Paper abstract

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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