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Jan Driessen

2. Dimini: An Urban Settlement of the Late Bronze Age in the Pagasitic Gulf1

Vasiliki Adrymi-Sismani

Texte intégral

  • 1 Translated from Greek by Doniert Evely.

1The Mycenaean settlement at Dimini is an excellent example of a very well organised urban centre, developed beside the large natural harbour of the Pagasitic Gulf, where is sited the major palatial centre of lolkos, rich in its associations with that important myth – of the Argonauts.

2Dimini is to be found in Eastern Thessaly, 5 km west of the city of Volos and 3 km from the present coastline of the Pagasitic Gulf. Inhabited first in the middle of the 5th millennium, when the famous Neolithic settlement was founded on a low hill (Fig. 2.1) (Tsountas 1908). In the Late Neolithic Age, the settlement was the dominant one, surrounded by smaller satellite communities, existing in the coastal region of Volos (Chourmouziadis 1979).

Fig. 2.1. The Neolithic settlement and the Mycenaean building on the north-west side of the central court (photo by K. Xenikakis)

3The study of the recent excavation data indicates that Dimini was not abandoned in the Final Neolithic, as previously thought, but continued to be inhabited during the Bronze Age. A gradual movement of the settlement into the plain east of the hill occurred: the form and extent of settlement ebbed and flowed during this period. The forming of new shorelines (Zängger 1991: 1-7; Kampouroglou 1994: 41-52), combined both with the presence of the protected natural harbour and the creating of a lowland area east of the hill, were the determining factors for the persistence of the settlement during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (Adrymi-Sismani 2000; 2003: 71-100; 2004-2005: 1-54).

4The perceived long period of habitation on the same spot from the Late Neolithic period (Fig. 2.2) (even allowing for a possible break at the end of the Early to the last phase of the Middle Bronze Ages, when the settlement was refounded) to the end of the Late Bronze Age (early LH IIIC period) indicates the particular strategic importance of Dimini: located in a favoured geographical position, with the possibility of monitoring the natural harbour that is the Pagasitic Gulf and the fertile plain around it (Fig. 2.3).

Fig. 2.2. Aerial photograph of the Dimini archaeological site (photo by K. Xenikakis)

Fig. 2.3. General topographical plan of the Dimini archaeological site (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

5The rich and exceptionally preserved architectural remains of our Mycenaean city provide a wealth of information on the social, economic and urban planning of this important municipality, which played a prominent role in the social and economic development in the settlements developed around the Pagasitic Gulf, in particular during the LH IIIB2 period. In the Palatial Period the settlement appears as an extensive and well-organised town with a social hierarchy clearly in evidence, as is manifest in the administrative centre, the diversification of house-types and funerary monuments.

6The settlement was re-established in the transitional period from the Middle (17th-16th centuries BC) to the Late Bronze Age, when throughout mainland Greece those developments that were responsible for the emergence of the future Mycenaean centres got under way (Adrymi-Sismani 2010a: 301-313). The image we have of the form of the settlement at the beginning of its re-foundation (viz. the 16th-15th centuries BC) is largely incomplete. Because of the absence of architectural remains in the trenches opened, and also due to subsequent construction activity, the fills of LH I and LH IIA date, found above a destruction layer of the MH 111 period, do not allow the separation of these phases one from the other: there is a further lack of characteristic Mycenaean pottery, in favour of the continued use of the matt-painted polychrome pottery of the previous period. The same difficulty arises when dating the tombs.

1. Early stages

  • 2 The ‘herring-bone’ construction technique is being used in Eastern Thessaly during the Early and pa (...)

7For the first period of the Mycenaean establishment (15th early 14th centuries), our understanding of the form of the settlement in these LH IIB/LH IIIA1 periods is largely based on information drawn from the burials and their offerings, and much less from the building remains. These last ones have not been detected as integrated residential complexes, because of the overlying ones. The use of the ‘herring-bone’ construction technique (Maran 1992: pl. V)2 as seen in some houses suggests that the first Mycenaean structures were refitted older and Middle Helladic buildings, already there. Perhaps to this period might be dated the Mycenaean building south-west of the central court of the Neolithic settlement: this, judging from its size and its strong foundations, could be a building with a public character, given that in this period new heights were reached in power and administration.

8In the LH IIB period there can be recognised at Dimini, just as in the neighbouring settlements of Palaia/the Kastro of Volos and at Pefkakia, a new rising social class who wished to differentiate itself through its funerary monuments. The burial of the dead was carried out in four-sided cist graves, with a dromos (Fig. 2.4), which were in the first place very distinctive features in the cemeteries and furthermore contained richer offerings than the ordinary cist grave: it all indicates that these dead people had in life a greater access to objects of wealth. From the grave-offerings it may be seen that this class, although enjoying some wealth, had not acquired it from military prowess, as is observed in ‘warrior’ graves in Southern Greece and perhaps also in two graves in the cemetery of Nea Ionia of Volos, associated with the settlement in Palaia/the Kastro of Volos. To date, no weapons have been found in any grave at Dimini.

Fig. 2.4. Built cist-tomb with dromos of the LH IIB/LH IIIA phases (photo by the author)

2. The urban planning of the Mycenaean settlement

9In the following centuries, especially from the mid-14th century until the second half of the 13th century BC, the Mycenaean city of Dimini had its heyday: the settlement had evolved into an urban centre, with residential structures concomitant with its population growth. It reached its peak during the LH IIIB2 period (Adrymi-Sismani forthcoming 1).

10In the 14th century BC (LH III), according to the archaeological evidence, the local authorities, to improve the urban planning, forced the settlement to implement a regular layout with a grid of ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ streets. The main arterial roads, as planned in this building program, were maintained until the final abandonment of the settlement in early LH IIIC, although towards the end slight variations to the scheme are observable, with the construction of new housing outside the line of structures hitherto defining the roadsides.

11From this period have survived many building remains, but little of this habitation was investigated as the structures of the next phase were repeatedly renovated on the same spot time after time, re-using earlier wall segments. Accordingly the information available for the organisation of the settlement at this time is at present limited.

12The beginning of LH IIIA certainly saw the construction of the first administrative centre as the seat of the local ruler, whose existence is also indicated by the construction of a large tholos tomb, the ‘Lamiospito’ (Fig. 2.5) (Lolling & Wolters 1886: 435-448). The complete absence of bronze weapons from the tholos tomb of this local ruler, who was more practised in the skills of the hunt (the tomb yielded eight dog skeletons) than of war, should be viewed along with the apparent absence of defensive features in the original urban layout. Together, they stand witness to the peaceful coexistence of the settlement from its very start with the other two others existing around the harbour of the Pagasitic Gulf. A seal of black agate depicting bull-leaping from the ‘Lamiospito’ tholos tomb was probably an import from Minoan Crete; similarly an imported stone vase shows in this early period the contacts existing between the local ruler and the palaces, just as do the equivalent finds in the cist tombs from Palaia/the Kastro of Volos (Batziou-Eustathiou 1985: 7-71).

Fig. 2.5. Tholos tomb ˊLamiospitoˊ of the LH IIIA phase (axonometric plan by R. Georgiou)

13An important step in the economic development of the settlement was the establishment of a local potting industry, complete with a large kiln; their output certainly facilitated the trading options of the local authority, as ceramics were an important export product in themselves. The kiln, 3.60 m in diameter, is currently the largest known example of such in Central Greece (Fig. 2.6) (Adrymi-Sismani 1999: 131-142). The large amount of sherds of small vessels, found in a nearby pit, demonstrates that the increased production of the workshop far outstripped the needs of the local population. Apart from the potting craft, no other structures are recognised during this period for any specific production or processing of products; thus the economy of the settlement remained basically that of farming (agricultural and pastoral). At the end of the LH IIIA2 period, the site was destroyed by fire, which consumed the entire settlement.

Fig. 2.6. Pottery kiln (photo by the author; plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

3. The settlement in the 13th century BC

14Immediately after the disaster, the settlement was rebuilt with the same spatial organisation and under the same conditions as defined the use of the space – most buildings are restored in the same position. This layout of the habitation survives better, providing a wealth of information for urban planning and the economy of the town; it offers a chance to reconstruct the political, administrative and social organisation of the city shortly before the end of the LH IIIB2 period (Fig. 2.7).

15In this period the settlement spread over an area of 50 acres, as it gradually extended to the north-east, with the construction of new homes. The maintenance of the road-grid in part of the expanded settlement reflects the continuous monitoring of the building-campaign over time: the urban network, extended gradually because of the increasing housing needs (themselves perhaps resulting from population growth), maintained the same spatial organisation.

16A key element in the economic development of the settlement were the two central roads, delimited by stone walls at their sides. The ‘horizontal’ or North-South component, up to 4.50 m wide, was investigated for an overall distance of 130 m. The road perpendicular to it, running in a East-West direction, was even wider than 4.50 m: it ended at the main entrance to the administrative centre, undoubtedly serving as the access route to the port and to the farmland, pastures and the hunting terrain. Since on the North-South road there are identified traces of chariot wheels (the width of the road was enough for these vehicles to pass, and their use has been certified in mainland Greece since the beginning of the Late Bronze Age) (Crouwel 1981: 158-160), it is most likely that the movement of people and goods along the main roads was managed in this way. Moreover, the knowledge of the chariot is endorsed by fragments of terracotta figurines of chariots and riders located in the trash of the administrative centre, while Mycenaean chariots are often depicted on vases from the settlement.

Fig. 2.7. Reconstruction of the Mycenaean settlement (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

17On either side of the North-South road grew up houses, independent of each other and without the need of partitions, set in open space and aligned to the street orientation, though without direct access to it, or to the other main road. Possibly this route, which quite obviously did not facilitate the daily movements of the people, since there are no door openings in the facades of houses to this road, was exclusively used in communicating with neighbouring settlements, and also for ceremonial processions, which would have passed through the middle of the settlement to reach Courtyard 2 at the administrative centre, where there was an organised place for public worship (Hägg 2001: 143-148; Wright 2006: 7-52).

18The eleven houses excavated undoubtedly provide a representative picture of Mycenaean building technology. Since it is the only such place in Thessaly excavated to such an extent, it is obvious that it makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of the organisation of the residential quarters in the later Mycenaean period and particularly the LH IIIB2 period. They are private rectangular houses, which belong to Category 3 of Darque (Darque 2005: 337, fig. 105): built in free space, usually asymmetrical in design, with successive additions to the original plan (Hiesel 1990: 30-38) and with private storage areas. Large families could live in them. No visible signs exist for their separation by house boundaries, although they are aligned horizontally in those zones earlier unbuilt on. They never touch an adjacent property, with the result that a dense urban fabric is not generated, as is observed in other Mycenaean cities (Fig. 2.8).

Fig. 2.8. Houses along the central North-South road (photo by the author)

19All buildings were single-storied, without Upper floors or basements: set directly on the ground, they employed stone socles and a superstructure of mud bricks. Some rooms had their walls given a coat of coloured plaster (white and yellow-brown). In one structure was placed a whole earthen bath-tub, whilst several places have traces of the sewer system surviving. It is significant that the houses show many variations in size, with no one building having the same plan as another. An exceptional example of a difference in the organisation of the interior is House K, where in the central room 2 there was defined a specially-designed space for the use of a domestic shrine: here was found a large bovine figurine (Fig. 2.9), with a painted plait around its neck, serving as a cult symbol.

Fig. 2.9. Decorated wheel-made bull figure of the LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)

20The archaeological evidence shows an undeniable diversity in the buildings, while demonstrating the multiple use of various spaces, where coexisted elements typical of domestic activities and small-scale storage. However, there is a clear difference in the scale in the storage of agricultural products in individual households: this surely reflects the management of agricultural produce and provides information about the framework of the economic and social systems. These data reinforce the belief that households had secured an economic independence, to a greater or lesser degree for each (Fig. 2.10).

Fig. 2.10. Plan of the four houses during the LH IIIB2 phase (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

4. The administrative centre in LH IIIB

21At a central point of the settlement was recovered the administrative centre, involving a total area of 4970 m2 and with dimensions of 71 x 70 m. It consists of two building sections in parallel, the southern and the northern parts, the core of which consists of two large buildings, conventionally called Megaron A and Megaron B respectively. The main structures are framed by parallel wings of smaller size, which are sometimes connected by internal corridors and peristyle courtyards, but also by large external courtyards (Fig. 2.10). Built at the beginning of the LH IIIB period, they sit over an older complex of buildings of LH IIIA2 date, which had been destroyed by fire. Inhabited throughout the 13th century BC they were destroyed in turn by fire at the end of the LH IIIB2 period, according to the ceramics studied in the destruction layer (Fig. 2.11) (Adrymi-Sismani forthcoming 2).

Fig. 2.11. Aerial photograph of the Administrative Centre (photo by K. Xenikakis)

22The complex of buildings, mutually complementary in their manner of functioning as architectural study reveals, was originally designed and organised as a whole to simultaneously serve two main functions as an administrative centre (Wright 2006: 7-52). At the same time as this administrative centre arose, the second large tholos tomb, ‘Toumba’, was constructed up on the hill (Fig. 2.12).

Fig. 2.12. Tholos tomb ˊToumbaˊ of the LH IIIB phase (photo by the author)

23As the new complex acted as the seat of the local political and religious authority, it will have so eased the performance of all the functions of the local ruler (administration, religious ceremonies, trade and international relations), as dictated by the responsibilities concomitant with the administration of an urban centre (Fig. 2.13).

Fig. 2.13. Stone by stone plan of the Administrative Centre (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

5. Propylon

24The complex was a ‘private’ area, with controlled access via a monumental central portico, fashioned at the intersection of the two central axis-roads. Therefore, despite the absence of any immediately visible ‘barrier’, there is yet a clear attempt and desire to segregate the administrative centre.

25The porch had the form of an elongated capital H, with two plastered wooden columns set between pilasters and a third on the longitudinal axis, and with two lateral storerooms (rooms 24 and 23) on its south side. A clay seal (Adrymi-Sismani 2010b: 37-55) indicates the control exercised on outgoing or incoming goods from the warehouses. In front of the porch was formed a sloping ramp, rising from the road surface, which extended the entire width of the portico’s facade. Such a monumental form of portico is without doubt symbolic of the power wielded by the person in charge of the administrative centre.

5.1. Southern Complex

26Courtyard 1. Set in the free space between the portico and the southern complex proper.

27Rectangular building. An independent building, consisting of four small and equally sized spaces (for storage?), located in Courtyard 1.

28Megaron A. At the core of the southern complex lies the so-called Megaron A (Fig. 2.14), destroyed by fire, as was the entire complex at the end of 13th century BC. Reoccupied in almost the same form in the early 12th century (Fig. 2.15) for a very short time, it was then finally abandoned.

Fig. 2.14. Aerial photograph of Megaron A and the nearby megaron of the south quarter (photo by K. Xenikakis)

29The so-called Megaron A belongs to the type of building called a ‘Corridor-House’ (Darque 2005: 358): it is made up of the main megaron-type building A, at 20.50 x 7.20 m in size and 147 m2 in plan, with a wing of ten small rooms connected to it by a corridor along the south side. It is built with strong stone foundations (width 0.90-1.10 m) which could support the weight of an additional floor above. It possessed a roof covered with clay tiles and with a clay gutter all around to channel rainwater into the underground sewage system. The rooms had white lime-plaster floors and the wall surfaces too were finished off by a coat of white lime-plaster, sometimes with decoration in red.

30Megaron A is by and large an evolution of the Thessalian Middle Helladic megaron (Fig. 2.15): it has three typical areas – an open portico, a room with a central hearth, equipped with a chimney of clay, and a back-space. Furthermore in Megaron A some new architectural features appear. A colonaded courtyard is formed in front of the east entrance, while a fore-court is placed immediately after the propylon. This type of Mycenaean megaron that was used in Dimini by local authority during LH IIIB2 lacks the complex entrance known in other Mycenaean megara, as well as the circular hearth with its four corner-pillars.

31In the wing with the small rooms were recognised places for temporary storage and working spaces. In room 4 were found more than 40 plain kylikes and a large amount of everyday ceramics, while in rooms 9, 19 and 18 was identified some complex operation, industrial in character. A particularly important find in this section is a stone object, engraved with three symbols in Linear B (Fig. 2.16) (Adrymi-Sismani & Godart 2005: 47-69), and part of a surface plaster layer, belonging to a circular offering table used in religious ceremonies.

Fig. 2.15. Stone by stone plan of the south quarter (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

Fig. 2.16. Stone object with engraved Linear B signs found in Megaron A of the Administrative centre (photo by the author)

32In the inner corridor, a striking find is a total of six stone moulds and metallurgical tools (Fig. 2.17), used for making jewellery and copper tools. The discoveries show that the local authority had encouraged at this time the manufacture of craft products within the administrative centre, whilst simultaneously, in developing a broad network of contacts and trade relations with other settlements and their rulers, had sought commercial contacts with the known centres in Central Greece, the Peloponnese, in Western Crete and the Asia Minor coast, with whom they exchanged products.

33Colonnaded courtyard. In front of the main Megaron A was set a rectangular, peristyle courtyard with columns. Along the east side were revealed three large rectangular slabs of slate, on which stood three wooden columns, in diameter 0.60 m, coated with white plaster. In the northwest corner of the peristyle courtyard stood a little soakaway, where the rainwater from the roof of the main Megaron A ended up; thence, by means of an underground stone-lined channel, the water was removed from the complex.

Fig. 2.17. Stone mould of the LH IIIB2 phase from megaron A in the Administrative centre (photo by the author)

34Outdoor altar. South of the entrance to the main Megaron A was uncovered an open-air, circular altar, built of stone (Fig. 2.18), with a flat-topped, square clay ‘table’ up against its south side. Around the altar, spreading over quite a large area, were found successive layers of ashes; on it were identified layers of burning episodes, burnt animal bones and fragments of vases for handling liquids. Next to the altar were placed plain cups and a portable fire-dog (krateutis).

Fig. 2.18. Open-air circular stone altar south of the main entrance to Megaron A of the Administrative Centre (photo by K. Xenikakis)

35Burnt animal bones, found on the altar, were certainly associated with religious activities (burnt offerings) taking place during ceremonials (Hamilakis & Konsolaki 2004: 135-151). With the use of the altar went two small rooms 11 and 12 connected to it, contingent with Megaron A; an oblong, shallow basin was placed outside the entrance to the small room 12.

36The use of the altar dates from the second half of the 13th century BC, and certifies the involvement of the local authority in the organisation of religious activities. It continued in operation into the early LH 111C period, demonstrating the important role of religion even to later communities.

5.2. South and North Megara

37Either side of the main Megaron A were developed in parallel two smaller such, the North and South megara, both ending on the same building line as the main one. They were also part of a unified building that was the administration centre, erected as they are in the same defined area with their access only possible from the main porch. They were destroyed simultaneously with Megaron A; above their destruction layer, were then founded houses in the early LH IIIC period.

38The South Megaron consisted of an open porch, the main chamber (Room A) and the back-space (Room B). In the centre of Room B was found a hearth, around which was identified copper slag; a large, complete lead vessel, made of metal from the mines of Lavrion, had been placed on the floor in a specially designed receptacle. A slightly elevated square platform, with other finds, is related to the carrying out of metallurgical, small-scale operations in this area.

39The North Megaron consists of two rooms, which probably constituted accommodation. It has a foundation layer set deeper than that of the main Megaron A, which it almost abuts, but also over fills of advanced LH IIIA2. The large room 2 was used to dispose of large amounts of pottery, which accumulated in one spot in the southwest corner.

5.3. North complex

40Megaron B. Exactly parallel to and 20 m north of the southern complex was developed the northern one. It has as its heart the so-called megaron-type building B (Fig. 2.19), of the same architectural type as Megaron A: this served the needs of the local authority for religious activities. It was founded on fills of older LH IIIA2 buildings, destroyed by fire at the end of that period and not afterwards reinhabited.

Fig. 2.19. Aerial photograph of the north quarter (photo by K. Xenikakis)

41Built with strong stone foundations, it carried a flat roof. The walls bore clay-plastering that in few places preserves traces of colour, and are in good condition due to the stabilising affect of the final fire. The floors were made of compressed clay, reinforced with lime and set on a substrate of gravel (Fig. 2.20).

Fig. 2.20. Stone by stone plan of the north quarter (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)

42The main Megaron B consists of two modules, which initially did not communicate with each other and therefore had two main entrances. The first unit was connected with a public sanctuary in Room I, with its main entrance to the east. In the centre of Room 1 was recovered an elevated structure of clay, H-shaped, with a horseshoe-shaped, shallow platform and stone base on the front side: this was interpreted as an altar (Fig. 2.21). Next to it was located a large painted bowl for libations and cups with burnt animal bones (Hägg 2001: 143-148). The small side rooms (7a, 7b, 7c), serving exclusively the function of the shrine, do not communicate with any other place. Inside Room 7a, along the south wall, stood a stone-built bench. Probably these places, where also cups with burnt animal bones were found, were storage areas for ritual utensils.

Fig. 2.21. Altar in room 1 of Megaron B (photo by the author)

43Religious ceremonies were held in fore-courtyard 2, positioned in front of the sanctuary: here we revealed a stone-built circular altar (Fig. 2.22), but without traces of burning. Lying outside the public sanctuary and in the open air, and easily accessible from the central North-South road-axis, the use of the second altar allowed the participation of large numbers of people in religious ceremonies.

Fig. 2.22. Open air circular stone altar in court 2 of the north quarter of the administrative centre (photo by the author)

44The second module of this Megaron comprises large Rooms 2 and 3 and three storerooms for agricultural produce (Rooms 4, 5 and 6). These last communicate with Rooms 2 and 3 through an internal corridor, the western extremity of which takes the form of a staircase leading to the first floor. On the floor of the corridor were found tripod cooking pots, an intact large stone tripod spouted mortar, a rubber accompanied by millstones, a triangular, stone weight and smaller vessels for liquids, perhaps linked to the production of aromatic oils.

45Access to the second module was achieved through a main entrance in the south wall of Room 3, in front of which was placed a limestone slab (Fig. 2.23) with shallow cavities in its surface (a kernos). The variety of items in front of it and the fragment of a kylix with symbols of Linear B tablets show the deposition of offerings.

Fig. 2.23. Limestone slab with shallow holes (kernos) (photo by the author)

46The performance of religious activities certainly continued into the second half of the 13th century BC, and confirms the continuation of religious rituals only at outdoor altars during the early LH IIIC period.

47Storage rooms for agricultural produce. From the way the farm products were arranged, it would seem that deliberate decisions were made as to their storage: separate locations for solid (dry) and liquid (wet) goods, and again for fruit.

48Thus, in the first storage room 6 (Fig. 2.24) was collected only grain in storage jars, fixed into the floor. Four of these vessels were removed from the area prior to the disaster. Also there were found a small stirrup-jar and an ivory comb, which had fallen from the floor above, where probably a bathroom was placed.

49The second storage room 5 (Fig. 2.25) contained many whole vessels for the consumption of liquids. Many were stored, one inside another, as if stacked on wooden shelves. In the same area were large vessels for transporting liquids, such as a large transport stirrup-jar and a Canaanite amphora.

Fig. 2.24. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 6 for cereals. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)

Fig. 2.25. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 5 for liquid commodities. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)

50In storeroom 4 (Fig. 2.26) were identified large intact vessels for liquid storage, impressions of other receptacles made of perishable materials and a large container of unbaked clay. In the south-west corner was a rectangular structure, formed by the bricks of the wall and stone slabs in the floor, where charred kernels of olives and grape seeds were recovered.

Fig. 2.26. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 4 for fruits and other agricultural commodities. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)

51Kitchen. In the ‘kitchen’, a large number of utilitarian ceramics were retrieved, comprising mainly utensils for the preparation and consumption of food. Some of them contained food remains (animal bones, fish and shells), a fact which reinforces the identification of the space as a ‘kitchen’. Here food preparation would have taken place, which was actually cooked outside the building and perhaps consumed in ceremonial dinners, which were organised in the large Rooms 2 and 3 of the main Megaron B.

52As is evidenced by archaeological finds, foods were cooked in jars or in tripod pots usually imported from Aegina, meats were roasted on spits, which were set on clay holders, whilst breads were baked in clay trays equipped with shallow depressions. The people used bowls, cups, basins and yet smaller cups for the consumption of their food. The large number of unpainted kylikes and cups testifies to the massive consumption of liquids, that were decanted with dippers from larger vessels (craters, hydriae and pitchers) into smaller ones, the remnants of which were scattered all over the room.

6. The rebuilding

53At the end of the LH IIIB2 period, the administrative centre and the city suffered destruction by fire. Immediately after the disaster, in the early 12th century BC, followed a period of repair to all damaged houses, utilising parts of the existing buildings that had not collapsed or constructing new small houses by recycling materials. This work was carried out in two building phases, both occurring in the first decades of the early LH IIIC period. Later on the settlement of Dimini was abandoned, when its residents moved elsewhere at the end of the first half of the 12th century BC (the end of early LH IIIC).

54In this brief habitation phase the inhabitants kept up their previous spatial planning, their Mycenaean ways and their religious beliefs, but there is no longer evidence for strong social differentiation: no more were large mansions erected, nor large tholos tombs dug. The economy is focused exclusively on farming activities (agriculture and ranching), with short-term storage in rooms for produce, while imports of goods decreased significantly. Where the later phases can be clearly stratigraphically determined, the obvious downturn in the economic life of the settlement is apparent, evident both in the architecture and pottery. In the ceramics, when compared with previous types, appear two new categories: hand-burnished ware and grey, wheelmade pseudo-Minyan ceramics (Adrymi-Sismani 2006: 85-110). They signal a wider adoption of the manufacture of low-cost, everyday vessels.

55The change in use of the fore-courtyard area, where now small houses were built, the discontinuation of some industrial and religious activities, the reduction of the volume of stored goods and the imported items, just as with the cessation in the movement of seals, all indicate a downgrading of the settlement.

Conclusion

56The way the structures of the Administrative Centre were organised, with designated places of worship and their specialised storerooms, proves that the centre was run by a structured hierarchy and that it constituted an economic unit with a high degree of regulation, to produce the necessary goods for living and even more in excess of need, as seen in the storeroom surpluses. It is obvious that the local rulers enjoyed a self-sufficiency in material needs as a result not only of the organised exploitation of primary production (cultivation of fields with cereals, vines, olive trees, and the ranching of livestock), but also of the processing of said goods, since they produced wine, oil and possibly aromatic oils, while simultaneously manufacturing small-scale craft products on the premises.

57However, in no way does this show that the rulers of Dimini were the one and only body of people who controlled all the land around the harbour of the Pagasitic Gulf, nor that the inhabitants of nearby settlements produced goods on their command. Nor does it provide any evidence for the control of secondary production by the rulers of neighbouring settlements. Therefore it appears that the administrative centre of Dimini does not operate as centre for the collection and redistribution of primary products or for the processing of products for beneficiaries, and for a certainty neither did it function as a secondary centre for the production or the collection of items processed elsewhere on behalf of some other centre. So the image we have of the degree of control over the productive capacities exercised by the local hierarchy of the three settlements is quite different from the pattern seen in Southern Greece, despite the rich mythological tradition for a powerful palatial centre at Ilolkos.

58Despite the apparent importance of the Mycenaean settlement of Dimini from the beginnings of its foundation until its destruction and subsequent abandonment, and in particular with regard to the development of its spatial organisation and the proven existence of an administrative centre during the LH IIIB2 period, as well as the two large vaulted tombs of the LH IIIA and LH IIIB periods, it is yet still unclear what role it played in this time in the coastal area of Volos, where two more settlements, at Palaia/the Kastro of Volos (Theocharis 1956: 119-130; 1958: 13-18; 1960: 49-59; Adrymi-Sismani 2007: 324-347) and at Pefkakia (Theocharis 1957: 54-69; 1961: 45-54; Batziou-Eustathiou 1998; 2012: 177-192), existed but at a small distance in the area around the harbour. Given also that there are no other, smaller communities in the area of Volos it remains unclear where and if there is a centre for this region (Fig. 2.27) (Feuer 1983).

Fig. 2.27. General view of the settlement and the tholos tombs around the harbour in the Pagasitic Gulf (photo by the author)

59Concerning the settlement at Palaia/the Kastro of Volos, one can be absolutely sure of the presence here of a central administration, not only because of the construction of comparable large building complexes but also because of a large tholos tomb at Kapakli (Avila 1983: 15-60), as well as the finding of Linear B tablets (Skafida et alii 2012: 55-73), proof that the said central administration carried out audited accounts of production processes.

60Because no signs of dependency can be determined to have existed between these two neighbouring settlements and some other centre, it is even more difficult to envisage a hierarchy of three settlements developed around the Pagasitic Gulf, a region which seems to have shared a common growth rate and common burial customs during the 14th and 13th centuries BC. Moreover, from the absence of walls around the two settlements which boast monumental structures, namely the Palaia/the Kastro of Volos and Dimini, it is perhaps to be surmised that these settlements did not operate in competition, but rather that there existed a direct interrelationship between them – the area of economic exploitation of resources was seemingly one held in common, since no data for the division of arable land is known and of course the immediate proximity of both to the port-area gave the same opportunities for commerce and communication. Moreover, the port of Iolkos (Bakhuizen 1996: 85-120, 89-95, 100-111; Intzesiloglou 1994: 31; Decourt et alii 2004: 711; Strabo: Geographika, IV.9, 5, 17), around which all three of these settlements had developed and to which they had access, was formed around a deep channel, a ‘Iolka’ (Hesychius: entry under Iolkos), as Hesychius describes the sea’s arm thrusting into the dry lands. This is a phenomenon which according to geomorphological studies had formed around this time in this part of the Pagasitic Gulf (Fig. 2.28).

61Therefore we may assume that these three settlements, although they are quite separate units, coexisted peacefully, but without necessarily developing a central overarching government that controlled the whole of the agricultural production, the resources and trade. Rather they formed a set of two or three administrative centres with overlapping activities, which were interlinked by a network of alliances and interdependence, quite without competition. Moreover, ancient myths mention the presence of families, bound by kinship ties, who had their administrative centres set around the port-area, which undoubtedly was the main gateway from Thessaly out into the Aegean islands, the coast of Asia Minor, the wider Mediterranean and perhaps even further into the Black Sea region (Papachatzis 1981: 45-64; 1985: 45-56; Moustaka 1983: 15).

Fig. 2.28. The renewal plan for the coastline in the Volos harbour (plan by Th. Makri- Skotinioti)

Bibliographie

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Notes

1 Translated from Greek by Doniert Evely.

2 The ‘herring-bone’ construction technique is being used in Eastern Thessaly during the Early and part of the Middle Bronze Age.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 2.1. The Neolithic settlement and the Mycenaean building on the north-west side of the central court (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 129k
Légende Fig. 2.2. Aerial photograph of the Dimini archaeological site (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Fig. 2.3. General topographical plan of the Dimini archaeological site (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 59k
Légende Fig. 2.4. Built cist-tomb with dromos of the LH IIB/LH IIIA phases (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 42k
Légende Fig. 2.5. Tholos tomb ˊLamiospitoˊ of the LH IIIA phase (axonometric plan by R. Georgiou)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Légende Fig. 2.6. Pottery kiln (photo by the author; plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 47k
Légende Fig. 2.7. Reconstruction of the Mycenaean settlement (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Légende Fig. 2.8. Houses along the central North-South road (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 67k
Légende Fig. 2.9. Decorated wheel-made bull figure of the LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 22k
Légende Fig. 2.10. Plan of the four houses during the LH IIIB2 phase (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 78k
Légende Fig. 2.11. Aerial photograph of the Administrative Centre (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 73k
Légende Fig. 2.12. Tholos tomb ˊToumbaˊ of the LH IIIB phase (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Légende Fig. 2.13. Stone by stone plan of the Administrative Centre (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 77k
Légende Fig. 2.14. Aerial photograph of Megaron A and the nearby megaron of the south quarter (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 78k
Légende Fig. 2.15. Stone by stone plan of the south quarter (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 29k
Légende Fig. 2.16. Stone object with engraved Linear B signs found in Megaron A of the Administrative centre (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 12k
Légende Fig. 2.17. Stone mould of the LH IIIB2 phase from megaron A in the Administrative centre (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 15k
Légende Fig. 2.18. Open-air circular stone altar south of the main entrance to Megaron A of the Administrative Centre (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 56k
Légende Fig. 2.19. Aerial photograph of the north quarter (photo by K. Xenikakis)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 53k
Légende Fig. 2.20. Stone by stone plan of the north quarter (plan by Th. Makri-Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 65k
Légende Fig. 2.21. Altar in room 1 of Megaron B (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-21.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 49k
Légende Fig. 2.22. Open air circular stone altar in court 2 of the north quarter of the administrative centre (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-22.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 27k
Légende Fig. 2.23. Limestone slab with shallow holes (kernos) (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-23.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 26k
Légende Fig. 2.24. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 6 for cereals. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-24.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 34k
Légende Fig. 2.25. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 5 for liquid commodities. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 32k
Légende Fig. 2.26. Storage rooms for agricultural produce in the north quarter of the administrative centre. Storage room 4 for fruits and other agricultural commodities. LH IIIB2 phase (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-26.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 38k
Légende Fig. 2.27. General view of the settlement and the tholos tombs around the harbour in the Pagasitic Gulf (photo by the author)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-27.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Légende Fig. 2.28. The renewal plan for the coastline in the Volos harbour (plan by Th. Makri- Skotinioti)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6532/img-28.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 81k

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