Assiros: Stratigraphy and Chronology

(revised 07102014)

The table below was first prepared on the basis of the conventionally accepted chronology for the Mycenaean and Protogeometric periods. Since then results from Dendrochronology and Dendrochronologically related 14C dates for timbers from  construction Phases 9, 6, 3 and 2 as well as 14C dates for seeds from the destruction of the Phase 9 granaries, published between 2003 and 2007, have required a reassessment of many of these dates. These reassessments are indicated in red in the table. These new scientifically-derived absolute dates also suggested that the dates conventionally used for the successive styles of Mycenaean (LH IIIA2 - LH IIIC) and Protogeometric pottery need re-evaluation. Following discussion of the possibility that the timbers had all been reused, a series of animal bones were selected for independent determinations at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit. The results, now  published in PLoS One (15.10.2014) following Bayesian modelling of all available 14C data, confirm our original assertions that the timbers were freshly cut, not reused, and that the dates, now refined, remain correct.

The PLoS abstract and table of start and end dates for each phase can be found here.

The felling dates of timbers from the Phase 3 destruction show that the construction of the Phase 3 buildings must be set around 1080 BC while felling dates from the Phase 2 destruction show that the construction of the Phase 2 buildings must be set around 1070 BC, only ten years later. The Phase 3 destruction must therefore predate 1070 BC. The fragments of a PG amphora in the Phase 3 destruction level below the Phase 2 floor must come from a vessel manufactured before this date. Since they imitate the Attic PG style, their presence indicates that the start date of Protogeometric from Attica and indeed from the whole of southern Greece must be set before 1070 BC, perhaps by as many as fifty years.  A full report on the Phase 3 and 2 dates has already been published in AEMTH for 2003 (pdf here). See also OLD TREES, NEW DATES and the end of Mycenaean civilization

The felling dates of timbers from the Phase 6 destruction have been determined at c 1270 BC. Since Mycenaean pottery of LH IIIC style, imitating that found in southern Greece, first appears in the use levels of Phase 7, there is a very strong probability that the first appearance of the style in southern Greece should be dated much earlier than conventionally, well before c 1270 BC rather than c 1200 BC. Since Phase 6 is a remodelling of the previous Phase 7 it was at first presumed that the timbers date the construction of Phase 7 rather than that of Phase 6 but the new dates determined from the animal bones rule out this possibility. See also OLD TREES, NEW DATES and the trojan war

The felling dates for the timbers from the Phase 9 destruction presumably date the construction of the granaries of that Phase and have been determined to be c 1360 BC. They give, however, no information about the duration of that phase before the granaries were destroyed by fire. The determinations for a series of samples of seeds, which can only have been harvested very shortly before the fire, and of bones from this and the succeeding phase, both confirm that the destruction fire took place very soon after this date. Mycenaean pottery of LH IIIA2 style or of very the beginning of the LH IIIB style which would normally be dated around 1300 BC was found in the Phase 9 strata. Although this date for the start of LH IIIB is more than 60 years earlier thsn conventionally accepted, it is a similar offset to that for the start of LH IIIC (as above) and allows around 100 years from the duration of the LH IIIB period. It also matches the offset determined for the LH I and Late Minoan IIA by around 100 years on the basis of the absolute dates proposed for the Thera eruption in the southern Aegean.

  Iron Age

Phase  Structures Ends in 

 Approximate date (conventional chronology)

Dates derived from Dendrochronologically related 14C and 14C and animal bone determinations Pottery style

Phase 1

Apsidal buildings

Destruction by fire ?

750-650 BC


Pithos burial c. 800 BC
Phase 1.5

Makeshift rebuilding


900-850 BC /

?1000-975 BC
Phase 2 

Regular blocks of rooms 6x4m over whole summit 

Destruction by fire

950-900 BC

1070-?1000 BC
Phase 3 

Regular blocks of rooms 6x4m over part of summit

Destruction by fire

 1000-950 BC

1080-1070 BC PG Early
Phase 4

Fragments of stone and mud brick walls


1050-1000 BC

1100-1080 BC

Bronze Age

Phase 5 

Rebuilding with slight shift in alignment

Destruction by fire

1100-1050 BC

1170-1100 BC  LH IIIC
Phase 6 

Regular blocks 4x2m over whole summit

Destruction by fire

 1150-1100 BC

1220-1170 BC

Phase 7

Regular blocks 4x2m over whole summit

Minor remodelling ? after earthquake

1200-1150 BC

1270-1220 BC LH IIIC
Phase 8

Regular blocks 4x2m including granaries

Major remodelling ? after earthquake 1300-1200 BC 1360-1270 BC LH IIIB

Phase 9

Regular blocks 4x2m including granaries

Destruction by fire 1350-1300 BC  ends                     c 1360 BC LH IIIA2/B

'Conventional' dates in this table are based on pottery imported from Southern Greece - Mycenaean (LH), Protogeometric (PG) or Geometric (LG) as set out in the discussion in AEMTH 10, 447-449.

Tabulation of Mycenaean and Assiros dates

The Dark Ages in Northern Greece

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