Tracing maritime connectivity in the Greek Early Iron Age through the funerary culture at Lefkandi on Euboea.

Author: Prue Newton

Newton, Prue, 2022 Tracing maritime connectivity in the Greek Early Iron Age through the funerary culture at Lefkandi on Euboea. , Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The multi-scalar character of the Early Iron Age (c. 1070–700 BCE) Aegean and Mediterranean trade networks makes the region an optimal setting for studying the interaction of societies through the lens of maritime connectivity. A major centre for trade, at the forefront of these interactions, was the ancient Greek settlement of Xeropolis at Lefkandi, on the island of Euboea, established in the Early Bronze Age (c. 2100 BCE) and abandoned towards the end of the Early Iron Age in c. 700 BCE. The Skoubris, Palia Perivolia and Toumba cemeteries at Lefkandi offer the largest assemblage of burial objects and imports for the Early Iron Age in Greece. However, little is understood about how maritime trade and exchange played a role in shaping the funerary culture at Lefkandi, thus, lacking a wider contextual understanding of what enterprises are driving and influencing networks in the Early Iron Age. This thesis demonstrates how the chronologically significant patterns of diversity in burial assemblages and distribution of foreign imports, found in the cemeteries of Lefkandi, provide evidence for complex maritime connectivity within the Early Iron Age Aegean and Mediterranean. Through the use of statistical analyses applied to Lefkandi cemeteries, both individually and collectively, this study aims to detect maritime trade networks and trade routes operating in association with Lefkandi and to determine what part maritime trade played in shaping the funerary culture at the site.

This thesis presents new findings for Lefkandi that show significant correlations in the composition of the burial assemblage suggesting an intentionally compiled ‘funerary package’. In this way, the provenance of metal objects is used to better understand the foreign imports that form a crucial part of these funerary packages. As such, it is clear that the settlement of Xeropolis had widespread maritime contacts that stretch from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Northern Aegean; also showing that their interaction occurred more frequently than previously expected.

This thesis further argues that the ‘funerary packages’, observed at Lefkandi demonstrate a certain requirement, which creates a demand for particular material objects that have, in turn, influenced the trade links and contacts maintained by the site’s inhabitants. The role of exotica and the common practice of using funerary packages to honour the dead, infers that the purpose of exchanging resources was possibly driven by the aristocratic elites who capitalised on revolutionising a mortuary market in the Early Iron Age. The continuity of this practice coincides with the frequent interactions with well-established maritime trade networks throughout this period. This study proposes that agents and carriers of exchange attained the knowledge of the type of materials that were in demand at Lefkandi based on the needs of the funerary culture. The products were acquired at different parts of the Mediterranean and supplied via direct and indirect maritime trade routes influencing the funerary economy of Lefkandi during the Early Iron Age. This thesis demonstrates that statistical analyses of mortuary data can play a significant role in the interpretation of maritime connectivity and trade in pre-monetary societies.

Keywords: Maritime archaeology, underwater archaeology, Lefkandi, Early Iron Age, Greece, connectivity, maritime, trade, funerary culture, statistics, Euboea, Greek Early Iron Age, mortuary data, burials, cemetery, Toumba cemetery, Skoubris cemetery, Palia Perivolia cemetery, Irene Lemos, imports, exotica, Near East, maritime relations, maritime exchange, maritime trade, maritime trade networks, funerary packages, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, funerary economy, societies, Eastern Mediterranean, Xeropolis, maritime contacts, Northern Aegean, maritime interactions, mortuary market, trade links, tracing maritime connectivity

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Ania Kotarba