The Nemea Center Seminar: These aren't the Mycenaeans we're looking for

Seminar | March 21 | 5:30 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall

 Dimitri Nakassis, Classics, University of Colorado Boulder

 The Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology

The term "Mycenaean" is typically used for the Late Bronze Age societies of the Greek mainland and other parts of the Aegean basin, but we would do well to remember that our concept of these people, whoever they were, and our word for them, is ours, and it need not describe an internal reality. The term “Mycenaean” can be a useful one for historians and archaeologists, but it is also undoubtedly dangerous. We’ve grown accustomed to thinking of “the Mycenaeans” as a homogeneous palatial culture characterized by extreme hierarchy and centralization, focused on the mainland of central and southern Greece. I argue in this paper that this picture is a significant distortion of the available evidence and I try to deconstruct this modern image through an analysis of the historiography of the place of the Mycenaeans in the broader sweep of Greek prehistory and history and the internal heterogeneity of this world, across time and space. Turning to the internal operation of the polity we understand best, Pylos, I then very briefly sketch a new model of Mycenaean society and economy and a new way to understand Late Bronze Age communities.