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Jan Driessen

12. Against the Currents of History: The Early 12th c. BCE Resurgence of Tiryns

Joseph Maran

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1. Tiryns’ special position during the transition from the 13th to the 12th c. BCE1

  • 1 It gives me particular pleasure to contribute to this volume dedicated to Robert Laffineur, who has (...)

1Chronological terminologies that differentiate phases and periods form the backbone of archaeological research and help facilitate communication among scholars. However, such subdivisions also have the disadvantage of demarcating stages that are then handled by separate research communities. This leads to reification and an overemphasis on the alleged differences between subdivided stages and may thus easily impede assessment of long-term changes or continuities in cultural and historical processes. Most drastically affected are decades marking transitions between periods, which from the emic perspective of people alive at the time were experienced as contiguous segments of lived time, but which archaeological research has broken down into two discrete parts, each studied in its own right. A particularly conspicuous example of this are the decades bridging the palatial (LH IIIB) and Postpalatial (LH IIIC) periods in Southern Greece, which undoubtedly mark one of the most momentous historical watersheds in the early history of Greece. During this transition, key distinguishing features of the palatial period – the king bearing the title wanax, palaces, writing, the operation as well as implementation of massive engineering and architectural projects such as the construction of Cyclopean fortifications with the use of corbel vaults, the creation of overland road-systems, and massive hydro-technological projects such as the reorientation of a stream at Tiryns or the drainage of the Kopais Basin in Boeotia – seem to have vanished. While these changes were indeed significant, those who survived the upheaval went on with their lives and were able to draw on memories that bridged the decades from the Final Palatial to the onset of the early Postpalatial period. Such lines of continuity are even reflected in certain cultural traits of the early 12th c. BCE and in the manifold ways in which material culture was employed to relate to the palatial past. For instance, had we to base historical reconstruction solely on the production of pottery, we would never assume that a sharp historical break had occurred between the phases LH IIIB and IIIC. That the choice and combination of the shapes and decorations of tableware remained basically the same is an indication of the continuity of at least some of the events related to social communication for which this pottery had been manufactured.

2As for settlement size and building activities, in most former palatial centres the transition from LH IIIB to IIIC was accompanied by a reduction in size or even abandonment. The main exception to this rule seems to have been Tiryns. There the final decades of palatial rule saw the construction of a new palace, of the Cyclopean fortification of the Lower Citadel, of all the passages and chambers with the characteristic corbel vaults, of the Western Staircase, and of the dam of Kophini and the redirection of a stream (Kilian 1988; Maran 2010). Never before had such costly and demanding architectural and engineering feats been carried out so swiftly in Tiryns and its surroundings. The most surprising thing about Tiryns, however, is that it is the sole former palatial centre in which new building projects – some quite ambitious – were initiated in the decades following the destruction of the palace. As we know today, it was in the first half of the 12th c. BCE, during ceramic phase LH IIIC Early, that Tiryns developed in a direction that in many respects ran counter to the main current of history, i.e. it expanded while all other former centres suffered a marked decline. The exceptional position of LH IIIC-Tiryns manifests itself in all parts of the site. In the case of the Upper Citadel, people intervened in the ruin of the palace soon after the catastrophe in order to reuse the plot of the Great Megaron as well as the court with the associated hypethral altar – i.e. areas of particularly high political symbolism (Maran 2000; 2010; 2012). According to Elina Kardamaki (2009), who analysed the pottery in the debris layers along the western slope of the Upper Citadel, the leveling and clearing activities in the area of the destroyed palace must have taken place quite soon after the catastrophe, that is, at the beginning of LH IIIC Early. This suggests that Building T was constructed inside the ruin of the Great Megaron by LH IIIC Early. As for the Lower Citadel, although the first settlement after the catastrophe in early LH IIIC was of a provisional character, by the second half of LH IIIC Early we can observe the settlement’s consolidation and organisation into a layout of houses, courtyards, and streets that were maintained until the end of LH IIIC (Muhlenbruch 2013: 258-273).

3Aside from the Upper Citadel, the most unusual architectural dynamic during LH IIIC occurred in the area of the Lower Town. Evidence reveals that at a time when all other former palatial centres were shrinking or even being abandoned, the Lower Town of Tiryns expanded to a size of perhaps 25 hectares – something unique for 12th c. BCE Greece (Kilian 1978: 468-470; 1985: 75-77). Klaus Kilian (1978: 468; 1985: 76) believed it likely that the LH IIIC Lower Town, like contemporary towns on Cyprus, was constructed with a preconceived, regular layout in mind and argued that it owed its growth to an influx of people in the course of a synoikismos (Kilian 1988: 135). Indeed, it is not so much the size of the LH IIIC Lower Town of Tiryns, but the systematic manner in which at least parts of the Lower Town were developed that is so astonishing.

2. The Northern Lower Town: a unique development project of the early 12th c. BCE

4It is the Northern Lower Town in particular that offers a key for assessing the character of these new 12th c. BCE building projects as it was initially developed into a residential area immediately after the destruction of the palace (Fig. 12.1). The special significance of the Northern Lower Town was first recognised in 1976 thanks to Kilian’s brief rescue excavation near the excavation store-rooms in the Northwestern Lower Town (grid squares L111130, LIV30, LIV31). It was here that he found a sequence of three building horizons from the 12th c. BCE that revealed buildings grouped around courtyards (Kilian 1978: 449-457; Mühlenbruch 2013: 223-246). While Christian Podzuweit (1978: 471-498; 2007: 213- 214) dated the three building horizons to LH IIIC Early, Philipp Stockhammer concluded that the occupation had extended to LH IIIC Developed (Stockhammer 2008: 59). The earliest of the three building horizons was founded during LH IIIC Early Phase 1 (Stockhammer 2008: 55) atop sterile flood deposits up to 1.2 m thick. Beneath these sterile sediments lay a thin cultural layer containing pottery that dated to LH IIIB1. This stratigraphic sequence was decisive for Eberhard Zangger’s hypothesis that an earthquake had destroyed the palace at the end of LHIIIB and triggered a huge mud slide, which, in turn, had travelled along a river and buried most of the Lower Town under sterile sediments (Zangger 1993; 1994). The dam of Nea Tiryntha (Kophini) was built in response to this, Zangger argued, to block the river’s old bed, on which the deposits had accumulated, and to redirect the stream through a newly dug bed so that it would never touch the Lower Town of Tiryns again. The construction of the dam and the redirection of the stream can undoubtedly be counted among the highlights of ancient engineering (Knauss 1995), but later excavations have led to a different interpretation of the motives behind this building activity and its date than those proposed by Zangger (see below).

Fig. 12.1. Tiryns, plan with excavations in the Northern Lower Town (graphics: M. Kostoula)

5Kilian’s excavation of the Northwestern Lower Town amounted to no more than a brief interlude because the start of the excavation of the Lower Citadel that same year kept him from investigating the Postpalatial Lower Town more thoroughly. Although the excavations of the German Archaeological Institute in the Northern Lower Town thus came temporarily to a halt, a rescue excavation conducted by the Greek Antiquity Service under the direction of Katie Demakopoulou in the Northwestern Lower Town in 1982 and 1983 again underscored the significant research potential of this part of the site (grid squares LV20, LV120, LV21, LV121). The hitherto unpublished excavation yielded not only well preserved buildings that had been structured around courtyards in a manner similar to those found at Kilian’s excavation in the Northwestern Lower Town, but also other outstanding finds, such as a terracotta model of a palanquin (Demakopou 1989).

6In 1999 and 2000, new insights into the history of the Postpalatial settlement to the north of the acropolis were gained thanks to an excavation conducted in the Northeastern Lower Town (grid squares LXV11129, LXIX29, LXV11130, LXIX30, LXV11131, LXIX31) by the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Argolid in cooperation with the German Archaeological Institute and the University of Heidelberg (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006). This led to the discovery of a sequence of five LH IIIC building horizons, the earliest of which had been founded in LH IIIC Early Phase 1 over dried-out stream deposits. The buildings were densely arranged and grouped around courtyards. One of the buildings (Room 8/00), which belongs to the small number of architecturally more sophisticated LH IIIC-buildings known from Tiryns, had a ground plan subdivided by rows of wooden columns with stone bases. Its destruction at the end of LH IIIC Early left behind many cooking and table-ware vessels as well as other objects on its floor and courtyard (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006; Stockhammer 2008; 2009; 2011). Room 8/00 was not rebuilt but rather replaced by a courtyard. The first three building horizons dating to LH IIIC Early and Developed offer evidence that at least some of the inhabitants enjoyed an elevated lifestyle and long-distance connections, as reflected by objects that bear affinities to those found on Crete, Cyprus, and the Levant (Maran 2004; 2005; Stockhammer 2011: 226-228).

7The excavation in the Northeastern Lower Town provided evidence that challenged Zangger’s scenario of a sudden catastrophic mud-slide that had covered parts of the Lower Town (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006). The fact that the stream deposits consist of a sequence of gravel layers alternating with sand layers contradicts the hypothesis that they stem from a single catastrophic mud-slide, and suggest instead that the stream must have flooded the Northern Lower Town several times in the 13th c. BCE. Although the building of the dam and the redirection of the stream stopped this particular case of flooding in the Northern Lower Town it seems unlikely that such drastic engineering measures had been taken solely to protect the Lower Town against further flooding. Rather, these activities have to be seen in the wider context of settlement planning in Tiryns during the last decades of palatial rule. The redirection of the stream was probably part of a Final palatial ‘master plan’ that paved the way for developing the Northern Lower Town and, along with the construction of a new Northern Gate in the Lower Citadel wall, was meant to create new building quarters in the Northern Lower Town (Maran 2008; 2010). However, this extremely costly ‘master plan’ was suddenly interrupted by the catastrophe at the end of LH IIIB2 and thus remained incomplete until certain groups of the early Postpalatial period decided to draw on the plan and develop this zone of the Lower Town. The likelihood that some of the architectural legacy of the palatial period was fulfilled by people of the early Postpalatial era is perhaps one of the most astonishing aspects of the history of Late Bronze Age Tiryns.

3. Creating a new domestic life-world from scratch: new insights into the Northern Lower Town

8In sum, the Northern Lower Town offers researchers an unusual opportunity to uncover directly beneath the surface a sequence of superimposed LH IIIC building horizons of which the earliest was newly constructed on top of sterile stream deposits. It is precisely because the Northern Lower Town was conceived from scratch in the early 12th c. BCE that this particular area can help us understand how people of that time perceived ‘ideal living’. Regardless of whether they wanted to build inside the walls of the citadel or in other quarters of the Lower Town, they had to insert new buildings into already existing architectural complexes or their ruins, which led to unavoidable compromises in the arrangement and orientation of new structures. By contrast, there were no earlier buildings in the Northern Lower Town’s development area that had to be taken into account when planning the built environment. This made it possible to implement an architectural layout that enabled accepted cultural and social practices to shape individuals’ domestic life-worlds as they wished. The term ‘life-world’ is understood here according to the definition of Alfred Schutz and Thomas Luckmann, that is, as designating all those aspects of culture, society, and nature that social actors take for granted and use as the basis of their acting (Schutz & Luckmann 1973: 3-15; Habermas 1981: 182-228) because they were bom to them and assume that they had existed prior to them. Yet, the parameters of this life-world are constantly expressed, negotiated, and altered in both practice and discourse, which leads to change that is usually recognised as such only in hindsight. Architecture, a central aspect of the life-world, is subject to this dynamic. The practice of building creates systems of spatial relations that express a society’s ideas about interactions between sub-groups, that is, between the genders, the young and old, the poor and rich, long-time residents and newcomers, etc. This provides a framework for applying norms and values deemed valid to everyday cultural practices in the domestic and public spheres without having to reflect about them. In this way, individual and social practice in the built environment always occurs in a setting that reflects the microcosm of societal norms. Due to the recursive relationship between life-world and cultural practice, the norms and values embedded in spatial structures need to be evoked and newly constituted in practice in order to be efficacious; this always includes the possibility of introducing change to the performance of practices and the context of meaning, as well as to architectural arrangements (Maran 2006a).

Fig. 12.2. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Aerial photography of the excavated structures (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania])

  • 2 For a list of the scientific cooperation partners see Maran & Papadimitriou 2015.

9The first three seasons of a new excavation in the Northwestern Lower Town (grid squares L125, L1125, L126, L1126) took place from 2013 to 2015 in cooperation between the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Argolid, the German Archaeological Institute, and the University of Heidelberg (Fig. 12.2) (Maran & Papadimitriou 2014; Maran & Papadimitriou 2015). This excavation has aimed to shed new light on the dynamic of architectural concepts implemented in the 12th c. BCE in this part of the site. The excavation has been guided by a theoretical approach that is trying to comprehend how inhabitants shaped, performed, and transformed their life-world through cultural practices. Such an approach requires the application of a broad range of microarchaeological methods, which, thanks to the cooperation of scholars from Greece, Israel, the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany2, are directed at obtaining information on the use of roofed and unroofed spaces and their installations (cf. hearths, ovens etc.), the types of animals and plants consumed, the function of objects, the contents of vessels, and the substances ground on grinding stones. The results of this inquiry along with the distribution of finds and installations will hopefully grant fresh insight into the degree of heterogeneity in the material culture between households. So far, it has been tacitly assumed that so-called ‘Mycenaean culture’ was always homogeneous at one and the same site. Philipp Stockhammer’s analysis of the distribution of various ceramic categories in the Northeastern Lower Town, however, suggests that this basic assumption may be incorrect, and that the ways in which material culture was employed in coexisting households may have varied significantly (Stockhammer 2009; 2011).

10The excavation has uncovered the remains of a densely built-up quarter of the LH IIIC Lower Town, whose two building horizons date to LH IIIC Early and IIIC Developed, respectively, each of which can be further broken down into two subphases. The occupation seems to have spanned the first half of LH IIIC and thus probably lasted no more than six or seven decades since there are no architectural features dating to LH IIIC Advanced or IIIC Late. As in the zones previously excavated in the Northern Lower Town, the development of the area excavated seems to have begun shortly after the destruction of the palace. Although there is no evidence of occupation in the Final Palatial period, it could have occurred after the stream was redirected. That this did not happen, suggests that the dam’s construction and the stream’s reorientation were among the engineering feats completed so shortly before the destruction of the palace that it was not yet possible to start developing the area (Maran 2009: 254-255). The basic architectural model that structured the domestic life-world of the inhabitants living in this recently excavated area consisted of buildings around courtyards and thus closely resembled the situation in the previously investigated quarters of the LH IIIC-settlement in the Lower Citadel and the Northern Lower Town. During the occupation, the internal structure of the architecture did not remain static, but was subject to frequent intervention, which led to constant shifts in the boundaries of architectural units and their use as roofed (buildings) and unroofed (courtyards) spaces.

11It seems that the destruction of the palace was quickly followed by a dense, architectural arrangement whose layout offers evidence on the systematic way in which the builders proceeded. The area designated to be built over was subdivided into a grid of interlocking rectangular modules that stood either parallel or at right angles to each other and formed the basic units that were subsequently converted into roofed or unroofed spaces (Fig. 12.3). The modules were bordered by walls running along a north-west, southeast or south-west, north-east axis. This regular orientation was followed throughout the occupation, a condition that makes walls with other orientations, such as those of an Iron Age burial precinct (Maran & Papadimitriou 2015: fig. 14), immediately stand out as ones belonging to a different period. In addition, the orientation of the walls in the new excavation corresponds exactly to that of LH IIIC-walls in the previous excavations in the Northwestern Lower Town; even the walls of the buildings in the excavated area in the Northeastern Lower Town assume the same two general orientations, but exhibit slightly greater variability in their inclination. All this suggests that the grid of regularly oriented rectangular modules was laid out and followed in a wide area of the Northern Lower Town.

Fig. 12.3. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Architectural remains of the first building horizon, younger subphase (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)

12As for the first building horizon, we were able to uncover in their entirety two superimposed courtyards dating to the earlier (Hof 1/15) and younger (Hof 2/15) sub-phase, respectively, and another courtyard (Hof 1/13) that was used in both sub-phases. In all likelihood, additional courtyards existed to the west of Room (Raum) 1/14, to the east of Room 3/14, and to the north or north-west of Room-Complex (Raumkomplex) 2/15.3/15. It is precisely due to the seemingly strict structuring principles that guided the building activities in this area that the weakness of the individual modules’ integration comes as such a surprise. Apparently, the courtyards only opened out towards specific buildings and were closed towards others. Thus, during the younger sub-phase of the first building horizon there seems to have been no way to access Room 3/14 from the backyard (Hinterhof) of Courtyard 2/15 and no gateway communicating between Courtyards 2/15 and 1/13. We do not know the original height of the non-load-bearing walls separating the courtyards, but, without a gateway even low courtyard walls must have hindered movement. This means that some of the adjacent buildings and courtyards were accessible only through roundabout routes. Indicative of the weak integration of building modules is the lack of streets connecting the various architectural units. We assume that streets existed beyond the excavated area since a several-meter-long segment of one was uncovered in the Northeastern Lower Town (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006: 105-109; figs 5-6). Yet it also seems that entire agglomerations of buildings and courtyards were not intersected by streets, and that people had to move from one quarter to the next along winding, labyrinthine pathways through buildings and courtyards – provided that the inhabitants were willing to grant them passage.

Fig. 12.4. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Room with stone bases (white arrows) for wooden columns, first building horizon (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)

13Among the structures of the first building horizon is one with a more or less square principal room (Room 1/14) with a hearth (Fig. 12.4). Its interior was once subdivided by rows of wooden columns resting on stone bases. In the stone foundation of the building a single large stone block of a ‘Cyclopean’ format formed the south-west comer and a slightly smaller one the north-west comer. In the course of Room 1/14’s existence, the floor was renewed several times, and on this occasion also the hearth and several column bases were slightly shifted. Given its special architectural features, Room 1/14 resembles Room 8/00 from the second half of LH IIIC Early in the excavation of the Northeastern Lower Town (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006: 104-109; figs 5-6). Room 8/00 too was subdivided by rows of columns and had a hearth as well as some large stone blocks in the lowest course of its foundations (Maran & Papadimitriou 2006, 109-110; figs 6-7, 13-14). When this room was partly uncovered in 2000, we assumed that it represented a very rare type of LH IIIC architecture since at the time, Room 115 in the Lower Citadel was the only building in Tiryns known to have been internally subdivided by parallel rows of columns (Mühlenbruch 2013: 113-116). Now that another example of this architectural type came to light so soon afterwards in the Northern Lower Town, it seems that quite a few buildings with such unusual architectural features existed in the early Postpalatial period. Possibly these were buildings of a more public nature, used by social groups of a neighborhood to assemble and conduct feasts and ceremonies. Such activities created cohesion between certain groups in the settlement, but excluded others.

14The low level of integration among the architectural modules of the early 12th c. BCE living quarter uncovered by our excavation is likely related to the special circumstances in which the Northern Lower Town was founded in the aftermath of a major disaster. As already mentioned, Kilian attributed the expansion of the LH IIIC-Lower Town to a synoikismos provoked by a crisis situation after the palace’s destruction. Indeed, the sudden growth in population, which can be inferred from all this construction, can be explained by little other than an influx of new population groups. This must mean that many inhabitants of the recently developed areas in the Northern Lower Town were newcomers who had moved to Tiryns from other towns and villages of the Argolid, the Peloponnese, Greece, or even from more distant areas of the Mediterranean, who enjoyed only loose social ties with the other immigrants. The heterogeneous community living in the Northern Lower Town is probably likewise reflected in the differences between its material culture and that of contemporaneous living quarters of Tiryns. Thus, for example, it is striking that relatively few anthropomorphic figurines have been found in our excavation as compared to those dating from LH IIIC Early settlement phases in the Lower Citadel. Conversely, the amount and variety of Handmade Burnished Ware, as well as other types of material culture that point to Southern Europe (Kilian 2007: 75-80) seem to be greater in the new excavation than in other zones of Tiryns.

Fig. 12.5. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Fragment of sawn stone block reused in Room 4/14, first building horizon, and Early Iron Age wall and graves (photography: J. Maran)

Fig. 12.6. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Fragment of sawn stone bloc (photography: M. Kostoula)

  • 3 The stone material was kindly identified by Dr. Peter Marzolff (Heidelberg).
  • 4 For the reuse of palatial-era vessels in phase 1 of the Northeastern Lower Town, see Stockhammer 20 (...)

15Another characteristic feature of material culture during the first building horizon was the use of architectural spolia from the palatial period. Room 4/14 yielded a fragment of a stone block (with one side sawn and carefully smoothed out) of the same type of stone – thus far unique in Tiryns and of unknown provenance – as the monolithic floor slab of the palace’s ‘bathroom’ (Figs 12.5-12.6) (Müller 1930: 150-152; Shaw 2012; Brysbaert 2015: 75)3. The fragment seems to have been reused as a step or a threshold in the room. In Room 1/14, in turn, one of the column bases was an ashlar block of lime-sandstone that was probably too taken from somewhere in the Upper Citadel (Figs 12.7-12.8). What is remarkable is that a block with a large mason’s mark was chosen and positioned so that the side with the mark faced upwards and remained visible. That the reference to the palatial past was an integral component of the value system of the Postpalatial elite and, at the same time, a weapon in the struggle for higher positions in 12th c. BCE society is known (Maran 2006b; 2011). Nevertheless the use of architectural spolia in the first half of the 12th c. BCE attests to a hitherto unknown aspect of people’s active engagement with the palatial past, namely, through the appropriation and conspicuous display of architectural members that had probably been removed during the clearing and leveling of works on the Upper Citadel in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe. The use of spolia from the palatial period and the already noted integration of large ‘Cyclopean’ stone blocks in highly visible places in wall foundations are additional signs of attempts to display connection with the past through the deliberate use of material culture4.

Fig. 12.7. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ashlar block with mason’s mark reused as a column base, first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

Fig. 12.8. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ashlar block with mason’s mark (photography: M. Kostoula)

16Potential indications of the performance of ritual practices can be found in the first building horizon, though the evidence here is not as straightforward as it is for the second one. A concentration of various fragmentary small bronze objects – fibula, pins, but also the hilt of a dagger, at least some of which had already been deposited in a broken state – were discovered in the immediate surroundings of the chronologically consecutive hearths in Room 1/14. The finds recall the discovery of a single, bronze armor scale beneath a hearth at the excavation of the Northeastern Lower Town (Maran 2004), and may too be the result of ritual deposition of bronze objects close to hearths.

Fig. 12.9. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Destruction deposit in courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

Fig. 12.10. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ring-based krater from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)

Fig. 12.11. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Carinated ring-based krater from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)

Fig. 12.12. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Cup of the Handmade Burnished Ware from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)

  • 5 Identification as red deer antler by Dr. Peggy Morgenstern (Berlin) to whom I am very grateful. I a (...)

17Extensive destruction occurred at the end of the younger sub-phase of the first building horizon as is evident from many ceramic vessels – from pithoi to small open and closed shapes – and other finds encountered on the floors of buildings and courtyards (Figs 12.9-12.12). Although the cause of this destruction is unknown, it was probably an event of broader significance in the Northern Lower Town because it seems to have occurred at the same time as the destruction in late phase 2 in the Northeastern Lower Town. In the Lower Citadel, however, the end of LH IIIC Early does not seem to have been accompanied by widespread destruction (Mühlenbruch 2013: 205). A ritual function may be tentatively proposed for a feature that formed part of the destruction deposit in the backyard to the north of Courtyard 2/15 (Fig. 12.13). A red deer antler5 with a kylix seemingly placed between two antler prongs was discovered on the edge of a stone slab. The find is not only unusual, but was also located at a distance of only 1.6 m from the spot where the rhyton-jug was ritually buried in the second building horizon (see below). Nevertheless, the possibility cannot be excluded that a sudden act of destruction led to an accidental ‘snapshot’ of an interrupted artisanal activity, since the stone slab may have served as the support used for working on the antler.

Fig. 12.13. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Stone slab with antler and crushed kylix from destruction deposit in the backyard to The north of Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

18After the destruction, the layout of the investigated quarter of the Lower Town underwent a profound change during the second building horizon. Architectural interventions seem to have been aimed at expanding unroofed areas (Fig. 12.14). To this end, some buildings of the previous horizon constructed only several decades earlier were torn down and not rebuilt. A drainage channel running from north-west to south-east through the excavation sectors in grid squares L125 and L126 was constructed in one of the newly created, open areas. Together with a drainage channel used by the inhabitants of Room 127 dating to LH IIIC Advanced in the Lower Citadel (Mühlenbruch 2013: 211- 217) this is one of the rare cases for the construction and maintenance of a drainage system in the Postpalatial period in Tiryns. What makes the new evidence so important is that the drainage system uncovered in the Northwestern Lower Town must have been built after the palatial period, while in the Lower Citadel some of the earlier channels of the palatial period were reused in LH IIIC. Along with a new street running west to east and separating narrow courtyards 3/15 and 4/15, the drainage channel also offers the first evidence of general communal planning designed to interconnect various parts of the investigated quarter.

Fig. 12.14. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Architectural remains of the second building horizon (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)

  • 6 The XRF-scanning was kindly undertaken by Dr. Anno Hein (Dimokritos Institute, Athens) who was assi (...)

19During the second excavation campaign, leveled oven debris was found spread over a large area of Courtyard 3/15. At first this was taken to be the remains of one or two big ovens or kilns used for firing pottery or for another craft requiring pyrotechnology (Maran & Papadimitriou 2014: 43; Maran & Papadimitriou 2015: 55). In 2015, however, it became clear that the debris arose from three small trapezoidal or kite-shaped ovens with mud-brick or clay walls that were preserved only in their lower courses due to later leveling (Fig. 12.15). This was the first discovery of such a group of ovens in Tiryns. Stratigraphic observations suggest that the ovens were not used together, but had been built sequentially. Five stacked kylikes were found inside the largest and latest of the three ovens (Figs 12.16-12.17). This was initially viewed as confirmation of it being a potter’s kiln. Once the kylikes were removed, however, it became clear that they were standing not on a hardened kiln surface, but on filled-in earth, which means that they must have been placed here intentionally after the oven was used for the last time. Indeed, the evidence available suggests that the ovens were not used for craft production, but for food preparation. No refuse of materials whose production requires pyrotechnology (cf pottery, metal, frit, glass etc.) was discovered, and the small ovens did not resemble the Mycenaean and Iron Age potter’s kilns known from Tiryns. Furthermore, on site examination of the ovens with an XRF-scanner did not yield any signs that the ovens had been used for a craft that employed pyrotechnology6. What was found, however, were several examples of deep conical or semi-circular coarse-ware basins with two horizontal handles, which are extremely rare outside of this context. It is likely therefore that the basins were used to prepare food, probably meat dishes, in the ovens. The kylix deposit inside the largest oven connects food preparation to feasting and suggests that we are dealing here with ritualized forms of commensality.

20Merely ca. 9 meters west of the concentration of ovens, an unexpected ritual object came to light in a small pit outside the southern wall of Room 3/14 in Courtyard 4/15. In it we discovered a rhyton-jug that had been broken intentionally into small pieces, but which could be reconstructed in its entirety since almost all the fragments of the vessel had been placed in the pit. It consists of three parts: the top section terminates in a hollow head with eyes, nose, and ears, but no mouth; the mid-section is formed of three intercommunicating ring-shaped tubes on which two snakes wind upwards on either side and end with their heads projecting beyond the uppermost ring; the base consists of a supporting vessel with a hole at its bottom. The vessel was thus clearly used as a rhyton into which fluid was poured through the head of the vessel, ran down the tubes, and emerged through the hole at the bottom. A long vertical handle runs from the back of the head to the supporting vessel at the base, allowing the jug to be carried. The interstice between the upper end of the supporting vessel and the lower edge of the uppermost ring is occupied by a column standing on an altar with concave sides. A second pit likewise containing vessels broken into many small pieces was found very close to the pit with the broken rhyton-jug.

Fig. 12.15. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Remains of three ovens, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

Fig. 12.16. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Deposition of five kylikes in remains of oven, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

Fig. 12.17. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Five kylikes from the deposition inside the oven remains, second building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)

  • 7 Already Stockhammer 2011, 221 -224 has interpreted pairs of kylikes found in a destruction deposit (...)

21The approximate contemporaneity as well as the proximity of the pits with the broken vessels in Courtyard 4/15, and the three ovens with the kylix deposit in Courtyard 3/15 suggest that they were linked in function. They may have been used in the same ritualised feasting events, so that after the dishes prepared in one of the ovens were eaten, the vessels used were either destroyed and buried or placed inside the oven in which the food had been cooked. The five kylikes found inside the oven may provide information on the number of main participants in such festive occasions, who ritually deposited their drinking vessel after the feasting had ended7.

Fig. 12.18. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2014: Fragments of intentionally broken rhyton-jug in situ, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)

4. Tiryns’ Northern Lower Town: the abandoned path to urbanisation

22As noted, like Kilian’s excavation of the Northwestern Lower Town so too our new excavation has yielded no evidence of architectural structures of the second half of LH IIIC. Since the Mycenaean walls and installations were found very close to the present surface in both excavations, a significant loss of sediments due to 3000 years of erosion seems certain. Still, it is unlikely that the lack of architecture dating to LH IIIC Advanced and IIIC Late can be explained simply through the process of erosion. Indicative of this is the fact that our excavation did not yield any preserved segments of younger LH IIIC-walls even though two temenos walls of an Iron Age burial precinct have survived. Furthermore, the entire excavation has yielded very few examples of pottery dating to the second half of LH IIIC. Finally, it is important to note that even at the site of the excavation at the Northeastern Lower Town, where architectural remains dating to LH IIIC Advanced and IIIC Late have been attested, the density of the settlement structure began loosening up significantly after LH IIIC Developed.

23As Irene S. Lemos et alii (2009: 80) have noted, though LH IIIC-Tiryns “.... was of ‘urban fabric’, and entered a path of social, economic and political development that could, in theory, lead to urbanisation, it never fully reached this stage after LH IIIC”. While they are correct in their observation that the path towards urbanisation was aborted, the available evidence from the Northern Lower Town suggests that this process had already begun long before LH IIIC came to an end. The large-scale development of the Northern Lower Town immediately after 1200 BCE, during which the unfinished portion of the Final Palatial ‘master plan’ was implemented, was based on well conceived plans for structuring newly created neighborhoods and was meant to accommodate groups of people, many of whom had arrived in Tiryns only recently. Although the LH IIIC Early Northern Lower Town’s layout with its grid of interlocking rectangular modules does not bear a close resemblance to the plans of early 12th c. BCE Cypriot towns, the comparison to Cyprus suggested by Kilian may have something to it as in both regions densely built-up areas were constructed on the basis of preconceived plans in a short amount of time. After the seemingly widespread destruction of Northern Lower Town in late LH IIIC Early, occupation resumed in LH IIIC Developed; soon afterwards, however, processes of abandonment and shrinkage set in and brought a definitive end to the course towards urbanisation that had been initiated a few decades prior.

Fig. 12.19. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2014: Rhyton-jug with handle (to the left of vessel) (photography: M. Kostoula)

Bibliographie

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Notes

1 It gives me particular pleasure to contribute to this volume dedicated to Robert Laffineur, who has done so much for advancing Aegean Archaeology!
I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Alkestis Papadimitriou, head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Argolid, for the excellent cooperation in our joint excavation. The digital images for this article were prepared by Dipl.-Arch. Maria Kostoula (Heidelberg) to whom I am very grateful. I wish to thank Dr. Irina Oryshkevich (New York) for the careful language-editing of my text. Special thanks go to Jan Driessen for inviting me to join the authors of this volume. I am indebted to the German Research Foundation for funding our recent excavations in the Northwestern Lower Town of Tiryns.

2 For a list of the scientific cooperation partners see Maran & Papadimitriou 2015.

3 The stone material was kindly identified by Dr. Peter Marzolff (Heidelberg).

4 For the reuse of palatial-era vessels in phase 1 of the Northeastern Lower Town, see Stockhammer 2008: 101-102; 2011: 219-220.

5 Identification as red deer antler by Dr. Peggy Morgenstern (Berlin) to whom I am very grateful. I also would like to thank Dr. Morgenstern for drawing my attention to an association of antler parts with a kylix, an undecorated cup, a bronze sickle and possibly the fragment of a zoomorphic figurine found next to a round clay installation in a LH IIIC Early-Developed context at Aigeira (Alram-Stern 2006, 156; Forstenpointner et alii 2006: 182). The authors have the same difficulties in interpreting the meaning of the association as in the mentioned case from Tiryns.

6 The XRF-scanning was kindly undertaken by Dr. Anno Hein (Dimokritos Institute, Athens) who was assisted by Susanne Prillwitz M.A.

7 Already Stockhammer 2011, 221 -224 has interpreted pairs of kylikes found in a destruction deposit in the Northeastern Lower Town as representing participants of a feast.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 12.1. Tiryns, plan with excavations in the Northern Lower Town (graphics: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 214k
Légende Fig. 12.2. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Aerial photography of the excavated structures (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania])
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 183k
Légende Fig. 12.3. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Architectural remains of the first building horizon, younger subphase (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 185k
Légende Fig. 12.4. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Room with stone bases (white arrows) for wooden columns, first building horizon (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 52k
Légende Fig. 12.5. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Fragment of sawn stone block reused in Room 4/14, first building horizon, and Early Iron Age wall and graves (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 41k
Légende Fig. 12.6. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Fragment of sawn stone bloc (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 42k
Légende Fig. 12.7. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ashlar block with mason’s mark reused as a column base, first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 30k
Légende Fig. 12.8. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ashlar block with mason’s mark (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 29k
Légende Fig. 12.9. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Destruction deposit in courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 83k
Légende Fig. 12.10. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Ring-based krater from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 19k
Légende Fig. 12.11. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Carinated ring-based krater from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 21k
Légende Fig. 12.12. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Cup of the Handmade Burnished Ware from destruction deposit in Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 22k
Légende Fig. 12.13. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Stone slab with antler and crushed kylix from destruction deposit in the backyard to The north of Courtyard 2/15, end of first building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 45k
Légende Fig. 12.14. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Architectural remains of the second building horizon (photography: N.E. Maniadakis [AIRmania], amended by M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 187k
Légende Fig. 12.15. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Remains of three ovens, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Légende Fig. 12.16. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Deposition of five kylikes in remains of oven, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 53k
Légende Fig. 12.17. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2015: Five kylikes from the deposition inside the oven remains, second building horizon (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 41k
Légende Fig. 12.18. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2014: Fragments of intentionally broken rhyton-jug in situ, second building horizon (photography: J. Maran)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Légende Fig. 12.19. Tiryns, NW Lower Town 2014: Rhyton-jug with handle (to the left of vessel) (photography: M. Kostoula)
URL http://books.openedition.org/pucl/docannexe/image/6657/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 65k

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