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ARCHAEOLOGICAL MEETING OF THESSALY AND CENTRAL GREECE, 2006-2008
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Paper abstract

PANTOU Panagiota A.
ASCSA, Ph.D. Candidate, State University of New York at Buffalo
Examining Settlement Types and Regional Variability in Late Bronze Age Greece: The Data from Eastern Thessaly

Based on the organization of the Pylian kingdom recorded in the Linear B tablets, it has been assumed that Mycenaean Greece was ruled through major administrative centers/capitals that exercised centralized political and economic control in relation to a broader hinterland. Archaeological research, however, has recently produced evidence inconsistent with the Linear B settlement hierarchy and subsistence economy model in Late Bronze Age Greece. A great deal of this atypical evidence has been discovered in eastern Thessaly, where two distinct models of settlement prevail. The first one is centered around the Bay of Volos with three, possibly four, major coastal centers located about 3-5 km apart, each reaching approximately 10 hectares in size. On the basis of settlement data, mortuary, and material evidence, each coastal site appears to have been autonomous benefiting from craft production and trading contacts with the Aegean and the Near East. A second type of settlement can be mapped out in the western hinterland at a distance of some 20-25 km from the coast, which comprises about half a dozen sites of diverse size with predominantly agropastoral economy. Based on present data the coastal industrial and commercial centers coexisted alongside the palatial polities but never developed the complexity of administration that we see for instance at Pylos. The settlement pattern in eastern Thessaly, thus, questions the existence of centralized authority in a number of areas in Late Bronze Age Greece and provides evidence for the existence of two separate and incompatible socioeconomic systems each supported by a different sector of Mycenaean society.


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