Vol. 8 (2021). The transition from Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age in Elis. THe case of Agios Georgios of Persaina

Παναγιώτης Μουτζουρίδης

Abstract


The nine, Mycenaean, chamber tomb cemetery of Aghios Georghios of Persaina is situated on a hillside at the mountainous NE part of Elis, among Goumero and Persaina villages. The excavations that were held at the beginning of the 2010s, as a part of the salvage work of Greek Archaeological Service, shed light to an area that was almost unknown for its Mycenaean history. The excavation of the cemetery raised important issues about the cultural backround, the chronological range concerning the use of the tombs, probable differences from other Elian chamber tomb cemeteries and contacts with Greek mainland and adjacent areas. The pottery dates the time span of use of the cemetery from Late Helladic IIIA2 until the Submycenaean/Early Protogeometric period. Its final use is contemporary with the cist tomb cemetery of Ancient Elis and the beginning of the formation of the Panhellenic sanctuary of Olympia.This chronological parallelism gives evidence for the conversation about the transition from Bronze to Iron Age and the theories about the coming of new tribes and “ethnic” groups in mainland Greece and the Aegean world, during the Early Historical Period. It is clear, according to the material from Aghios Georghios of Persaina tombs, that during the Late Helladic IIIC period there wasn’t a sudden change or an intrusion of “foreign” characteristics in the cultural environment of 12th century BC. Furthermore, one can see a smooth cultural transition to the Early Protogeometric period. As far as the burial architecture and rituals are concerned, the chamber tombs of Aghios Georghios of Persaina have the same characteristics with other Mycenaean chamber tomb cemeteries of Elis and NW Peloponnese. Some minor differences, such as the larger percentage of kylikes and craters, compared to other Elian and Achaean cemeteries, help us to understand the local diversification that it is expected to exist in a period that the centralization of palatial times in no longer present. The inhabitants of the site that the cemetery of Aghios Georghios of Persaina belonged seemed to participate to the wide trading network that was built after the fall of the Mycenaean palaces. Contacts with Elis, Achaea, Messenia, Arcadia, Ionian islands, Attica, Phocis and Italy can be concluded by the parallels of the artifacts found in the tombs. Some thoughts about the post palatial system of government of such sites can be made for Elis, a territory that didn’t have palatial past. Families or persons seem to stand out from the rest of the group and have the responsibility –political or/and military– of ruling the site and be a part of the economical and cultural relationships that were reformed in the Aegean world after the collapse of Mycenaean rulers at the end of the 13th century BC.This paper  tried to answer to these questions, giving logical explanations to some peculiar findings. Generous assistance from my professors, colleagues and friends made this effort easier and fruitful and I would like to thank them very much.

The nine, Mycenaean, chamber tomb cemetery of Aghios Georghios of Persaina is situated on a hillside at the mountainous NE part of Elis, among Goumero and Persaina villages. The excavations that were held at the beginning of the 2010s, as a part of the salvage work of Greek Archaeological Service, shed light to an area that was almost unknown for its Mycenaean history.

The excavation of the cemetery raised important issues about the cultural backround, the chronological range concerning the use of the tombs, probable differences from other Elian chamber tomb cemeteries and contacts with Greek mainland and adjacent areas.

The pottery dates the time span of use of the cemetery from Late Helladic IIIA2 until the Submycenaean/Early Protogeometric period. Its final use is contemporary with the cist tomb cemetery of Ancient Elis and the beginning of the formation of the Panhellenic sanctuary of Olympia.

This chronological parallelism gives evidence for the conversation about the transition from Bronze to Iron Age and the theories about the coming of new tribes and “ethnic” groups in mainland Greece and the Aegean world, during the Early Historical Period. It is clear, according to the material from Aghios Georghios of Persaina tombs, that during the Late Helladic IIIC period there wasn’t a sudden change or an intrusion of “foreign” characteristics in the cultural environment of 12th century BC. Furthermore, one can see a smooth cultural transition to the Early Protogeometric period.

As far as the burial architecture and rituals are concerned, the chamber tombs of Aghios Georghios of Persaina have the same characteristics with other Mycenaean chamber tomb cemeteries of Elis and NW Peloponnese. Some minor differences, such as the larger percentage of kylikes and craters, compared to other Elian and Achaean cemeteries, help us to understand the local diversification that it is expected to exist in a period that the centralization of palatial times in no longer present.

The inhabitants of the site that the cemetery of Aghios Georghios of Persaina belonged seemed to participate to the wide trading network that was built after the fall of the Mycenaean palaces. Contacts with Elis, Achaea, Messenia, Arcadia, Ionian islands, Attica, Phocis and Italy can be concluded by the parallels of the artifacts found in the tombs.

Some thoughts about the post palatial system of government of such sites can be made for Elis, a territory that didn’t have palatial past. Families or persons seem to stand out from the rest of the group and have the responsibility –political or/and military– of ruling the site and be a part of the economical and cultural relationships that were reformed in the Aegean world after the collapse of Mycenaean rulers at the end of the 13th century BC.

This paper[HI1]  tried to answer to these questions, giving logical explanations to some peculiar findings. Generous assistance from my professors, colleagues and friends made this effort easier and fruitful and I would like to thank them very much.

 [HI1]Paper  ή πως αλλιώς;


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