Wessex and Mycenae: a rapprochement?

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Abstract

For over a hundred years since Schliemann, Tsountas and others revealed the wealth of Mycenaean civilization, the possibility of a relationship with the rich Wessex Culture of southern Britain has been asserted or denied by different scholars. In 1968 Renfrew seemed to have ended the debate by showing that the C14 dates for the Wessex Culture were earlier than the Shaft Graves at Mycenae by c 300 years. Today, however, the comparison between C14 dates for the start of Mycenaean civilization and better C14 dates for Wessex shows a difference of only 100 years or less. Renfrew’s conclusions were based on the premise that scientifically-based dates could be directly compared with those derived from historical chronologies.

It is therefore no longer unthinkable that there is a direct connection between the V-perforated amber spacer beads found at Mycenae and Kakovatos in Greece and Upton Lovell and Kingston Deverill in southern Britain or between the examples of exquisite goldwork using tiny studs or pins which have been found in both areas. Whilst the nature of the relationships remains unclear, there can be no question that elites across the whole of Europe shared common practices and technologies in the early part of the 2nd Millennium BC, thanks, at least in part, to trade routes extending from Britain and the Baltic to the Aegean and beyond – trade routes which will have been as important for conveying ideas as well as exotics such as Baltic amber and Egyptian glass and scarce metals such as tin and gold.

A better understanding of these relationships will require more precisely-defined chronologies based on a wider range of C14 samples to complement, and perhaps improve on the long-established relative dating systems established by Reinecke and used in Western and Central Europe.

Bibliographic note

Not yet published as of 18/01/2021.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNot yet determined - festschrift for Professor Korres
EditorsPigi Kalogerakou
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Feb 2019