Kythera Island Project
Specific Pottery Research:

Fabric-Based Approaches & Ceramic Petrology

Classical-Hellenistic Pottery

Principal Investigator:
Alan Johnston (UCL)


While the Kastri excavations in the 1960s yielded a little late 8th century BC pottery, the earliest material from the KIP survey to date is perhaps of the earlier 7th and possibly derives from a destroyed tomb on a ridge below Palaiokastro (the latter site lies outside the permitted KIP survey area, but as the location of Kythera's principal settlement in Classical times, it is an obvious place where further early material might exist). Interestingly, the KIP sherd is Cretan, perhaps similar to a 'siren' jug in the British Museum and allegedly also from Kythera (from 'Gonia', the vicinity of KIP Site 010).

Classical pottery from KIP site 100
Classical sherds from site 100: a body fragment of an Attic Red-Figure krater (ca.440-410 BC?), rim fragments of a louterion and an amphora (both Corinthian). Photography by A. Bevan 2003.
The absence of substantial early Iron Age material is consistent with the very slight amount of activity attested for this period in the southern Peloponnese as a whole. More widespread evidence become visible at a number of KIP sites from ca.525 BC onwards (Late Archaic and into Classical). The material that is most diagnostic is black-glaze pottery, much of which is of Lakonian manufacture. Regularly, on restricted period sites, we also find a range of other coarser wares, including imported amphorae, and the inevitable tile. The peak of activity in this phase would seem to come in the second half of the 5th century, with sites of varying size scattered broadly throughout the surveyed area. An isolated find of the Archaic period, however, is of particular interest - a foot fragment of one of the largest Lakonian kraters yet known (ca. 39cm in diameter). Recognisable material thins out drastically in the 4th century, and diagnostic Hellenistic finds are scarcely represented at all, save perhaps by tiles. A review of the material suggests that the typical products of this period (amphora types, mould-made bowls, etc.) are absent not only from the interior of the island, but also from Kastri.
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