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CJ-ONLINE  November 2007

CJ-ONLINE November 2007

Subject:

CJ-Online 2007.11.03 BETANCOURT, Chrysokamino Metallurgy

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The Chrysokamino Metallurgy Workshop and its Territory. By PHILIP P. 
BETANCOURT. Hesperia Supplement 36. Princeton: ASCSA Publications, 2006. 
Pp. xxii + 462. Paper, $65.00. ISBN 978𢠪76615362.

Order this text for $59.00 from Amazon.com using this link and benefit 
CAMWS and the Classical Journal: 
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect-home/classjourn-20

At first glance, this book is the stunningly timely publication of 
archaeological research revolving around a metallurgy workshop and its 
broader geographical, social and historical context in the gulf of 
Mirabello in East Crete. More specifically, it is the publication of the 
excavation of a FN朎MIII metallurgy workshop at Chrysokamino, the survey of 
the surrounding area (a farmstead last inhabited in LMIIIB) and the 
typological study of pottery from an older excavation at the neighboring 
cave of Theriospilio. However, there is more than meets the eye in this 
volume: the reader is presented with an exemplary way of designing, 
implementing, undertaking and presenting archaeological research; last, and 
certainly to the students of ancient metallurgical practices not least, all 
significant trends in archaeometallurgy are discussed accurately and 
concisely by experts such as P. Betancourt and J.D. Muhly, covering 
chronologically the 20th century and forward, and spanning geographically 
the Mediterranean and beyond.

Philip P. Betancourt oversaw the implementation of both the research 
project and the publication of the results. The volume is divided into 
three parts with chapters composed by different specialists. An extensive 
and useful series of Appendices follows, again the work of various 
contributors (pp. 281432).

Part I, The Chrysokamino Territory (pp.346), begins with an introduction 
by Betancourt (Ch. 1). An interesting feature of this introduction is the 
discussion of modern toponyms of the area under investigation; this is 
uncommon in publications of archaeological excavations and surveys and 
makes clear the holistic approach of the project from its inception. After 
a brief discussion of previous research in the vicinity, Betancourt sets 
out the primary research goals: emphasis was given to the metallurgical 
workshop (its excavation established dates between the FN朎MIII); and a 
study of neighboring farmsteads was conducted for their potential 
association with the workshop, along with a survey of the area to establish 
a general context for the excavation finds. One notes (p. 18) how the 
揳rchaeological plan (p. 18) is presented in a typical processual manner. 
Ch. 2 is a study of the climate conditions, the geology and mineralogy, and 
the topography of Chrysokamino in the Early Bronze Age (EBA). The summary 
on p. 38 is useful for those who only need to form a general idea of the 
environmental conditions of the region.

In Part II, the results and conclusions of the excavation of the metallurgy 
workshop are presented in a multi-disciplinary manner. Each chapter 
concerns a different aspect of research on the workshop and is composed by 
a different specialist (pp. 47192).

Ch.3 presents the excavation methodology in detail. The workshop site was 
excavated (after a survey in 1995) for two continuous seasons (1996 and 
1997) in the grid-square system. The methodology can be described as 
systematic, thorough, careful and 搑igorous, in the researchers own words 
(p. 61). Ch.4 attempts to reconstruct the history of the apsidal 
structure抯 use. The apsidal structure was the only architectural feature 
unearthed on the Chrysokamino workshop site, amidst a vast slag heap and 
pieces of pottery and industrial ceramics; three floor layers were 
discovered, along with eight postholes. Sherds associated with the floors 
belong to the EMIII朚MIA periods. No evidence, however was found to suggest 
their primary use in the structure; they were carried there along with the 
soil that formed the floors (p. 61). The structure is interpreted as a 
small kitchen or storage space for the smelters (p. 63). I find the 
argument incomplete, due to the lack of evidence, although one cannot 
exclude such a possibility. The major problem is that metallurgical 
installations of comparable date in the Aegean remain largely unexcavated. 
One might suggest a glance at comparative material from other times 
(certainly not in the form of 揺thnographic parallel or 揳nalogy) as a 
source of ideas regarding the use of the hut at Chrysokamino. This would 
require more attention to the sociocultural context of EBA Aegean 
metallurgical practices, an understudied aspect of EBA Aegean metallurgy. 
The pottery dating between FN朎MIII朚MIA is presented in Ch. 5. No complete 
vessels were found. The pottery is studied in two separate groups: that 
from the slag pile and that from the apsidal structure. However, there 
seems to be no justification for this division. The pottery analysis is 
followed by a detailed catalogue with accurately executed drawings (pp. 
7397).

Stone tools (Ch. 6) are rare finds at the metallurgy workshop of 
Chrysokamino, something unsurprising in the context of EBA Aegean 
metallurgy. EBA smelters had no reason to abandon fully or even partially 
functioning tools. Indeed, such tools are more commonly associated with 
settlements rather than industrial sites in the Aegean (cf. n. 1, above: 
Ayios Sostis on Siphnos).

Ceramic fragments of smelting furnaces are treated separately (Ch. 7)梐nd 
rightly so, since their manufacture and use both differ substantially from 
those of clay vessels. The conclusion that the fragments were part of 
cylinder chimneys is convincing. Also, the drawings of reconstructed 
furnaces are very informative for the reader who might not be familiar with 
pre-industrial metallurgical practices (p. 111, fig. 7.3). In the 
揑mplications section (p. 113), there is a stimulating, albeit not 
elaborate, discussion of social issues pertaining to EBA Aegean metallurgy.

Chs. 810 present bellows, miscellaneous ceramics and the so-called 
uncatalogued metallurgy materials (slag and ore among other things), 
respectively. Beyond typology, all three chapters contribute to the 
reconstruction of the metallurgical process, and this is where their 
greatest value lies. Significant for students of ancient metallurgy is the 
statement (supported by adequate analytical data in the appendix) that 
samples were analyzed 揵y more than one method (p. 140). With regard to 
the conclusions on p. 144, the designation 搉ot profitable is used as an 
argument to support the view that 搒killed metalworkers were not employed 
for the preparation (beneficiation) of the ore to be smelted. Such 
attributes should be used with caution, since too little is known about the 
sociocultural circumstances of EBA Aegean metallurgy to be able to infer 
who was skilled at doing what, the level of competence of the individuals 
involved in the metallurgical process, or even the social standing of 
metallurgists and their craft. (Was the art of metallurgy open to all? Or 
was it a privilege restricted to certain members of the community?) On p. 
144, an important point is made and should not pass unnoticed: the evidence 
points toward the use of multiple ore sources, making identification of 
specific ore bodies (i.e., Kythnos; Laurion) either by lead isotope or 
elemental composition analysis impossible. This should suffice to put an 
end to the heated lead isotope analysis debate of the 1990s. On the other 
hand, the discussion of the (deliberate?) use of arsenic is inconclusive.

The next two chapters discuss fauna (Ch. 11), which reveals a diet pattern 
comprising mostly shellfish, and possible evidence of threshing (Ch. 12). 
Chapter 13 can stand alone and is likely to be considered seminal and 
crucial to Aegean metallurgy discussion for years to come. In this chapter, 
J.D. Muhly presents his vast knowledge and acute critical insight, 
re-writing the history of East Mediterranean and Balkan梟ot solely 
Aegean梞etallurgy in about 25 pages. Anyone who wishes to study Bronze Age 
metallurgy could start with Muhly抯 contribution. Especially important is 
his review of the research梑oth published and unpublished梒onducted in the 
last two decades, as well as the compilation of a very up-to-date 
bibliography. Chapter 14 summarizes parts I and II, connects them with the 
analytical data presented in the appendices, and views the finds at 
Chrysokamino in their broader Aegean craft-specialization context.

Part III concerns the surface survey which formed an integral part of the 
Crysokamino project. Ch. 15 lays out the methodology (cf. Ch. 3, see 
above). Emphasis is placed on timely publication梐 crucial matter for 
research in the Aegean, since many projects remain unpublished, making 
finds inaccessible to other researchers. Ch. 16 revolves around topography, 
while Ch. 17 is a somewhat preliminary report of the mostly LM habitation 
site, awaiting its promised final publication in a separate volume. Ch. 18 
lays out the history of Edith Hall抯 early 20th century excavation of the 
cave of Theriospilio, based on her personal correspondence. (Hall never 
published her excavation results and finds). The catalogue of the pottery 
Hall found is useful for study purposes, since for the most part the sherds 
are scattered in various collections, and raises the crucial issue of 
chronology between the FN/EBI in the Aegean.

Chs. 1921 can be read in conjunction. In Ch. 19, Haggis reconstructs a 
habitation context for the metallurgy workshop, based on an earlier survey 
(conducted in 198990). Of particular importance are pp. 2278, where the 
changes marked in the EMIII朚MIA period indicate increased social 
stratification. In Ch. 20, territorial boundaries are defined, separately 
for each period, based on a methodology initially developed for the study 
of Roman farms and estates (p. 236). A tentative outline of boundaries in 
the region under study is attempted. The figures that accompany the text 
are a great aid to the reader of this somewhat technical chapter. Ch. 21 
refers to the use of land on the farmstead. It examines agricultural 
practices, looking into factors that affect them, such as soil types, 
climate changes and topographic features (i.e. availability of arable 
land). It presents an interesting classification of land use and proceeds 
to analyze the suggested categories.

Ch. 22 presents the survey conclusions. Already in the opening paragraph, 
all the important points of the last three chapters are presented, ending 
with a notable comment: 揟he history of Chrysokamino shows that cultural 
change, as others have suggested, is usually based on complex forces of 
formation and dissolution rather than on a strictly linear, gradual 
development (p. 257)梐lthough it is doubtful whether scholars still think 
of change in linear terms. The last two pages of the chapter (pp. 2778) 
examine the situation of the Chrysokamino territory well into the 20th 
century, offering an interesting diachronic approach as well as an 
impromptu lesson in contemporary Greek history.

The Appendices revolve around laboratory analyses of artifacts found in the 
excavation of the Chrysokamino workshop and survey of the region. It is 
extremely important that all authors present all parameters of their work 
in utmost detail, not simply charts and numbers, so as to make their 
research results comparable and secure their reliability and scholarly and 
scientific integrity.

The volume is richly illustrated with photographs and drawings, accompanied 
by carefully composed captions, aiming at scientific and scholarly accuracy 
rather than impressive views of coffee-table quality. The book is very 
informative and written in a manner accessible to non-specialists, without 
compromising scholarly accuracy. A glossary of technical terms would have 
been a welcome addition, although such terms are certainly defined in 
individual chapters. This is not merely a site publication, but might also 
be used as a companion to the study of archaeometallurgy. Publication 
quality is high, with almost no typos. The bibliography (pp. 43356) is 
up-to-date and complete and the index at the end of the volume is 
exhaustive (pp. 45762). In short, Chrysokamino constitutes a publication 
par excellence. One only hopes that Aegean metallurgy-related publications 
in the future will follow the lead of Betanourt抯 Chrysokamino.

ATHENA HADJI
School of Architecture, University of Patras [log in to unmask]


LIST OF CHAPTERS AND CONTRIBUTORS

Part I: The Chrysokamino Territory
Chapter 1: Ph. P. Betancourt: Introduction, 318.

Chapter 2: Ph. P. Betancourt, W.R. Farrand: The Natural Environment, 1946

Part II: The Metallurgy Workshop Chapter 3: Ph. P. Betancourt, J.D. Muhly, 
E.A. Armpis, R.S. Powell, E.B. Shank, E. Sikla, T. Yangaki: The Excavation 
of the Metallurgy Workshop, 4754.

Chapter 4: Ph. P. Betancourt: The Apsidal Structure, 5566.

Chapter 5: Ph. P. Betancourt: The Pottery, 6798.

Chapter 6: D. Evely: The Stone Tools, 99108.

Chapter 7: Ph. P. Betancourt: The Furnace Chimney Fragments, 10924.

Chapter 8: Ph. P. Betancourt, J.D. Muhly: The Pot Bellows, 12532.

Chapter 9: S.C. Ferrence, B. Koukaras: Micellaneous Ceramic Artifacts, 
1336.

Chapter 10: Ph. P. Betancourt: Other Metallurgical Materials, 13748.

Chapter 11: D.S. Reese: Faunal Remains, 14952.

Chapter 12: G. Jones, A. Schofield: Evidence for the Use of Threshing 
Remains at the Early Minoan Metallurgical Workshop, 15378.

Chapter 13: J.D. Muhly: Chrysokamino in the History of Early Metallurgy, 
15578.

Chapter 14: Ph. P. Betancourt: Discussion of the Workshop and 
Reconstruction of the Smelting Practices, 17992.

Part III: The Surface Survey
Chapter 15: Ph. P. Betancourt: Introduction to the Surface Survey, 1936.

Chapter 16: L. Onyshkevych, W.B. Hafford: Topography of the Chrysokamino 
Region, 197204.

Chapter 17: Ch. R. Floyd, A Summary of the Habitation Site at 
Chrysokamino-Chomatas, 20514.

Chapter 18: Ph. P. Betancourt, Ch. R. Floyd: Edith Hall抯 Excavations in 
the Theriospelio Cave, 21520.

Chapter 19: D.C. Haggis, Chrysokamino in Context: A Regional Archaeological 
Survey, 22132.

Chapter 20: Ph. P. Betancourt: The geographic Boundaries of the 
Chrysokamino Farmstead Territory, 23340.

Chapter 21: Ph. P. Betancourt: Land Use on the Chrysokamino Farmstead, 
24156.

Chapter 22: Ph. P. Betancourt: Survey Conclusions, 25780.

Appendixes Appendix A: G.H. Myer, Ph. P. Betancourt: Petrography and X-Ray 
Diffraction Analysis of Slags and Furnace Chimneys, 28192.

Appendix B: Y. Bassiakos: SEM/EDAX Analysis, 2938.

Appendix C: Z. Stos, N. Gale: Lead Isotope and Chemical Analysis of Slags 
from Chrysokamino, 299320.

Appendix D: S.C. Ferrence, Ch. P. Swann: Arsenic Content of Copper Prills: 
A Study Applying PIXE, 3214.

Appendix E: Ch. M. Thompson: Slag Analysis by Wavelength Dispersive 
Spectrometry, 3258.

Appendix F: Y. Bassiakos, M. Catapotis: Reconstruction of the Copper 
Smelting Process at the Chrysokamino Bases on the Analysis of Ore and Slag 
Samples, 32954.

Appendix G: Ph. P. Betancourt, L. Onyshkevych, W.B. Hafford: Register of 
Anthropogenic Features, 35576.

Appendix H: Ph. P. Betancourt: The Minoan Pottery from the Survey, 37790.

Appendix I: S.C. Ferrence, E.B. Shank: Evidence for Beekeeping, 3912.

Appendix J: N. Poulou-Papadimitriou: The Byzantine to Ottoman Pottery from 
the Survey, 3938.

Appendix K: B. Crowell, Ph. P. Betancourt: The Excavation of Cave AF 9 and 
Terrace AF 22b, 399402.

Appendix L: E. Nodarou: Soils and Sediments from Natural Deposits at 
Chrysokamino, 40312.

Appendix M: R.F. Beeston, J. Palatinus, C. Beck, E.C. Stout: Organic 
Residue Analysis of Pottery Sherds from Chrysokamino, 41328.

Appendix N: E. Nodarou: Petrographic Analysis of Two Final Neolithic Sherds 
from the Chrysokamino Metallurgy Location, 42932.


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