The Thesprotia Expedition

2004 - 2005






Trial excavations

PS12, Area 2

PS12, Area 3

Study of finds










A Regional, Interdisciplinary Survey Project

in Northwestern Greece

The preliminary results of the archaeological work conducted during the seventh and final field season of the Thesprotia Expedition are as follows.

Trial excavations at the prehistoric site PS 12

Area 2

PS 12 is a prehistoric site that was found during our intensive field survey in 2004. Trial excavations conducted in 2007-2009 revealed a transitional Middle Bronze Age/Late Bronze Age cemetery located on top of an earlier settlement dating to the Early Bronze Age. PS 12 is a key site for the understanding of the Thesprotian Bronze Age, where no stratified site dating to the Early Bronze Age has so far been excavated, and where the earliest previously known graves dated to the end of the Late Bronze Age.

Work in 2010 was concentrated in two main areas, Area 2 located at the tumulus found already last year, and Area 3 located next to the cist grave found in 2009 some 75 metres to the south of the tumulus. The excavation of the tumulus revealed another child burial in addition to those of last year, this time in the layer just above the filling of the tumulus, thus being later in date than the tumulus, which is dated to the transition between the Middle and Late Bronze Age, with a calibrated date of 1780-1610 BC. Otherwise the work in Area 2 was mainly concentrated on the rich Early Bronze Age cultural layer below the tumulus. Several C-14 samples support an Early Bronze Age date for this layer, which also contains a handful of sherds of Neolithic date.

On the last day of the excavation a cremation grave was found in the Early Bronze Age layer, close to the very centre of the tumulus. A coarse ware wide-mouthed jar, probably of Middle Bronze Age date, and a bone needle were found just above or in connection with the heavily burnt area. C-14 samples taken from charcoal found in connection with the cremation grave date it to the Middle Bronze Age (calibrated dates 1955-1755 BC and 1980-1865 BC), which makes it the oldest known grave in Thesprotia. The cremation had probably taken place at this very spot, in a shallow pit dug into the Early Bronze Age settlement layer. At a later stage (approximately 100 years later) the tumulus was erected on top of the cremation grave.

The Early Bronze Age cultural layer in Area 2 produced more of the same repertoire of finds as in 2009 with some minor additions. The fine to medium ware pottery is mostly dark, either black or brown and either plain or burnished on the interior. Rims are either square-cut or slightly flaring; no out-turned rims are found. A red slipped ware, burnished on the exterior and with incised lip, also occurs, which brings to mind similar pottery from other Early Bronze Age sites in central and southern Greece. The cooking ware usually has a scored surface or carries a ‘crust’. A common surface decoration consists of fingernail impressions.

An impressive amount of Corded ware was collected, usually black, but also reddish-yellow and brown fabrics occur. The white-crusted filling remained only in a few Corded ware sherds. The special category of finds from 2009 consisting of spoons was augmented by six more this summer, bringing the total to 11 spoons of two standard sizes.

The overall resemblance with the Early Bronze Age pottery from the Thessalian site Pevkakia is striking, as well as the general lack of southern imports. Thus, PS 12 belongs to a more northerly network characterised by the use of Corded ware. However, some rather exotic pottery seems to have reached the site, as indicated by fragmentary vessels with rolled impressed surfaces, possibly of Anatolian origin.

Spindle whorls are of two types, either biconical or pierced sherds. Two bobbins likewise indicate wool production, as do some bone needles. Several sickles with gloss from cutting grain indicate agricultural activities, and the large amount of animal bones collected from the Early Bronze Age cultural layer will potentially give a good picture of the composition of animals kept and eaten at that time.

PS 12, Area 3

Study of finds