Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Lithic Technology, Social Agency and Cultural Interaction in the Bronze Age Aegean

LiTechAe: Percussive stone tools related to stone masonry techniques seen through experimentation and use-wear analysis.

2020 - 2023
Athina Boleti
Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions CAR Fellowhip

National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” (Institute of Nanosciences & Nanomaterials, Group of Palaeoenvironment - Ancient Metals  Studies)


The MSCA project LiTechAe proposes for the first time a global approach for the study of tools used for cutting and dressing stone in Crete, the Cyclades and mainland Greece in the 2nd millennium B.C., when monumental dressed stone architecture first emerged and developed in the Aegean. 

Research question

The study focusses on percussive tools used for cutting and dressing stone in Crete, the Cyclades and mainland Greece in the 2nd millennium BC. This era saw the rise of the first monumental stone architecture in Europe, first in the palaces of Minoan Crete and from the 15th c. BC onwards, in the tombs and citadels of the Mycenaean mainland following trends known since the 3rd millennium BC in Egypt and the Near East.

Scholars agree on the use of stone tools along with metal tools in stone masonry. However, in contrast with other contexts (Egypt, Hittite Anatolia), stone tools in question are absent from the archaeological record, and relatively little is known about tools and techniques. Considering that monumental masonry practices require important energy investment and skilled workforce reflecting a complex social organization, understanding related lithic technology is central to an appreciation of how these societies operated.

Recent studies also suggest that masonry tools and techniques were part of large-scale technological transfers between the Aegean world and the Near East, especially Hittite Anatolia and Egypt. This project will investigate to what degree, in which ways and contexts and why percussive stone tools were used following a multidisciplinary approach: 1) characterization of materials used for tools and masonry, 2) large-scale experimentations testing different types of stone and metal tools on different building materials, 3) multi-scale analysis of use wear traces on both tools and architectural components (archaeological and experimental), 4) comparative ethnoarchaeological study of material issued from key-sites in the Aegean (Malia, Kommos, Akrotiri, Tiryns) and Anatolia. The aim is to provide concrete answers to questions of technological order and an important contribution to social agency, cross-craft interaction and cultural interaction issues.

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