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Title: Social arenas in Minoan Crete : a regional history of the Mesara in south-central final Neolithic to the end of the Protopalatial period
Author: Relaki, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0001 3513 6627
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2004
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Minoan archaeology is dominated by the study of Palaces. The establishment of such monumental structures with assumed central authority across the island of Crete at the beginning of the MBA has promoted historical questions which focus exclusively on the emergence of social complexity. Almost without exception such studies have been framed within a regional background. However, although Region has been considered the scale of analysis par excellence for understanding the rise of the Palaces, a more thorough investigation of the dynamics which generate regional patterns seems to be lacking in current studies. This thesis argues that the directionality imposed to Minoan studies by the focus on palatial emergence generates inadequate accounts of social change. Moreover, the uncritical equation of regional conformities with social integration, reduces regionalism to an accidental phenomenon and impedes the investigation of the relationship between local and wider processes. An alternative approach is put forward whereby social practices are at the centre of inquiry. It is argued that social relations are negotiated through particular social practices which prove more relevant for the articulation of identities, thereby becoming social arenas. The recurrent investment in common social arenas through time generates particular understandings of region as a sense of community. Region is perceived here as an ongoing process of belonging and not as the concentration of people and objects in a bounded geographical area. The Mesara in south-central Crete has been considered the 'ultimate' region in Minoan studies by virtue of its distinct topography and its unique cultural pattern. The thesis examines the social processes which generated such an impression of regionalism for the Mesara, from the FN to the end of the Protopalatial period. It is argued that the scale at which belonging was practised, marked the extent and the density of the relevant region. The emergence of the First Palace of Phaistos is re-evaluated through this alternative perspective. It is suggested that the geographical distinctiveness of the Mesara did not always warrant the social cohesion of its communities. Instead the Mesara consisted of different regions throughout its history, which reflected the scale at which community was felt and actively performed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available