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THE STAMPED AND INSCRIBED FINDS FROM BYLAZORA, the 2011 Season
A Preliminary Catalogue of the Stamped and Inscribed Finds from the 2011 Season
By Candace Richards
Click on photo to enlarge.
The excavations of 2011 at Bylazora have again yielded several stamped and inscribed finds related to the later periods of
occupation at the site, corresponding to the ancient Greek late Classical and early Hellenistic periods. Presented here is a
continuation of the preliminary catalogue comprised of selected examples from this season. Each find is listed with a catalogue
number (numerically following on from the
2010 catalogue), the appropriate basket and sector numbers, and its name or the type of
fragment. This is followed by a short description of its form, fabric, all stamps or markings and, where relevant, a note regarding its
significance. This catalogue is a preliminary presentation only and thus should be read as an introduction to the types of materials
and the stamps or markings being developed, used or imported by this Paionian city.
30.  Bulldozer cleanup (Sector 8) Black slip base fragment with graffito.

Ring base fragment of an imported kantharos (?) cup, in a reddish-yellow
very fine fabric with glossy black slip on either side. Inscribed on the
underside of the fragment are the ancient Greek characters ΠIEI (Pi -Iota –
Epsilon – Iota), which translates to ‘Drink!’ (aorist 2nd person singular
imperative; translation by Simon Oswald; see parallels SEG 33.64b, SEG
34.52b, cf. P. Kretschmer,
Die griechischen Vaseninschriften ihrer Sprache
nach Untersucht
. Gütersloh, 1894: 195-6).  The first and last characters
align with the break of the vessel and are slightly obscured; however, the
full inscription is here preserved.
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GRAFFITO
PITHOS MARKINGS
31.  L30.3.1 (Sector 7) Stamped pithos rim.

Rim fragment of a handmade pithos in local (?) reddish – brown very coarse fabric
with various types of vegetal and crushed stone inclusions. The rim is stamped with an
X within a depressed square, prior to the firing of the vessel, and is separately
inscribed with the Greek letters KB (Kappa – Beta), after the initial firing of the vessel.
32.  Clean Up Sector 7 Incised pithos rim.

Rim fragment of a handmade pithos in local (?) very coarse fabric, with blackened
surface and inclusions of vegetal matter and crushed stones. Inscribed on the upper
surface are the ancient Greek letters ΔΓ (Delta – Gamma). The full inscription is not
known due to the fragmentary nature of this find. However, it is possible that this
inscription is representative of a numerical value, Delta denoting 10 and Gamma
denoting 5, most likely relating to either a notation of total capacity or contents of
the vessel.
33.  K14.4.10 (Sector 3) Stamped pithos rim.

Large rim fragment of a handmade pithos in local (?) very coarse fabric, with a total external diameter of over 1 metre. Inscribed in
retrograde and facing inwards on the surface of the wide flat rim are a series of ancient Greek letters and tally marks, all made
after the firing of the vessel. The first grouping reads  ΔΔΓΙΙΙΙ (Delta – Delta – Gamma – Iota – Iota – Iota – Iota), the second
grouping reads Κ Π (or Γ) ΙΙΙΙ (Kappa – Pi/Gamma - Iota – Iota – Iota – Iota) and a third group of 7 tally strokes are visible along the
outer edge of the rim. It is possible that these markings were made at different times during the life use of the vessel as a domestic
storage container. The first group numerically translates to 29 and could refer to either the initial filling of the vessel or the total
capacity or weight of the vessel, as it is the largest of the numbers indicated.
The second group numerically translates to kotyle (standard ancient Greek unit of
measurement) 9, which could refer to a filling of the vessel with 9 units or even a
subtraction of nine units from the total contents. The third group of tally strokes are
a common notation found on different types of storage vessels and have generally
been assumed to represent the ongoing removal of contents over time. (For further
reading on comparable commercial notations on ancient ceramics, see: Lang, M.
“Graffiti and Dipinti”
The Athenian Agora Vol. 21. 1976; and Roller, L. “Nonverbal
Graffiti, Dipinti, and Stamps”
Gordion Special Studies Vol 1. 1987.)
34.  L19.6.1 (Sector 7) Stamped amphora handle.

Rim to handle fragment from a transport amphora of reddish-yellow coarse ware
fabric, most probably imported, with a monogram stamp on the top of the handle.
The stamp features a circular depression with a raised Δ (Delta) in the centre.  The
origin of this stamp is currently unknown.
AMPHORA STAMPS
35.   P12.100.3 (Sector 3) Stamped amphora handle.

Strap amphora handle fragment from a transport
amphora with circular stamp only partly preserved.
The stamp features a raised design in centre but is
too worn to accurately identify at this stage.
36.  K18.4.6 (Sector 3) Stamped amphora handle.

Strap amphora handle from a transport amphora, most probably imported,
with circular monogram stamp on upper portion. This stamp consists of a
shallow circular depression with raised X joined in one section with an arched
line between the arms of the X. The origin of this stamp is currently unknown.
37.  K18.4.8 (Sector 3) Stamped amphora handle.

Strap amphora handle from a transport amphora, most probably imported,
with circular monogram stamp on upper portion. This stamp consists of a
shallow circular depression with raised X joined in one section by a vertical
line between the arms of the X. The origin of this stamp is currently
unknown.
LOOM WEIGHT STAMP
38.  L18.6.4 (Sector 3) Stamped loom weight.

Pyramidal loom weight of typical local buff coarse ware fabric, stamped with an oval impression
containing a female figure holding a bird.

This stamp has been found in multiple examples from previous seasons’ excavations at Bylazora
(see
2009 catalogue).  However, this example is one of the clearest representations found to
date. The female figure is standing facing right with her head slightly downturned and hair in bun
above the nape of her neck. Her left hand is placed behind her or on her hip, indistinguishable
under her dress, and her right arm is bent at the elbow. A bird perches on her right hand facing
the woman with its wings possibly outstretched. Whilst the figure has been suggested to
represent Athena due to her connection to the loom in Greek mythology, at this stage we are
unable to attribute this figure to any individual or goddess, particularly when the relationship
between Paionian religious activities and Greek mythology is not known with any certainty.
Interestingly, this impression has significant parallels to a Samian amphora stamp, published in V. Grace, ‘Samian Amphoras,’
Hesperia vol 40. no.1, 1971: Catalogue No. 62-63. This oval amphora stamp, produced using a carved gem or signet ring,  
similarly depicts a draped woman facing towards the right, her left hand behind her resting on the hip and her right hand
outstretched holding, what Grace believes is, a small branch over a heron or similar pet bird (Grace 1971: 92). Grace does not
attribute the stamp to any deity, however, she does note that the design of the figure has parallels with fourth century BC sculpture
and is dated to that period (Grace 1971:65). Although a comparison between loom weight stamps and amphora stamps is
somewhat unconventional, it is clear that these stamps are drawing upon a common iconographic repertoire.
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