From 'power to paradigm' : rethinking the emergence of the 'palatial phenomenon' in Bronze Age Crete
Over the past century of investigation of the Minoan past, perhaps the most persistent field of enquiry has been that of the "emergence of the palatial phenomenon". Only recently has this begun to be challenged, as the discipline of Minoan archaeology has gone through several marked changes. These have been stimulated mostly by a growing body of empirical data and by new techniques of investigation, but other changes go far deeper, with the unusually rigorous scrutiny of what constitutes the very backbone of the discipline: the "palace" category itself. One of the central themes of this thesis is the examination of the processes that led to the present state of affairs in Minoan studies, to ask how and why was the concept of the "palace" "constructed" and more recently "deconstructed". It demonstrates that the development of these two radically opposed points of view is inextricably connected with broader developments and transformations in Post-Enlightenment Western thought. In arguing this, the thesis suggests that neither "the palace" nor its repudiation allow us to get closer to the "reality" of the (Minoan) past, as both premises constitute nothing more than "situated" points of view. If the decision to adhere (or not) to the concept of the "palace" is really a matter of perspective, then we need to pay closer attention to how these perspectives deal with fundamental issues such as (ontological and epistemological) ethics, value and responsibility. It is suggested that a future for Minoan archaeology can be guaranteed only if at this particular historical conjuncture, the ethical implications as well as consequences of archaeological/epistemological performance are assessed in more critical fashion. Discussion proceeds by offering some insights as to how the handling of these issues can be achieved in practice and concludes with a very specific suggestion: in order to be able to re- articulate theory and practice in our study of this particular segment of the Cretan past, a new analytical question/direction of enquiry ought to be established. It is suggested that for this new question to be defined and operationalized, a radical redefinition of the "palace" question ought to be sought. Through the detailed investigation of specific case studies, the thesis deduces that the "emergence of House Society" has an immense analytical potential as a replacement of the long dominant issue of the "emergence of civilization.