Project Summary

The Knossos Kephala Project (KKP) has two main objectives: first, to map and reconstruct the subsurface (i.e. Neolithic-MM) stratigraphy and features of the Kephala Hill at Knossos; second, to publish the Neolithic stratigraphy, architecture and ceramics from the excavations of Arthur Evans and Duncan Mackenzie at Knossos.

The project seeks to apply recent insights into ceramic phasing at Knossos (i.e. Momigliano 2007) to the large archive of ceramic material from the excavations of Arthur Evans and Duncan Mackenzie (1900-1930). The project consists of five areas of activity: archival, macroscopic ceramic study, GIS modelling, geophysical survey (2009), and on-site surveying and recording of visible features on the Kephala hill (2011).

Project Background

KKP developed out of research (1997-2004) that was aimed at characterising the Neolithic pottery, stratigraphy and architecture from John Evans’ excavations (1957-60, 1969-70; Evans 1964; 1971; 1994), and which is being published within the framework of the Knossos Neolithic Publication Project [html link]. Thanks to the quality of recovery and recording the John Evans excavations have provided a secure window on materiality and social life at Neolithic Knossos (e.g. Tomkins 2004; 2007a; papers in Isaakidou and Tomkins 2008) and have formed the basis for a new, more resolved chronology for Neolithic Crete (Tomkins 2007b). However, this contextual window is a small one, limited by the restricted spatial extent of these excavations.

In order to broaden the contextual focus, and complete the task of characterising and publishing the Neolithic material from all BSA excavations at Knossos, KKP has, since 2004, been focusing in particular on the spatially more extensive, but generally more poorly recorded test pits of Arthur Evans and Duncan Mackenzie, excavated at Knossos between 1900 and 1929. Meaningful interpretation of these excavations poses a host of challenges, however, by pursuing a detailed, holistic approach, where every archival and published source of information is scrutinised, critiqued, collated and related, it has proved possible to relocate almost all of these tests, reassemble their retained material sequences, define internal contexts, features and stratigraphies, pursue horizontal stratigraphies and thereby develop a more three-dimensional understanding of the configuration of contexts and features on the Kephala Hill.

 

Project Bibliography

Tomkins, P.

2007b Neolithic: Strata IX–VIII, VII–VIB, VIA–V, IV, IIIB, IIIA, IIB, IIA and IC Groups. In Knossos Pottery Handbook, Volume I: Neolithic and Bronze Age (Minoan), N. Momigliano ed., 9-48. British School at Athens Special Studies 14. London: British School at Athens.

Tomkins, P.

2008 Time, Space and the Reinvention of the Cretan Neolithic. In Escaping the Labyrinth. The Cretan Neolithic in Context, eds. V. Isaakidou and P. Tomkins, 22-51. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 8. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Tomkins, P.

2012 Behind the Horizon. Reconsidering the Genesis and Function of the ‘First Palace’ at Knossos (Final Neolithic IV-Middle Minoan IB). In Back to the Beginning. Reassessing Social and Political Complexity on Crete during the Early and Middle Bronze Age, eds. I. Schoep, P. Tomkins and J. Driessen, 32-80. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

 

Additional References

Isaakidou, V. and P. Tomkins (eds.)

2008. Escaping the Labyrinth. The Cretan Neolithic in Context. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 8. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Momigliano, N. (ed.)

2007. Knossos Pottery Handbook, Volume I: Neolithic and Bronze Age (Minoan). British School at Athens Special Studies 14. London: British School at Athens.

Tomkins, P.

2004 Filling in the ‘Neolithic Background’: Social Life and Social Transformation in the Aegean Before the Bronze Age. In The Emergence of Civilisation Revisited, J. C. Barrett and P. Halstead eds., 38-63. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 5. Continuum Press.

Tomkins, P.

2007 Communality and Competition. The Social Life of Food and Containers at Aceramic and Early Neolithic Knossos, Crete. In Cooking up the Past: Food and Culinary Practices in the Neolithic and Bronze Age Aegean, C. Mee and J. Renard eds., 174-99. Oxford: Oxbow Books.