Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Art & Archaeology of Mediterranean World

First Advisor

Lauren Ristvet

Second Advisor

Thomas Tartaron

Abstract

In the Pre- and Protopalatial periods, Minoan burial practices were communal, interactive, and sustained, creating complex tomb assemblages that span several hundred years. Small-scale taphonomic analyses of mortuary contexts indicate that secondary treatments of human remains were variable and frequent while large-scale regional studies suggest greater diversity among Early Minoan (EM) and Middle Minoan (MM) communities than previously believed. These nuanced approaches to variability, however, have not been fully realized at the mid-range, intra-site scale. Diversity in tomb architecture and object assemblages has continually been interpreted as evidence of hierarchical social structure and increasing social complexity before the appearance of the Minoan palaces, often ignoring other aspects of these contexts that contradict this interpretation.

This dissertation focuses on social interaction rather than social structure, and proposes a methodology for considering complex tomb assemblages and intra-site variability using the well-known site of Archanes-Phourni as a case study. It provides a detailed, contextual re-analysis of the 23 communal and long-lived burial contexts dating from EM IIA to MM II (ca. 2700-1700 BCE), highlighting chronological and spatial variability related to changing burial practices and distinct group identities. Using quantitative and qualitative analytical methods, and drawing on contemporary theories of time, materiality, personhood, and value, this work offers an interpretation of the diverse and interactive burial practices at Archanes-Phourni at multiple scales. Contextual analysis of these tomb assemblages indicates that there was significant variety in spatial structure, methods of interment, and object deposition but that these individually variable practices occurred alongside long-lived, communally shared traditions. The frequent interactions with burial deposits that served to maintain connections between the living and the dead throughout the Prepalatial and into the Protopalatial period, diminished in MM II, suggesting a new approach to burial and to the cemetery.

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