The Emergence of Sociopolitical Complexity at Gournia: Local and Regional Perspectives
Laura Harrison Chronika 2 (2012): 22-30.
Between 2200 and 1900 B.C.E., the coastal site of Gournia on Crete grew substantially in size and population, eventually emerging as a regional center for production and export. At the same time, other sites in the Mirabello region were destroyed, and new sites were established in defensible locations. People from the Cycladic islands fled to Crete and established new settlements on the north coast,possibly in response to a climatic upheaval. How did Gournia manage to emerge as a prosperous center, amidst the turmoil and chaos sweeping through the Mirabello region at this time? This article proposes that by successfully integrating immigrant populations into a new lower class, elites at Gournia reorganized craft production, which fueled economic prosperity. Recent excavations at Gournia support this hypothesis. There is new evidence for intensive ceramic production at the northern periphery of the site in the Late Prepalatial period. In the Protopalatial period, an expansive new architectural complex with craft workshops was constructed near an elaborate residence, suggesting that elites played an important role in the centralization of production and redistribution at Gournia.