measurement Errors and Element-Element Correlations in Defining Ceramic Reference Groups’, in D.Adan-Beyitz, , Artzy, M., and Asaro, F. (eds), Nuclear Chemistry and its Influence on Modern Science, (forthcoming).

4 The sherds were catalogued after their return to Greece by Dr E. B. French. A more complete catalogue, together with photographs of the sherds, is held by the Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens. The remaining parts of the sherds themselves are stored at the Swedish Institute at Athens.

5 Hoffmann, S. M. A., Robinson, V. J., and French, E. B., ‘Report on the Perlman/Asaro Analysis of Selected Nichoria Sherds’, in McDonald, W. A. and Wilkie, N. C. (eds), Excavations at Nichoria in Southwest Greece, ii: The Bronze Age Occupation (Minneapolis, 1992), 779–82; French, E. B., Hoffmann, S. M. A., and Robinson, V. J., ‘The Perlman and Asaro Analyses of the Hagios Stephanos Sherds: A Statistical Re-Evaluation’, in Janko, R. (ed.), Excavations at Ayios Stephanos in Laconia, BSA Supplementary Volume Series (forthcoming). For the Nichoria groupings, however, inconsistencies were noted between the text and Table II-1 (Assignments of Samples to Clusters). A statistical re-evaluation of the Nichoria dataset was run to check the assignments, and it became clear that the errors are in Table II-1 as follows: NICH 67 (not listed in the Table) and NICH 100 (listed as a member of Cluster 1) are members of Cluster 2. NICH 93, 94, and 98 (tabulated as belonging to Cluster 2) are members of Cluster 3 (as in the text).

6 Perlman, I. and Asaro, F., ‘Pottery analysis by Neutron Activation’, Archaeometry, 11 (1969), 2152.

7 Taylor, R. J. and Robinson, V. J., ‘Neutron Activation Analysis of Roman African Red Slip Ware Kilns’, Archaeometry, 38 (1996), 231–43.

8 This information is summarized in Appendix 3. A group assignment in parentheses indicates a loose association of that sample to the group in question. The data for these sherds were not used in the calculation of the group's chemical profile.

9 French et al. (n. 5). The Ayios Stephanos sherds are from Group A, which is described as ‘a rather homogeneous group of distinctive composition and is therefore almost certainly of local origin’.

10 Hoffmann et al. (n. 5); French et al. (n. 5). All the Ayios Stephanos sherds are from Group B, which shows ‘clear and unambiguous associations with sherds from other sites, exclusively LH I or LH II’ (including the six Nichoria sherds associated here), and a common source of production is suggested. The Nichoria sherds are all LH I, and all from Cluster 3. Discussing the Nichoria results this early group is referred to as Group K (‘a well-defined compositional group of early (mostly LH I/IIA) sherds from a number of sites (Ayios Stephanos, Mycenae and Tiryns) similar to, but distinguishable from, pottery from the Mycenae region’) and the authors write that ‘it is clear that the LH I sherds in (Nichoria Cluster 3) almost certainly have the same origin as the “K” group’.

11 Of the sixty sherds analysed from these three sites, fifteen were unassigned. Of the remaining forty-five, forty-three are found in groups 3, 4, and 5. The groups were tested against reference groups from Asine, Berbati, Mycenae and Tiryns. Group 4 was found to be particularly similar in composition to Argolid pottery; Groups 3 and 5 being similar, but certainly distinguishable.

12 The Nichoria sherds are from Cluster 3, but (apart from NICH 15) are LH III. Discussing this cluster, Hoffmann et al. (n. 5) comment that ‘the LH III C sherds that are members of this cluster are mostly rather loosely associated … two of these sherds (NICH 93 and 98) were found to be definitely associated with Mycenae itself’.

13 The sherds from Chora Ano Englianos were noted as outliers in the original site-by-site analyses, and likewise the three from Nichoria Cluster 3 are ‘possibly ambiguous or not well assigned’(ibid).

14 Groups 8, 9, 11, and 12 correspond to Nichoria Clusters 1, 2, 4, and 5, all of which are designated local (ibid.).

15 See Tomlinson, J. E., ‘Statistical Analysis of Neutron Activation Data on Mycenaean Pottery from Gla, Thebes, Eutresis, Kallithea and Tanagra in Boeotia’, Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Boeotian Studies in Greece, Thebes, 4–8 September 1996 (forthcoming). The group in question is Thebes Cluster B, which itself associates with a number of pottery groups from the Argolid and Corinthia, and is particularly similar, chemically, to a compositional group of pottery found at Tiryns but deemed ‘Mycenae environs’by Hoffmann el al. (n. 3).

16 Tomlinson, J. E., ‘Provenance of Minoan Ceramics by Multivariate Analysis of Neutron Activation Data’ (Ph.D. Thesis; University of Manchester, 1991). The cluster is Chania Cluster B.

17 Chania Cluster A. (ibid).

1 I should like to thank the British School at Athens for the award of the School Studentship which enabled this research to be carried out. Thanks are also due to Drs V. J. Robinson, S. M. A. Hoffmann, and E. B. French for their helpful comments. Dr Hoffmann also carried out the arduous task of inputting the chemical data to computer.

Statistical Evaluation of the Asaro-Perlman neutron activation data on Mycenaean pottery from the Peloponnese1

  • Jonathan E. Tomlinson (a1) and E. B. French


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.