• The Linear B Inscribed Stirrup Jars

    Anna P. Judson (see profile)
    Antiquities, Prehistoric, Europe--Aegean Sea Region, Inscriptions, Ceramics
    Item Type:
    Mycenaean Greece, Aegean prehistory, Linear B, inscribed stirrup jars, Bronze Age Aegean, Aegean prehistoric archaeology, Epigraphy
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    Transport stirrup jars – so-called because of the shape formed by their handles and false neck – are a common type of Mycenaean pottery: used to transport and store liquid commodities, usually assumed to be olive oil, they are found throughout the central and eastern Mediterranean. A small sub-group of these carry painted inscriptions in the Linear B script, mainly consisting of personal and/or place names. These inscribed stirrup jars (ISJs), dating from around the LM IIIB period (late 14th – early 12th centuries B.C.), are so far only certainly attested on Crete and the Greek mainland. They form the only significantly-sized group of Linear B inscriptions found on a medium other than the more typical clay tablets, and are the most geographically widespread type of Linear B inscriptions, found both in and outside of administrative centres, and, uniquely, are known to have travelled from Crete to the mainland. Due to this unique status, the ISJs have been used as evidence for issues ranging from the spread of Mycenaean literacy and the place of writing in Mycenaean society to the debate over the dating of the main tablet archive at Knossos and the broader picture of LM IIIB Crete. However, there still remains considerable debate over many aspects of the ISJs themselves – ranging from the literacy of their painters to the inscriptions’ intended function. The aim of this article is therefore to investigate the possible functions of the ISJs, using as evidence all aspects of the jars, from the palaeography and content of the inscriptions themselves to the jars’ archaeological contexts and the results of scientific analysis.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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