Classics Program

Prof. Haskell’s Foundational Book

Reviewer notes “this volume deserves to be, at the very least, a must-read for everyone even peripherally interested in the LBA III Aegean economy and trade.”

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    Book Cover (photo courtesy of Stephen Hooker [©SHooker])
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    Prof. Haskell

November 05, 2012

Halford Haskell, Professor of Classics and Chair of the SU Classics Program, is principal author of Transport Stirrup Jars of the Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean (Philadelphia: INSTAP Academic Press, 2011; frontmatter). Dr. Haskell headed an international team of scholars at Glasgow, Sheffield, and Cambridge Universities. Transport stirrup jars were used to store and transport highly valued commodities such as olive oil in the eastern Mediterranean world during the period ca. 1400-1150 BCE.

Dr. Vassilis Petrakis writes that “this volume deserves to be, at the very least, a must-read for everyone even peripherally interested in the LBA III Aegean economy and trade. The progress in knowledge and approach it represents and the amount and quality of effort that have gone into the inception, design and publication of this project are more than sufficient to justify considering this monograph as the new major step in the ISJ (or indeed Aegean inscribed pottery) scholarship, as well as the first substantial step in our understanding of what the TSJ business as a whole was actually about.”

A consideration of the production and exchange of prized goods yields insights into economic centers, which in turn have significant historical implications. As is the case today in an interconnected global economy, economic power in the eastern Mediterranean world has political, ideological, and ethical ramifications. Economic strength enables political entities to express power of various types and at various levels, to craft diplomatic relations, and to promote political and social ideologies.

Reviewer John Bennet (Univ. of Sheffield) writes “This volume is a thoroughly documented case-study showing how a question of ceramic provenance linked to the economic operation of complex entities can be tackled through a combination of approaches. It should be of interest to anyone concerned with these issues in the Aegean or elsewhere. For Aegeanists, it represents the fullest presentation of a topic that became a cause célèbre in the field…”(Antiquity [volume 86, issue 332]).


SJ This interdisciplinary study integrates archaeological, chemical, petrographic, and epigraphic analyses. Dr. Haskell was responsible for the archaeological work, which includes typological analyses (vase shape, decoration, inscriptions and other marks, visual inspection of fabric and finish), as well as for the historical and political ramifications. Archaeological chemist Dr. Richard Jones at Glasgow University conducted chemical analyses of the clay fabric, and petrographer Peter Day at Sheffield University provided petrographic analyses. Dr. John Killen of Cambridge University, the world’s leading authority on Greek Bronze Age writing (“Linear B”), contributed a chapter on inscribed jars.

Integrating the results of all of these approaches enables one to place these jars in their historical and political contexts.

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