image/svg+xml217XII/2/2021INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euDiferent Shades of Grey Minyan: Dissecting an “Iconic” Ceramic Class of Middle Bronze Age, Mainland GreeceAnthi Balitsari1*1Fonds de la Recherche Scientifque -FNRS, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Blaise Pascal 1, bte L3.03.01, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium1. IntroductionGrey Minyan is considered an emblematic ceramic class of the Middle Helladic (hereafter MH) period (ca. 2100–1700 BCE) in mainland Greece. It is a ceramic tradition particularly related to central Greece, mainly Boeotia, where it was frst recognised by H. Schliemann, during the Orchomenos excavations back in the 19thcentury, and named after the mythical king Minyas (Sarri, 2010a, pp.55–56). Because of the radical changes that took place in the material record towards the end of the Early Helladic (hereafter EH) period, which are traditionally described in terms of backwardness, Grey Minyan was not simply considered as a new ceramic trend of tablewares but as a product of the new population that had just arrived, the frst ancestors of the Greeks, according to the cultural-historical approach (Blegen, 1928; Haley, 1928; Caskey, 1960; Syriopoulos, 1994, pp.771–775; for a latest overview of the matter, see also Dickinson, 2016). Although the MH material excavated at Orchomenos had to wait for a century to be fully published (Sarri, 2010a), the characteristics of Grey Minyan as frst described in some detail by E. J. Forsdyke, namely the use of fne clay pastes, the grey colour throughout the section due to the reduction fring, the nicely burnished surfaces with the so-called “soapy texture”, and the systematic use of the potter’s wheel, became archetypical (Forsdyke, 1914, pp.129–130; Wace and Blegen, 1916–1918, pp.180–181). Consequently, any variation observed that could not ft into the above criteria -especially in terms of the use of the potter’s wheel – was considered to represent an inferior product, an imitation of the “True Grey Minyan” (Zerner, 1993, p.43; Sarri, 2010b).Modern research though emphasises that regionalism was a signifcant component of the MH culture, with variability being particularly expressed in ceramics (Rutter, 2007, p.36; Voutsaki, 2010, p.100), something that could explain the inability to produce a uniform nomenclature, the necessity of which has been recently proposed (Gauss and Lindblom, 2017). Therefore, any distinction made between a classic example of quality and a less carelessly made “replica” seems arbitrary and pointless. Common interregional cultural traits did exist, and the production of well-burnished eating and drinking pots fred in a reducing atmosphere Volume XII ● Issue 2/2021 ● Pages 217–233*Corresponding author. E-mail: anthoula.balitsari@uclouvain.beARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 15thJanuary 2021Accepted: 17thJuly 2021DOI: words:the ArgolidAtticaMiddle HelladicGrey Burnishedpotter’s wheelwheel-fashioning methodshandmadeABSTRACTThe Middle Helladic Grey Minyan ware is usually assigned with archetypical features, including the systematic use of the potter’s wheel. However, because of the signifcant variation observed, terms such as “True Grey Minyan” and “Imitations of Grey Minyan” were commonly applied in order to emphasise the diferences, which, nonetheless were never systematically analysed. The main subject of the present paper is to highlight the diferences existing in the potting traditions of Grey Minyan in two nearby regions, namely the Argolid and Attica, which seem to belong to diferent cultural spheres, given the divergence observed especially in the shape repertoire. The identifcation of diferent production and consumption practices is obviously related to diferent cultural phenomena, as evidenced through (a) the production of similar wheel-fashioned and hand-built Grey Minyan shapes in Attica, and (b) the introduction of foreign potting traditions, namely wheel-fashioned Grey Minyan pots, which are completely alien to the local, handmade ceramics of the Argolid.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2021 ● XII/2 ● 217–233Anthi Balitsari: Diferent Shades of Grey Minyan: Dissecting an “Iconic” Ceramic Class of Middle Bronze Age, Mainland Greece218