Fall 2023 MASt Seminar (Friday, October 20)

In the aftermath: Surviving the Bronze Age Collapse and looking back to look forward—Papers and Summary of the Discussion held at the Fall 2023 MASt Seminar (Friday, October 20)

Dedicating the Fall 2023 MASt seminar to the memory of Diane Harris Cline

§1. The MASt team fondly dedicates this seminar to the lasting memory of dear Diane Harris Cline.

§2. Diane and Eric Cline joined the workshop on the Bronze Age Aegean that Tom Palaima offered in Washington, DC in Fall 2019 and that Greg Nagy, Lenny Muellner, Rachele Pierini, and Roger Woodard organized. Although the Bronze Age was not a primary focus of her work, Diane loved the Aegean Sea and, in addition, was an alumni of the Center for Hellenic Studies in which the workshop took place.

§3. That workshop subsequently gave the inspiration for—and consequently became—the first meeting of the MASt seminars. Diane and Eric were, for all of us, fellow founders of—and essential participants in—the MASt project and network as it has developed.

§4. We are therefore honored to dedicate this Fall 2023 MASt seminar to the loving memory of Diane Harris Cline.

Introduction to the Fall 2023 MASt seminar

§5. The Fall 2023 MASt seminar “In the aftermath: Surviving the Bronze Age Collapse and looking back to look forward” brought us to the Aegean area in the aftermath of the Bronze Age collapse through the talks by Eric Cline and Joseph Maran.

§6. Eric Cline’s paper “Resilience, Transformation, and Catastrophe: Looking at the Aftermath of the Late Bronze Age Collapse through the Lens of the Adaptive Cycle, Resilience Theory, and Extreme Events” focused on the centuries following the Late Bronze Age Collapse in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean area and the reaction it triggered—examples of adaptation and transformation, but also of failure to thrive or even to survive in some cases. These subjects are at the core of Cline’s upcoming book After 1177.

§7. Joseph Maran offered the presentation “Monuments of the Past and Social Memory during the Palatial and Postpalatial Periods of Mycenaean Greece”. Maran provided evidence for a change in how the past was remembered from the 13th to the 12th century BCE by focusing on the material expressions of social memory through case examples from Mycenae, Thebes and Tiryns.

§8. Roughly 80 attendees took part in the Fall 2023 MASt seminar, among whom Matilda Agdler, Nick Blackwell, Eric H. Cline, Sophie Cushman, Janice Crowley, Lorenzo D’Alfonoso, Eric Dieu, Giorgia Di Lorenzo, Elena Dzukeska, Hedvig Landenius Enegren, Belisi Gillespie, Lavinia Giorgi, B. Huber, Berenice Jones, Elizabeth Keyser, Daniel Kölligan, Nuray Nisan Köknar, Maria Kostoula, Panos Kozobolis, Jeffrey Kramer, Lynn Kvapil, Antonios Kotsonas, Joseph Maran, Rebekah Mckay, Nicoletta Momigliano, Sarah Morris, Leonard Muellner, Giulia Muti, Greg Nagy, Dimitri Nakassis, Marie-Louise Nosch, Tom Palaima, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos, Rachele Pierini, Vassiliki Pliatsika, Supreeth Prashanth, Linda Rocchi, Ian Rutherford, Matthew Scarborough, Kim Shelton, Maria Stefanova, Agata Ulanowska, Carlos Varias Garcia, Thiago Venturott, Katarzyna Żebrowska, Petar Zidarov.

§9. Substantial discussions followed each presentation. Specifically, contributions to the seminar were made by Eric H. Cline (see below at §§ 26, 28, 30, 32—33, 35, 37, 39—40), Janice Crowley (§90), Sophie Cushman (§38), Antonios Kotsonas (§§65—66), Joseph Maran (§§34, 64, 67—68, 72—73, 76—77, 83, 85—86, 88, 91, 93), Sarah Morris (§§63, 89), Dimitri Nakassis (§§25, 36), Tom Palaima (§§29, 41, 74—75, 78, 81—82, 84), Rachele Pierini (§31), Supreeth Prashanth (§§27, 42, 87), Kim Shelton (§§69—71, 79—80, 94—95), Carlos Varias (§92).

After 1177: The Survival of Civilizations (Summation)

Presenter: Eric H. Cline

§10. My presentation to MASt showcased some of the details and results from my forthcoming book dealing with the Iron Age in Greece, the Levant, Egypt, and elsewhere in the ancient Near East. Entitled After 1177: The Survival of Civilizations, it will be published in April 2024 by Princeton University Press and is a sequel to my earlier book, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Cline 2014; revised edition 2021). Below, I give a brief overview and summary of the contents.

§11. To begin with, it is no secret that the collapse of complex societies has long been of interest to historians and archaeologists, ever since Edward Gibbon chronicled the decline and fall of Rome. However, such interest has increased markedly in recent decades, fueled in part because of concerns for the well-being of our own contemporary society. In the past thirty years alone, we have seen the appearance of Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), Yoffee and Cowgill’s edited volume The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations (1988), Diamond’s Collapse (2005), McAnany and Yoffee’s edited volume Questioning Collapse (2010), and Middleton’s Understanding Collapse (2017).

§12. Equally challenging, and now of equal interest to many scholars and general readers, is what happens after a collapse has occurred. Archaeologists and ancient historians have begun to explore this topic more fully in recent years as well, including Schwartz and Nichols’ edited volume After Collapse (2006) and Faulseit’s edited volume Beyond Collapse (2016). The terminology now in use includes “resilience,” “transition,” and “transformation,” in order to describe the process followed by societies or civilizations that have proved able to “continue to operate under stress, adapt to adversity, and recover functionality after a crisis.” This is the National Research Council’s definition of “resilience,” made in 2011 at the request of the Department of Homeland Security (doi.org/10.17226/13028).

§13. In my previous book 1177 BC (Cline 2021), I examined the catastrophe that took place at the end of the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. That there was a collapse of the commercial and diplomatic network connecting the principal societies in this region is unquestioned — life as they knew it in those regions changed dramatically in the years after 1200 BCE and societies ranging from the Mycenaeans and Minoans to the Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and others were each affected to a greater or lesser degree; some disappeared forever. However, the reasons for why it took place remain contested and disputed. I suggested that it was caused by a “perfect storm” of factors, including climate change leading to drought and famine; earthquakes; disruption of the trade routes from invaders; internal rebellions and the failure of centralized economies. It was a veritable smorgasbord of disastrous events; no single one would have necessarily led to collapse, but the combination of them made it almost inevitable. The ensuing aftermath lasted in some of these areas for up to four centuries before an international network could be reestablished.

§14. My sequel to that volume, entitled After 1177 BC (Cline 2024), deals with the next four centuries, during the aftermath of the Late Bronze Age collapse. In it, I explore in detail the subsequent history and differing responses of the eight principal societies that were affected. This was a time of either immediate transition and transformation or of stagnation followed eventually by a slow recovery, depending upon the resilience, or lack therefore, in each region. Of the areas under consideration – which are the same ones that I examined in the previous book, ranging from Egypt, Cyprus, and Anatolia to Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Greece — each followed its own distinct path and timeline to recovery, or not. We have, essentially, eight case studies as to what to do, and what not to do, if your society experiences such a catastrophe.

§15. Within the various chapters, I proceed through the history of the period from 1176–776 BCE, distilling and distinguishing the distinctive experiences of each of these cultures, in order to show not only how each was unique in their efforts to emerge from the aftermath of the collapse, but also in order to search for what they each had in common and what factors made one more successful than another. What were the keys to resiliency and rebirth for each of the cultures? How were they similar and how were they different?

§16. In Greece, for instance, the central economy and the elites were now gone, and writing, monumental architecture, and other skills needed for a complex society had been lost. It took four hundred years for Greece to finally build itself back up enough and enter the period known as the Greek Renaissance: the time of Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, and others.

§17. In Assyria, however, we see an example of resiliency in action. Although the large empire that the Bronze Age Assyrians had controlled was now just a memory, kings such as Tiglath-Pileser I, who began ruling in 1115 BCE, were still in place in Assyria, as were all previous levels of Assyrian society. Writing and bureaucracy also continued as before; even large building projects were still undertaken. There was a semblance of normality, although there were no longer any far-flung trading connections, diplomatic embassies or marriages, or the other hallmarks of the interconnected society of the Late Bronze Age. The Assyrians were able to transform themselves within just a few decades, demonstrating an admirable resilience and biding their time until they were able to reestablish their control over much of the Near East again, beginning in the ninth century BCE. The centuries from just after 1200 BCE to just after 900 BCE, when they were grappling with the effects of drought, famine, plague, and attacks by the Arameans, was a tough time for them, to be sure, but it was more along the lines of a “recession”, as Nicholas Postgate said back in 1992, and less of a complete rebuilding (Postgate 1992).

§18. The other areas under consideration fall somewhere between the two extremes of Greece on the one hand and Assyria on the other. Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, and Cyprus each had their own response to what had taken place and differed in whether it involved a total rebuilding of the socio-cultural, political, and economic aspects of the civilization, as opposed to a simpler transformation or even new groups of people establishing themselves (such as the Israelites, Philistines, and Phoenicians).

§19. While there is a tremendous amount of scholarly literature that has been written about each of the civilizations individually, including much new material, no one has yet analyzed the differences and the commonalities or explored what use we can make of knowing this today, so I set out to do exactly that. What was the Assyrians’ secret? Why were they so resilient? What lessons can we learn from comparing and contrasting the Assyrian experience and the Greek experience? What happens when we pull the Egyptians, Cypriots, and Babylonians into the discussion? All of these areas experienced the “perfect storm” at the end of the Late Bronze Age, so—all things being equal—why did some bounce back within decades while others took centuries to recover? And, why did the southern Canaanites and Hittites never come back, but were replaced by the Israelites, Phoenicians, Philistines, Urartians, and others?

§20. For the Aegean in particular, I conclude that we must give the Greeks credit for resiliency in some form, for despite the instability and insecurity that was present during these centuries on both mainland Greece and Crete, there was a certain degree of continuity and overall, they did eventually rebuild rather than being completely replaced by new people. Despite the false tradition of the Dorian invasion, and the dramatic drop in population on mainland Greece immediately after the Collapse (current assessments still hover between 40 and 60 percent for the decrease in population from the thirteenth to the eleventh centuries BCE, attributable to both mortality and migration), the ethnicity and identity of the people themselves may not have changed too terribly much. That is to say, there weren’t necessarily huge migrations and new peoples coming into the area in the aftermath of the Collapse, but rather it was the sociocultural and political circumstances that changed for the most part—an adaptation of the remaining population to the new harsh realities of an environment beset by drought and where famine and political instability were a matter of course.

§21. Within the final chapter of the book, I then apply all of the data from the previous chapters (aka case studies) to the concepts of resilience theory and the Adaptive Cycle, stressing the notions of transformation, adaptation, and coping, as defined especially by the IPCC (“Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”), and ranking how well each of the societies did in the aftermath of the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Here I also further discuss any commonalities that were uncovered, especially those which might provide indicators for how we could plan for such a contingency. I also ask once again, as I did at the end of 1177 BC, whether any of this holds lessons for us today—whether there is anything to be learned from this dramatic story of resurgence and revival?

§22. The answer to this last question is, of course, “yes,” but its relevancy to today’s world depends in large part upon whether our own globalized society collapses. If it does not, then my sequel can serve simply as a unique and compelling study of what once happened in the past and how the various affected civilizations dealt with the situation after the life that they had known in the Bronze Age came to a sudden end.

§23. But, if our globalized civilization does come to a similar end, then how we deal with it, and how resilient we are, will depend upon how total the collapse is and how we have prepared for it, including applying lessons learned from ancient history, for the main takeaway from all of this is that clearly such a collapse is survivable, provided that we are resilient enough and able to cope, adapt, or transform as necessary. Societal collapse doesn’t always take everyone with it, and often cultures continue, even if at a simpler level or perhaps in a new iteration. And even for those who are hit hardest, there is often a period of regeneration after the worst of times that leads to the resumption of life, prosperity, and happiness (as the ancient Egyptians would say).

§24. I am hopeful that this topic will be of great interest and will resonate with both scholarly and general audiences, many of whom are very concerned with how, or if, we will recover if our current society collapses. Knowing what happened to our predecessors and the effectiveness of their resiliency, or lack thereof in some cases, during the years, decades, and centuries that followed the collapse at the end of the Late Bronze Age means that this book too, like 1177 BC, may well have relevance to the modern world, and possibly sooner rather than later.

Discussion following Cline’s presentation

§25. Dimitri Nakassis raised the question of the appropriateness of employing broad categories like “the Minoans” or “the Mycenaeans” when discussing the Aegean world. He acknowledged the convenience of this approach but questioned the potential loss of specificity. Nakassis also expressed concerns, as elucidated by Joseph Maran (Maran 2022), regarding the utilization of such categories. These categories, Nakassis highlighted, which have their roots in the culture history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, might not adequately represent historical contexts. He thus prompted the inquiry of whether alternative or refined approaches should be explored to address the issues associated with these categories.

§26. Eric H. Cline acknowledged that in composing a book intended for a general readership, he opted for the use of simplified designations such as “the Minoans” and “the Mycenaeans” for the sake of expediency, with the aim of retaining the readers’ engagement. Cline added that he deliberately abstained from venturing into extensive details and discussions on various ethnicities, with the intention of upholding a broad and approachable narrative for his audience. He further expressed appreciation for the significance of input from the MASt group in deconstructing and exploring alternative concepts. Cline concurred that forthcoming discussions should endeavor to delve into more intricate perspectives, underscoring the imperative to avoid making overly sweeping statements.

§27. In the chat Supreeth Prashanth raised the question of whether the loss of memory and cultural rituals exerted an influence on the categorization of the Mycenaean civilization, particularly in the mainland. Prashanth observed that the city of Porto Rafti, in Attica, and the region of Boeotia continued to thrive following the collapse in the 12th century BCE, implying that these factors could significantly impact the categorization of this civilization.

§28. Eric H. Cline replied that for him the preservation of cultural memories and continuity from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age plays a significant role in shaping the categorization of the Mycenaean civilization. He elucidated that this perspective guided his decision to classify the Mycenaeans in group four rather than group five, recognizing that certain aspects transcended the boundary between these eras, thus fostering cultural continuity within Greece. Cline acknowledged the inherent subjectivity involved in the categorization process, which evolved during the book’s composition, and openly expressed an expectation of potential critique. To illustrate, Cline initially contemplated placing the Minoans and the Canaanites of the Southern Levant in category two but subsequently revised this classification, repositioning them in group four and group five, respectively.

§29. Tom Palaima proposed that readers, especially discerning scholars, would value transparency when it comes to addressing the intricacies of categorization. Palaima then asked Cline to provide an illustration of the categories or societal components employed for placement determinations. In doing so, he pointed to the Homeric epics as an instance of cultural continuity, citing their origin in songs composed and sung during ceremonial events in the 15th century BCE, which later evolved into the renowned epics. Additionally, Palaima mentioned the Minoan origin of the epic verse.

§30. Cline delineated his approach to categorization as dynamic, elucidating that they grounded it in Colin Renfrew’s categories for systems collapse (Renfrew 1978; 1979: 482–487) and augmented it with their own classifications, especially those associated with the Dark Ages. He also elaborated that these incorporated aspects such as the loss of writing, central administration, and central economy. Furthermore, Cline clarified that the book includes disclaimers, which address possible limitations and uncertainties inherent in the categorization process. In addition, he acknowledged the inherent challenge of categorization, underscoring the substantial variation in available data across different societies and regions. This variation, he specified, led him to inform readers that the depth of examination in the book would be contingent on data availability, resulting in a combination of comprehensive analyses and more cursory explorations.

§31. Rachele Pierini raised questions regarding strategies for improving the dissemination of knowledge in a manner similar to the approach adopted by Cline. Specifically, how academics can actively participate in sharing knowledge while upholding a rigorous scholarly standard within the field.

§32. Eric H. Cline answered by proposing a variety of means through which individuals can contribute to the dissemination of knowledge. These methods, he highlighted, include writing tweets, blog posts, producing or appearing on podcasts, contribution to magazines and museum catalogs, participation in conferences, and the delivery of lectures. Cline further underscored the public’s strong appetite for accurate information, particularly as an alternative to sensationalized topics. Cline cited the work of Sarah Morris (1989: 48–49), who pointed out the enduring influence of the concept of the Dorian invasions in historical narratives, and the contribution by Elizabeth Carter and Sarah Morris in the catalog for the 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit “Assyria to Iberia” (Carter and Morris 2014). He emphasized the value of using social media platforms like Twitter/X and Instagram for the dissemination of knowledge, even in concise posts, due to the active engagement of younger generations, including his students.

§33. Cline then expressed curiosity about the reception of his forthcoming book. He clarified that the initial five chapters comprise a traditional historical exposition, while the author’s attempt to provide an interpretative framework is reserved for the sixth chapter. Cline acknowledged his expectation of potential disagreements, particularly with regard to the use of the IPCC’s perspective and the process of categorization. Nonetheless, he hoped that the general public would derive value from the historical content contained within the introductory chapters.

§34. Joseph Maran acknowledged the significance of the central theme of the lecture, which delved into the categorization of diverse societies and their capacity to adapt to transformation processes during the pivotal transition from the 13th to the 12th century BCE. However, he introduced a crucial question concerning the potential influence of shifts in networks connecting these societies in their ability to confront such challenges. Specifically, he sought to understand the ramifications of interrelations, such as those between the Greek Mainland and Cyprus, which have been identified as more resilient, on the individual trajectories taken by these societies.

§35. Cline agreed that this is a very important topic, and an area of research which is ready to be explored further. Cline, then, drew attention to Maran’s work, along with that of Jeremy Rutter, who suggests that the collapse of the Bronze Age societies began already in the 13th century, and suggested himself that this might in part be due to observable changes in trading networks in this period.

§36. Dimitri Nakassis suggested a recent article (Driessen and Gaignerot-Driessen 2023) that has relevance for dating the start of the period of instability in the Aegean. In it, Nakassis reported, the authors argue that the major LM IIIA2 destruction at Knossos (ca. 1350–1325 BCE) introduces a period of instability in the Aegean that culminates in the collapse of the Aegean palatial system. Nakassis agreed, however, that the dating is still very difficult, and that this poses a significant problem for research on the time period in question.

§37. Cline emphasized that resilience and vulnerability of civilizations at the end of the Bronze Age is a booming area of research, where currently the number and speed of publications is very high. This, he added, can make it difficult to exhaustively include new evidence in books and articles, and the actuality of information changes rapidly.

§38. Sophie Cushman highlighted the presence of individual communities within the broader cultures or civilizations during the period, and asked if Cline had found internal consistency in the way different communities placed within his categorization of resilience and vulnerability.

§39. Cline observed that there is great variability in the cases of individual communities, and that this makes the kind of sweeping statements, based on labels such as Southern Canaanite, Central Canaanite, Northern Canaanite, problematic. Within these larger civilizations, he specified, each individual city responds slightly differently to the turbulence. Still, the broader categorizations, he reflected, are informative. For example, he explained that it is useful to compare the Hittites to the Cypriots, even though the change within an individual city like Hattusa differs in comparison to other cities within the Hittite Empire.

§40. Cline then asked the participants’ feedback on his use of modern terminology for descriptions of change and societal collapse (e.g., from the IPCC reports)—if it is useful and worthwhile, or rather too anachronistic.

§41. Tom Palaima replied that he found the use of the modern terminology very appropriate. He observed that, as a graduate student, he had also used terminology from the State Department Report on the post-World War II situation in Greece to describe emergencies at Pylos in the 70s, as he found that understanding Greece’s resource base through time facilitated the understanding of the situation at hand at Pylos. Palaima then added that the use of modern terminology might help in alerting the public to the importance of research on ancient societies, and to the fact that preserving the knowledge we have of them can prove useful to solving the problems we as a society face today.

§42. Supreeth Prashanth concluded the discussion by observing that, in his personal opinion, the use of modern parameters would work better at a regional scale (e.g., the Greek disaster relief for the Aegean, the Egyptian disaster relief for Egypt, etc.).

§43. Cline’s Bibliography

Carter, E. and S. Morris. 2014. “Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond: Survival, Revival, and the Emergence of the Iron Age.” In Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age, ed. J. Aruz, S. B. Graff, and Y. Rakic, 14–23. New York.

Cline, E. H. 2014. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Revised edition, 2021. Princeton.

Cline, E. H. 2024. After 1177 BC: The Survival of Civilizations.  Princeton.

Diamond, J. 2005. Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. New York.

Driessen, J. and F. Gaignerot-Driessen. 2023. “Toppling the domino: the destruction of the palace at Knossos and the Aegean Bronze Age collapse.” In The Decline of Bronze Age Civilisations in the Mediterranean: Cyprus and Beyond, ed. T. Bürge and P.M. Fischer, 117–133. Nicosia.

Faulseit, R. K., ed. 2016. Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies. SIU Center for Archaeological Investigations, Occasional Paper 42. Carbondale.

Maran, J. 2022. “Archaeological Cultures, Fabricated Ethnicities and DNA Research: ‘Minoans’ and ‘Mycenaeans’ as Case Examples.” In Material, Method, and Meaning: Papers in Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology in Honor of Ilan Sharon, ed. U. Davidovich, N. Yahalom-Mack, and S. Мatskevich, 7–25. Münster.

McAnany, P. A. and N. Yoffee, ed. 2009. Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire. Cambridge.

Middleton, G. D. 2017. Understanding Collapse: Ancient History and Modern Myths. Cambridge.

Morris, S. P. 1989. “Daidalos and Kadmos: Classicism and ‘Orientalism,’” in Arethusa (Fall) Special Issue – The Challenge of Black Athena:39–54.

Postgate, J. N. 1992. “The Land of Assur and the Yoke of Assur.” World Archaeology 23(3):247–263.

Renfrew, C. 1978. “Trajectory Discontinuity and Morphogenesis: The Implications of Catastrophe Theory for Archaeology.” American Antiquity 43(2):203–222.

Renfrew, C. 1979. “Systems Collapse as Social Transformation.” In Transformations: Mathematical Approaches to Culture Change, ed. C. Renfrew and K. L. Cooke, 481–506. New York.

Schwartz, G. M. and J. J. Nichols, ed. 2010. After Collapse: the Regeneration of Complex Societies. Tucson.

Tainter, J. 1988. The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge.

Yoffee, N. and G. L. Cowgill, ed. 1991. The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations. Tucson.

Monuments of the Past and Social Memory during the Palatial and Postpalatial Periods of Mycenaean Greece

Presenter: Joseph Maran

§44. The final destruction of the Mycenaean palaces around 1200 BCE constitutes one of the most profound turning points in the early history of Greece. In this contribution, I would like to pursue the question of whether this political upheaval had any impact on how social memory was expressed. Regarding the concept of social memory, the work of the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs, who perished in Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, is of central importance (Halbwachs 1950; 1952; 1992). He was the first to recognize that the past is not simply there, but is continuously created by society. With this assessment, Halbwachs neither meant that the past is invented, nor that it is remembered correctly or incorrectly. Rather, he was referring to the fact that what remains of the past is what a society considers worth remembering at a given time in its particular frame of reference. How and what is remembered is evaluated differently from generation to generation. The term “collective memory,” as it has often been used in the tradition of Halbwachs, should, however, be either avoided or used only with caution because collectives are not organisms that have the ability to remember (Olick and Robbins 1998:111–112; Koselleck 2000:20–21). Since social memory is negotiated in often conflicting discourses in which very different images of the past compete with one another and occasionally clash sharply, social memory needs to be perceived as not only integrative and harmonizing, as the expression “collective memory” suggests, but also as something that is in flux and contested (Juneja 2009; Maran 2011).

§45. Recently, Alain Schnapp has dealt intensively with the reference to ruins in such societies of antiquity that can be studied through textual sources (Schnapp 2020). His masterful analysis has demonstrated how such ruins can play a major role for social memory, provided that they are integrated into narratives which are useful to certain groups and people. Even ruins of societies of the distant past may become the reference point of social memory, if their traces are recognizable or at least remembered in narratives. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Place de la Bastille in Paris, or the 9/11 Memorial in New York demonstrate how the memory of buildings can be preserved even if—or precisely because—the structures themselves no longer exist. It is the void left by these former buildings that lends significance to their sites and turns them into reference points for the construction of social memory.

§46. Archaeology as an academic discipline itself uses traces of past societies to develop narratives about what the past may have looked like. If these traces are studied carefully, it is not uncommon to find evidence that people, already during prehistory and early history, have referred to material traces of their past, a phenomenon aptly designated as “the past in the past” (Bradley and Williams 1999). With regard to Greece, Schnapp has mostly excluded the periods before classical antiquity from his considerations, probably because these earlier periods have left no texts that could inform us about how the past was perceived and constructed. Yet, it seems to me that it is necessary to move away from the fixation on texts and to pay more attention to those material traces of a reference to the past that are exclusively reflected in archaeological sources, since they add valuable insights into aspects of social memory independent from written records. In the following, I will use case examples from Bronze Age Greece and focus on such forms of social memory that included the reference to monuments of the past which achieve certain goals in the society’s present. It will not only become evident that, at certain times, such earlier monuments exerted a considerable power on the imagination of societies, but also that the engagement with the past was not initiated by the spread of the Homeric epics. Rather, these epics themselves were part of a long tradition of engaging with the past.

§47. The extremely long and unexpected connections between widely separated periods of prehistory and early history in Greece can be exemplified by monuments in the sanctuary at Olympia. Its founding is closely linked to the veneration of the mythical king Pelops, whose supposed tomb, the Pelopion, was surrounded around 500 BCE by a pentagonal wall. When excavations, under the direction of Wilhelm Dörpfeld at the beginning of the twentieth century, uncovered an older stone circle right beneath the Pelopion, he dated it to the Mycenaean period and saw it as an indication of cult continuity from the second to the first millennium BCE (Dörpfeld 1935). It was the excavation of the 1980s, under the direction of Helmut Kyrieleis and Jörg Rambach (Kyrieleis 2002; 2006), that refuted the theory of a Mycenaean origin of cult activities in the area of the Altis and demonstrated that the sanctuary was only founded in Protogeometric times, around 1000 BCE (Eder 2001; Kyrieleis 2006). While the existence of Dörpfeld’s stone circle was indeed confirmed, it turned out to be more than 1000 years older than he assumed, built during Early Helladic II (ca. 2500 BCE) to demarcate the boundaries of a large tumulus that was not used for burial, but belongs to a group of Early Helladic monuments known as “ritual tumuli”. In the following centuries, the tumulus was overbuilt only slightly during Early Helladic III and Middle Helladic I, but over the centuries it must have been increasingly covered by alluvial deposits from the two rivers flowing through Olympia. Nevertheless, when the sanctuary was founded during the Early Iron Age, it seems that at least remnants of the tumulus were still visible which ultimately must have led to a linkage with narratives about Pelops and his tomb. Although between the early Middle Helladic and the Protogeometric period—that is approximately from 1900 until 1000 BCE—neither construction nor other activities can be archaeologically ascertained in the area of the Altis, surprisingly the mere memory of a tumulus, rising relatively inconspicuously from its surroundings, as well as the explanations of it, were sufficient to make this ancient monument the foundational nucleus of the most important sanctuary of classical Greece (Maran 2020).

§48. In turning to Mycenaean Greece, the story of its discovery is itself of course an example of how the sheer presence of earlier monuments led people to develop narratives about who may have built them. Unlike Troy, the sites of Mycenae and Tiryns were never forgotten, not least because their fortification walls were built from such large stone masonry that they were not later dismantled nor used as quarries. The sites were remembered later in classical antiquity as the settings of the Homeric epics, which enabled Pausanias to visit the sites and praise their walls, which according to him were built by giants from Asia Minor, the Cyclopes (Pausanias 2.25.8 and 9.36.5).

§49. The visibility of the fortifications of Mycenae and Tiryns also made these sites obvious starting points for Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations, through which the culture of the Mycenaean period first came to public attention. For Schliemann, it was only natural to use the Homeric epics as a source for understanding the archaeological remains encountered there. In contrast, more recent research has largely moved away from this approach and is attempting to understand Mycenaean Greece on the basis of its own sources, an approach that was given particular impetus by the decipherment of Linear B. While the Homeric epics are thus no longer considered important as an historical source for the Mycenaean period, the question arises as to when the image of the past that characterizes these epics may have developed. Jan Assmann has argued that the image of the past in the Homeric epics is distinguished by a combination of so-called founding and counter-present memory (Assmann 2000:79). Counter-present memory (Theissen 1988:171) means that the past is exalted from the viewpoint of the perceived deficiencies of the prevalent situation, while in the case of founding memory, the present gains its meaning by placing it into the tradition of the past. I will come back to the question of when this image of the past may have crystallized.

§50. An excellent example of the phenomena that lie at the heart of this contribution is represented at Mycenae by the monumentalization of the area of the much earlier shaft graves during the advanced palatial period, around 1300 BCE (Wardle 2003; 2015; Wardle and Wardle 2019; Efkleidou 2021). At the time of its construction, the Shaft Grave Monument, with its supporting wall and the re-erected stelae that had originally stood above the graves, was still outside the citadel wall, and so was the Cult Center. However, due to its proximity to the former main gate into the citadel, all visitors had to take notice of the monument. Around 50 years later, in about 1250 BCE, the Grave Circle was added on top of the Shaft Grave Monument and a new western fortification wall was constructed that integrated for the first time the Cult Center and the Shaft Grave Monument into the fortified area. For visitors entering the citadel through the newly built Lion’s Gate, the first thing to notice on their right-hand side was the monument with its Grave Circle. From this point in time, the Shaft Grave Monument and the Cult Center are likely to have served as stations along processional ways to and from the center of the palace, the Megaron.

§51. Palatial period Tiryns had no Early Mycenaean elite tombs resembling the shaft graves of Mycenae to refer to. Nevertheless, also at that site, a reference to an earlier, even much earlier, monument was made. Thus, the first Great Megaron of the palace was built in the fourteenth century BCE on the Upper Citadel exactly on the same spot where 1000 years earlier the Rundbau, a huge Early Helladic tower with a diameter of approx. 26 meters, had stood. Until a few years ago, I assumed that the identical placement of these two buildings was based solely on the desire to construct the most important building of the respective period at the highest point of the acropolis hill in order to ensure the greatest possible visibility. Yet, a reanalysis of what happened after the Rundbau’s destruction showed me that the structures were much more directly connected than was thought possible until recently (Maran 2015a; 2020). Just as in the case of the “House of the Tiles” in nearby Lerna, after the destruction of the Rundbau around 2200 BCE, a ruin mound was formed out of its debris, which was not overbuilt and remained visible until the Mycenaean period. The decision to construct the Great Megaron of Tiryns exactly on the site of the ancient ruin mound points to the wish to insert the new central building into a long local tradition (Maran 2019; 2020).

§52. The palatial period examples discussed so far have in common that the respective monuments seem to have been mobilized to lend stability to social structures by linking them with the past. In Mycenae, this was done by monumentalizing the graves of powerful ancestors and thus visibly including them in routes of ritual circulation, probably in the form of processions. In Tiryns, on the other hand, the main building of the palace was placed on the site of the Rundbau ruin mound that had deliberately not been overbuilt for many centuries, likely because it had been the focus of veneration. By constructing the central palace building on top of the ruin mound, the remnants of the latter became invisible. Therefore, in contrast to Mycenae, it was not the intention of decision makers during the palatial period to integrate the ancient Rundbau ruin mound as a station in processions. Rather, it provided legitimacy to the new architectural form of the first Megaron, whose construction in the fourteenth century BCE constituted a major disruption of the long-term architectural history of the Upper Citadel of Tiryns (Maran 2015b; 2019).

§53. An approach towards a monument of the past, intriguingly different from Mycenae and Tiryns, is represented by the palatial Mycenaean building complex the “House of Kadmos”, destroyed in a conflagration, that Antonios Keramopoullos uncovered at the center of the Kadmeia of Thebes (Keramopoullos 1909; 1917; Dakouri 1998; Dakouri-Hild 2001). According to the convincing explanation of the excavator, the remains of the building were left intentionally untouched and were preserved as a monument long after the palatial period until the end of Classical antiquity, when it was described by Pausanias (9.12.3) during the Roman Imperial period. Today we can specify that after its destruction, probably in LH IIIB1, the building complex was neither dismantled nor overbuilt in the final palatial period (LH IIIB2), or during the post-palatial LH IIIC period and all of post-Mycenaean antiquity, despite the site’s central location within the topography of the Kadmeia (Maran 2020). Only a deliberate decision not to touch the ruins can explain the fact that, until today, traces of burnt construction material (mudbricks, lime, clay, wood) are still preserved here and there at a significant height above the stone socles of the walls (Dakouri 1998:40–41; Dakouri-Hild 2001:pls. 15:a-b; 18:a,c). Such remains would have been removed or damaged by any attempt to build on top of this plot (Keramopoullos 1909:112). The condition of the building’s walls likewise suggests that the “House of Kadmos” ruin must have risen as a mound above the surrounding terrain and must have been highly visible, given its exposed position on one of the four separate hilltops—the “second hill”—within the Kadmeia (Keramopoullos 1909:107–111; Dakouri 1998:10–14). While after its destruction the “House of Kadmos” was not overbuilt, around its ruin mound new buildings were constructed from LH IIIB2 onwards. Accordingly, the “House of Kadmos” ruin mound was left in the center of the Kadmeia as a monument that was surrounded by new building complexes and must therefore have formed an important landmark for the community of Thebes throughout antiquity (Maran 2020).

§54. Let us now turn to the post-palatial period to assess whether the destruction of the palaces had any noticeable effect on the material expressions of social memory. In this respect, it needs to be stressed that a comparison of individual Mycenaean palaces destroyed by fire reveals astonishing differences in the way in which people reacted to their remains. While, as we will see, at Tiryns and Mycenae the respective palatial ruins apparently became points of reference for the construction of the social memory of later generations, other such ruins—most notably the Pylos palace—do not seem to have been turned into a monument of memory during the Mycenaean post-palatial period, and no new buildings with any reference to the ruin were erected, either within it or in its immediate vicinity (LaFayette 2011:282–290; Davis and Lynch 2017).

§55. At Tiryns, the palace’s burnt remains were levelled to a certain height and left as a ruin mound (Maran 2012). In the early twelfth century BCE, only in the eastern part of the ruins of the Great Megaron, was constructed the so-called Building T, which, strictly speaking, was built around the throne of the Great Megaron and opened onto the Great Court in which an earlier circular altar was converted into a rectangular altar platform (Maran 2001; 2012). This means that the post-palatial building activities did not equate to rebuilding the palace at all, but were meant to reclaim solely those parts of the palace with the greatest ritually symbolic significance (Great Megaron, Great Court, and Altar). Despite its rather humble size, the “Megaron in the Megaron” must have been visible from afar, as it rose isolated from the palatial ruin mound. Due to this positioning, the building most likely did not serve as a residence but, as Tobias Mühlenbruch first suggested, functioned probably as an assembly hall in which noble families came together on certain occasions (Mühlenbruch 2004:424–425; 2013:269–273). Although Building T probably did not survive the end of the Mycenaean period, the palatial ruin mound—that now must have included also the ruins of Building T—was not overbuilt in the course of the first millennium BCE and next to it, in the Great Court and its surroundings, rituals were carried out between the early Iron Age and the Classical period (Gercke 1975; Naumann 1975; Brüggemann 2015:238 –242).

§56. At Mycenae, neither the destroyed Megaron uncovered by Christos Tsountas in 1886 nor the other palatial buildings surrounding it were rebuilt. The fact that, in contrast to Tiryns, no new building was constructed above or into the ruin of the Megaron, is sometimes explained by arguing that the southeastern half of the throne room had already collapsed into the Chavos ravine immediately after the Megaron’s destruction (Rodenwaldt 1919:95; Wace et al. 1921–1923:155, 245; Maggidis 2019:166), thereby allegedly making the plot on which the building had stood too dangerous for renewed construction. Yet, a recent examination of early photographic documentation of the area of ​​the Mycenae Megaron, of which further details will be presented in a work currently in preparation (Maran forthcoming), has led me to the assessment that the collapse of the building cannot have occurred in Mycenaean times, but probably took place long after the end of antiquity. Accordingly, it would have been possible to build inside the Megaron ruin immediately after the destruction of the building, but this does not seem to have been intended. Instead, a ruin mound seems to have been formed out of the Megaron’s debris, which extended into the Great Court and was sealed at the top by a levelled stone layer.

§57.1 In the Court, Tsountas uncovered a complex of rooms post-dating the Megaron’s destruction and assigned by him to the Geometric period on the basis of pottery of that period that he claims to have found associated with that building (Tsountas 1886). The exact nature of the allegedly Geometric pottery found by Tsountas can no longer be determined, but the fact is that, when Alan J.B. Wace had the last remains of the building in the Megaron’s Court removed in 1920, he found only Late Helladic III pottery, but no post-Mycenaean sherds above the floor of the Court or in the walls of the rooms (Wace et al. 1921–1923:201; Iakovides 1983:72; French 2002:138). Moreover, at the time of Tsountas’ excavation, researchers equated the end of the Mycenaean period with the destruction of the palace and assumed that the Geometric period followed immediately thereafter, since the intervening stages between the close of the palatial and the beginning of the Geometric period had not yet been recognized. For this reason alone, Tsountas was compelled to attribute a building that was demonstrably later than the Mycenaean palace to the Geometric period at the earliest. Given the state of research at the time, this was an understandable assessment, but from today’s perspective, assigning a “Geometric” date to the room complex in the Court would be problematic as it is based on an incorrect chronological model. For these reasons, Lisa French in 2002 expressed the hypothesis that Tsountas’ “Geometric Building” may have actually dated to LH IIIC and may resemble the construction of Building T within the ruin of the Great Megaron at Tiryns (French 2002:136–137). Indeed, the ground-plan of the room complex does not resemble early Iron Age architecture, but rather that of the twelfth century uncovered in our most recent excavations in the Northwestern Lower Town of Tiryns (Maran forthcoming).

§57.2 This means that, just as in Tiryns, there is also evidence for post-palatial construction activity in Mycenae close to the ruins of the Megaron. Unlike Building T, however, the new building in Mycenae was not given the shape of a megaron and was placed next to the ruin mound, only slightly cutting into its southwestern slope. In this arrangement, I see a desire to pay respect to the destroyed Megaron as an architectural symbol of former palatial power. The room complex and the open spaces surrounding it may have been used for gatherings commemorating the ruined Megaron, similar to Building T and its court in Tiryns (Maran forthcoming). Another similarity to Tiryns is the fact that at Mycenae the Megaron ruin mound and the adjacent room complex seem to have risen isolated from the surrounding palace ruins and were thus visible from afar, especially since they were dramatically situated on the edge of the precipice above the Chavos ravine.

§58. The Mycenae Megaron ruin mound also forms a crucial “missing link” connecting the Mycenaean palatial period with later Classical antiquity. Thus, I suspect that the Hellenistic temple was given its curious North-South orientation (Klein 1997) in order to construct it partially above the ruin mound and to visually integrate the new building into a long local tradition. The orientation of the temple made it possible for visitors approaching the site from the south to look at the Megaron ruin mound and make a visual connection between the temple and the former center of the Mycenaean palace from afar, and thus to note the deep historical roots of Mycenae in the “Age of the Heroes.”

§59. It thus seems that a reference to monuments of the past formed a common element of the Mycenaean palatial and post-palatial periods. Yet, although the exact intentions of the individual case studies cannot be clarified solely on the basis of archaeological sources, certain patterns emerge that indicate changes in references to the past between the thirteenth and the twelfth centuries BCE. In this respect, we must return to the question, when the described ambiguous approach towards the past, combining elements of founding and counter-present memory, may have emerged? The conversion of the Shaft Grave area into a monument that was integrated as a station along processional routes and the construction of the Megaron at Tiryns on the site of the much older Rundbau ruin mound, I would interpret both as expressions of founding types of memory. I say this because the primary aim of these building programs seems to have been to anchor practices arising from specific political and social conditions of the palatial period present in “age-old traditions”. This is contrasted by the intriguing case of the “House of Kadmos” ruin mound, which does not seem to have been touched, perhaps to commemorate an event that was traumatic for the community (Maran 2020). Since the surrounding palace was built in new splendor, this ruin mound, like the Shaft Grave Monument at Mycenae, may have been integrated as a landmark into ritual circulation patterns of the palatial period and visited on certain occasions.

§60. At first glance, the transformations of the destroyed palatial Megara of Tiryns and Mycenae during the post-palatial period, bear a certain resemblance to the handling of the ruin of the “House of Kadmos”, because in all these cases, a ruin of a palatial building was left standing at a prominent position and was integrated into new patterns of ritual practice and circulation. Yet, in contrast to the rebuilding of the entire palace surrounding the “House of Kadmos” in thirteenth century BCE Thebes, in twelfth century Mycenae and Tiryns no extensive rebuilding took place and the new structures stood completely isolated among the surrounding ruins, which ensured them a wide visibility from afar in spite of their rather humble size. This indicates that it was not the intention of the twelfth century BCE building activities, inside or in the vicinity of the Megara at Mycenae and Tiryns, to replace the former palace with a completely new architectural layout and to legitimize it by referring to the previous palace. Rather, the main purpose of constructing the new buildings was to commemorate the palace that was destroyed by fire, which points to a counter-present element in this particular manifestation of social memory.

§61. In summary, the cultural heritage of the Bronze Age monuments of Mycenae and Tiryns not only had an impact on societies in the long period between classical antiquity and today, but it already served people during the Mycenaean period as a reference point for narrative construction through which monuments of the past were specifically integrated into the present of the respective societies. The motives for this reference to the past probably shifted from the thirteenth to the twelfth century BCE. Already, immediately after the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, we probably find evidence for the counter-present view of the past, in which the past was remembered and the loss of former greatness lamented. It was precisely this view of the past that prevailed in the post-Mycenaean centuries of the early first millennium BCE and ultimately to find its expression in the Homeric poems.

§62. Maran’s Bibliography

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Kyrieleis, H., ed. 2006. “Die Ausgrabungen am Pelopion 1987-1996.” In Anfänge und Frühzeit des Heiligtums von Olympia, 1–139. Olympische Forschungen 31. Berlin and New York.

LaFayette, S. M. 2011. The Destruction and Afterlife of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos: The Making of a Forgotten Landmark. PhD Dissertation, University of Cincinnati. Available at: https://www.proquest.com/openview/b0ee4b63f7d69b4bcb94730e71488dbf/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750.

Maggidis, C. 2019. “The Palace Throne of Mycenae: Constructing Collective Historical Memory and Power Ideology.” In Mneme: Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 17th International Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, ed. E. Borgna, I. Caloi, F. M. Carinci, and R. Laffineur, 165–172. Aegaeum 43. Leuven and Liège.

Maran, J. 2001. “Political and Religious Aspects of Architectural Change on the Upper Citadel of Tiryns: The Case of Building T.” In Potnia: Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 8th International Aegean Conference, Göteborg, Göteborg University, 12-15 April 2000, ed. R. Laffineur und R. Hägg, 113–122. Aegaeum 22. Liège and Austin.

Maran, J. 2011. “Contested Pasts: The Society of the 12th c. B.C.E. Argolid and the Memory of the Mycenaean Palatial Period.” In Our Cups are Full: Pottery and Society in the Aegean Bronze Age: Papers Presented to Jeremy B. Rutter on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, ed. W. Gauß, M. Lindblom, R.A.K. Smith, and J.C. Wright, 169–178. Oxford.

Maran, J. 2012. “Architektonischer Raum und soziale Kommunikation auf der Oberburg von Tiryns – Der Wandel von der mykenischen Palastzeit zur Nachpalastzeit.” In Orte der Herrschaft: Charakteristika von antiken Machtzentren, ed. F. Arnold, A. Busch, R. Haensch, and U. Wulf-Rheidt, 149–162. Rahden.

Maran, J. 2015a. “The Persistence of Place and Memory: The Case of the Early Helladic Rundbau and the Mycenaean Palatial Megara of Tiryns.” In Von Baden bis Troia – Ressourcennutzung, Metallurgie und Wissenstransfer, ed. M. Bartelheim, B. Horejs, and R. Krausz, 153–173. Oriental and European Archaeology 3. Vienna.

Maran, J. 2015b. “Tiryns and the Argolid in Mycenaean Times: New Clues and Interpretations.” In Mycenaeans Up to Date: The Archaeology of the North-Eastern Peloponnese―Current Concepts and New Directions, ed. A.-L. Schallin and I. Tournavitou, 277–293. Stockholm.

Maran, J. 2019. “Between Remembering and Forgetting: Monuments of the Past and the ‘Invention of Tradition’.” In Mneme: Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 17th International Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, ed. E. Borgna, I. Caloi, F. M. Carinci, and R. Laffineur, 353–361. Aegaeum 43. Leuven and Liège.

Maran, J. 2020. “The Presence of the Past: Ruin Mounds and Social Memory in Bronze and Early Iron Age Israel and Greece.” In Nomads of the Mediterranean: Trade and Contact in the Bronze and Iron Ages – Studies in Honor of Michal Artzy, ed. A. Gilboa and A. Yasur-Landau, 177–198. Leiden.

Maran, J. forthcoming. “The Mycenae Megaron Ruin as a Possible Focus of Social Memory”. In Rituals, Memory and Societal Dynamics: Contributions to Social Archaeology: An Edited Book in Memory of Sharon Zuckerman, ed. G. Shelach-Lavi, J. Maran, L. Grosman, and U. Davidovich.

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Discussion following Maran’s presentation

§63. Sarah Morris thanked Maran for the wonderful talk and opened the discussion following his presentation by observing that, in the structure in front of the Megaron, there is also a sort of commemoration of earlier funerary monuments and earlier phases, and that colleagues working from Central Greece may also mention the site of Eleon. This, she specified, is evident at least during what Maran refers to as the first phase, where early Myceneans works are being commemorated in a later Mycenaean period.

§64. Joseph Maran thanked Morris for her reference to Central Greece and he added that there are many other examples also in other sites, such as the bluestone building and the funeral structures in Eleon. They are really remarkable, he agreed with Morris, and also served as points of reference for later generations.

§65. Antonios Kotsonas observed that, understandably, a line should be drawn at some point but he invited Maran to reflect on how long this new in kind of memory, this new type of engagement with the past which emerged in the Postpalatial period persisted into the Early Iron Age.

§66. Kotsonas then asked if those specific monuments that show continuity or new patterns of engaging with monuments of the past emerged.

§67. Maran replied that the emphasis on what is remembered is likely to have changed. The problem, he added, is that both Early Iron Age remains at both Mycenae and Tiryns were not carefully documented when the sites were excavated and this does not allow us to understand what happened, for instance, in the area of the former Megaron in Tiryns in the Early Iron Age nor during the Proto-Geometric period.

§68. Concerning Mycenae, Maran remarked that there are some indications of reoccupation, but it is unsure which character this reoccupation had in the Proto-Geometric and Geometric periods. He then added that, to his viewpoint, there are certain patterns in the way the past was imagined as something of the last greatness that became even more pronounced in later times, in the earlier first millennium. However, he concluded, it is difficult to base this on archaeological evidence due to the lack of data that early excavations produced.

§69. Kim Shelton remarked that there probably was not an archaic temple at Mycenae, but, instead, an extensive altar decorated with reliefs that are now on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. She added that, in some ways, it is intriguing that where a temple was hypothesized before, there was an altar in direct relation with the mound.

§70. Shelton also noted that this is also interesting in contrast with what happens in the cult center at Mycenae. A huge destruction area was possibly identified, even though a certain amount of debris had also collapsed down the hill and concentrated there. However, she observed, the area is not treated at all in the way that the top of the hill is treated, as it was quickly entirely built over with residential buildings, and the whole sacred character of the area essentially removed.

§71. Shelton concluded that the evidence showed an intentionality in some contexts, but clearly not in others. She discussed then the example of the Petsas House, completely destroyed at the end of 382 (LH IIIA2) and never built over at all but left exposed, in ruins, through the Postpalatial period. Not until the Geometric period, she continued, did it seem to be of any interest for anybody and the area was reclaimed. Shelton noted that, all around in other parts of the settlement, which had also been destroyed at the same time, rebuilding events are visible. However, she concluded, only a small fraction of the settlement has been excavated.

§72. Maran thanked Shelton for her comments and added that, based on these, it is clear why, in the Archaic period, there was not actually a temple there yet, as there would have been the remains of this temple. And this, he added, was already something that puzzled Prof. Klein in the documentation of the remains. The temple, he continued, was built in later times, during the Hellenistic period, and it is remarkable how differently the cult center was treated from the Megaron. He then concluded that the area discussed has a similarity to Tiryns, even though this site did not have a cult center.

§73. Concerning the Petsas House, Maran observed that an example of a building that was left in ruins standing around in the landscape for certain reasons, without being overbuilt, was also the Ivory House, and there are many questions about these buildings that we are not able to answer at the moment.

§74. Tom Palaima praised that Maran considered the idea of the founding-type of memory and the counter present-type of memory as reflected in epic, both to be researched in the archaeological remains and the architecture. He then asked Maran to discuss this aspect in further detail.

§75. Palaima added that the past being better than the present is a recurrent theme throughout all the ancient literature and that he thinks that the fascination with collapse theory is because it is a prevalent thought that things are always in decline. He then invited Maran to view the buildings at Mycenae and Tiryns as something that is reverent of the past because it literally wants to merge with it and, at the same time, the past serves them as a founding-type of memory, on which they can build on. Both categories, he concluded, can be operative in one and the same structure.

§76. Maran agreed that, at least in the Postpalatial period, there is this combination of these two forms of memory, but reflected that it is not so in the Palatial period, at the counter-present level. While, he added, there is the wish to relate to a powerful ancestor, for instance, in the shaft graves, by including them in monuments, the Palatial rulers were more self-assured in what they were doing, mainly relying on this founding-type. He then observed that both the Mycenae and Tiryns palaces were not rebuilt, but left in ruins, and the only buildings that were built among these ruins were tiny buildings, the function of which was likely to commemorate the ruins.

§77. Maran continued that there are no examples for this in the Palatial period and that even the House of Kadmos, whilst encircled by new palatial buildings, was left in ruins. This, he remarked, is different from what happens at Mycenae and Tiryns in the twelfth century, when there is a shift and these counter-forms of memory become more prevalent.

§78. Palaima asked Kim Shelton to clarify for the participants what was the difference between the acropolis of Mycenae and the cult center, especially if the latter was more or less forgotten.

§79. Kim Shelton replied that the one area in the Postpalatial period shows this construction and not many other built features, whereas the Cult Center had houses built directly over the ruins, showing a different attitude about the two places.

§80. Shelton furthermore remarked what Maran observed concerning the location of the former palace: along with other areas that were important for the elite, it is treated preferentially.

§81. Palaima then asked to what extent this could have had to do with command of resources and all sorts of other forms of practical necessity or factors. What we can see, he observed, is that they could construct these Cyclopean walls, a tremendous employment of manpower and resources in the Palatial period, but they were not able to build anything equivalent in the Postpalatial period. Then, he concluded, the Cult Center seems like a more public place than the Citadel, whereas the Megaron is, and we must differentiate between the evidence we have from cemeteries and the evidence that we have from settlements.

§82. There could be, Palaima continued, economic factors and ritual instinctive factors that would cause a differentiation and, certainly, resource availability at Pylos between 1250 or 1170 BCE at Pylos and afterwards.

§83. Maran replied that, concerning the Cult Center, the technical means of the Postpalatial period were more limited and it would not have probably been possible to rebuild a collapsed Cyclopean wall. Instead, he observed, they could have very well rebuilt the Cult Center because the buildings therein were not particularly complex or monumental. Thus, he concluded, it is very likely that this was not done, as Shelton also emphasized, and this was a decisive break in the area of the cult center. Instead, he added, the narration of the area of the Great Circle continued, although it is difficult to assess due to the early excavations.

§84. Tom Palaima pointed out that his way of looking at the question is that, in the Postpalatial period, they did not care about monumentality. That area, he remarked, expresses that what we might call the elite ideology or elite self-conception, and they would have monumentalized it down below, but they did not. In other words, he concluded, he is trying to think of alternative ways of looking at this, and this is just one of the possible solutions.

§85. Maran agreed that this is a valuable angle to examine the question, and added that Pylos seems to have been a different case.

§86. Maran then observed that there have been so many studies in recent years on the Megaron area at Pylos, all concluding that there was not any intense reuse of the Megaron ruins. It will be very important for future generations, he concluded, to look at the surroundings of the Megaron, in the lower terraces, and find if there is later Attic occupation.

§87. Supreeth Prashanth then asked a question concerning the use of terminology in relation to Messinian Megaron, whether it could be considered that, as the Messinian wanted to take it as a legacy of the previous ruler of the region.

§88. Maran replied by highlighting that the first Megaron Terrace was built in the fourteenth century, and the Circular Building of the Early Helladic period are separated by many centuries; instead, the existence of the ruin mound was something to refer to—Maran continued. He then specified that we will never be able to know how these ruin mounds were interpreted in Mycenaean times, and whether there was still residual memory as a tumulus of a person, like in the case of the Pelopeion in Olympia.

§89. Morris noted that Dimitri Nakassis and herself both re-examined the last days in the afterlife of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos in their dissertations. These studies, she added, were just the starting point and more work needs to be done.

§90. Janice Crowley asked Maran to comment on the ‘mystic’ atmosphere in which he believes the collapse into the ravine happened much later than we had been assuming. This, she remarked, seems to have had a huge impact on the memory, because, if the collapse happened later, the whole Citadel area would have been intact and even more commanding and visible to people, and able to be remembered.

§91. Maran thanked Crowley for her important comment. This has quite far reaching repercussions, he remarked. He also added that an article authored by him on this topic is currently in print. In this article, he explained, he presents the evidence that points to a very late post-Mycenean and, probably, post-collapse phases of the whole Megaron terrace in Mycenae, as well as the evidence for the transformation of the Megaron in the ruin mound.

§92. Carlos Varias asked to both Joseph Moran and Kim Shelton if the lack of use of the Cult Centre started before the end of the Palatial period, as after the destruction of Late Helladic IIIB1, the room with the fresco was not anymore in use.

§93. Maran replied that the whole history of the Cult Center should be related to the rebuilding of the fortification at the western wall. During the time of the old western wall in the fourteenth century, he explained, the Cult Center was outside of the Citadel and was relatively easily accessible from the outside. And then, he continued, rather late in the thirteenth century, a new wall was built together with the Lion Gate, and the Cult Center was then behind the wall. Therefore, he remarked, certain parts of the of the Cult Center became very difficult to access and, since the wall was built, they were somewhat remote, even though some cult building seem to have been used until the very end of the Palatial period. He then added that he would be hesitant to interpret the abandonment of cult buildings as a sign as the loss of their importance because we know from Pausanias in the Roman Imperial period that certain buildings, like the House of Kadmos, were part of an earlier palace and that this this palace was intentionally left destroyed and became a baton intentionally not to be entered. Therefore, Maran concluded, the cult buildings that are not entered and left behind as ruins may still have been regarded as very important by the community.

§94. Shelton added that the evidence suggests that there was a destruction, and some of the buildings were rebuilt and became part of a change in the area. The fortification wall, she remarked, was part of the cause preventing a reconstruction of the House with the room of the fresco, but a layer of clay was put over it, to seal it as it became inaccessible.

§95. Shelton then pointed out that this also pertains to what Palaima had said: namely that, in the last century, the first destruction was followed by the rebuilding and then, in the second destruction, the Cult Center was not public and was changed from accessible from the outside to something that could only be accessed from inside the Citadel. So, she concluded, it seems to be intentionally made more private and less accessible in the later part of the Palatial period.

Final remarks

§96. Rachele Pierini thanked the speakers for presenting their groundbreaking, pioneering research, which stimulated a truly lively debate, and the numerous participants for joining the meeting and providing insightful observations. Pierini invited everyone to join the Winter 2024 MASt Seminar, to be held on February 9, 2024 and fully focused on linguistics, with a talk by Torsten Meissner on the Greek nouns in -eus and a talk by Elisabeth Rieken in collaboration with Ilya Yakubovich on the new Indo-European Anatolian language of Kalašma.


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