Dr Bartłomiej (Bartek) Lis (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, British School at Athens), “Migrants in the 12th-century BC Aegean: A guide to identification”
One of the hallmarks of the decades following the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces is an increased human mobility. This phenomenon is directly implied by changes in particular settlements and broader settlement patterns at that time. Many sites were abandoned or significantly diminish in size, while others became (or continued to be) highly prosperous, like Tiryns or Lefkandi. Messenia provides an example of an entire region that appears to be heavily depopulated.
But how are we to identify this mobility – and migrants – in the archaeological record on a more individual level? Identification of foreigners, i.e. people coming from distant regions beyond the extent of the Mycenaean culture, appears to be least problematic, and several examples already discussed in the literature will be presented including Cypriots (or people very familiar with Cypriot practices) at Tiryns or population groups from Southern Italy spread all over the Mainland. Much less straightforward, to say the least, is the attempt to identify people arriving from an adjacent region within the same cultural milieu, and this issue will constitute the main focus of this lecture.
The way to approach this problem is – in my opinion – through technology involved in craft production, which might be considered a special case of social practice. The advantage of technology for approaching mobility is that it is much less ambiguous than other aspects of material culture usually taken into consideration. I will focus on technology involved in pottery production – with an emphasis on Aeginetan pottery produced beyond the island along the Euboean Gulf – but the discussion will involve also other crafts as well as more mundane daily practices. Furthermore, I would also like to question an uncritical use of two terms - import and imitation – which quite often diverts us from the proper understanding of particular objects in their contexts and, in the cases presented in this lecture, from detecting possible presence of migrants. The analysis will lead not only to identification of migrants’ presence, but also – at least in one case – to isolation of their possible dwelling at the site of Lefkandi.