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Our Cups Are Full: Pottery and Society in the Aegean Bronze Age. Papers Presented to Jeremy B. Rutter on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday

Our Cups Are Full: Pottery and Society in the Aegean Bronze Age. Papers Presented to Jeremy B. Rutter on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday

Edited by Walter Gauß, Michael Lindblom, R. Angus K. Smith, and James C. Wright. Pp. xxvii + 392, figs. 197, tables 35. Archaeopress, Oxford 2011. $70. ISBN 978-1-905739-39-4 (paper).

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This Festschrift comprises an introduction and 38 chapters written for Jerry Rutter on the occasion of his 65th birthday and his transition to emeritus professor at Dartmouth College (“retirement” seems the wrong word for a scholar so active). As the title indicates, most of the papers concern the pottery of the Aegean Bronze Age. The span of the papers, from the Early Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age transition, from central Greece and Crete to the Levant and Egypt, illustrates the exceptional depth and breadth of Rutter’s continuing contributions to the archaeology of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.

As the introduction by Wright makes clear, Rutter’s influence is extended and magnified by his role as a colleague and especially as a teacher, not just to his own students at Dartmouth but to graduate students he has trained on field projects in Greece. Indeed, both types of students are amply represented among the contributors. Wright’s introduction should be read together with Sherratt’s chapter, which critically charts developments in the study of Aegean Bronze Age pottery from Furumark to the present day, with an emphasis on the place of Rutter’s work in these developments.

Space restrictions prevent me from giving the papers the full attention they deserve, but I provide brief synopses here to give the reader a sense of the volume’s content. Several papers analyze individual vessels: Shaw publishes a Late Minoan (LM) III pyxis from Kommos, Shelmerdine a Mycenaean krater from Iklaina, Smith a LM III ring-shaped vase from Myrsini, and Stocker and Davis an Early Cycladic pyxis lid fragment from Ali Chodza. Others deal with particular ceramic groups: five Early Bronze Age terracotta spoons from Thesprotia (Forsén), the “Diagonal Line Class Juglets” from Hagios Charalambos (Betancourt), the Aegean stirrup jars from Enkomi (Graziadio), six Early Helladic vases from Zygouries (Hemingway), the Cypriot pottery from the Uluburun shipwreck (Hirschfeld), impressed pithoi from Mitrou and its environs (Lis and Rückl), the Aegean-type pottery from Megiddo (Stockhammer), the Mycenaean angular kylix and the shallow angular basin (Thomas), Mycenaean miniature throne models (Vetters), the ubiquitous Minoan conical cup (Wiener), and the Kabri goblet (Yasur-Landau, Cline, and Samet).

Several contributions focus on chronology and periodization: Aston dates the Late Helladic (LH) IIIA2–IIIB transition to the reign of Ramesses II, Lindblom and Manning discuss the chronology of the Lerna shaft graves based on ceramic and radiocarbon evidence, and Vitale proposes a chronological division of LH IIIA2 into three phases on the basis of material from Mitrou. Likewise, D’Agata clarifies the Sub-Minoan phase, chiefly through study of excavated material from Thronos Kephala, and Papadopoulos, Damiata, and Marston pick up Rutter’s plea to abandon the term Sub-Mycenaean through a thorough reexamination of the secondary literature and using evidence from the Torone cemetery.

Methodological issues are also addressed by a number of papers. Results from neutron activation analysis are considered by French, who discusses stirrup jars from the West House at Mycenae, and Mountjoy, who focuses on Mycenaean IIIC pottery groups found in the Near East and attributed to Cypriot production centers. Wright and Dabney show how careful attention to quantification of excavated material pays dividends in the interpretation of prehistoric Tsoungiza. Rutter’s scholarly contribution to survey is reflected in Schon’s analysis of surface pottery that cannot be dated to a single phase and by Cavanagh and Mee’s exploration of the Early Helladic (EH) I and EH III gaps in the Laconian sequence.

Other articles are more site-specific. On Crete, Brogan, Sofianou, and Morrison disentangle the household activities at Papdiokampos, La Rosa investigates the “Grande Frana” at Phaistos, and Van de Moortel argues for a direct connection between the first palace at Phaistos and the Kamares cave. Benzi analyzes the Daskalio cave on Kalymnos, and Gauß, Lindblom, and Smetana present the impressive and important “Large Building Complex” at Kolonna. In Attica, Ruppenstein argues that Mount Parnes and Hymettos were loci of Early Helladic cult. In the Peloponnese, Philippa-Touchais and Touchais publish an early Middle Helladic deposit from the Aspis at Argos, Pullen finds evidence for feasting at Early Helladic Tsoungiza and Lerna, and Wiencke discusses ceremonial aspects of life at Early Helladic Lerna. Outside the Aegean, Jung finds evidence for Mycenaean migrants at Tell Kazel in southern Syria.

The last papers considered here deal with the theme of continuity and discontinuity. Hiller studies the palm tree and altar in Bronze Age and classical art and suggests a basic stability in their iconographical juxtaposition based on religious continuity. Maran argues that the catastrophic break at the end of LH IIIB created a distancing effect whereby Mycenaean palatial culture became an indistinct memory already by LH IIIC. Building T at Tiryns, constructed inside the Mycenaean megaron, and the Tiryns treasure thus represent attempts by the LH IIIC elite to claim rule through linkage to an imagined glorious past.

The 38 distinct contributions in this volume reflect the enormous range and influence of Rutter’s work over the past 40 years. The staccato rhythm of this review matches the experience of reading the book from start to finish: the papers are arranged alphabetically by author surname (rather than thematically) and are fairly short. Although most of the papers are aimed at a specialist audience, they all touch on broader themes: trade and exchange, religion and memory, population movements, and social organization. Much new evidence and many new ideas are also presented. As a result, this volume will no doubt achieve the wide readership that it deserves, especially among Greek prehistorians, and it is a fitting offering to a scholar who continues to enrich our understanding of all aspects of the early Greek world.

Dimitri Nakassis
Department of Classics
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C7

Book Review of Our Cups Are Full: Pottery and Society in the Aegean Bronze Age. Papers Presented to Jeremy B. Rutter on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, edited by Walter Gauß et al.

Reviewed by Dimitri Nakassis

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 117, No. 2 (April 2013)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1172.Nakassis

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