Vana Orfanou

Early Iron Age Greek Bronze Technology: votive offerings from the temple of Thavlios Zeus at ancient Pherae, Thessaly

The bronze technology employed at the workshops of early Greece is investigated in order to reveal aspects of Early Iron Age (EIA) technological knowledge and the way this was perceived, transferred and adopted by the different communities in Greece. Through the metallographical investigation of bronze votive offerings deposited at the sanctuary of Enodia and Thavlios Zeus at ancient Pherae during the Geometric and early Archaic periods where thousands of bronzes have been recovered, the local bronze production and the economics of the sanctuary itself are explored. Furthermore, a number of imported items that, at least typologically, belong to artefact groups from all over eastern Mediterranean and have also been deposited to the sanctuary represent different technological traditions in the assemblage.

Analysis takes place in order to examine the nature of raw materials, metals and alloys used, as well as the metalworking techniques employed in the production of the bronzes. Analytical techniques include optical microscope, XRF, SEM-EDS and EPMA. Results are also tested against the artefacts’ established typology and their attribution to regional workshops in different geographical regions in Greece and eastern Mediterranean.

Such an approach moves beyond points of view which often adopt an evolutionary perspective focusing on the development and progress of technology over time, thus treating ancient technology as a continuous series of technological achievements. Shifting the focus of research to the detailed study of a narrower chronological period reveals the relationships between the different communities, as well as the ways in which technology was transferred, applied and embedded in them.

Funding organisation

  • State Scholarships Foundation of Greece (IKY)
  • Greek Archaeological Committee UK
  • A.G. Leventis Foundation
  • A. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation


 Educational background

  • BA, History, Archaeology and Cultural Resources Management, University of Peloponnese, 2007
  • MSc, Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 2009

Orfanou, V. and Rehren, Th., forthcoming. Bronze grave offerings from the Toumba cemetery at Lefkandi. In: BSA Suppl.

Conference presentations

Orfanou, V., 2012. Bronze votive offerings from the Temple of Thavlios Zeus at ancient Pherae: an archaeometallurgical study and its implications for the study of Early Greece (poster). 4th Archaeological Work for Thessaly and Sterea Ellada, 15-18/3/2012, Volos, Greece

Orfanou, V., 2012. Early Iron Age Greek Bronzes: now what? UCL Graduate Student Conference 2012, 13/2/2012, London

Orfanou, V., 2012. Re-searching for the Greek Early Iron Age: bronze votive offerings from the temple of Thavlios Zeus at ancient Pherae. Prehistoric and Early Greece Graduate Student Seminar (PEGGS), School of Archaeology, Oxford

Orfanou, V., Intzesiloglou, A. and Arachoviti, P., 2011. Black holes and revelations: Early Iron Age fibulae from Greece (poster). Archaeometallurgy in Europe III, 29/6-1/7/2011, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, Germany

Orfanou, V., Rehren, Th. and Lemos, I., 2010. Bronze grave offerings from the Toumba cemetery at Lefkandi, Euboea. 2nd Symposium on Archaeological Research and New Technologies, 21-23/10/2010, University of Peloponnese, Kalamata, Greece

Orfanou, V., 2010. Early Iron Age bronzes from Greece: project presentation. Iron Age Research Student Seminar (IARSS) 2010, 2-4/6/2010, University of Bradford

Zacharias, N., Orfanou, V., Rizou‐Kalakona, M., Georgakopoulou, M., Bassiakos, Y., Michael, C.T, 2008. Optically Stimulated Luminescence Studies of Early Cycladic Metallurgical Ceramics from Seriphos, Greece (poster). 37th International Symposium on Archaeometry, 12-16/5/2008, University of Siena, Italy

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