Continuity and Change in Minoan Palatial Power

By Knappett, Carl; Schoep, Ilse | Antiquity, June 2000 | Go to article overview

Continuity and Change in Minoan Palatial Power


Knappett, Carl, Schoep, Ilse, Antiquity


Introduction

The major palaces of Bronze Age Crete acted as regional power centres for a period of around 500 years, through both the First Palace (c. 1925-1750 BC) and Second Palace (1750-1425 BC) Periods. The question we wish to pose in this short paper is whether there were any significant changes in the nature of palatial power over this time. The most popular theory appears to be that Minoan palatial systems were centralized and redistributive in both the First and Second Palace Periods, with palatial centres exerting considerable economic and political control over their hinterlands (Finley 1970; Renfrew 1972; Branigan 1988; Palaima 1990).

For the First Palace Period at least, this orthodoxy has recently been challenged, in separate doctoral theses by each of the present authors (Schoep 1996; Knappett 1997). For example, in a study comparing the pottery from the palatial centre of Malia with that of Myrtos Pyrgos, a village site within its territory, it emerged that, although the centre may have had ideological influence over a wide domain, its economic power was relatively circumscribed at the regional level (Knappett 1997, 1999). It was suggested that this situation might represent the existence of a state more decentralized than centralized in character.

But if we wish to examine the nature of political organization in theLIecond Palace Period a very basic problem awaits us -- how many states were there? Some believe that each palatial centre controlled its own polity (Warren 1985; Cherry 1986; Soles 1991: 73-6), as seems to have been the case in the First Palace Period. Other scholars, however, consider Knossos to have been the political centre for the whole island (e.g. Hood 1983; Wiener 1990: 150). These seemingly opposed views need not be mutually exclusive, however; each palatial site may have held a certain degree of (economic?) control over its immediate hinterland, whilst at the same time ceding ideological supremacy to Knossos (cf. Soles 1991: 76). The picture of regional political organization is complicated still further by the discovery in recent years of yet more palatial centres, for example at Galatas (Rethemiotakis 1999), Petras (Tsipopoulou 1997) and Archanes (Sakellarakis 1997). Yet these discoveries would appear to be consistent with the notion of a mosaic of polities of different sizes, to a large degree independent but at the same time owing ideological allegiance to Knossos.

One question in particular arises: what is the nature of palatial power, and how does it change from the First to the Second Palace Period? In order to chart the shifting nature of political authority, attention should be given to both its cultural and its economic underpinnings. Brief consideration is given here to both, but our focus is predominantly on the economic aspects -- in other words, how did Minoan elites manipulate economic resources further to integrate and centralize their power? This essentially amounts to a study of the numerous elements of the Minoan political economy. For the purposes of our analysis we shall here adopt the general approach outlined by Smith (1991), in which political economy is described in terms of three critical components; it is argued that all state polities find a need to accumulate, bureaucratize and capitalize. These three features Smith christens the `ABC' of political economy. This format will be used to analyse certain aspects of the Minoan evidence from the First and Second Palace Periods.

Accumulation

In a particular situation which calls for decisions to be made, certain individuals may react to the situation and make choices on behalf of the wider community. When that situation is safely negotiated, those decision-making individuals may or may not continue in their roles at this stage a more permanent crystallization of these roles may depend on the resources available to the individuals involved. Without an accumulated fund to provide manoeuvrability in their actions, these individuals' roles will almost certainly remain situational and will therefore evaporate as the situation recedes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Continuity and Change in Minoan Palatial Power
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.