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


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.


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



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)


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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

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