Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


17 April 2011

The Minoan ‘Palace-Temple’ reconsidered: A Critical assessment of the spatial concentration of political, religious and economic power in Bronze Age Crete

Ilse Schoep Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 23.2 (2010): 219-243.


Although aspects of Arthur Evans’s vision of Minoan society have undergone modification during the course of the 20th century, his basic interpretation of the monumental building complex with courts at Knossos as a Palace-Temple, or the residence of both a political and religious authority, remains the dominant paradigm in Minoan archaeology. When set within the context of other contemporary Bronze Age societies in the eastern Mediterranean, however, Evans’s model of a priest-king who resided in a Palace Temple is actually highly unusual and anomalous. Indeed, it will be argued that the Palace-Temple model was invented by Evans as a distinctive, formative and intermediate stage between the Oriental Temple, which was the model then current in the Near East at the time of his writing, and what might be termed European kingship. The perception that Cretan culture and society was essentially European (and thus different from the East) formed a cornerstone of Evans’s vision and its enduring popularity goes some way to explaining why the intellectual and empirical origins of Evans’s Palace-Temple model have not previously been critically reassessed.


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