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The art and archaeology of cooking: a comparative study of late Minoan cook-pots from Mochlos and Papadiokambos

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posted on 08.02.2016, 16:46 by Jerolyn Elizabeth Morrison
This thesis explores functional aspects and cultural roles of cook-pots to evaluate domestic cooking on the island of Crete (located in the Southern Aegean Sea) during the Late Bronze Age (Late Minoan, ca. 1600-1190 BC). The Integrated Approach to Ceramic Analysis (IACA) is proposed as a methodology for identifying interrelationship between people and pots in terms of production and use – by focusing on key elements of the vessels’ design, i.e. shape, ceramic fabric, size. IACA enhances the characterization of cook-pots beyond defining morphologies and fabric-types; it includes an experimental component that evaluates hypotheses concerning production and use. IACA is applied in reevaluating established cook-pot typologies to address our lack of knowledge about how individuals performed daily tasks in the prehistoric Aegean. Two case studies target cooking contexts well-placed to investigate cook-pot production and function, in both space and time. The cultural groups concerned are the towns of Mochlos and Papadiokambos on the northeastern coast. Mochlos was a thriving harbor town in the LMI period; Papadiokambos was its contemporary, a prosperous enough settlement. Mochlos was abandoned for a generation; it was reoccupied when Mycenaean influence was strong on Crete (LMII-III). Essentially, the cook-pot suites at Mochlos and Papadiokambos belong to a broader tradition, utilizing open and closed vessels. Experimental work that produced LM-style vessels out of similar clays as the archaeological cook-pots shows that while closed, bowl-shape bodies were used for slow cooking (i.e. stewing liquid-based foods) and open vessels are better suited for quickly sautéing, grilling, and baking foods there are hidden steps to producing and using these vessels. These actions are multifaceted and complex. This work encourages us to rethink how these tasks were performed to understand better why choices were made that have materialized in the archaeological record.



Whitbread, Ian; Foxhall, Lin

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School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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University of Leicester

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