Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


3 October 2016

Primary state formation processes on Bronze Age Crete: a social approach to change in early complex societies

Borja Legarra Herrero Cambridge Archaeological Journal 26.2 (May 2016): 349-367


The formation of a state on Crete at the beginning of the second millennium BC has usually been considered under the secondary state paradigm. Most explanations rely on the role of conspicuous consumption and emulation mechanisms at a time when Cretan elites were exposed to the developed stratified systems of the east Mediterranean. A careful review of the data, especially those derived from funerary contexts, struggles to identify such dynamics but reveals a varied range of identities being negotiated and redefined simultaneously at the local and regional level. Informed by ethnographic parallels, an alternative model for Crete is proposed in which change is understood as a social phenomenon that involved a wide proportion of the population and brought broad benefits that sustained the adoption and development of the transformed systems. Crete is presented as a rich archaeological example that may also help in rethinking similar processes in other parts of the Mediterranean and further afield.


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