A mortuary approach to cultural interaction and political dynamics on LMII-IIIB Crete
This thesis analyses the published evidence for tomb burial practices on Late Bronze Age Crete, focusing on the problem of understanding the political and cultural significance of the introduction of tomb use on the island from the Late Minoan II period (c1450 BC) to the end of Late Minoan IIIB (c1200 BC). The adoption of tomb burial customs was one element within a broader cultural reorientation towards mainland Greece occurring on Crete in this period that has resulted in the common application in archaeological literature of the epithet 'Mycenaean' to the island. It also coincides with at least two horizons of political upheaval within the island, the first resulting in Knossian hegemony over much of Crete from LM II and the second in decentralisation and regionalisation in LM IIIA2. However, while mainland-derived cultural influence on Crete has frequently been observed, and the internal political changes recognised, the reasons behind these developments have never really been explored or problematised, beyond recourse to traditional models of invasion and migration. The purpose of the present thesis is to explore how the cultural and political dynamics of the island were negotiated through changing mortuary practices. The development of the mainland-inspired strategy of tomb ostentation as a medium for high status advertisement is charted from its initial introduction at Knossos to its appropriation by regional centres in LM IIIA2 and LM IIIB. It is argued that invasion or migration hypotheses are not necessary to account for the developments in tomb use in Crete, though these may have been contributory factors. Crete was participating within a broader Aegean trend of cultural 'Mycenaeanisation', though it was simultaneously deploying the burial sphere for internal political negotiations that also involved the development of a specifically Cretan mortuary vocabulary - particularly in terms of deposition methods and standards of monumentality.