Mycenaean ‘Alum’: Implications for the exchange of astringent minerals in the Bronze Age

Photos-Jones, E. and Jones, R. (2018) Mycenaean ‘Alum’: Implications for the exchange of astringent minerals in the Bronze Age. In: Bettelli, M., Del Freo, M. and van Wijngaarden, G. J. (eds.) Mediterranea Itinera : Studies in Honour of Lucia Vagnetti. Series: Incunabula Graeca, 106. CNR - Istituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico: Rome, Italy, pp. 77-92. ISBN 9788880803409

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This paper is speculative but is based on the observation that there is archaeological evidence for the existence of Mycenaean pottery in the vicinity of natural resources, rich in astringent minerals. These resources include alum group minerals from the volcanic environments of Melos, in the Aegean, the Aeolian Islands and the Bay of Naples in Italy and the metal sulphates of Cyprus associated with copper sulphide mineralisation. Both types of minerals could have served (amongst other applications) as mordants for the Bronze Age textiles industry. Despite Mycenaean awareness of these minerals, there is little evidence for Mycenaean trading in them. There is however the interesting reference in the Linear B tablets to tu-ru-pte-ri-ja, stypteria, or alum. We suggest that the term may have covered all types of astringent minerals, from both east and west, particularly in view of its association in one tablet from Pylos, with ku-pi-ri-jo, Kuprios or Cypriot. The proposal has implications for the Bronze Age minerals exploration and exchange which goes, currently, ‘under the radar’.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jones, Dr Richard and Photos-Jones, Dr Effie
Authors: Photos-Jones, E., and Jones, R.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Publisher:CNR - Istituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Cnr Edizioni
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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