Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


12 April 2011

Redistribution in Aegean palatial societies. A view from outside the palace: The sanctuary and the Damos in Mycenaean economy and society

Susan Lupack American Journal of Archaeology115.2 (2011): 207-217.


The Linear B offering tablets at first seem to indicate that Mycenaean palaces engaged in a form of redistribution with respect to the religious sphere. That the palace sent offerings caused many scholars to assume the religious sector was dependent on the palaces for its daily maintenance. The sanctuaries were therefore also thought to have been subject to palatial authority. However, more detailed analysis shows that the offerings could not have fully supported the sanctuaries, which eliminates the main argument used to support the idea that the sanctuaries were subject to palatial authority. This also indicates that the offerings cannot be interpreted as part of a real system of redistribution. Like the religious sphere, the individual communities found within palatial territory, referred to as da-mo, or damos, have been seen as subject to the political and economic control of the palace. However, a closer look at the textual evidence shows that each damos maintained a significant degree of independence from the palace. We may therefore posit (at least) three spheres of economic influence in Mycenaean states: the palace, the sanctuaries, and the damos.

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