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

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

32

THE GILDED CAGE? SETTLEMENT AND
SOCIOECONOMIC CHANGE AFTER 1200 BC:
A COMPARISON OF CRETE AND OTHER
AEGEAN REGIONS

Saro Wallace


INTRODUCTION

This chapter discusses developments in Aegean economy between the twelfth and ninth centuries BC, addressing the organisation of subsistence practice and the production and exchange of value goods.1 In understanding both, it seems important to have a good overall picture of settlement character, size, distribution and chronology. This is still lacking for many Aegean regions in the period, though new data, like those presented in this volume and resulting from many current rescue projects in Greece, are improving our overview (Lemos, Protogeometric Aegean; Stampolidis and Giannikouri 2004). But obscurities in settlement data have not prevented enterprising scholars from putting forward generalising models of economy for the central Greek mainland, which are discussed in some detail here (Foxhall 1995; Small 1998, 1999). A very substantial and comprehensive settlement record is now available for Crete, deriving both from survey and excavation. It richly deserves analysis in its own right (Lemos, Protogeometric Aegean: 1), and has recently encouraged examination of some aspects of economic and social organisation in the island (Haggis 1993, 1999, Nowicki, Defensible Sites; 2002; Wallace 2002, 2003a, 2003b). Polarised, 'binary' interpretative models, mapping out alternative basic trajectories of political and economic development towards polis emergence between regions have been shown to be useful by Morris (1998; Archaeology). In such analyses, Crete is sometimes presented in a very simplified way as an 'other'

1 The title originally requested was '(Aegean) Bronze to Iron Economy'. I altered this in order to
discuss my particular area of research in more detail while still trying to address cross-Aegean
developments. I would like to stress the superficiality of my treatment of central Greek EIA material
culture here in an artificially polarised model. Generalisations about subsistence practice for
the central Greek mainland are much less valid than for Crete in the absence of a coherent published
record covering this large area, and are not attempted here: a thoughtful overview is provided
by Palmer 2001. Further discussion of social structure in EIA Crete is found in Wallace 2001,
2003b, while subsistence changes in EIA Crete are addressed in detail in Wallace 2002, 2003a.

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