To Kill a Cemetery

The Athenian Kerameikos and the Early Iron Age in the Aegean


  • John K. Papadopoulos University of Sydney



Kerameikos, graves, polis, method, chronology, 'Dark Age'


The purpose of this article is to set out the history of scholarship on the graves of the Athenian Kerameikos and, from there, to review critically the two most recent offerings on the subject by Morris (1987) and Whitley (1991). Both of these works focus on the Athenian Early Iron Age, the earlier part of which is generally referred to as the 'Dark Age', and both are concerned with changes in the structure and symbolism observed in the archaeological record and how these changes relate to the rise of the Greek polis. The review concentrates on a number of key issues, particularly method, chronology and the artificial construction of a 'Dark Age'. The latter is more fully addressed in the final section of this paper.

Author Biography

John K. Papadopoulos, University of Sydney

John Papadopoulos is a classical archaeologist specializing in the Aegean Late Bronze and Early Iron Age, Aegean ceramics generally, as well as pottery manufacture, especially kilns. He has worked on excavations and surveys, in Australia and Greece, and, since 1986, has been co-director of the excavations at Torone in northern Greece by the Athens Archaeological Society and the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA). He is currently involved in the final editing for publication of the Early Iron Age cemetery at Torone and has taken on, since the death of Evelyn Lord Smithson, the publication of the Early Iron Age Pottery ('Submycenaean' through 'Middle Geometric') from the Athenian Agora. From 1987, when he completed his PhD, until 1991 he was Deputy Director of the AAIA and, since 1991, Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney. He is a Fellow of the Athens Archaeological Society and and Individual Member of the Council of the AAIA.



How to Cite

Papadopoulos, J. K. (1993). To Kill a Cemetery: The Athenian Kerameikos and the Early Iron Age in the Aegean. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 6(2), 175–206.