Saturday, January 05, 2008

Middle Aliakmon valley: terraces and Aiani

Below is a abstract from the American Journal of Archaeology with the title Review of Aegean Prehistory V: The Neolithic and Bronze Age of Northern Greece, written from Stelios Andreou, Michael Fotiadis and Kostas Kotsakis and publish in Volume 100 (No. 3. Jul., 1996, pp. 537-597) and has subject the archaelogical site of Aiani.

Middle Aliakmon valley: terraces and Aiani.

The area north of the Aliakmon is a terrace of Tertiary sediments with outcrops of limestone. It rises from 250 masl near the river to 650 masl near Kozani, and is flanked on the west, north, and east by mountains (1,300-1,850 masl). The largest part of that extensive surface (ca. 220 km2) has never been systematically surveyed, yet several sites are known. Some are lo­cated near springs (and old villages), as at Karyditsa and Amygdalia; [208] others occupy eccentric locations (e.g., hill slopes over deep ravines). As far as one can judge, none of the sites antedates the Late Neolithic. Intensive research will, however, be necessary before patterns emerge. [209] The important question is whether the settlement pattern here, in the rela­tively dry Tertiary zone, is different from that in the riverine zone, which has a distinctive —and privileged —pedology, hydrology, and even climate.

Aiani, a major center of the early historical period in Macedonia, is also located in the Tertiary zone (fig. 2:5). The main site, Megali Rahi, is a true acrop­olis, rising 40-80 m above its immediate surround­ings, to 480 masl. Recent excavations of the IZ' Ephoreia [210] indicate that the acropolis appears to have been occupied from the Bronze Age to the first century B.C. The earliest features, in a level area near the summit, are two small oval buildings with stone foundations, one of them with a rectangular hearth in the middle. [211] The buildings are associated with pots —including mugs with two handles —that the excavator compares with those of Armenohori (70 km to the north; fig. 2:1). The latter is "the only site which could date between the Early Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age [previously] excavated in western Macedonia. [212] However fragmentary, the evidence suggests habitation of the acropolis in the later Bronze and Early Iron Age as well. In the saddles and ridges below the acropolis, Karametrou found an abundance of LN (mainly black-burnished) ceram­ics, and a second extensive site of similar date was identified through exploration a few kilometers away. [213] At the northern foot of the acropolis, in a colluviated area, excavation revealed a series of later Bronze/Early Iron Age burials in pits and cists, along with a hearth-like structure and a pile of ca. 80 broken pots. The majority of the pots are "matt-painted," but the pile also included a complete Mycenaean pot and parts of others. At least one of the graves con­tained a Mycenaean alabastron next to a matt-painted bowl and a bronze pin. [214]

The finds of Aiani are important for several rea­sons. [215]
First, the widespread distribution of LN material documented by the excavator raises the possibility of dispersed settlement on the Tertiary terraces around Megali Rahi.
Second, the early build­ings on the acropolis itself suggest occupation dur­ing a period (ca. 2000 B.C.?) for which, in western Macedonia, we know virtually nothing. Radiocarbon dates would, in this case, be extremely useful.
Third, a pile of broken matt-painted pots and a hearth within a cemetery from the end of the Bronze Age raise intricate interpretative questions, as the exca­vator emphasizes.
Fourth, the concurrence, in a few contexts, of local matt-painted and Mycenaean pots is notable, for it is without clear precedents in west­ern Macedonia. The matt-painted pots of Macedonia, Epirus, and Albania have been the subject of much discussion and controversy in the past.

Thanks to new excavations and to distribution studies carried out in the 1970s, it is now known that comparable techniques of matt-painting appear and disappear at different times in different regions, from Kosovo to southern Italy. [216] In western Macedonia they have been thought to occur both toward the end of the Bronze Age and in the Early Iron Age, yet the evi­dence for the date assigned to specific finds has often been superficial. The Aiani finds do not yet resolve such problems, but they may point to a date for the first local production of matt-painted pots before the 11th century B.C


[208] Hondroyanni-Metoki (supra n. 197); H. Ziota, Arch­Delt 43 B' (1988) 402.[209]The head of a Mycenaean figurine and a Mycenaean amphora also come from the area, but they are without precise context: G. Karametrou-Mentesidi, ArchDelt 39 B' (1984) 267; and Ancient Macedonia (Athens 1988) 135-36.
[210] Initiated by G. Karametrou-Mentesidi in 1983 and continuing to date.
[211] G. Karametrou-Mentesidi, "Από την ανασκαφική έρευνα στην Αιανή, 1989," ΑΕΜΤ 3 (1989) 46 andpi. 5.
[212] Κ.Α. Wardle, "Cultural Groups of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age in Northwest Greece," Godisnjak, Centar za balkanolosha ispitivanja, Sarajevo 15 (1977) 188. For more doubts about the chronology of Armenohori, see Treuil (supra n. 64) 86.
[213] Karametrou-Mentesidi (supra n. 196) 424, 429-30.
[214] Karametrou-Mentesidi (supra n. 211) 49 and figs. 7-9, and Karametrou-Mentesidi, "ΑνασκαφήΑιανής 1990," ΑΕΜΓ 4 (1990) 76 and pis. 1-4; also Karametrou-Mentesidi, Arch­Delt 43 B' (1988) 399. The Mycenaean pots are not assigned to specific phases.
[215] For an older surface find with a mysterious inscrip­tion, see A. Panayotou, "An Inscribed Pithos Fragment fromAiane (W. Macedonia)," Kadmos 25 (1986) 97-101
[216] See esp. A. Hochstetter, "Die mattbemalte Keramik in Nordgriechenland, ihre Herkunft und lokale Auspra-gung," PZ 57 (1982) 201-19, for a discussion of previous views, and for differences between the western and central Macedonian varieties. For distribution maps in western Macedonia and Albania, see respectively K. Romiopoulou, "Some Pottery of the Early Iron Age from Western Mac­edonia," BSA 66 (1971) fig. 7, and K. Kilian, "Zur mattbe-malten Keramik der ausgehenden Bronzezeit und der Friiheisenzeit aus Albanien," ArchKorrBl 2 (1972) 116. For discussion of the Epirotic finds, assigned in their totality to the Iron Age, see Wardle (supra n. 212) 179; K.A. War-die, "The Northern Frontier of Mycenaean Greece," BICS 22 (1975) 207; and I. Vokotopoulou, Βίτσα, τανεκροταφείαμιαςμολοσσικήςκώμης(Athens 1986) 255-76. For finds from sites near Naousa, see Vokotopoulou, "La Macedoine de la protohistoire a l'epoque archa'ique," Magna Grecia, Epiro, e Macedonia. Atti del 24° Convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia (Taranto 1985) 143-44.

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