Thalassocracy and Minoan Crete

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Mycenaean Greece and
Cross-Cultural Interactions
“I have gazed on the face of Agamemnon.”
~Heinrich Schliemann
Dating Scheme after J.-B. Bury (following Evans)
Early Minoan
I
II
III
Middle Minoan
I
II
III
Late Minoan
IA
IB (mainland takeover?)
II
IIIA
IIIB
IIIC
Early Helladic
2800-2500 BCE
2500-2200 BCE
2200-2000 BCE
I
II (arrival of Greeks?)
III
2000-1900 BCE
1900-1700 BCE
1700-1550 BCE
Middle Helladic
I
II
III
1550-1500 BCE
1500-1450 BCE
1450-1400 BCE
1400-1300 BCE
1300-1200 BCE
1200-1050 BCE
Late Helladic
IA
IB
II
IIIA
IIIB
IIIC
Thera and Crete
Thera (Santorini)-Satellite Image
Minoans and Mycenaeans
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Thera explosion ca. 1600 BCE
Trading empora: Minoan pottery replaced by Mycenaean
by ca. 1450 BCE
Struggle for Mediterranean hegemony between Minoans
and Mycenaeans, ca. 1600-1400 BCE
Mycenaean takeover of Crete ca. 1450 BCE
Final destruction of Knossos ca. 1380 BCE (Linear B)
Flotilla Mural from Thera
Excursus: Heinrich Schliemann
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Excavator of Mycenaean civilization
Autodidact; early fascination with Homeric poems
“Outsider” to academic establishment
 W. Doerpfeld and credibility
Entrepreneur and Treasure Hunter
Modern Assessments
Heinrich Schliemann
Mycenaean Argolid
Mycenaean Death Mask
Mycenaean Trading Contacts from Minoan Crete

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Height of Mycenaean Greece: ca. 1400-1200 BCE (LH IIIIIB)
Cultural Influences (palace architecture, frescoes, seal
stones, fine gold work)
Trading Emporia in the Near East and West (Taranto)
General Characteristics
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Centralized Administration (king or wanax); Palace as
Redistributive Economy
Highly Organized Bureaucracy (Linear B Palace
Inventories)
Complex Social Structure
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Royal Family (wanax: military, legislative, judicial, religious
functions)
Nobility (priests and scribes)
Merchants (?), Agricultural Workers, and Craftsmen
Slaves
Mycenae: Shaft Graves (circles A and B): ca. 1650-1550
BCE; tholos (“beehive”) tombs: ca. 1500 BCE; “Treasury
of Atreus”: ca. 1300 BCE
Royal Grave Circle A
circa 1600 BCE
Entrance to “Treasury of Atreus”
Cross-Section of Tholos
Interior of “Treasury of Atreus”
Corbeled Arch (ca. 1300-1250 BCE)
Mycenaeans and Minoans

Significant Differences
 Mycenaean Palaces are closed; strongly fortified
 Mycenaean art: war motifs predominate
“Warrior Vase”
circa 1200 BCE
Vapheio Cup (ca. 1400-1300 BCE)
Citadel of Mycenae
Aerial View of Citadel at Mycenae
Lioness Gate at Mycenae
Writing: Linear B Script

Monopoly of the Elites
 Linear B script virtually unchanged
 destruction at Knossos, ca. 1380 BCE (following
Biers)
 destruction at Pylos, ca. 1250 BCE
Linear B Tablets
End of Mycenaean Civilization
and Trojan War
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Back to Lecture One
Thirteenth and twelfth-century Mediterranean BCE context:
Turmoil in the Mediterranean basin and the Near East (“Sea
Peoples”). ca. 1200 BCE--Egypt weakened; Hittite empire
collapses; destruction at Mycenaean centers (Tiryns, Mycenae,
Pylos, Thebes; ca. 1150 BCE: final destruction at Mycenae)
Greece--lines of trade disrupted (e.g. contact with Cyprus, a
source of copper, is broken)
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Fortifications strengthened at Mycenae; secret passageway to
underground cistern
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Secret passageways to water sources at Athens and Tiryns
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Isthmian Wall
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Archaeological Evidence of Troy VII A--a last gasp
Mycenaean expedition?
Collapse of Mycenaean Civilization
Explanations: Intruder,
Environmental, Class Conflict
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Tradition: return of Heracleidae and the Dorian invasion
(Sparta)
Problem: tradition dates invasion to ca. 1100 BCE;
archaeological evidence indicates a date closer to 1200 BCE
Identifying the Dorians? Invaders or Subject Population
within Mycenaean society?
Alternatives: climatic--famine leads to internal social
revolutions; inter-city wars
Trojan War; Nostoi; Egyptian records and Achaeans (Sea
Peoples)
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