Friday 16 April 2010

Jan Driessen
Université Catholique de Louvain, EBSA-Belgian School Athens

A Minoan Corporate System? For a Bottom-Up Approach of Minoan Society

This paper has two aims: the first is to use funerary and settlement data to explore Minoan social structure and to suggest a new reading of the societal make-up, the other is to see what the implications of are for our understanding of the institution labelled ‘palace’.
Starting with Evans, different interpretations have been offered on the level at and the complexity and scales of which, power, wealth and production were organised on Minoan Crete. Some have defended the position that these were centralised and consolidated in the hands of a single ruler and his personal network, a more exclusionary mode, hierarchically organised or locally repeated. Others believe that power, wealth and production were more distributed in a corporate mode and shared as a product of group membership. Others again have argued for the simultaneous existence of both modes but with one dominating or a temporal evolution from one mode to the other throughout the history of Minoan Crete.
In this essay, I use especially architectural and other evidence to argue for a slow development in which a major role was played by the existence of larger scale, locus-bound (but occasionally multi-local) and intergenerational corporate groupings. Societies that present such corporate organisations are often called House Societies, following C. Lévi-Strauss. I hypothesise that the scale of Minoan residential structure may be in favour of a matrilocal corporate grouping based on matrilinear descent. I explore to what extent group membership can be identified in Minoan society and how it operated and whether evidence exists to argue that Minoan palaces were not only the physical result of a bottom-up, self-organising collective action but also were used by the community at large, signs of an inclusionary rather than an exclusionary social process.


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...