Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 November 2014

The Development of Warfare and Society in ‘Mycenaean’ Greece

Stephen O'Brien in S. O’Brien & D. Boatright (eds), 2013. Warfare and Society in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean. Papers arising from a colloquium held at the University of Liverpool, 13th June 2008 [BAR International Series 2583], Oxford, 25-42.


Warfare has been of concern to Aegean prehistorians since the birth of the discipline, yet few studies have attempted to place warfare in its full social context. For decades the societies of the region have been described as ‘chiefdoms’ or ‘states’ in accordance with neoevolutionary typologies. More recently, scholars of the Late Bronze Age in Crete have challenged the neoevolutionary approach and suggested alternative forms of social organisation, yet these concepts have so far had comparatively little impact upon the archaeology of the Greek mainland in the same period. This paper will attempt to tackle both problems by adopting a dual approach. Alternative approaches to the social complexity of ‘Mycenaean’ societies from c. 1700-1100 BC will be outlined, and these will be used to assess the role which violence, and the social use of violent concepts, played in the construction and maintenance of social relations. It is hoped that this will both reintegrate the study of warfare and violence into the broader research questions of Aegean prehistory, and contribute towards the ongoing debate on archaeological approaches to social complexity.



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