F1415 Stratigraphic Project Aegina Kolonna

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Florens Felten1
Co-investigator: Dr. Walter Gauss

Fig. 1: Aegina Kolonna and the four areas of research within the SCIEM 2000 project



Aegina was one of the major centres of the Aegean Bronze Age, in part because of its location in the centre of the Saronic Gulf, on what seems to have been, at that time, the crossroads between central mainland Greece, the northeast Peloponnese, the Cyclades, and Crete. Kolonna, the main settlement known on the island, thrived for almost a millennium, from the advanced Early Bronze Age (late EBA II) to at least the Shaft Grave period (early LBA), as its impressive fortifications and wealth of material remains show. The remains include the earliest known shaft grave in the Aegean, the famous “treasure of Aegina,” a number of additional “prestige” items mainly of Cretan origin or influence, and substantial numbers of imported ceramic vessels from various sources across the central and southern Aegean. Cycladic influence is evident in the local potting traditions, and certain Cretan technological practices were locally reproduced, suggesting that Cretan craftspeople may have settled on Aegina. Various types of ceramic pots of Aeginetan production have been found, often in considerable quantities, in a large number of sites across the Aegean. It is obvious, then, that Aegina played a significant role in central Aegean networks both as producer and possibly as a distributor of ceramic containers, and that there was strong Aeginetan consumer demand for imported and exotic goods. At the same time Aeginetan pottery was tentatively identified at over sixty settlements and cemeteries, ranging from south Italy in the west to Troy, Limantepe and Miletus in the east, Iolkos in the north and Akrotiri and Crete in the south. These factors, combined with the indications of wealth accumulation in a certain stratum of the society (large-scale building, the monumental shaft grave next to one of the gates) and the evidence for an unprecedented mobilisation of a workforce (the impressive fortifications), clearly distinguish Kolonna from a “standard” Middle Helladic (MH) community. Kolonna seems to be the earliest example of a ranked society in the Aegean, outside Crete, and of a large commercial, and perhaps political, centre in the Saronic Gulf. It is obvious that Aegina Kolonna is an ideal place for answering urgent chronological issues for the central Mediterranean area and therefore the Aegina Stratigraphic Project was initiated by Florens Felten for participating in SCIEM 2000.

The chronological chart illustrated here summarizes the most important results of our work, regarding not only the relative chronology of the site. It includes also an overview of stratigraphic sequence of the four individual areas of research, and illustrates the absolute chronology achieved at Kolonna, as well as the first appearance of imports and the historical chronology (Fig. 2).

Aims of research and discussion:
The recently established vertical stratigraphic sequence is now 3.5 m high and lasts from the beginning of EH III to LH I/II, and forms the backbone of our stratigraphic work. Within the frame of the SCIEM 2000 project archaeological finds from four different areas at the site were analysed that were excavated with different methods within a time span of more than 30 years.
The four topographical areas of research at Kolonna are (Fig. 1.):