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Title: Death in post-palatial Greece : reinterpreting burial practices and social organisation after the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces
Author: Bulmer, P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 0284
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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The principle aim of this thesis is to develop a better understanding of social organisation in Greece after the collapse of the palace system c.1190 BCE. This is achieved through a multi-level analysis of burial practices, focussing specifically on the post-palatial cemetery at Perati, burial practices before and after the collapse in the Argolid, and the custom of burial with weapons, from the Shaft Grave period to the post-palatial period in Greece. The main theoretical basis for focussing on burial practices is the argument that social change is reflected and enacted in burial practices, so studying changes in burial practices (including the shift from chamber tombs to simple graves, the change from collective to single burials, the introduction of cremation, and the use of high status grave goods) has the potential to inform us about the nature of social change. This basic premise is challenged in the course of the thesis, when it is shown that burial practices in Attica changed before the collapse, whilst the custom of placing weapons in graves did not change when the palace system collapsed, and burial practices in the Argolid remained recognisably Mycenaean despite the destruction of the region’s two palaces. In explaining why burial practices did not change in response to the collapse of the palace system, the thesis develops a new theory. Burial practices do change, but this is in response to changes in kinship structures, rather than the nature of the state or the level of social complexity. Furthermore, this thesis argues that burials with weapons do not represent the burials or warriors or chiefs, but are used more broadly to reflect status achieved for a variety of reasons. These burials should not be regarded as “warrior graves”, since there was, in fact, no warrior class at any time in Bronze Age Greece. This study challenges a number of traditional interpretations of the post-palatial period in Greece. In particular, it is argued that this period should no longer be regarded as the start of the so-called Dark Age. The people who survived the destructions and went on to re-organise their lives during this troubled period should not be thought of as the victims of disaster, but active participants in the shaping of post-palatial Greece. They deserve to have their story told, and this thesis represents a chapter in that story.
Supervisor: Mee, C. ; Fitzjohn, M. ; Muskett, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral