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Joseph Maran: Tiryns and the Argolid in Mycenaean Times: New Clues and Interpretations

Seminar: Other UCB Archaeology | November 6 | 2-4 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall

Joseph Maran, Heidelberg University

Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, Graduate Group in

In this lecture the site of Tiryns will be used as a case study for assessing crucial periods of transformation that occurred during the Mycenaean period in the Argolid. The choice of putting the focus on the significance of discontinuities is based on the consideration that archaeology due to the very nature of its sources, which are often encountered in stratigraphic succession, is in danger of overemphasizing continuity and gradual change. In contrast, it will be argued that, in order to understand Mycenaean culture and society, we have to pay more attention to the signs for discontinuous change triggered by inner-societal processes. Undoubtedly, the changing course of Mycenaean culture could be read as a trajectory encompassing the three stages of rise (Period of the Shaft Graves), zenith (Palatial Period) and decline (Post-Palatial Period), but such seemingly persuasive evolutionary reconstructions are deceptive, because one easily forgets that social and political change only in historical hindsight is perceived and construed as gradual and consequential, while in reality it was incalculable and may have led to very different outcomes. This is because societies are not homogenous, let alone organisms, whose members at all times work towards common goals. Out of this inner-societal heterogeneity derives a dynamic for change that is based on the efficacy of the agency of social actors, who attempt to shape and change the world in which they are living.