Early Minoan Absolute Chronology
In the determination of Aegean and thus, to some extent, south-east
European chronology Minoan Crete has always played a crucial part. This
has been so because, through Egyptian and Near Eastern links, Minoan
chronology is fairly secure from the beginning of Middle Minoan around
2000 B.C.
But the dating of the period before 2000 B.c., the Early Minoan or
pre-palatial period, has been subject to much discussion. The writer, among
others 1, has argued for a long chronology, based chiefly on two independent
classes of evidence, the many links between Early Minoan I pottery and
that of the Troy I and immediately preceding north-west Anatolian cultures 2
and imported and imitated Egyptian stone vases in EM contexts '.
1 S. Weinberg, Aegean Chronology: Neolithic Period and Early Bronze Age, AJA
51 (1947) 165-82. The Relative Chronology of the Aegean in the Stone and Early Bronze
Ages, in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (ed. R.W. Ehrich. 1965) 306-8.
M.S.F. Hood, The Early and Middle Minoan Periods at Knossos, BICS 13 (1966) 110-1.
e. Renfrew, Crete and the Cyclades before Rhadamanthus, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 125-30.
2 Weinberg, AJA 51 (1947) 178-9. A. Furness, Some Early Pottery of Samos,
Kalimnos and Chios, PPS 22 (1956) 173-212. Renfrew, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 117.
P. Warren, The Flirst Minoan Stone Vases and Early Minoan Chronology, Kr. Khron. le'
(1965) 37-8. The Early Bronze Age Chronology of Crete, Actes du VIIe Congres International des Sciences Prehistoriques et Protohistoriques, Prague, 21-27 aout 1966 (ed.
J. Filip. 1970) 609-10. Crete, 3000-1400 B.e. Immigration aoo the Archaeological
Evidence, in Bronze Age Migrations in the Aegean Region (ed. R.A. Crossland and
A. Birchall. 1973) 41-50.
3 Warren, Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 28-36, Id., Minoan Stone Vases (1969) 2, 106,
110 no. C 1, 111-2 no . G 4. The Early Bronze Age Chronology, supra n. 2, 608-9.
Peter W!l>l.1ren
A date of c. 2800 B.c. for the beginning of Troy I would be accepted
by most archaeologists today on the basis of south-east European, radiocarbondated ceramic links 4 and imported Early Helladic II or contemporary Early
Cycladic painted fragments in middle and late Troy I contexts s. EH II will
have begun around or somewhat before the middle of the third millennium
on the evidence of the calibrated EH II dates from Eutresis and Lerna 6.
Accordingly, with Troy I beginning around 2800 B.C. and some EM I links
being with pre-Troy I material, the beginning of full EM I (ceramically
pattern-burnished and the earliest red-on~buff and white-on-red painted
wares) may be set around 3000 B.C.
The second line of evidence, imported and imitated Egyptian stone vases,
gives some confirmation of the length of the EM period. A pyxis of Chephren
diorite (therefore probably Vlth Dynasty or earlier) from the large circular
tomb at A. Triadha 7, which was in use from EM ll-MM I Bill, and a
fragment of an early Dynastic or Old Kingdom diorite bowl from EM II
houses at Knossos 8 demonstrate by their contexts links between Crete and
Egypt during the island's Early Bronze Age 9. Next there is the evidence of
~ J. Mellaart, Anatolia and the Balkans, Antiquity 34 (1%0) 273-5 (pottery).
G.!. Georgiev, Beitrage zur Erforschung des Neolithikums und der Bronzezeit in Siidbulgarien, Archaeologia Austriaca 42 (1967) 90·144, especially Section H. E. Neustupny,
Absolute Chronology of the Neolithic and Aeneolithic Periods in Central and SouthEast Europe H, Archeologicke rozhledy 21 (1969) 783-810, especially 802-3 and 805,
with Tables 2-3. It is quite dear that Troy I is early in view of the caJibrated C-14
dates for the beginning of classical Baden (c. 3350 B.C.) and Rivnac (c. 299'0 B.c.).
c. Renfrew, The Autonomy of the South-East European Copper Age, PPS 35 (1969)
12-47, especially 24-8 (pottery and dates). Sitagroi, radiocarbon and the prehistory of
south-east Europe, Antiquity 45 (·1971) 275-&2, especially 27'8-8,1 (dates).
5 C.W. Blegen, J.L. Caskey, M. Rawson and J. Sperling, Troy I (1950) 54 & figs.
251-2. Cf. approximately contemporary pieces from Poliochni, L.B. Brea, Poliochni I
(1964) 553, 585, 650 & pIs. LXXXa (Blue Phase), CXXIXc & CXXXg (Green Phase), and
from Thermi, W. Lamb, Excavations at Thermi in Lesbos (1936) 90 & fig. 524. Cf.
Renfrew, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 128-9.
6 Infra n. 48. For calibratioc. see p. 2-11·213.
7 L. Banti, La Grande Tomba a Tholos di Haghia Triada (Creta), Annuario 13-14
(1930-1) 182 fig. 46 (HM 666). Warren, Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 33-4 no. 29 & pI. A 4.
MSV 111-2 no. G 4.
8 Warren, MSV 106, 110 no. C 1. It is possible that the thirty-one other PredynasticVIth Dynasty stone vases from Crete (op. cit. 108-12) arrived at the time of thcl'r floruit
in Egypt, i.e. throughout EM, rather than later when the types had long passed out of use.
9 On certain Egyptian stone vases from Crete two important negative points must
be noted. The famous IHrd Dynasty syenite bowl found in the South Propylaeum at
Knossos (Evans, PM I 65 & fig. 28. Warren, Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 36. MSV 109
no. A 7) has been used as evidence for the approximate contemporaneity of the HIrd
Dynasty with the subneolithic of Crete (F. Matz, Zur agaischen Chronologie der frohen
Bronzezeit, Historia 1 (1950) 192-4. Cf. F. Schachermeyr, Die orientalisch-mittelmeeri-
Radiocarbon Dating
two Egyptian mInIature stone vase forms popular in the Vlth Dynasty
. (c. 2347-2182 B.c.), through the VIlth and VIllth Dynasties (2182-c. 2160
B.c.) and First Intermediate Period to the end of the Xlth Dynasty (c. 21601991 B.c.) 10 and early Middle Kingdom. These two forms are imitated
contemporaneously in Crete during later EM Il to MM r 11. Hence later
EM Il, EM III and MM I A must run roughly parallel with the Vlth
Dynasty through the First Intermediate Period into the early Middle Kingdom. Since the Vlth Dynasty ended c. 2182 B.c. and the F.l.P. began
c. 2160 B.c. EM III may have begun about this time. Approximately 2170
B.C. is a reasonable date for the transition from EM Il to EM Ill.
A new piece of evidence has recently been published by V.E.G. Kenna
which seems to give another fix to the chronology at a slightly earlier point.
A silver cylinder from Mochlos Tomb I, where the pottery and other datable
schen Grundlagen der vorgeschichtlichen Chronologie, Praehistorische Zeitschri/t 34-35
(1949-50) 24-6, for the similar argument, that no Egyptian stone vessels in Crete are earlier
than the IIIrd Dynasty, which may be roughly synchronized with the subneolithic of
Crete. This argument rests on Reisner's analysis of the stone vessels (Antiquity 5 (1931)
200-12). But there are now three times as many stone vases as were available to Reisner,
and the earliest are certainly predynastic. See MSV 106-12. Recently the IIIrd Dynasty
bowl has been used again, with untypical obtuseness, by V. MiJ:ojcic, Die absolute
Chronologie der Jungsteinzeit in Siidosteuropa und die ErgebIllisse der Radiocarbon
- (C 14) - Methode, Jahrbuch des Romisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 14
(1967) 16-7). From this starting point the entire EM and subsequent Aegean absolute
chronology has been constructed (cf. Milojcic, ibid.). It must therefore be stated emphatically and, I hope, finally (see Warren, Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 36. MSV 109 no. A 7.
The Early Bronze Age Chronology, supra n. 2, 609) that this piece had no stratigraphical
context whatever (cf. J.D.S. Pendlebury, The Archaeology of Crete (1939) 54), nor was
any claimed for it by mans. The bowl was found" on the borders of the Neolithic and
Subneolithic clay deposit" (Evans, PM I 65), not in the deposit. If one were to guess
at its o!)iginal context it was probably part of the rich deposit of complete stone vessels
from the CentraI Shrine deposit near the South Propylaeum, forming part of the Palace
final destruction material (Evans, PM II 820 sqq.).
Secondly there are the three fragments of stone vessels from the latest Neolithic
houses just below the Centra:! court at Knossos (Evans, PM II 15-17 & figs. 6, 7a, 7c.
Warren, MSV 105-6, 108-12 nos. A 5, A 10, G 6. For the houses see now J.D. Evans,
Neolithic Knossos; the Growth of a Settlement, PPS 37 Part H (Contributions to
Prehistory Offered to Grahame Clark) (1971) 110-3 & pI. VII). They are highly problematical and I think one must finaUy (in MSV ibid. I had inolined towards accepting them
as Egyptian) conclude that they are valueless as chronological ev,idence. Two cannot
now be found and studied, the material of the third is not certainly Egyptian and the
context of the two from the upper house is far from pure final Neolithic (or earliest EM)
(see MSV 109 n. 1).
10 w.e. Hayes, Chronology. Egypt - To End of Twentieth Dynasty, CAH 13 Part I
(1970) 174, 179.
11 Warren, Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 34-5. MSV 71-2, 75-6. One VIth Dynasty jar
was actually imported into Crete, MSV 75, 111 no. F 1. See Addendum Ultimum.
Peter W,arren
objects are EM Il, is considered by him Akkadian and dated c. 2300 B.c.
by the evidence of the Akkadian period 12. 2300 B.c. for a point in EM II
fits well with the chronology presented above and later (p. 212-214) from the
radiocarbon evidence.
Finally there are the imported Xlth-XIlth Dynasty scarabs, whose
earliest clear contexts are MM I A 13, showing that MM I A has begun by
2000 B.c. Definite Minoan features among the silver cups of the Tod
treasure 14 confirm the sequence since the cups themselves, if they are Minoan,
or the imitated features, elaborate arcades and grooves, cannot be earlier than
MMIB. This indicates a beginning for MM I B or MM II A before 1903 or
1895 B.c. (death of Amenembat Il, with whom the treasure was buried).
Other evidence for the length of the Early Minoan period comes from
the stratigraphical sequence and that of homogeneous deposits each distinct
from one another and present on the same site, particularly at Knossos.
The Early Minoan Sequence: a Summary
The sequence of EM I, II and III set out by Sir Arthur Evans 15 and
followed by Pendlebury 16 has been confirmed and amplified by excavations in
the last twenty years. The Kyparissi cave west of Kanli Kastelli contained EM I burials, lasting into early EM II 17. St. Alexiou's Tomb II
at Lebena produced a thick burial deposit with many EM I vases on the floor,
merging to EM II and MM I above 18. Tomb II A was built against Tomb II.
12 V.E.G. Kenna, Anoient Crete and the Use of the Cylinder Seal, AJA 72 (1968)
322-4 & pI. 105 figs. 1-2. The cylinder does not necessarily date the close of EM ll,
as Kenna suggests (ibid. 324), but a point anywhere in the period.
13 J.D.S. Pendlebury, Aegyptiaca (1930) nos. 17-18 (Gournes). St. Alexiou, ILN
6 August 1960 226 fig. 12. Kr. Khron. IE'-ILT' 1 (1961-2) 91 (Lebena). Warren,
Kr. Khron. [email protected]' (1965) 34. Warren, The Primary Dating Evidence for Early Minoan
Seals, Kadmos 9 (1970) 37 & ns. 24-5.
14 For references see Warren, MSV 185 n. 1. Ameneml;at III there should read
Ameneml;at n. With the EM Ill-MM I chronology proposed in the present article
cf. M.S.F. Hood, The Relative Chronology of the Aegean in the Early and Middle
Bronze Ages, Actes du VIle Congres International des Sciences Prehistoriques et Protohistoriques, Prague, 21-27 aout 1966 I (1970) 605-6, who comes to a very similar
dating, arguing back from MM I ceramic connexions.
15 Evans, PM I 56-126.
16 Pendlebury, The Archaeology of Crete (1939) 46-93.
17 St. Alexiou, Protominoikoi taphoi para to Kanli Kastelli Herakleiou, Kr. Kbron .
E' (1951) 275-94.
18 Alexiou, ILN 6 August 1960 225-7. Oi protominoikoi taphoi tes Lebenas kai e
exelexis ton proanaktorikon rythmon, Kr. Kbron. IE'-I:I:T' 1(1961-2) 88-91.
Radiocarbon Dating
It contained an EM II level on the £loor, a sand level above and an MM I
stratum on top 19. M.S.F. Hood's excavations at Knossos in 1957-61 produced
a well below the north-east part of the Palace with a large EM I deposit
containing much pattern~burnished and painted ware, while stratified deposits
of EM II, III and MM I A were recovered alongside the Royal Road northwest of the Palace 20. More recently J.D. Evans has obtained further stratigraphical evidence from the West Court of the Palace, an EM II A house with
a £loor deposit stratified over a Late Neolithic-EM II pit (mainly EM I),
with Late Neolithic levels below the pit 21. In 1972-3 the writer excavated
an EM II A building on the south side of the Royal Road 21a.
In western Crete the cave of Platyvola, though unstratified, contained
classic pottery of EM I, II and III dates in central Cretan terms 22. In 1971
the writer excavated, jointly with J. Tzedhakis, an Early Minoan I-II open
settlement with two stratified phases at Debla, a summit of one of the
foothills of the White Mountains of western Crete, south-west of Khania 23.
In the east of the island useful deposits of EM III and MM I A were found
by L.H. Sackett and M.R. Popham at Palaikastro in 1963 24 • Lastly the settlement at Myrtos on the south coast west of Hierapetra, excavated in 1967-8,
is datable to EM II, phases A and B, and was destroyed at the end of that
period 25. In summary there seems no doubt that Evans' traditional phases
are correct in substance, though needing modification in details 26. Therefore
the virtual abolition of the Early Bronze Age by D. Levi 27 seems unjustified.
Alexiou, Kr. Khron. IE'-I:ET' I (1961-2) 90.
M.S.F. Hood, Stratigraphic Excavations at Knossos, 1957-61, Kr. Khron. IE'-I:ET' I
(1961·2) 92-4. The Early and Middle Minoan Periods at Knossos, BICS 13 (1966) 110-1.
21 P.M. Fraser, Archaeology in Greece, 1969-70, Archaeological Reports for 1969-70
27-8. The writer is grateful to Professor Evans for the opportunity to study and discuss
the EM material with him at Knossos. See Evans, The Early Minoan Occupation of
Knossos, Anatolian Studies 22 (1972) 115-28.
21n Warren, AAA 5 (1972) 392-8.
22 J. Tzedhakis, ADelt. 22 (1967) Khronika 504·6 & pI. 378 ,(, E (EM I), B (EM Il).
ADelt. 21 (1966) Khronika 428-9 & pI. 466 '( (EM HI).
23 Tzedhakis and Warren, Debla. A New Early Minoan Settlement, AAA 5 (1972)
66-72. Warren and Tzedhakis, BSA 69 (1974) 299-341.
24 L.H. Sackett and M.R. Popham, Excavations at Palaikastro VI, BSA 60 (1965)
250·1, 269, 272, 277-8 & pI. 72 b-d.
25 Warren, ILN 17 February 1968 25-7. ILN 8 February 1969 26-7. Myrtos. An
Early Bronze Age Settlement in Crete. Briti'sh School at Athens Supplementary Volume 7
26 Cf. the discussions of the periods in Renfrew, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 114-25.
S. Weinberg, The Relaliive Chronology of the Aegean in the Stone and Early Bronze
Ages, in Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (ed. R.W. Ehrich. 1965) 306-8. Warren,
Kr. Khron. [email protected]' {1965) 14-28.
27 D. Levi, Cronaca d'Arte. Attivita della Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene nel19
Peter Wal'ren
Phaistos in fact has material of all EM periods, though it was for the most
part unstratified 28.
Of .particular importance is the emerging evidence for the prehistory
of western Crete, through the many discoveries of caves by P. Faure 29, the
excavations by J. Tzedhakis at Khania and the caves of Platyvola 30 and the
Mameluke's Hole at Perivolia 31, and by the writer and Tzedhakis at Debla
(see above, and n. 23). Apart from the links of Platyvola with central and
east Crete (see n. 22) another class of pottery is particularly common there
and on other west Cretan sites 32. This is scored, wiped, brushed or combed
ware, where the monochrome red or red/brown smface is wiped or combed
over with brushwood or something similar. It occurs on jugs and bowls
at Debla and at Platyvola again on jugs 33 and on a type of bowl closely
parallel in shape to one in the EM I deposit at Kyparissi~. The close, vertical
red-on~buff pattern of the Kyparissi bowl produces a surface appearance very
similar to that of the scored Platyvola vessel. Equally good evidence for the
date of this ware comes from Knossos where it is common in the Late
l'Anno 1950, Bollettino d'Arte 36 (1951) 340 sqq. L'Archivio di Cretule a Festos, Annuario 35-6 (1957-8) 136 sqq. Per una nuova C1assificazione della Givilt?! Minoica, La
Parola del Passato 15 (1960) 81-121. Ricerca scientifica e polemic a suU'Evoluzione della
Civilt?! Minoica, op. cit. 17 (1962) 206-30. SuI Termine 'Antico-Minoico', op. cit. 18
(1963) 120-5.
28 See A. Zoes, Phaiislliaka, Ephemeris Arkhaiologike (1965) 27-109, especially 53-67.
29 P. Faure, Grottes w:toises, BCH 80 (1956) 98, 102. Speleologie et topographie
cretoises, BCH 82 (1958) 500, 501 n. 4. Nouvelles recherches de speleologie et de
topographie cretoises, BCH 84 (1960) 208, 213-5. Cavernes et sites aux deux extremites
de la Crete, BCH 86 (1962) 43-4, 47-8. Fonctions des cavernes cretoises (1964) 60-1,
68, 71, 200. Recherches sur le peuplement des montagnes de Crete: sites, cavernes et
cultes, BCH 89 (1965) 55, 57. Sur trois sortes de sanctuaires cretois, BCH 93 (1969)
187 n. 4, 188 n. 3, 201-4. Antiques cavernes de refuge dans la Crete de l'ouest, AAA 2
(1969) 213-6. M.S .F. Hood, Minoan Sites in the Far West of Crete, BSA 60 (1965)
30 Alexiou, Kr. Khron. IZ' (1963) 412. ADelt. 19 {1964) Khronika 446 & pI.
523. Faure, BCH 86 (1962) 44. BCH 89 (1965) 55 n. 3. BCH 93 (1969) 201. AAA 2
(1969) 214. Tzedhakis, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 291. Kr. Khron. le' (1965) 297-8.
Kr. Khron. K' (1966) 328-30. ADelt. 20 (1965) Khronika 569 & pI. 719. ADelt. 21 (1966)
Khronika 428-9 & pIs. 465-6. ADelt. 22 (1967) Khronika 504-6 & pI. 378. ADelt. 23
(1968) Khronika 415-6 & pIs. 375 y-S, 376.
31 Tzedhakis, ADelt. 22 (1967) Khronika 506. Ergon (1968) 102-11. Praktika (1968)
133-8 & pIs. 131-8. Faure, BCH 93 (1969) 203.
32 Faure, BCH 93 (1969) 201 n. 2. AAA 2 (1969) 216.
33 Alexiou, ADelt. 19 (1964) Khronika pI. 5,23 a.
34 Khania Museum, Platyvola Case. Alexiou, Kr. Khron . E' (1951) 279 & pI. lI"
tig. 2, 6.
Radiocarbon Dating
Neolithic 35 and on jugs (cf. Debla and Platyvola) in the EM I well 36, Hence
it is of particular interest that this was the type of pottery accompanying
the charcoal in the Ledaka Cave at Melidhoni Apokoronou 37, which has
provided the first radiocarbon date from western Crete.
Radiocarbon Dates and Calibration
The evidence presented above for Early Minoan chronology, absolute and
relative, is reliable but not as sufficient as could be hoped. The north-west
Anatolian ceramic links suggest a date for the start of EM I around 3000 B.c.;
but no one would dispute that there is room for more evidence tor the
absolute date of Troy I. The Egyptian stone vase links are sound, but cannot
be demonstrated by context any earlier than EM II at the earliest. Moreover
the imitating types in Crete mostly come from rather widely dated communal
burial contexts. The scarabs give no help before c. 2133 B.c. (beginning of the XIth Dynasty). The stratigraphical sequence, particularly from
Knossos, Lebena, Myrtos, Palaikastro and Vasilike, is secure, but no single
site has all the EM periods superposed level by level. There is therefore
ample scope for radiocarbon dates to strengthen the chronology.
It is only from very recent excavations that the first results have become
available. We have three Middle-Late Neolirthic transition dates from Knossos 38, one date from a Final Neolithic~EM I scored ware context in the
Ledaka Cave at Melidhoni Apokoronou 39, seven from Myrtos for the end of
EM II 40, one from Knossos from an EM ll-MM I A context 41 and one from
]D. Evans, Excavations in the Neolithic Settlement of Knossos, 1957-60. Part I,
BSA 59 (1964) 225.
Hood, BICS 13 (1966) 110. Kr. Khron. IE'-I:ET' I (1961-2) 93.
The pottery is caUed subneolithic by Faure, BCH 89 (1965) 57, and it included
black polished and scored ware, BCH 85 {1962} 43; the scored ware is again taken as
subneolithic, BCH 93 (1969) 201 n. 2, where its distribution is set out.
38 Evans, PPS 37 (1971) Part II 117. Stratum II represents a transitional phase
from Middle to Late Neolithic at Knossos (Evan~, BSA 59 (1964) 182, 2'25).
39 G. Delibrias, M.T. Guillier and ]. Labeyrie, Saclay Natural Radiocarbon Measurements II, Radiocarbon 7 (1965) 243. Faure, BCH 89 {1<965) 57.
40 V.R. Switsur, M.A. Hall and R.G. West, University of Cambridge Natural Radiocarbon Measurements IX, Radiocarbon 12 (1970) 597 for Q-950 and Q-953. See also
addendum. For full publication and discussion see Warren, Myrtos. An Early Bronze Age
Settlement in Crete (1972) Appendix XV.
41 Evans, Anatolian Studies 22 (1972) 118 n. 2.
Peller W,ll!11ren
an EM Ill/MM I A context (the immediately pre-palatial level) at Mallia 42.
The dates are tabulated in Fig. 1.
Site and context
Laboratory C-14 Age b.c.
number (5568 half-life)
or expected
Knossos: Middle/
Late Neo.
Strata Ill/Il)
Knossos: Middle/
Late Neo.
(Stratum Il)
3638± 145
Knossos: Middle/
Late Neo.
(Stratum Il)
Ledaka Cave:
Late Neo.-EM I
Myrtos: end of EM Il
Myrtos: end of EM Il
Myrtos: end of EM Il
Myrtos: end of EM Il
Myrtos: end of EM Il
Knossos: EM Il-MM lA
c. 26001900 BC
Mania: EM IlI/
c. 21701900 BC
Later 4th
millennium <:.2600 BC
c. 26002170 BC
(EM Il)
Cretan Middle/Late Neolithic and Early Minoan Radiocarbon Dates and Calibrations.
42 G. Delibrias, M.T. Gui:llier and ]. Labeyrie, Gif Natural Radiocarbon Measurements V, Radiocarbon 12 (1970) 441.
Radiocarbon Daring
With the publication of Dr Hans Suess's latest calibration curve 43, given
here as Fig. 2, the historical date ranges can be established. The calibrations
are done as follows: to make proper allowance for the range of years in the
standard deviation in the radiocarbon dates conversion has been done on the
upper and lower limits of the dates and the maximum range thus calculated.
For example, Sa-241: first 2850 (2550 + 300) is converted, giving an upper
limit of c. 3650 B.c. Then 2250 (2550-300) is converted, giving a lower limit
of c. 2950 B.C. Thus the true age range is approximately 3650-2950 B.c.,
i.e. the true or calendrical date of the sample is likely to fall somewhere
within this range. If 2550 itself were converted a rather narrower age range
would result 44, though allowance would not have been made for the standard
deviation. It must also be emphasised in these early days of the application of
dendrochronology to archaeology that the curve should only be taken as a
rough guide to true dates. The suggested maximum and minimum calibrations
make some allowance for this.
The results of the calibrations appear in the final column of Fig. 1.
It is at once apparent that the EM calibrated results, though producing a
rather wide date range, nevertheless fit well with the Early Minoan absolute
chronology determined from archaeological and other radiocarbon evidence
(see n. 4 and ns. 48 and 49) in section I above. Secondly, the C-14 evidence,
though consisting as yet of only 3 Middle/Late Neolithic and 9 Early Minoan
determinations, shows good internal consistency. This is clear from the
sequential list in Fig. 1, while behind this list lies the earlier Neolithic range
of Knossos, again in good sequence (see n. 38).
A chronological table may therefore be presented, combining all the
evidence for the Late Neolithic and Early Minoan, Fig. 3.
Further confirmation of the correctness of the table at the lower, younger
end comes from a group of seven thermoluminescent dates from Myrtos 45.
All are from sherds in final destruction contexts in the settlement (end of
EM II). The sherds from pots made at some time in the life of the
settlement (EM II,c. 2600-2170 RC.), and in all .probability from pots
43 W.F. Libby, Radiocarbon Dating, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society of London, A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences vol. 269 no. 1193 (1970) (A
Symposium on the impact of the natura·l sciences on archaeology) 8 fig. 3, and R. Berger,
op. cit. 31 fig. 2. In each of these figures the 2000-500 B.C. column is unfortunately
numbered 200-500 B.c. Permission to use the curve was kindly granted me by Dr Suess
at the Symposium. For his own publication of it see H.E. Suess, Bristlecone pine calibration of the radiocarbon time scale 5200 B.C. to the present, in LV. Olsson (ed.), Radiocarbon Variations and Absolute Chronology (1970) 303-12.
44 Conversions are done with Figure 2 on the B.P. dates, i.e. 1950 is first added to
the C-14 dates (on the 5568 haM-life).
45 S. Fleming in Warren, Myrtos, supra n. 40, Appendix XIV.
Peter Wal'ren
FIGURE 2. The Suess radiocarbon calibration curve. The figures on the left sides are
radiocarbon years before present (B.P.), on the right calendrical or historical dates B.C.
Radiocarbon dates are expressed as B.P. (the number of radiocarbon years before A.D.
1950) or b.c. Thus 4000 B.P. = 2050 b.c. (4000-1950). For example, to calibrate a C-14
date of 4000 B.P. (2050 b.c.) follow the 4000 B.P. line to the point where it cuts the
curve, then read off, perpendicularly, to the figures on the right side, which produces a
calendar or historical date of c. 2500 B.c.
Radiocarbon >Dating
Chronological Table
Calibrated C-14 and other dates
Late Neolithic
pre-4000 - 3000/2900 B.C.
3660-2950 (Ledaka Cave)
Troy I and earlier north-west Anatolian
Early Minoan I
Egyptian early Dynastic stone vase fragment in BM II Knossos
2960-2150 (Myrtos calibrated C-14)
2580-2170 {Myrtos thermoluminescence)
Early Minoan II
c. 2300 (Mochlossell'l)
Egyptian stone vase (VIth dynasty or earlier) from EM II - MM I A. Triadha
large tomb
EM Ill?
3100-2140 (Mallia calibrated C-14)
F.I.P.-Xllth Dynasty scarabs (Gournes and
or 1895 terminus ante quem for start
of MM I B (T8d treasure links)
FIGURE 3. Late Neolithic and early Minoan chronological table.
made in EM II B (c. 2400-2170 B.c.), the second period, at the end of
which the site was destroyed. The preferred ages of the seven samples
range from 2580-2170 B.c., six out of the seven from 2430-2170 B.C. They
therefore fit extremely well with the archaeological and calibrated radiocarbon
Peter W4U'ren
The combined absolute and relative chronological evidences allow the
dating of the Late Neolithic and Early Minoan 4th-3rd millennium sequence
to be considered fairly secure. This being so a few brief comments may be
made on the wider importance of the chronology.
1) The approximate contemporaneity of Minoan Il with the
Keros-Syros or Early Cycladic II cuLture is known ,from many links in
pottery, metalwork, figurines and stone vases 46. The Keros-Syros culture also
has close connexions with Early Helladic II 47. It is therefore instrucdve that
the EM II chronology, archaeological and calibrated radiocarbon, fits well
with calibrated C-14 dates for EH II Eutresis and late EH II Lerna 48 and
that EM II and EH II thus combine to date absolutely the rich Early Bronze
2 of the Cyclades. The approximate contemporaneity of EH II and EM II
may now be even more clearly seen with the discovery of imported EH II
sauceboats in the EM II A house at Knossos recently excavated by the writer
The beginning of EB 2 in the Aegean must be about 2600 B.c.
(see n. 21
or earlier (note Eutresis especially), while all evidence (-Lerna C-14, Myrtos
C-14 and thermoluminescence, and the well-dated Egyptian stone vase forms
imitated from late EM II to MM I) combines to suggest a date no later
than c. 2170 B.C. for the end of the period through the Aegean. Then in
Crete EM Ill-MM I A dates from c. 2170 - pre-1900 B.C., again fitting well
the radiocarbon sequence from Lerna 49, with imported MM I A pottery in the
earliest Middle Helladic levels so.
2) For the earHer periods, Late Neolithic and Early Minoan I, many
more dates are needed. But already the C-14 evidence from Knossos and
western Crete and the Troy I connexions suggest a transition from Late
Neolithic to Early Minoan in the centuries on each side of 3000 B.C. The
EM I period is roughly contemporary with the EB 1 of Greece and the
46 Renfrew, Kr. Khron. IH' (1964) 120-5. Warren, MSV 27, 76-7, 81-2, 94, 101,
182-3, 185.
47 S. Weinberg, The Relative Chronology, supra n. 1, 302-4. J. Caskey, Greece,
Crete and the Aegean Islands in the Early Bronze Age, CAH (revised edition voI. I
Part 2 (1971)) 781-2, 787-90, 796-9.
48 Eutresis: P-317, 2260±64 b.c. (E.K. Ralph and R. Stuckenrath Jr., University
of Pennsylvania Radiocarbon Dates V, Radiocarbolt 4 (1962) 149), calibrating to c. 29602630 ·B.C. Lerna: P-312, P-318, P-319, P321, ranging from 2120 ± 72 b.c. to
1890 ± 72 (Ralph and Stuckenrath, op. cif. 149-50), calibrating to c. 2950-c. 2170 B.C.
The Eutresis date suggests that EH Il began before, and perhaps well before 2600 B.C.
49 P-.300, P-299, P-303A (Ralph and Stuckenrath, Radiocarbon 4 (1962) 150), calibrating to a range of c. 2510-2120 B.C. From the Greek mainland cf. also a thermoluminescent date of 2{)70 ± 400 B.C. from Lefkandi Phase I (M.J. Aitken, in Philosophical
Transactions, supra n. 43, p. 85). Lefkandzi I is contemporary with EH Ill.
so ].1. Caskey, Exca·vations at Lerna, 1955, Hesperia 25 (1956) 159-60 & pI. 43
Cyclades. The contemporaneity is now beginning to be confirmed by the
calibrated C-14 evidence. Late Neolithic Kephala on Kea has a calibrated
date of c. 3680-3530 B.C. 51 ; Early Helladic I Eutresis dates within c. 34102980 B.c. 52, Troy I period Emborio in Chios within c. 2940-2230 S3 and late
Troy I period Karata~ within c. 3330-2520 B.c. 54.
3) For the Late Neolithic of Crete calibration of the three dates recently
available from Knossos indicates, surprisingly, that full Late Neolithic must
have been under way before 4000 B.C., in that the transitional Middle-Late
Neolithic phase lies a few centuries earlier. The three dates are likely to be
highly reliable in that they are the last in a consistent sequence of thirteen
now published for the whole Knossian Neolithic (see n. 38). The calibrated
date for Late Neolithic (late in the period), pre-Grotta~Pelos Kephala on
Kea confirms the length of the period in the Cyclades, as do the dates for
the earlier site of Saliagos 55. Later still, and again in sequence, comes the
Ledaka Cave from western Crete. Clearly therefore we have a Late and Final
Neolithic development in Crete (and the Cyclades) of at least a thousand years.
Equally clearly there is much more to be learnt about these numerous Cretan
Late Neolithic communities 56, especially their dating. The Phaistos phases 57,
the earliest material from the Eileithyia Cave at Amnisos and perhaps the many
west Cretan caves will date to the second half of the 4th millennium. The
long transition to full EM I is still not clearly defined but the important
Partira group will have come around 3200-2900 B.c. because of its close
pattern-burnish links with Lebena and other EM I groups 58.
4) Finally, and most importantly, a long chronological sequence best
accords with the great economic and social developments from the predomina, c. Greece and the Aegean Islands in the Middle Bronze Age, CAH (revised edition
vol. II) (1973) 125.
51 R. Stuckenrath Jr. and B. Lawn, University of Pennsylvania Radiocarbon Dates
XI, Radiocarbon 11 (1969) 156, P-1280 (2876±56) b.c.).
52 Ralph and Stuckenrath, Radiocarbon 4 (1962) 149, P-307 and P-306.
53 Ralph and Stuckenrath, Radiocarbon 4 (1962) 151-2, P-273.
54 R. Stuckenrath Jr., W.R. Coe and E.K. Ralph, University of Pennsylvania Radiocarbon Dates IX, Radiocarbon 8 (1966) 352-3 for the senies.
55 R. Stuckenrath Jr. in J.D. Evans and C. Renfrew, Excavations at Saliagos near
Antiparos (British School at Athens Supplementary Volume 5) (1968) 144.
56 S. Weinberg, The Stone Age in the Aegean, CAH 13 Part I (1970) 617-8 and Map
17. Faure, AAA 2 (1969) 213-6. R. Treuil, Les sites neolithiques de Crete occidentale,
BCH 94 (1970) 5-25.
57 Cf. now Evans, PPS 37 (1971) Part II 113-4, and, especially, the fundamental
study by Dr Lucia Vagnetti, L'Insediamento neolitico di Festos, Annuario 50-51 (1972-3)
58 The group is now excellently published by Chr. Mortzos, ITap't'~pl'l, pil'l 'ltPW4J,OC;
p.ww~xi);, 'E'ltE't'lJptC; 'Ema't'lJp.ov~xwv 'EPEUVW\I, 'Eav~xov
ma't'1)p.~o',l 'Alh)',Iw',I,
r' (1972) 386-421.
xat Ka'ltoli~a't'p~axov ITIX.VE-
Peller WaIJren
antly troglodytic people of the Cretan Late Neolithic and incipient Early
Minoan to the great builders and craftsmen at the dawn of the Palatial Age.
After the above text was submitted for publication the results of two more C-14
de terminations for Myrtos were communicated to me by Dr V.R. Switsur from the
Cambridge Laboratory. These results complete the Myrtos list and they should be inserted
into Fig. 1 above, Q-952 before and Q-1004 after Q-953. The two dates, like the five
in Fig. 1, are from samples in the final, burnt destruction of the settlement, which is at
the end of EM H. They confirm the chronology of the five Myrtos dates in Fig. 1.
The site has produced, from six different final destruction contexts, seven consistent
dates within a C-14 range of 2292-1770 b.c. at one standard deviation (average 2023
b.c.) and within 2960-2150 B.C. after calibration. The conclusion may be presented
more firmly than in the article above, that the final destruction of the Myrtos settlement,
which equals the end of EaIJly Minoan H, lies before (and perhaps at least fifty years
before) 2150 B.c. S9
Site and context
C-14 Age B.C. Archaeologica,l
(5568 half-life) or expected
date B.C.
Myrtos: end of EM II
c. 26002170 B.C.
(BM H)
Myrtos: end of EM H
This paper was submitted for publication in December 1971 and accepted
in January 1972. The text and references have been brought up to date at proof
stage (November 1975), but to avoid major disruption the addendum has been
retained since the place of the additional dates in figure 1 is clear.
It was also not practicable at proof stage to take full account of a recently
published paper by Professor Keith Branigan, The Absolute Chronology of the
Aegean Bronze Age, Kr. Khron. KE' (1973) 352-74, a paper largely initiated by the
appearance of the Myrtos dates. While I have found much of value in Branigan's
59 For all the Myrtos dates see P. Warren, Myrtos. An Early Bronze Age Settlement
in Crete (British School at Athens Supplementary Volume 7) (1972) 344-5. See also n. 40
above for Q-950 and Q-953. For the remaining samples see V.R. Swlitsur and R.G. West,
Radiocarbon Dating
discussion, which concludes for a somewhat shorter chronology than that proposed
here, I am unable to accept his rejection of dendrochronological calibration (with
a preference for historical dates approximating to the 5730 C-14 half life). I
consider calibration firmly established by the radiocarbon and tree ring scientists,
whatever minor adjustments to the curve may yet have to be made.
Branigan's actual reason for his rejection and his 5730 preference (and on this
reason the whole of the rest of his discussion depends) is that an average of the
seven Myrtos dates (2220-2062, on 5730 half life) corresponds best to his date for
the end of BM II, 2150-2100 B.C. But this latter date depends on a too precise
correlation between Cretan miniature stone amphoras, which begin within EM II,
and Egyptian First Intermediate Period (beginning c. 2170 B.C.) and Middle
Kingdom forms. The type imitated in Crete goes back at least to the Vth Dynasty
(MSV 72 and P 355), so that in fact EM H could end no later than c. 2350 B.C.
(end of Vth Dynasty). See also below.
On the other hand Branigan is certainly right to emphasize the problem that
even within the wide date range produced by caHbration three out of the seven
Myrtos dates have lower limits which are roughly 220 - 370 years earlier than the
conventional date of their context, 2200/2170 B.C. (end of BM II), while it is
hard to believe that this conventional date can be vastly in error.
Secondly, Professor WHliam Ward has rendered me the courtesy of a very
thorough and critical examination of the two Minoan miniature stone forms imitating Egyptian miniature stone forms (see above pp. 206-207 and n. 11) in his book,
Egypt and the East Mediterranean World 2200 - 1900 RC. (1971) 97-105. A
careful reading of his text will show that his conclusions fina'lly emerge as similar
to my own, which he sets out to criticize. I had perhaps put a little too much
chronological weight on the First Intermediate Period parallels, but I did nevertheless show that the Egyptian miniature amphora with high shoulder occurs from
the Vth Dynasty onwards (MSV 72 and P 35.5) and the cylindrical jar with everted
rim and disk base from the VIth Dynasty onwards (Kr. Khron. (1965) 35. MSV 75).
For the former type Ward (op. cit. 104-5 and fig. 19) simply amplifies my evidence
and shows that the series begins with a single example in t:he IVth Dynasty, while
for the ,latter type, the specific miniature form with everted rim and disk base, he
simply confirms my VTth Dynasty evidence (op. cit. 102, 104 and fig. 17, where
it can be clearly seen that it is precisely the VIth - Xth Dynasty examples (Ward's
nos. 8-23, cf. MSV D 230 - D 234) which provide the parallels for the Minoan
In conclusion then we may agree that we have two Minoan forms, beginning
in BM II and in contexts down to MM I, copying Egyptian forms whose floruit
is from the Vth Dynasty onwards (2492 B.C., Hayes) in one case, miniature amphoras, and the VIth Dynasty onwards (2347 RC., Hayes) in the other, cylindrical
jars with everted dm and disk base. This suggests an approximate contemporaneity
between the Egyptian Vth - XIIth Dynasties and somewhere in EM II to MM 1.
This is entirely in harmony with the radiocarbon and thermoluminescent chronology
presented in this article.
University of Cambridge Natural Radiocarbon Measurements X, Radiocarbon 14 No. 1
(1972) 245-6. In this list the Myrtos room numbers should be corrected to read as
follows: Q-951, Room 76. Q-952, Room 79. Q-954, Building 96. Q-1002, Room 32.
Q-1003, Room 22. Q-I004, Room 27. For the rooms see Warren, Myrtos, passim.

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