What is Glastonbury Ware?; Stone Tools from Dhofar, Oman; Malia, Crete

What is Glastonbury Ware?

Glastonbury Ware is a type name given to pottery dating from the Middle Iron Age in Britain. The name ‘Glastonbury Ware’ was rather misleading, as it centered on the findings from the lake villages around Glastonbury. Since its naming, more of the type have been found across the south west of Britain and the name has been changed to South Western Decorated Ware.

Pottery Vessels from Glastonbury ©British Museum
Pottery Vessels from Glastonbury
©British Museum

The pottery dates from around the third century BC and sherds from Carn Euny have a calibrated radiocarbon date of 534-388 cal BC.

The South Western ware was less angular than the previous types of pottery and included globular bowls, jars and shouldered bowls. In the 3rd century BC  they had a form of rouletted decoration and later developed into more geometric and curvilinear incised decorations.

Glastonbury Ware © finds.org.uk
Glastonbury Ware
© finds.org.uk

The South Western Ware has been divided into three regional groupings

  • Cornwall
  • Devon, and
  • Somerset

The regional distributions are identified by analyzing the variety of decorations and their techniques. Archaeologists look at distribution maps by plotting all the finds onto a map and how many sherds have been found at each site. This enables them to see distribution patterns from visual and quantitative research.

Iron Age pottery is fascinating and you can see a range of it by clicking on this link.


  • British Museum. 1925. Guide to Early Iron Age Antiquities. London: British Museum.
  • Cunliffe. B. 2005. Iron Age Communities in Britain. 4th Editiion. Oxon: Routledge.
  • Fox. A. 1964. Ancient People and Places: South West England. London: Thames and Hudson.
  • Orton. C., Hughes. M., & Hughes. M. 2013. Pottery in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Archaeology Wow!! –  Stone Tools from Dhofar, Oman

In 2010 archaeologist Jeffrey Rose, from Birmingham University,  and his team discovered some lithics (stone tools) around the Wadi Banut region in the Dhofar Mountains in Oman.

The type and style of the lithics surprised them as they dated back to the Nubian Levallois culture of east Africa, which is the Nubian Middle Stone Age.

Stone Tools (Lithics) from Oman ©Jeffrey Rose
Stone Tools (Lithics) from Oman
©Jeffrey Rose

The tools were made from Chert, a type of stone, found in the region and all the finds were near stream channels, but also near to where the rock had been quarried for use. The types of tools identified included

  • Cores
  • Flakes
  • Blades
  • Sidescrapers
  • Endscrapers
  • Burins
  • Microliths
  • and the waste product from tool production called Debitage

The types of tool show that there were two technological groups within the area, the Nubian Levallois and the Levallois (using bifacial tools), and not just one isolated group. Using the modern dating technique of Luminesence dating, the tools have been dated to around 160,000 years ago. The really exciting thing about this is that is pushes back the accepted date for humans, Archaic Homo Sapiens, migrating out of Africa.

It also demonstrates a cultural connection between Nubia and the area around the Red Sea, supporting the theory that humans took a southern route through Arabia when migrating towards India and the east.

This is really exciting and I look forward to future work and investigations being carried out in the area to reveal more clues about how our ancestors migrated across the world!



Archaeological Site Guide –Malia, Crete

Malia is a site located on the island of Crete and dates from the Middle Bronze Age, around 1900 BC. The site was part of the Minoan culture that flourished on the island but was eventually destroyed through earthquakes and a possible tsunami.

The main building uncovered at Malia is a palace, which was destroyed by an earthquake around 1675 BC, but later rebuilt near the end of the Bronze Age.

Malia Palace in Crete Wiki Commons
Malia Palace in Crete
Wiki Commons

The palace was set around a central courtyard and to the north there were storage rooms which held grain and oils, and to the south there was a collection of smaller rooms. Around the palace complex other buildings have been identified but these were all of an irregular layout and their interpretation is quite puzzling as they ave been added to as well as built upon over time.

The main buildings around the palace were administration and public buildings. Further out there were other buildings and all seemed to have had clay, plaster, or stucco on the walls, as well as a hearth in each room. The hearths were in a central position, circular, and made of clay. A mortuary chapel has been uncovered as well as raised walkways in the main streets of the town/city.

Palace of Malia © Schuppi
Palace of Malia
© Schuppi

The site was discovered in 1915 by the Greek archaeologist Hadzidakis and in 1922  more excavations were undertaken by the French School at Athens. Excavations are ongoing and the city is slowly revealing more information about how the people lived, however, the irregular layout still has archaeologists scratching their heads about its history and complicated layout.

This is one site that is definitely worth keeping an eye on, especially with the ongoing excavations – you never know what may turn up!!


  • Malia Archaeological Site – http://www.interkriti.org/crete/iraklion/malia_archaeological_site.html.
  • McEnroe. J. C. 2010. Architecture of Minoan Crete: Constructing Identity in the Aegean Bronze Age. Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Malia Palace in Crete – By Simon L Kozhin/Кожин Семён Леонидович (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
  • Palace of Malia – “Palace of Malia-13” by Schuppi – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palace_of_Malia-13.JPG#/media/File:Palace_of_Malia-13.JPG


Great Books to Read…….


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Great Web Pages to Look At…….



Activity – word-search-27 March-2015-docx

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