Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer

By Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy; Irene S. Lemos | Go to book overview

1

THE FORMATION OF THE MYCENAEAN
PALACE

James C. Wright

Par définition, lepalais est exclusivement le domicile du Wanax, c'est-à-dire le
bâtiment dont les dimensions sont supérieures à celles des constructions
typiques des habitats. Le palais avec ses bâtiments adjoints – sa complexité
structural – figure comme résidence royale
. (Kilian 1987a: 203)


AN ARGUMENT FOR THE ORIGINS OF MONUMENTAL
ARCHITECTURE

Any discussion of the origins and formation of the Mycenaean palaces must begin with the insightful studies of Klaus Kilian, especially his contribution to the Strasbourg Colloquium of 1985 (Kilian 1984; 1987a, b, c, d; 1988a, b; 1990). He pointed the way for understanding the palace in the context of the evolving socio-political structure of the Mycenaean state with appropriate attention to the role of the wanax and, presciently, to influences from Crete (Kilian 1988b). His argument is based on the notion that the core plan of the palace, the so-called 'megaron' (Darcque 1990), though ultimately derived from the plan of the typical MH residence, is elaborated in size, architectural details, decorations, and furnishings that reflect the '… mode de vie, des fonctions economiques, religieuses, adminstratives et politiques…' (Kilian 1987a: 203–5; 1984). The palace he asserts is at the top of the hierarchy, the central seat of religion and political power, the centre of military and economic activities, and the primary node of exchange in the territory of the polity (Kilian 1987a: 204–5: see also Carlier 1987). His argument, however, does not give us licence to presume a virtual straight line of development from the free-standing rectangular house of the MH period to the so-called 'megaron' of the palaces (see Kilian 1988c: fig. 11; Schaar 1990; Hiesel 1990: 239–46). Although such a development may seem apparent from an examination of the formal properties of the plans of the Mycenaean palaces, the process that led to the uniform plan was neither orderly nor direct. When we assemble the evidence for the formation of palatial structures from region to region, we see that it

-7-

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