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Exhibit of November 2020: Depas Amphikipelon from Early Bronze Age settlement of Mihalich

11/2020

In the permanent exhibition of the National Archaeological Museum can be seen two curious in shape ceramic vessels dated in the Early Bronze Age or the 3rd millennium BC. They are in the shape of a tall tankard with slightly out-turned rim and two symmetrical handles attached to the middle and the bottom of the tankard (Taneva 2018, Cat. №142-143). They are known in the archaeological literature as Trojan type cups or Depas Amphikipellon. Depas Amphikipellon (depata) are one of the most famous and controversial pottery shapes in the archaeology of the Early Bronze Age. The shape owes its fame to its misleading identification (by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann) with a certain depas amphikipellon type vessel mentioned in Homer’s Iliad (Şahoğlu 2014, 289). The appearance and distribution of the so-called Trojan cups are associated with intensive cultural and trade contacts during the 3rd millennium BC in the Aegean, Anatolia, the Balkan Peninsula and Northern Syria.

The two cups from the collection of the National Archaeological Museum are discovered near the Early Bronze Age settlement of Mihalich. The site is located in the southern slopes of the Sakar Mountain, about 1.5 km southwest from the present village. It is suggested that the cups are imports from Troy (Stefanova 2018, 313). Their occurrence in Thrace gives us insight into the place and role of Thrace during the 3rd millennium BC.

It is worth noting that these specific vessels may be regarded not only as trade objects but also as an indicator of the formation of a milieu of wine production and habits of alcohol-drinking. Interestingly, most of the cups are unstable when they are full of liquids (Leshtakov 2014, 326), probably used during ceremonies usually conducted by the elite which involved the consumption of wine (Şahoğlu 2014, 289).

The Trojan cups are on display in the Prehistory Hall. The hall is on the ground floor of the northern wing in the museum building.

 

Bibliography:

 

Leshtakov 2014: K. Leshtakov. Troy and Upper Thrace: What Happened in the EBA 3? (Interrelations Based on Pottery Evidence). In Pernicka, E., Ünlüsoy, S., Blum, S. Early Bronze Age Troy: Chronology, Cultural Development, and Interregional Contacts. An International conference held at the University of Tubingen may 8-10 2009, Studia Troica Monograph 8, Bonn 2014, 321-337.

Şahoğlu 2014: V. Şahoğlu. 17. The depas and Tankard Vessels. In Lebeau, M. (ed.) ARCANE Interregional vol. 1: Ceramics, Brepols 2014, 289-311.

Стефанова 2018: М. Стефанова. Селище от ранната бронзова епоха Михалич. В: Александров, Ст., Димитрова, Я., Попов, Х., Хореш, Б., Чукалев, К. (ред.) Злато и бронз. Метали, технологии и междурегионални контакти на територията на Източните Балкани през бронзовата епоха, София = Stefanova 2018: M. Stefanova. The Early Bronze Age Settlement near Mihalich. In Alexandrov, S., Dimitrova, Y., Popov, H., Horejs, B., Chukalev, K. (eds.) Gold and bronze. Metals, Technologies and Interregional Contacts in the Eastern Balkans during the Bronze Age, Sofia, 313-315.

Taneva 2018: S. Taneva. Cat. № 142-143. In: Alexandrov, S., Dimitrova, Y., Popov, H., Horejs, B., Chukalev, K. (eds.) Gold and bronze. Metals, Technologies and Interregional Contacts in the Eastern Balkans during the Bronze Age, Sofia, 474-475.