Advertisement

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 683–697 | Cite as

Mycenaean pottery from Amara West (Nubia, Sudan)

  • Michela SpataroEmail author
  • Anna Garnett
  • Andrew Shapland
  • Neal Spencer
  • Hans Mommsen
Original Paper

Abstract

Amara West, built around 1300 BC, was an administrative centre for the pharaonic colony of Upper Nubia. In addition to producing hand- and wheel-made pottery, respectively, in Nubian and Egyptian style, Amara West also imported a wide range of ceramics from Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. A scientific study of 18 Mycenaean-style ceramics was undertaken to study provenance and aspects of production technology. Neutron activation analysis (NAA) results show that the pots were imported from several workshops in Greece and Cyprus. Thin-section petrography and scanning electron microscopy, used with energy-dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), show that different recipes were used to make the fabrics and paints of Mycenaean ceramics, reflecting both technological choices and the range of raw materials used in the different workshops. The petrographic and SEM-EDX results support the NAA provenance attributions.

Keywords

Mycenaean pottery Amara West Thin sections NAA SEM-EDX Ceramic technology 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Director General Dr. Abd el-Rahman Ali Mohamed, National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (Sudan), and to Shadia Abdu Rabo and Mohamed Saad, for facilitating this work and permitting the export of samples. Thanks are also due to the Egypt Exploration Society for permitting and facilitating the donation of Mycenaean sherds to the British Museum. The authors would like to thank Dr. Roberta Tomber (British Museum, UK), Dr. John Meadows (ZBSA, Germany), Dr. Penelope Mountjoy (British School at Athens, Greece) and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and discussion. The authors wish to thank also the staff of the research reactor of the Reactor Institute Delft, Delft University of Technology, for their technical support and A. Simpson (British Museum) for his help with some of the figures.

Funding information

Fieldwork and analyses were funded by The Leverhulme Trust (2010–2014) and the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (2014–2018), under the auspices of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (Sudan).

Supplementary material

12520_2017_552_MOESM1_ESM.doc (96 kb)
Appendix NAA results of Mycenaean samples from the excavations at Amara West, Sudan. Raw concentrations of elements C in μg/g (ppm), if not indicated otherwise, and below, average measurement errors, also in percent of C, to indicate the precision of the NAA for the different elements (DOC 96 kb)

References

  1. Beier T, Mommsen H (1994) Modified Mahalanobis filters for grouping pottery by chemical composition. Archaeometry 36:287–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Budka J (2015) The pharaonic town on Sai Island and its role in the urban landscape of new kingdom Kush. Sudan Nubia 19:40–53Google Scholar
  3. Buxeda i Garrigós J, Mommsen H, Tsolakidou A (2002) Alterations of Na, K and Rb concentrations in Mycenaean pottery and a proposed explanation using X-ray diffraction. Archaeometry 44(2):187–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Emery WB, Smith HS, Millard A (1979) The Fortress of Buhen: the archaeological report. Egypt Exploration Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Fairman HW (1938) Preliminary report on the excavations at Sesebi (Sudla) and ‘Amārah West, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1937-8. J Egypt Archaeol 24(2):151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Furumark A (1941) The Mycenaean pottery: analysis and classification. V. Petterson, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  7. Hankey V (1997) Aegean pottery at el-Amarna: shapes and decorative motifs. In: Phillips J (ed) Ancient Egypt, the Aegean, and the Near East: studies in honour of Martha Rhoads Bell. Van Siclen Books, San Antonio, pp 193–218Google Scholar
  8. Hammer O, Harper D, Ryan P (2001) PAST: Paleontological Statistics Software Package for Education and Data Analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4(1): onlineGoogle Scholar
  9. Kelder JM (2010) The Egyptian interest in Mycenaean Greece. Jaarbericht “Ex Oriente Lux” 42:125–140Google Scholar
  10. Kilikoglou V (1994) Scanning electron microscopy. In: Wilson DE, Day PM (eds) Ceramic regionalism in prepalatial central Crete: the Mesara imports at EMI to EMIIA Knossos, Annual of the British School at Athens 89. British School at Athens, Athens, pp 1–87Google Scholar
  11. Leonard A (1994) An index to the Late Bronze Age Aegean pottery from Syria-Palestine. Paul Åströms Forlag, JonseredGoogle Scholar
  12. Minault-Gout A, Thill F (2012) Saï II. Le cimetière des tombes hypogées du Nouvel Empire (SAC5). Fouilles de l'Institut français d’archéologie orientale 69. L’Institut français d'archéologie orientale, CairoGoogle Scholar
  13. Mommsen H (2011) Provenancing of pottery. In: International Atomic Energy Agency (ed) Nuclear techniques for cultural heritage research, IAEA Radiation Technology Series No. 2: 41–170. International Atomic Energy Agency, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  14. Mommsen H, Kreuser A, Lewandowski E, Weber J (1991) Provenancing of pottery: a status report on neutron activation analysis and classification. In: Hughes M, Cowell M, Hook D (eds) Neutron activation and plasma emission spectrometric analysis in archaeology. British Museum Occ. Paper 82, London, pp 57–65Google Scholar
  15. Mommsen H, Beier T, Diehl U, Podzuweit C (1992) Provenance determination of Mycenaean sherds found in Tell el-Amarna by neutron activation analysis. J Archaeol Sci 19:295–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mommsen H, Sjöberg BL (2007) The importance of the ‘best relative fit factor’ when evaluating elemental concentration data of pottery demonstrated with Mycenaean sherds from Sinda, Cyprus. Archaeometry 49:357–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mommsen H, Bentz M, Boix A (2016) Provenance of red-figured pottery of the classical period excavated at Olympia. Archaeometry 58:371–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mountjoy PA (1986) Mycenaenan decorated pottery: a guide to identification. Paul Åströms Forlag, JonseredGoogle Scholar
  19. Mountjoy PA, Mommsen H (2001) Mycenaean pottery from Qantir-Piramesse, Egypt. Annual of the British School at Athens 96:123–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mountjoy PA, Mommsen H (2015) Neutron activation analysis of Aegean-style IIIC pottery from 11 Cypriot and various Near Eastern sites. Egypt Levant 25:421–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Müller V (2013) Die Verwaltung Nubiens im Neuen Reich. Meroitica, Schriften zur altsudanesischen Geschichte und Archäologie 18. Harrassowitz Verlag, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
  22. Noll W, Holm R, Born L (1975) Painting of ancient ceramics. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, pp. 602–613Google Scholar
  23. Smith ST (2003) Wretched Kush: ethnic identities and boundaries in Egypt’s Nubian empire. Routledge, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Spataro M, Millet M, Spencer N (2015) The New Kingdom settlement of Amara West (Nubia, Sudan): mineralogical and chemical investigation of the ceramics. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 7(4):399–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Spencer N (2014) Amara West: considerations on urban life in colonial Kush. In: Anderson JR, Welsby DA (eds) The fourth cataract and beyond: proceedings of the 12th International Conference for Nubian Studies. Peeters, Leuven, Paris, Walpole MA, pp 457–485Google Scholar
  26. Spencer N (2017) Building on new ground: the foundation of a colonial centre at Amara West. In: Spencer N, Stevens A (eds) The New Kingdom in Nubia: lived experience, pharaonic control and indigenous traditions. British Museum Publications on Egypt and Sudan 3. Peeters, Leuven, Paris, Walpole MA, pp 321–353Google Scholar
  27. Spencer P (1997) Amara West I: the architectural report. Excavation Memoir 63. Egypt Exploration Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Spencer P (2002) Amara West II: the cemetery and the pottery corpus. Excavation Memoir 69. Egypt Exploration Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Steindorff G (1937) Aniba, vol. II. JJ Augustin, GlückstadtGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Wijngaarden GJ (2002) Use and appreciation of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant, Cyprus and Italy (1600–1200 BC). Amsterdam University Press, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Van Wijngaarden GJ (2011) Tokens of a special relationship? Mycenaeans and the Egyptians. In: Duistermaat K, Regulski I (eds) Intercultural contacts in the ancient Mediterranean: proceedings of the international conference at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, 25th to 29th October 2008. Peeters, Leuven, Paris, Walpole MA, pp 225–251Google Scholar
  32. Zuckerman S, Ben-Shlomo D, Mountjoy P, Mommsen H (2010) A provenance study of Mycenaean pottery from northern Israel. J Arch Sci 37:409–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michela Spataro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna Garnett
    • 2
  • Andrew Shapland
    • 1
  • Neal Spencer
    • 1
  • Hans Mommsen
    • 3
  1. 1.British MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.The Petrie Museum of Egyptian ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Helmholtz-Institut für Strahlen- und KernphysikRheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations