Continuity of authority and ideology after the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces
- Crielaard Jan Paul
Our way of thinking about what happened after ca. 1200 BC when the Mycenaean palaces disappeared is highly coloured by the idea of a total collapse. It is assumed that the society, economy and demography suffered such heavy blows that the Aegean fell back into a sort of Stone Age, which made that the few survivors had to reinvent almost every aspect of civilized life. In this contribution I intend to discuss what evidence there is of continuity during the centuries following the collapse of the palatial system, especially in the sphere of social structures and social inequality. I acknowledge that there was a steep decline in complexity in a number of fields. On the other hand, it becomes increasingly clear that there is a great variety in regional responses to alterations in this period. Especially in regions that suffered less of a setback, there were social groups that continued to make claims to an elevated social position, sometimes by making references to the authority and ideology of the wanax. One of the things I hope to show is that the popular "wanax to qa-si-re-u / basileus-model" does not offer an adequate explanation for this situation. I also wish to argue that it is almost inevitable to accept that connected with continuity of hierarchical structures was a measure of continuity in military organization, various sorts of craft specialization, intraregional and interregional exchanges, and even bureaucracy.
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