The middle bronze age in mainland greece dating methods
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The Middle Bronze Age in Mainland Greece & Dating Methods. Bronze Age Chronology. CreteMinoan (Minos - mythical king) CycladesCycladic (Aegean island chain) Mainland Helladic (Hellas = Greece) EarlyEBAEMECEH(3100-2000) Middle MBAMMMCMH(2000-1650)

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The Middle Bronze Age in Mainland Greece & Dating Methods

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The Middle Bronze Agein Mainland Greece&Dating Methods

Bronze Age Chronology

CreteMinoan (Minos - mythical king)

CycladesCycladic (Aegean island chain)

Mainland Helladic (Hellas = Greece)

  • EarlyEBAEMECEH(3100-2000)

  • Middle MBAMMMCMH(2000-1650)

  • LateLBALMLCLH(1650-1050)

Bronze Age Aegean Map

Alternative Minoan Chronology (Palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Mallia & Zakro)

  • Pre-palatial EM I - MM IA

    (ca. 3100/3000-1925/1900 B.C.)

  • Protopalatial (Old Palace) MM IB - MM IIB

    (ca. 1925/1900-1750/1720 B.C.)

  • Neopalatial (New Palace) MM IIIA - LM IB

    (ca. 1750/1720-1490/1470 B.C.)

  • Post-palatial LM IIIA-C

    (ca. 1490/1470-1075/1050 B.C.)

How do archaeologists date a site?

Carbon-14 (radiation emission)

Thermoluminescence Dating (radiation reception)

Obsidian Hydration (post-flaking water absorption, but temperature, chemical variation)

Pollen Dating

Deep-Sea Cores

Ice Cores


Stratigraphic Sequence (later on top of older)

Typological Sequence

Dating Techniques

Carbon-14 dating

C-14 dating can determine the age of organic material up to 40,000 years old.

  • Living organisms absorb carbon.

  • C-14 decays at known rate.

  • After burning a small piece of a sample, scientists compare the amount of unstable, decaying Carbon-14 to the amount of stable Carbon-12 to determine the age of the organic matter

Carbon-14, Myth and Archaeology? A Famous Case?

Carbon-14, Myth and Archaeology

  • The Shroud of Turin: the burial garment of Jesus?

  • 1988 study, C-14 tests showed that the cloth dated from some time between 1260 and 1390. This ruled it out as the possible burial cloth that wrapped the body of Christ.

  • Cardinal of Turin admitted the garment was a hoax.


  • Shroud damaged in several fires since first recorded in 1357, including church blaze in 1532.

  • Said to have been restored by nuns who patched holes and stitched the shroud to reinforcing material.

  • chemical tests may indicate material used in the 1988 radiocarbon analysis was cut from medieval patch woven into the shroud to repair fire damage!

  • Was C-14 test performed on later repair work, not on original material of shroud?

Shroud real?

Church very hesitant, very reluctant to do

further tests,

because they've

been given so many conflicting opinions

Thermoluminescence dating

  • Thermoluminsecence is the luminescence of minerals giving off stored nuclear energy when heated.

  • not generally accurate enough for archaeological standards

  • simple authenticity tests of art object

  • dates items between the years


Thermoluminescence & Tanagra Figurines

Volcanic glass

Sharper than surgical steel

Blades, tools (cutting crops, projectile points, drills, etc.)

Water absorption “rind”

Two uses:

relative dating method: a older than b

absolute dating method where a calendar date (AD/BC) is produced

Obsidian Hydration dating

Pollen Dating

  • Palynology: the study of pollen & spores

  • Pollen deposits such in lakes, etc., supply a sequential record of changes in vegetation since the last Ice Age

  • Pollen analysis of lakes and bogs to study humans as agents of vegetation change rather than causes such as climate

Deep Sea Core Dating

  • oceanic sediments retrieved by the core yields information on temperature changes in the ocean through time.

  • changes, suggestive of climatic variation, help chart progress of glaciation and, since they can be dated, the technique assists in the establishment of a chronology for the Quaternary.

Ice Core Dating

  • polar ice caps contain layers of compacted ice

  • continuous record of snow accumulation, air temperature, and fallout from volcanic, terrestrial, marine, cosmic, and anthropogenic sources

  • reconstruction of paleoenvironments & paleoclimatology and as a method of absolute dating

  • Record of more than 300,000 years

  • samples of ancient atmospheres are trapped in air bubbles within the ice

  • 6000 years in a core more than two kilometres in depth, with an excellent level of reliability within around 50 years

Ice Core Segment

Some layers of ice contain high levels of dust and acidity caused by volcanic eruptions.

historical eruptions, e.g. Krakatoa (1883) or Vesuvius (AD 79), can be correlated with ice-cores

further undocumented eruptions in prehistoric times may also be detected.

Ice Cores for BA Aegean


Cornell Dendrochronology Lab: Anatolian Timeline

Stratigraphy: the law of superposition

Stratigraphy of Troy

Typological Sequence



Barbed & Tanged?

(a) saucer, EHII

(b) sauceboat, EHII

(c) askos, EHII

(d) plate, EHII-III

(e) tankard, patterned ware, EHIII

(f) 2-handled bowl, EHIII

Early Helladic Pottery

EH Pottery

a) ring-stemmed goblet, Grey Minyan ware

(b) kantharos, Grey Minyan ware

(c) barrel jar, Aiginetan Matt-painted ware

(d) kantharos, Matt-painted ware

(e) Matt-painted cup, with ‘panelled’ style of decoration;

(f) jug, Mainland Polychrome style

MH Pottery

MH: Gray Minyan Ware

MH Gray Minyan Kantharos

MH Pottery

MH Matt-Painted & Mainland Polychrome Wares

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