Working Publication Team

Andrew J. Koh, Ph.D. (Brandeis University) – natural and cultural landscape, ARCHEM, OpenARCHEM

Kate J. Birney, Ph.D. (Wesleyan University) – pan-Mediterranean connections (especially the Levant), ceramics, OpenARCHEM, ARCHEM

Georgia Flouda, Ph.D. (Heraklion Archaeological Museum) – weaponry and other metal objects, mainland connections (especially Achaea)

Cheryl R. Floyd, Ph.D. (Independent Scholar) – ceramics

Miriam G. Clinton, Ph.D. (Rhodes College) – architecture

Ian Roy (Brandeis University) – digital innovation and technology

Alison M. Crandall (University of California – Los Angeles, Ph.D. student) – ARCHEM, OpenARCHEM

Belisi Gillespie (University of California – Berkeley, Ph.D. student) – burial traditions, mainland connections (especially Corinthia and Argolid), webmaster

Sarah Schofield-Mansur (Brandeis University, Ph.D. candidate) – burial traditions, physical anthropology

Anna K. Krohn (Brandeis University, M.A. student) – OpenARCHEM, database programming, software design


Phase I – 2018 AIA Annual Meeting colloquium session

The Legacy of Mouliana, Crete: Death and Burial at the End of the Bronze Age

Session Abstract
In 2016-2017, the Mouliana Project, under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and in collaboration with the Herakleion Archaeological Museum, the 24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, and the Siteia Archaeological Museum, began renewed work on the Late Minoan III tholos “warrior graves” from Mouliana Sellades in East Crete. Over the course of these two seasons, the team marshaled a broad complement of both traditional and modern analytical techniques for the study of these intriguing tombs, their environment and their contents, with approaches ranging from geospatial studies, organic residue and elemental analyses to detailed digital modeling. The initial results are both exciting and promising, with implications for the study of regional economy and Mycenaean influence, while also offering a new narrative for Minoan life in the wake of the palatial centers, one that adapted the preexisting settlement hierarchy of the region during a period of both continuity and change. This session presents the preliminary results for each of the major data sets, and considers the Mouliana LM III cemetery in its local, regional, and pan-Mediterranean context.

ORGANIZERS: Andrew J. Koh, Brandeis University, and Kate J. Birney, Wesleyan University

DISCUSSANTS: Louise A. Hitchcock, University of Melbourne and Sarah C. Murray, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (15 min.)

Introduction (10 min.)

The Natural and Cultural Landscape of Mouliana
Andrew J. Koh, Brandeis University (15 min.)
This investigation of the natural and cultural landscape of the western Siteia foothills can be traced to an earlier attempt at understanding the paleoecology of this inland region of East Crete. Based on the organic residue analysis identification of a Neopalatial perfumed oil workshop at the coastal site of Mochlos, it was understood even then that these foothills likely nurtured the ecosystem bountiful enough to supply the raw materials (e.g. olive oil, coriander, Cretan rockrose) necessary to brew the sophisticated perfumed oils of the Aegean Late Bronze Age. This paper presents a fuller understanding of this dynamic landscape as we gain clarity from ongoing research at Mouliana. The LM IIIC Mouliana Sellades warrior graves are starting to present us with a snapshot of this landscape’s interplay with Minoan daily life during the Bronze-Iron Age transition, and hint at the complex socio-cultural role this liminal zone played during this defining moment in pan-Mediterranean history and the Postpalatial period in general.

The Tholoi of Mouliana: Architectural Influence and Cultural Syncretism in East Crete at the End of the Bronze Age
Miriam G. Clinton, Rhodes College (15 min.)
This paper presents the results of a new analysis of the architecture of the Mouliana Sellades “warrior graves.” These tombs are called tholoi by Xanthoudidis in 1904 and listed as such in the literature, but the publication illustrates only one tomb (A) and in a schematic manner. Subsequent photographs have not been sufficient to confirm their exact architectural nature. The Mouliana Project aims to clean and document both tombs and study them in detail with a full complement of methods. The tombs are placed into their architectural context at the end of the Bronze Age, including influences both from the Mycenaean mainland and Minoan Crete. The tombs can be used as a case study to understand cross-cultural influences and the unique syncretic climate at the end of the Bronze Age, when a vast movement of peoples both introduced new techniques and created new social situations calling for architecture to evolve.

The LM IIIC Ceramics from Mouliana Sellades
Cheryl R. Floyd, Independent Researcher and Kate J. Birney, Wesleyan University, (20 min.)
This paper offers a preliminary study of the ceramics from the Mouliana Sellades tholos tombs. The unusual assemblage includes a range of vessels which are uncommon or perhaps even unique in East Crete including a large base-ring flask, flat-bottomed stirrup jars, and a bell krater with the earliest known depiction of a soldier on horseback. While some of these vessels such as the Close Octopus Style stirrup jars have been published as a component of broader studies, we present here for the first time an overview of the full assemblage – considering their morphology, fabric, volumetric capacities, and distinctive decoration – and a preliminary discussion of their commercial and socio-cultural significance for Mouliana and beyond.

Break (10 min.)

Weaponry and Other Metal Objects in the Mouliana Tombs: Tracing Social Identities and Interactions
Georgia Flouda, Heraklion Archaeological Museum (20 min.)
Weapons and bronzes have constituted elements of a symbolic language for expressing and enhancing social identity in the Aegean since the 17th century B.C.E. This presentation discusses the character of the burial assemblages deposited in the two vaulted tholos tombs excavated at Mouliana Sellades in East Crete. These included multiple inhumation and cremation burials associated with a variety of metal artifacts, including weaponry, fragments of copper alloy vessels, tools (horse scrapers) and clothing items, gold rings, and a gold death mask. A special focus on the swords, daggers, spearheads, “shield bosses,” horse scrapers and a few unpublished artifacts from Mouliana, as well as their prototypes elsewhere, highlights the issue of connectivity and intercultural mobility that may be associated with a new “warrior class” in the twelfth to eleventh century B.C.E. Aegean mainland and Crete. At a second level, I reassess the way the Mouliana funerary contexts have been employed in order to represent social identities informed by participation in networks of exchange, technology transfer and/or interaction extending as far as the Cyclades and western mainland Greece.

ARCHEM: ORA and XRF analyses at Mouliana Sellades
Alison M. Crandall, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA and Andrew J. Koh, Brandeis University (15 min.)
For the past two summers, the intercollegiate ARCHEM field team in collaboration with the Mouliana Project has scientifically analyzed artifacts from the Late Minoan IIIC tholos tombs at Mouliana Sellades. These funerary objects are attributed to a people who moved inland in response to the Late Bronze Age “collapse” and threats from the sea. Utilizing the non-destructive organic residue analysis (ORA) field extraction method pioneered by ARCHEM, the organic contents of the ceramic vessels were identified via gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and studied to examine their social value and purpose in the burial context. Inorganic artifacts were also analyzed by non-invasive portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) spectrometry to determine elemental composition of the objects and reconstruct details about production techniques. Intensive scientific studies on comparative materials from Greece are helping us to understand the larger picture of technology, production, and trade, but more research is necessary to grasp the complexities, particularly for the Bronze-Iron Age transition. Our initial results suggest that the technological sophistication achieved during the Bronze Age was not lost despite a population shift from the coast and its maritime trade routes. Instead, they point towards continued and sophisticated craft production during this transitional period, perhaps to replicate or update the familiar materials from earlier periods despite changing times.

Minoan-Mycenaean Burial Traditions and Ritual at Mouliana Sellades
Belisi Gillespie, University of California, Berkeley and Sarah Schofield-Mansur, Brandeis University (20 min.)
This paper seeks to situate the burial traditions, material culture, and ritual activity associated with the Mouliana tholoi within a spectrum of hybridized Minoan-Mycenaean, or “Mycenoan,” cultural convention. By exploring comparanda from contemporary LM/LH III burials and necropoleis in both East Crete and the Greek mainland, we provide a framework for the analysis of cultural identity of the tombs’ occupants and their associated community. We focus in particular on the configuration of burials within the tombs and methods of interment, and what they reveal about the treatment of human remains before and during burial, and the spiritual or ritual activity which might be connected to those processes. By conceptualizing the grave goods as a connected series of assemblages tied to individuals, it is possible to begin elucidating contemporary ideals and social practices that point to a cultural affiliation with mainland societies.

Mouliana in Its Mediterranean Context: First Impressions
Kate J. Birney, Wesleyan University (15 min.)
Viewed in their totality, the Mouliana Sellades tholos tombs offer an opportune glimpse of a world in transition. The preliminary results of the Mouliana Project open new doors to the study of the local communities of Postpalatial East Crete in the wake of “collapse,” and also invite us to consider Mouliana within its larger Mediterranean context – as a node in a web of commodities and cultural networks spun from the commercial systems of the 13th and early 12th centuries, the movement of the Sea Peoples and the ‘Mycenaeanization’ of foreign shores. This paper presents some initial thoughts about Mouliana’s place in these systems, and lays out directions for future avenues of research.