The early Iron Age and early Archaic pottery from the acropolis and the so-called saddle in Aigeira

The project includes the analysis and publication of the early Iron Age and early Archaic pottery. The material provides important information on the dating of the re-colonization of Aigeira in the early Iron Age, on Aigeiras foreign relations, on the use of the acropolis of Aigeira and on the cult practice.

All conclusions are based on the complete photographic and drawn documentation of the relevant pottery finds and their entry in a detailed descriptive catalog. The finds considered here originate from the excavations taking place since 2011 in the area of the ›saddle‹ as well as from the acropolis which was excavated in the 1970s and 1980s under the direction of W. Alzinger.

Aigeira following the end of the Bronze Age: Settlement continuity or hiatus?

One of the aims of the new excavations begun in 2011 on the ›saddle‹ and on the slopes of the acropolis was to clarify what happened in Aigeira following the end of the Mycenaean settlement around 1100 BCE. This question can only be answered through an analysis of the available relevant pottery – to date no fragments from the sub-Mycenaean, Protogeometric, and early Geometric periods have been verified. A few pieces – including an almost completely preserved skyphos – can probably be classified as middle Geometric and date to shortly before the mid-8th century BCE. According to our current knowledge, we must assume that Aigeira was not inhabited in the early first millennium BCE.

The re-settlement of Aigeira and the Corinthian expansion

Pottery of the second half of the 8th century BCE is well-attested in the find assemblages. The majority of the fine wares of this period are Corinthian imports. This continued to be the case for the entire 7th and the first half of the 6th century. It can therefore be assumed that the re-use of Aigeira in the mid-8th century BCE is connected with the simultaneous westward expansion of Corinth as is documented through a sharp increase of Corinthian pottery in many sites along the Gulf of Corinth, on the Ionian Islands, in southern Italy, and Sicily. The acropolis of Aigeira is visible from afar and could have served as a landmark for Corinthian sailors. The location across from the Gulf of Itea could have also lead to its re-colonization because numerous finds verify close contacts between Delphi and Corinth since the 8th century BCE.

Settlement or sanctuary?

A sanctuary on the acropolis of Aigeira in the Geometric and Archaic period has been known since the excavations in the 1970s. During the recent excavations no indications for living quarters from this period were discovered on the ›saddle‹. All the pottery finds from the slopes of the acropolis and the ›saddle‹ must be understood as rubble from the acropolis and, therefore, originally belonged to the sanctuary. The search for the late Geometric and Archaic settlement of Aigeira thus remains a task for future research. The vessel shapes represented in the find assemblage permit certain deductions about the cult practiced in the acropolis sanctuary. It is striking that kraters are well attested since the Geometric and throughout the entire Archaic period and, therefore, wine consumption appears to have played a not insignificant role during the cult celebrations on the acropolis. Furthermore, rare vessel types were identified that may have been produced especially for the cult, such as an early Corinthian giant kotyle only fragmentarily preserved.