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The sunset of Gortyn: amphorae in 7th –8th centuries AD


Gortyn (A. Di Vita [ed.] 2000-01), some new contexts, more delimited and reliable, allow us to define better circulation, developments, and local use of amphorae in the last periods of urban life of the Cretan city. Two contexts of the mid-late 7th and late 7th-8th centuries are briefly analysed, coming from different quarters of the town (the Old Agora and the Early Byzantine houses near the “Praetorium”), and resulting from different formative processes, which could represent the circulation trends just before, and in the re-occupation phase after the earthquake that dismembered the Late Roman urban layout at the end of the 7th/early 8th century. They display a variety of imports from transmarine regions (N-Africa, Egypt, Palestina/Lebanon, Greece and Asia Minor, N-Syria and Cyprus) still in mid-7th century, showing after a drastic restraint. Then some containers of the “family” labelled Byzantine Globular Amphorae/BGA prevail, both imported from diverse, small- scale production centres spread in the Aegean/Byzantine areas, and manufactured in Crete. In general, we detect in the latest Cretan production a tendency to imitate the “international” types LRA 1, LRA 2 and their derivatives, and the dismissal of the traditional “Late Roman” local types (TRC2-4) for the derivative types TRC7-10 and TRC12 (one of the local equivalents of the BGA), produced beside the older types TRC5-6. For the important questions, yet to be answered, about the different Cretan workshops, beside some archaeometric and archaeological studies on the Early Byzantine wares from Pseira and Eleutherna, we will have at our disposal the database of the Cretan clays created by N. Poulou and E. Nodarou within the “Pythagoras II” project.