During the rescue excavations of a tumulus close to the village Ovchartsi, southeastern Bulgaria, a burial of ca. 65-year old woman with rich golden and bronze grave goods and a unique wheel-made vessel of unusual shape and painted decoration was discovered. The tumulus lies in the so-called Maritsa Iztok (Eastern Maritsa) region (Fig. 1). This region is one of the most intensively researched areas in Bulgaria, due to numerous archaeological rescue excavations, necessitated by the fact that whole stretches of landscape and archaeological monuments have been systematically destroyed since the 1960s by open charcoal mines.
The term mattpainted pottery was first used by A. Furtwängler and G. Loeschke in their classification of pottery from Grave Circle A in Mycenae. It quickly gained wide use in research as the designation for a category of pottery with dull, lustreless, that is, ‘matt’ painting. In the course of time different chronological and technological appearances accumulated under this very flexible nomen. The spectrum ranges from the wheel-made and handmade polychrome ware of Middle Helladic southern Greece, to handmade pottery of the Late Bronze Age – with bichrome and monochrome ware in West Macedonia and monochrome ware in Central Macedonia – and the Iron Age phenomenon of mattpainted handmade pottery in Epirus and Albania.
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.
Aiani is located approximately 20 km south of the city of Kozani, in western Macedonia. Aiani thus laid within the region of the ancient kingdom of Elimeia, which together with the other Greek kingdoms of Tymphaia, Orestis, Lyncestis, Eordaia and Pelagonia constituted the ancient Upper (i.e. mountainous) Macedonia. Systematic excavation research in Aiani, which began in 1983, has revealed the architectural remains of large and small buildings, rich in small finds, as well as groups of graves and organized cemeteries dating from the Prehistoric to the Late Hellenistic periods. The Late Bronze Age in Upper Macedonia is marked by the appearance of Mycenaean finds, together with the appearance and spread of matt-painted pottery.
This contribution concerns the pottery type known as “Mainland Polychrome Matt-painted” that makes its appearance at the dawn of the Late Bronze Age. The term was first used by D. and E. French. Here an intra-ceramic approach is developed, based mostly on the main attributes of the pottery.
The Lofkënd burial tumulus in the Mallakaster region of Albania, jointly excavated by a team from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA and the Albanian Institute of Archaeology in Tiranë over four seasons (2004-2007), revealed 85 ancient and 15 modern burials, containing a total of over 150 individuals. On the basis of the vertical and horizontal stratification of the tombs, together with secure AMS 14C radiocarbon dates from human bone and charcoal, the Lofkënd burials can be dated to the period from the 14th to the 9th centuries B.C.
The settlement of Angelochori is situated in the northern part of the prefecture of Imathia, about 100 km. west of Thessaloniki. Systematic excavation of the site, carried out by the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, began in 1994; at the same time, a non-systematic surface survey was conducted in the surrounding area. This is the only Late Bronze Age settlement in western Macedonia to have been excavated in extent, making it possible to draw conclusions regarding its settlement phases, organization of habitation-areas, economy, and technology. Beginning in 2000, the excavation was included in a research program (the “Angelochori Project”), funded by the Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications.
Information on illegal digging led to the discovery of archaeological sites reported in the present publication. Clandestine and destructive activities left their traces at a number of sites in the vicinity of the city of Kateríni north of Mount Olympus, a region which is characterised by low hills and known to the local population under the name of Adhrianós. Discovered were two cemeteries of historical times, probably of Classical or Hellenistic date, as well as an Early Iron Age cemetery and a settlement site Kastro with EBA, EIA and Late Archaic to Hellenistic occupation. Interesting finds yielded especially the Early Iron Age levels.