Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Site of Vratitsa, Eastern Bulgaria. Definition, Chronology and its Aegean affinities.

by Rositsa Hristova,
9 March 2011

Published March 9, 2011
Type Uncategorized
Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Site of Vratitsa, Eastern Bulgaria. Definition, Chronology and its Aegean affinities.

The site is located along the route of the “Trakia” Highway and administratively belongs to the village of Vratitsa, municipality of Kameno. It is situated in the field called Aladinova Chesma (Aladin’s Fountain), 1.5 km northeast of the village. This is an area of low hills and the region is well watered. In geographical terms, this area is part of the Burgas Plain, which forms a region on its own within the Black Sea climatic sub-zone. The site occupies a gentle slope facing south-southwest and is situated at the western edge of the plain where the southern terrace of the Karnobat Hills starts (Map 1).

It was investigated within two archaeological seasons: 2003 and 2004. The excavation area was arbitrary divided into two sectors, Eastern and Western, divided by a small gulley. Nine graves were excavated from a necropolis located in the northwestern part of the Eastern Sector. Some of the grave pits were marked by stones arranged in circles. The necropolis possibly spread further north beyond the area of to rescue excavations (Лещаков – Христова Михайлов 2010, 22-24).

The pottery presented in this report originates mainly from the brown soil layer just below the topsoil documented in the eastern sector. The layer had relatively fine structure and thickness which varied from 0.05-0.10 m to 0.40-0.50 m. It was disturbed by later Iron Age, Roman and medieval constructions (Момчилов – Дражева Михайлов 2005, 51-52; Момчилов 2007, 22-25). Traces of earlier habitation have not been found.

Bronze Age material was discovered also in some of the excavated pits or as individual deposits together with single fragments of plaster, animal bones and charcoals. Excavations proved that the cultural layer was quite homogeneous and differentiation of building levels and layers was impossible. Houses or other domestic constructions could not be certainly identified, and, as no vessels were placed in the graves, defining phases or stages is too hazardous. For this reason the present collection is here analysed as a single assemblage, which will inevitably influence any suggested dating. The pottery can likely be assigned to a longer time-span, reflecting the whole period of habitation.

The vessels from Vratitsa were produced in two techniques: hand-made and on a quick potter’s wheel. The latter are considered to be imports because of the nature of the Thracian LBA ceramic production. Nevertheless, certain features, such as contents of the paste, additional coating, etc., suggest that some of the vessels might have been locally produced. This, however, cannot be proved without appropriate analyses and will be the subject of a future publication. For that reason the analysis below confines only to hand-made vessel fragments.

Major technological criteria comprise colour, inner and outer surface treatment, paste inclusions, characteristics of the core, existence or absence of a slip (Banning 2000, 164-166; 174-176; 178-180). Hand-made vessels with brown surface, sometimes with grey stains, or grey surface with brown stains dominate the analysed assemblage. Few fragments display black, red or beige colours. Cores display a huge variety: one-, two-, three- or multi-layered breaks which betray different firing conditions (Orton, Tyers, Vince 1993, 134).

Analysis allows for distinguishing of four principal groups of clay paste (“clay” in short) of which vessels were made: very fine, fine, coarse and very coarse clay. Fragments of coarse clay prevail. The following inclusions (tempering) have been attested: quartz particles of different sizes, light and dark mica, chamotte and organic materials (documented mainly as tiny straw impressions). Inclusions in the clay were defined only under direct macroscopic observation. Light and dark mica are natural admixtures as they are present in all fragments regardless of the shape and function of the vessel. Quartz sand particles, chamotte and organic material are considered as additional, introduced on purpose by the potters.

Light and dark mica, and sand grains of small and medium size, often mixed with chamotte and organic particles, comprise the contents of fine clay. Plates, bowls, jugs, cups and kantharoid vessels were made of such clay. Their surface is smoothed or burnished. Incised and Furchenstich decoration is typical of these vessels.

Light and dark mica and tiny sand grains in lower concentration comprise the contents of the very fine clay. Fragments of this kind of clay belong only to wheel-made bowls. Their surface is well smoothed. Horizontal handles rising up above the mouth with peculiar lower parts are characteristic of this category of vessels.

Coarse clay is characterized by higher concentration of medium- and small-size quartz grains, mica, chamotte and organic particles. Smoothed inner and outer surface is common. Amphroraе, kantharoid shapes, pots and piraunoi prevail among the discussed vessel fragments. These vessels are usually decorated by a relief band with cuts and finger imprints, only with cuts and finger imprints, relief applications, lugs and knobs.

Very coarse clay includes light and dark mica, medium- and big-size sand grains in higher concentration, chamotte and organic particles. Most of the fragments originate from piraunoi, pithoi and big pots. Fragment surfaces are usually only slightly smoothed. Decoration is only rarely applied: cuts/ finger imprints, plain relief bands, or relief bands with cuts and finger imprints.

According to function, vessels can be>A Plates, B Bowls, C Jugs, D Cups, Е Kantharoid vessels, F Amphora-like vessels, G Pots, H Storage vessels, I Double vessels, K Lids, L Piraunoi.

A Plates: Plates are table ware used for serving food (Лещаков 1988, 7). Fragments of open shapes are rare compared to other vessel categories. They were produced of fine and coarse clay. Their surfaces are well smoothed or burnished, of brown, brown-reddish, grey or black-grayish colour. Breaks are one- two- or multi-layered. A small number of graphically reconstructible vessels were used for the creation of the initial>

B Bowls: Bowls are deeper and more closed table vessels than plates. Although both vessel categories are associated with food consumption, certain differences in their function are suggested: bowls were used for distribution of food, while plates – for consumption (Лещаков 1988, 7). They were produced of fine and very fine clay. Vessel surfaces are brown, gray, and sometimes brown with grey stains. Inner or outer surfaces are well smoothed or burnished. Breaks are one- two- or multi-layered. Bowls of slightly bi-conical, spherical and semi-spherical shapes prevail.

Slightly bi-conical bowls have handles rising up above the everted mouth rim which is rounded or thinned. Only fragment No. 1 (Fig. 2: 5) among the five published herein examples (Fig. 2: 1-5) is wheel-made. It is thin-walled, brown-reddish in colour, made of well refined clay and has turning traces inside. The rest of the fragments are thick-walled with inclusions of larger limestone particles and minimal quantity of organic materials. Spherical bowls can be differentiated according to their mouth rim: spherical bowls (or kantharoid vessels) with upright rounded rim (Fig. 3: 5), spherical bowls with beveled rim (Fig. 3: 4), and spherical bowls with everted rounded rim (Fig. 3: 1-3). Semi-spherical bowls with everted rim and thinned lip dominate the discussed category of vessels (Fig. 3: 6).

C Jugs: Few of the discovered fragments can be associated with jugs. They can be recognized by the beveled rim, the fragments of vertical handles and the peculiar profiles of some of the vessels. They were mainly produced of fine clay. Surfaces are brown, grey or black-grayish in colour, well smoothed or burnished outside and/or inside. Breaks are one- two- or multi-layered.

Most of the jugs have spherical body, short neck and rounded everted rim (Fig. 4: 1-2) or spherical body, elongated neck and rounded everted rim (Fig. 4: 3). Their shape and decoration with knobs are an important source for the site chronology.

D Cups: Sizes, body shapes and everted mouth rims testify to the major function of the cups as drinking vessels (Hochstetter 1984, 66). They were produced of fine and coarser clay paste. Surfaces are of brown, gray and black-grayish colour, and well smoothed or burnished outside and/or inside. Breaks are one-, two-, three or multi-layered. Body shape and mouth diameter are the major criteria for differentiation of the cup principle>

S-shaped cups have thinned (Fig. 5: 4, 5), or thickened (Fig. 5: 7) lip, or profiled jutting rim (Fig. 5: 6). Cups in the shape of inverted truncated cone have flaring thinned (Fig. 5: 1) or rounded rim (Fig. 5: 2). There are isolated examples of cylindrical cups with rounded rim: the only cup preserved intact from the site belongs to this type (Fig. 4: 4). Spherical cups with flaring mouth and thinned lip are typical of the assemblage (Fig. 5: 3).

E Kantharoid vessels: These are table ware produced of fine and coarser clay. Surfaces are well smoothed, often burnished, of brown, gray or black-grayish colour. Breaks are one-, two-, three or multi-layered (Fig. 6: 1-6). Two major shapes prevail: spherical and bi-conical. Spherical kantharoid vessels dominate the assemblage. Two types can be distinguished among them: spherical kantharoid vessels with short conical neck and flaring mouth (Fig. 6: 5), and spherical kantharoid vessels with flaring mouth (Fig. 6: 4). Rounded rim is characteristic of the bi-conical kantharoid vessels (Fig. 6: 6).

F Amphora-like vessels: Shape characteristics of these vessels undoubtedly point out to their function as liquid storage and transportation containers (Hochstetter 1984, 48). Fragment surfaces are brown, gray or black-grayish in colour. The type of vessels is recognized by mouths fragments, lugs, knobs, and a plain relief band located at the transition between body and neck (Fig. 11: 5-8). Vertical handles situated at the maximum body diameter are also an evidence for such vessel shapes. A more precise>

G Pots: Pots as kitchen ware were used mainly for cooking. They are the most numerous vessels in the ceramic assemblage of the site (Fig. 8 and 9; Hochstetter 1984, 141). They were made of coarse and very coarse clay paste. Fragments of brown colour outside and inside, sometimes with gray stains, prevail. Breaks are one-, two-, three or multi-layered. Vessels are decorated with plain plastic bands. Sometimes bands bear oval finger imprints, oblique incisions, or only finger imprints and incisions. Usually these bands are situated outside on the mouth rim or below it. The following types have been distinguished according to the shapes of the vessels and their mouths: bee-hive-shaped pots with beveled rim (Fig. 8: 10) or everted rounded rim (Fig. 8: 11); pots of S-shaped profile and rounded rim (Fig. 8: 4-7), with everted and thinned lip (Fig. 8: 8), or with beveled lip (Fig. 8: 9). Isolated pot fragments display thickened rim both outside and inside (Fig. 8: 3), as well as crescent-shaped handles below the rim. According to the rim and the lip the latter are divided into: low-neck pots with crescent-shaped handles below straight rims (Fig. 8: 1), and pots with tapering walls, crescent-shaped handles below straight mouths and rounded lips (Fig. 8: 2).

Pots with tapering walls prevail. They display a variety of mouth rims: rounded (Fig. 9: 4), slightly out-curving (Fig. 9: 5), or beveled (Fig. 9: 6). Low-neck spherical pots form an individual group, among which pots with flattened (Fig. 9: 1) or rounded (Fig. 9: 2-3) rims are distinguished.

H Storage vessels: Shapes and fabric testify to the food storage function of the vessels (Александров 2002, 71). They were made of very coarse clay. Fragments of brown colour, both outside and inside, sometimes with gray stains, prevail. A small number of vessels display colours of the red, gray and beige tinge. Surfaces are barely smoothed; probably roughness was intentional for a better cohesion. Breaks are one-, two-, three or multi-layered. Some of the fragments were identified by their plain plastic band (Fig. 11: 1-4). Storage vessels are attested in small numbers. Conical, bee-hive- and S-shaped storage vessels can be distinguished (Fig. 10: 4, 5). They show a variety of mouth rims: straight (Fig. 10: 2), jutting and thickened inside (Fig. 10: 3), as well as thinned (Fig. 10: 1).

I Double vessels: Only one fragment was identified among the Vratitsata assemblage that can be associated with the LBA typical double vessels, or the so-called “saltcellars”. Identification of such vessels is only possible when the spot of the junction of the two parts is preserved, or by fragments of their specific handles.

Numerous fragments of vertical handles (Fig. 12: 5-9) could be an evidence for the existence of cups, jugs and kantharoid vessels, while horizontal handles of the “Assenovets” type (Fig. 12: 1-4) and several spouts (Fig. 13: 1-2) suggest use of plates.

Reconstruction of the above vessel shapes is also possible by base fragments. Bases of all kinds of vessels are divided into: flat flanged bases, just flat bases; concave flanged or non- flanged bases; ring foot; hollow or solid stem (Fig. 14: 1-10).

Piraunos is a generic term for portable cooking equipment known to scholarship as “portable hearths with or without embedded vessel” (Fischl – Kiss Kulcsár 2001, 126). Piraunos fragments were found in significant numbers at the site and should therefore be dealt with separately here. They belong to coarse and very coarse pottery. Brown surfaces prevail, sometimes with gray stains because of sooty vessel walls. Single fragments were discovered of gray, beige or reddish colour. Breaks are one-, two-, three or multi-layered. Most examples have medium- to fine smoothed inner and outer surfaces, or are rough inside. Although rare, there are burnished fragments. Wall thickness varies between 0.7 cm and 2.6 cm at different parts of the piraunoi.

Discovered were parts of the built in vessels (Fig. 17: 1-4), fragments of stands, central (Fig. 18: 1-7) and ventilation openings (Fig. 19: 1-5), parts of the transition between the embedded vessel and the stand (Fig. 19: 6-8), as well as bases (Fig. 20: 1-11). Only one fragment from the entire assemblage preserved part of the embedded vessel with its vertical handle and the transition to the stand which allow a reconstruction (Fig. 15: 1, 2).

Ventilation openings of the piraunoi from the Vratitsa site have round (diameters between 2 cm and 4.5-5.0 cm), triangular and ellipsoid shapes (Fig. 16: 2). These might have been chosen according to the form and function of the piraunoi, or to match the individual taste of the potter. Combinations of two or more kinds of openings on one stand are also possible. Width and height of central openings is hard to determine. There is no decoration around most of the openings, but sometimes there are finger imprints, pricks and cuts (Fig. 18: 1-7). Decoration on the built in vessels of the piraunoi is similar to that of the pots (Fig. 17: 1-4). Decoration at the middle of the stands is only rarely attested (Fig. 22: 1-2). The major problem here is differentiating between fragments of the embedded vessels of the piraunoi and those of pots as there are no applicable specific criteria for that.

After partial graphic reconstruction, the piraunoi from Vratitsa can be>

Few fragments stand out in the assemblage, which have a single or bifurcated tongue-shaped lug inside, about 3 cm below the rim (Fig. 21: 1-4). They were made of coarse clay. Diameters vary between 13.5 cm and 23.5 cm. Decoration consists of slashes on the lip or on the rim outside, and one of the fragments bears an appliqué of combined curved and straight relief bands (Fig. 21: 2). No lid fragments were discovered, so these lugs were not lid supports. Their function is probably similar to the popular andirons widely used in the Bronze Age and later (Лещаков 2003, 69). Upright-walled stands (Fig. 21: 1), stands of spherical (Fig. 12: 4) and flattened spherical shape (Fig. 21: 2) were discovered, as well as stands with highly everted rim (Fig. 21: 3).

Four principle ways of decorations are attested: incised, Furchenstich, relief and pricked decoration (Fig. 22: 3). Plastic decoration prevails in the form of plastic bands with differently rendered finger imprints and cuts. Mainly storage vessels, pots and amphora-like vessels were decorated in this way. Knobs and lugs are typical of amphora-like, kantharoid vessels and jugs. Furchenstich technique, characteristic of LBA ceramic, is attested on fragments from kantharoid vessels, jugs, bowls and cups. Designs with triangles and lozenges are popular while incised circles, dots, pricks and lines fill in the triangles and lozenges in composite patterns (Fig. 13: 3-10). Decoration was applied in the zone of the maximum vessel diameter, below the rim and on the handles. Unfortunately, the fragmentary state of the material does not allow reconstruction of the decorative patterns and compositions. Geometrical designs prevail: dots, cuts, lines, triangles, S-shaped motifs, circles, zigzag and meanders patterns. Use of principal decorative patterns conforms to vessel category. Composite motifs decorated fine vessels, while simpler ones (plastic bands, knobs and cuts) were applied on coarse and thick-walled vessels.

Ceramic Parallels and Date of the Assemblage
Fragments of open vessels are relatively rare compared to the rest of the vessel shapes. Plates in the shape of inverted truncated cone with everted and thinned lip find parallels in the ceramic assemblage of a site in the plot called “Zaportite Sai”, disctrict of Chirpan (Иванова Тодорова 1999, фиг.1: 3). Fragments of S-shaped plates with everted and thinned lip are similar to those from Agios Mamas 13 (Horejs 2007, Taf. 2: 1256; Taf. 4: 1190), while spherical plates with rounded rim are analogous to those from Kastanas 17 (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 14: 9) and from the site in the locality of “Zaportite Sai”, disctrict of Chirpan (Иванова Тодорова 1999, фиг. 1: 6,8).

Fragments of horizontal handles find numerous parallels in the pottery of different LBA sites. Handles of the “Assenovets” type, characteristic of the period, are known from sites in the Upper Thracian Plain (Иванова Тодорова 1999, фиг. 11: 1), in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains (Nekhrizov 1995, 313, fig. 3: 27), along the Tundzha valley (Lichardus u.a. 2002, 149 Abb. 2: 1, 3, 4); they are also known from plates from Kastanas 18 (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 8: 3), as well as from different levels at Agios Mamas (Horejs 2007, Taf. 33: 8; Taf. 84), etc.

Fragments belonging to bowls of slightly bi-conical profile and handles rising above the rim find parallels in Troy VI vessels: shapes А 58, А 60 and А 61 after C. Blegen (Blegen u.a.1953, Pl. 292a). Shape А 61 is not attested in the earliest deposit at Troy VI, but became characteristic of the following architectural phases Troy VIb/c. This shape includes several variants of carinated bowls, one of which displays smoother outlines (Pavúk 2002a, 44 Abb. 7: 22; Koppenhöfer 2002, Abb. 17: 1-7). Type А 61 is known along the entire western Anatolian coast: Pergamon, Limantepe, Selcuk, as well as from inland sites: Eskişehir and Gordion (Pavúk 2002a, 44; Koppenhöfer 2002, 361, Abb. 49). It is yet unclear how long this shape was in use. During Troy VId, e, f it was slightly changed and replaced by А 99 and the similar А 60, which continued until Troy VIIa. The change is characteristic of the sea coast where ceramic development has always been more dynamic, shapes changed every 100 years, while inland ceramic assemblages were more conservative (Pavúk 2002a, 42-44, 53, Abb. 5; Pavúk 2002b, 105). Characteristic of the Vratitsa ceramic assemblage are also spherical bowls with varying upper parts. Spherical bowls with flaring rounded rim are typical of Kastanas 19 (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 3: 1).

Knobs on high handles were uncommon at Troy VIb/c and appear only later, during Troy VI d, e and f and are characteristic of shape А 99 (Pavúk 2002a, 53). Similar handles were discovered inland at Becesultan IVc (Lloyd Mellaart 1965, 107, fig. P15: 1-3).

At this stage of research we can state that the Vratitsa vessels find parallels mostly in Troy VIb/c, which would date them back to 1700 BC at the earliest (Late Helladic І) according to the High Aegean chronology, or to 1600-1400 BC according to the traditional chronology (Pavúk 2007). Their correct definition as imports or imitations is hampered by the lack of similar pottery published from other sites in Thrace, as well as by the nonexistence of clay analyses.

Jugs are represented only by a few fragments, such as No. 67 (Fig. 4: 3), which is distinctive of the developed phase of the final LBA (Овчаров – Лещаков – Димитров Коджаманова 2008, Обр. 5: А7).

Cups in the shape of inverted truncated cone with everted rounded rim are similar to those from Koprivlen (Александров 2002, фиг. 15: 1), while spherical cups with everted thinned lip are identical with a published example from Sandanski dated to 1150-1100 BC or LH III (Alexandrov – Petkov Ivanov 2007, Tabl. 8: 20).

Kantharoid vessels with spherical body, short conical neck and flaring rim find parallels in the assemblages of sites in northern Macedonia: Kastanas 17 (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 13: 5; 18: 1; 27: 8;), as well as those along the Mesta valley: Koprivlen (Aлександров 2002, 329, фиг. 14: 5-8; 334, фиг. 23: 1, 5) and further south: Agios Mamas 7 (Horejs 2007, Taf. 44: 2015). Kantharoid vessels with spherical body and out-curving rim find parallels in the vessel known from the Manchova Mogila Tumulus, near the village of Malka Detelina (Кънчев 1991, обр. 4: б), while kantharoid vessels with incurved rounded rim match those from Agios Mamas 7 (Horejs 2007, Taf. 52: 9442).

Amphora-like vessels can be differentiated in date according to their silhouette. Vessels with clearly differentiated parts are typical of the beginning of the LBA, while smooth, elegantly curving forms prevail at the end of the LBA and the beginning of the EIA (Hochstetter 1984, 48). Amphora-like vessels of spherical shape, funnel-like rim and well distinguished neck are the most numerous of this category and find parallels at Agios Mamas 7 (Horejs 2007, Taf. 38: 4004; Taf. 39: 4257) and Kastanas 18 (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 10: 1).

Observations on technology, shape and decoration of the pots show low degree of standardization. Their big number can be explained by the fact that they were the most popular kitchen ware of low quality (Нехризов Цветкова 2008, 347). Pots present similar shapes and decoration for a long period of time. The appearance of crescent-like handles suggests a late date for part of this ceramics: 1100 BC (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 100: 1; 84: 4).

Fragments of storage vessels with a plastic band have closer analogy with vessels from Drama-Kayryaka, typical of the Plovdiv-Cherkovna stage (Lichardus et al. 2002, 149 Abb. 10: 1, 3).

Double vessels are a distinctive feature of the LBA kitchen equipment. They are attested at different LBA sites (Александров 2002, 72; Вълчанова 1984, 48; Филипов 1976, 13; Nekhrizov 1995, Fig. 3: 25; Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 4: 1; 30: 3; 44: 1), and their number decreased in the EIA (Hochstetter 1984, 175).

It is difficult to determine the precise date of the “piraunos” type portable equipment. It belonged to the typical inventory of the Bronze Age societies that lived in the Balkans. Long life of some of its variants in different regions and the domination of one of the principle types, suggests that their distribution cannot always be an evidence for an import, but rather reflected the adoption of foreign culture and application of isolated foreign elements on local shapes (Romsauer 2003, 171). Piraunos fragments found in Bulgaria date to LBA (Horejs 2007, Taf. 133), but also the entire Iron and Hellenistic Ages (Ханджийска 2005, 711).

The way of shaping the ventilation openings at the border between the built-in vessel and the stand finds parallel in similar equipment at Kastanas (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 229), Assiros (Wardle, Wardle 2007, Pl. 15) and Maňa in Slovakia (Romsauer 2003, Tab. V: 1b), to be distinguished from those rendered plastically and with elongated body, known from sites in the territory of the present-day Slovakia (Romsauer 2003, Tab. II and Tab. III 1a,b). Piraunoi with single or double tongue-shaped handles are known from sites near Novi Sad (Voivodina), Füzesabony and Jászdózsa – Kápolnaholom in Hungary (Romsauer 2003, Tab. XII: 3, 4; XV: 1b; XLIII: 7). Central openings with relief decoration of finger imprints match those from Maňa (Slovakia), Verbicioara and Ciceu Corobia in Romania (Romsauer 2003, Tab. Ia,b; Tab. XXI 4a; Tab. XXII 1). Jutting out border around the central opening resembling a plastic band reminds of the technique used for the piraunoi from Perivolaki (Horejs 2007, Taf. 130: S8) and Kastanas (Hochstetter 1984, Taf. 102: 5). The site at Vratitsa yielded the only two fragments with upright walls, wide and shallow finger imprints on the rim of the embedded vessel, which find parallel in analogous items from Košice-Barca (Romsauer 2003, Tab. X: 1).

Decoration varies on different kinds of vessels. Several fragments bear parts of lozenges, one of the principal elements in the decorative patterns produced by Furchenstich technique in the area of the Upper Thracian Plain and Eastern Rhodope Mountains (Nekhrizov 1995, 313, fig. 3: 34; 319 fig. 4: 51, 54; Лещаков 1990, 14, обр. 20). The design of inscribed meanders in a lozenge is quite characteristic of kantharoid vessels and jugs. Similar composite lozenges are known from a number of sites (Nekhrizov 1995, 319, fig. 4: 51; Иванова Тодорова 1999, фиг. 10: 13; Hochstetter 1984, Taf.1: 7; Nikov 2001, 77 Fig. 3: d). The decoration of the only completely preserved small cup is similar to that of a cup from the village of Golyama Detelina (Nikov 2001, 77 Fig. 4: f), where triangles, lozenges and spirals are also elements of a more complicated pattern.

Decorative designs of circles, hanging and upright triangles, solar motifs, spirals and lozenges produced by Furchenstich technique do not differ from those known from LBA sites in the neighbouring regions, but their compositions are different and they do not find exact parallels among the known examples from the Eastern (Лещаков 1990, 1-17; Nekhrizov 1995, 309-325) and Central Rhodope Mountains (Кисьов 1993, 2, 6, 8-10), as well as from the Upper Thracian Plain (Бориславов 2002, 32-44).

Chronological chart of ceramic production development at the site cannot be created because of the insignificant number of entirely preserved vessel shapes and lack of stratigraphy. Spouted vessels for pouring liquids, bi-conical bowls with handles rising above the rim and several low-foot bases speak in favour of the date as early as 17th century BC. The “Assenovets” type of handles, crescent-shaped handles, knobs created by pushing inside out testify to the existence of a later date of habitation as well: 13th – 12th century BC. The discovery of ceramic fragments of different LBA phases in one layer, the lack of destructions of residential buildings and domestic equipment give grounds to some scholars to interpret the site as a dump, possibly belonging to some nearby significant settlement (Leshtakov 2007, 457).

Translated by Maya Vassileva

The author is grateful to D. Momchilov (Museum of History – Karnobat) and Ts. Drazheva (Regional Museum of History – Burgas) for the opportunity to work with and publish the pottery from the rescue excavations at the site. Identification and dating of the material were done by K. Leshtakov whom I would like to thank for his help and advice.


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Cite this article (MLA style):

Hristova, R. “Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Site of Vratitsa, Eastern Bulgaria. Definition, Chronology and its Aegean affinities..” 9 Mar. 2011. In: Horejs, B. – Pavúk, P. (eds.): Aegean and Balkan Prehistory. (29 Aug. 2019).