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Bossed Bone Plaques of the Second Millennium*

  • John D. Evans (a1)

EVER since, in 1893, Paolo Orsi published and described a group of these objects from the necropolis of Cava della Signora, Castelluccio, they have E been generally regarded as of the highest importance for the study of W. Mediterranean prehistory. Orsi himself immediately recognized the parallel with those which had then been recently unearthed by Schliemann at Troy, and since his time the validity of this parallel has been generally admitted by archaeologists. All who have since then treated of the chronological problems of Sicily and the Western Mediterranean lands have accepted them as imports from Troy and a basis for synchronisms between the cultures of the Eastern and Western basins. Despite this, however, no study has as yet been published of these objects in which the Trojan and Sicilian groups have been treated together and closely compared. In 1939 a useful critical analysis of the evidence relative to the three Trojan plaques was published by Bittel, but he did not go on to make a similar study of the Sicilian ones.

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1 See note 3.

2 ‘Einige Bemerkungen zu trojanische Funden’, Marburger Studien, ed. E. SprockhofF, 1938.

3 For nos. 1-6 see Orsi, Bull. Pal. It., Anno xvm, 1892, pp. 155-6, 170-1, and pl. iv, 1 and 2; for no. 7, ibid., Anno XIX, 1893, p. 215. No. 8 was first referred to by Maugini, ‘Scoperte pre istoriche in Sicilia’, Rev. scientifica industriale, 13th April, 1879, but first fully published and described by Orsi, Ausonia, I,1906, p. 6 and fig. 1. For nos. 9 and 10 see Orsi, Bull. Pal. It., Anno XLIV, 1926, pp. 7 and 13, and fig. 4.

Sir T. Zammit, ‘ Third Report on the Tarxien Temple Excavations ‘, Archaeologia, vol. LXX, 1918-20, p. 195 and fig. 19, and idem, Prehistoric Malta, 1930, p. 93 and pl. XXV.

5 This unpublished diary is the property of the excavator’s son, Mr C. G. Zammit, the present Director of the Valletta Museum, who has very kindly allowed me to consult it. For classification of Maltese pottery, see J. D. Evans in P.P.S., XIX, pt. 1, pp. 41-94.

6 John L. Caskey, ‘Excavations at Lerna, 1952-53’, in Hesperia, vol. XXIII, No. 1, Jan.-Mch., 1954, p. 22 and pl. 9, g. Mr Caskey has also kindly furnished me with further details about this object, in correspondence.

7 I have to thank Prof. Wace for very kindly supplying the information about this unpublished object from his excavations at Mycenae.

8 See note z above.

9 Schliemann, Ilios, p. 573, Nr. 983; Virchow, Zeitschr. f. Ethn., vol. 23, 1893, pp. 410 ff.; Bittel, ibid., pl. 5, 3.

10 Schliemann, Troja, p. 125, Nr. 41; Virchow, ibid., pp. 410 ff. and figs, 8-10; Bittel, ibid., pl. 5. 1.

11 Dörpfeld, Troja u. Ilion, 1, p. 391, fig. 376; H. Schmidt, H. Schliemanns Sammlung trojamsche Altertümer, p. 291, Nr. 7953 a/b; Bittel, ibid., pl. 5, 2.

12 Blegen, Troy 1, p. 363 and fig. 365, 35-528.

13 See L. Bernabò Brea, La Sicilia prehistórica y sus relaciones con Oriente y con la Pentnsula Ibérica, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Serie arqueológica, 1, Madrid, 1954, pp. 172 ff.

14 Stone and Bronze Ages in Italy, p. 217, and fig. 84.

15 Studies in the Early Pottery of the Near East, 11, p. 132. His mention on the previous page of a ‘bossed bone plaque’ from Portugal seems to be due to a misunderstanding of Childe, Dawn, 1st ed., p. 96, which refers to the bone pommels from Nora in Portugal and Monte Sallia in Sicily.

16 Brea, ibid., p. 177.

17 In his unpublished thesis on ‘Mycenaean Pottery in the West’.

18 Especially in Central Greece, though other elements are also present. Cf. Childe, Dawn, 5th ed., p. 66.

19 E. Petersen, ‘Funde u. Forschung’, in Roem. Mitth., XIII, 1898, p. 165; P. Orsi in Ausonia, 1, p. 6; Schliemann, Ilios, p. 514. Orsi and Virchow also suggested that they might have been portions of dagger-hilts.

20 I formed this opinion when I first saw the objects in the Syracuse Museum three years ago, and was very much pleased to discover later that Dr O. G. S. Crawford had come independently to the same conclusion.

21 Prof. Childe has pointed out to me that there is a certain resemblance to some gold objects from the Royal Tombs at Alaca Höyük; see H. Z. Koçay, ‘Les Fouilles d’Alaca Hõyük, 1937-9’, Turk Tarih Kurumu Yayinlarindan, Seri v—no 5, plate clxxxvi, top. It is difficult to say at present whether this is significant or not.

22 Mallowan, Iraq, IX, Pt. 1, pl. If and text; H. Bossert, Altanatolien, figs. 333-47; Swedish Cyprus Expedition, Plates, vol. 1, pls. xviii-xx, xxv, xxvi, xxx, and B.S.A., XLI, p. 83, figs 4 and 5; Schliemann, Ilios, passim, but especially p. 262, Nr. 141 and p. 425, Nr. 521, and Blegen, Troy, 1, Plates, fig. 216, 37-374.

23 W. Lamb, B.S.A., 1951, pp. 75-80.

24 Schliemann, ibid., p. 425, Nr. 521.

25 Les Peintures Rupestres Schématiques de la Péninsule Iberique, iv, p. 122 and fig. 70.

We wish to thank an anonymous colleague for a generous gift, enabling us to have the drawings made to illustrate this article, and Professor Bernabo Brea for kindly having the plaques specially photographed. EDITOR.

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