Archaeology and masculinity in Late Bronze Age Knossos
This thesis critically examines the applicability of the concept of masculinity as a descriptive or analytical category in archaeological analyses. Central to this project is the recognition that the concept of gender employed by the majority of archaeologists has limited practical application. Such a concept of gender relies upon a radical separation between sex and gender, where gender is understood to be the cultural elaboration of a natural body. Following recent feminist theorising on the body, it is argued that the categories of sex and the body are equally culturally constructed. Consequently, gender is reformulated to encompass the means by which particular ideas of the body and sex are made to appear 'natural'. Masculinity is complicit with the formulation of a binary model to sex based on the normative categories male/female. The status of the body as produced through discourse is highlighted by men's experiences of their bodies which differ from the ideals perpetuated through theory and representation. Furthermore, cross-cultural evidence indicates that bodies can be conceptualised and valorised on the basis of criteria other than the genitalia visible at birth. The analysis of figurative imagery from Late Bronze Age Knossos reveals a representational ideal of bodies largely undifferentiated by physical sexual characteristics. Rather, a single body shape is presented which is differentiated through the details of clothing, body position and gesture. The material upsets the binaries sex/gender and nature/culture. An alternative idea of bodies is operative in the imagery in which genital differences are not the primary means of categorisation, nor the defining feature of bodies. This approach to bodies has important implications for analyses of gender in archaeology. Gender can no longer be projected unproblematically onto a male/female template in the past. Furthermore, masculinity is not necessarily an appropriate basis for an archaeological inquiry. Rather, the evidence of gender can be understood as both generative and expressive of different ontologies of the body, including such concepts as masculinity.