Walking your Way to Death. Exploring the Relation Between the Location of Mycenaean Chamber Tombs and Roads in the Argolid
Kalliopi Efkleidou Open Archaeology 5 (2019): 484-504
A persistent issue with the study of Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600–1100 BCE) chamber tombs in Mainland Greece remains our limited understanding of the factors that governed the choice of location for their construction. Mee and Cavanagh (1990) examined various parameters, such as religious beliefs, distance from settlement, the tombs’ use as territorial markers or relation to roads. They remained, however, inconclusive. The present study revisits this theme, but focuses on one of the factors formerly discussed, that is the relation of the tombs’ locations to roads. As the most extensive record of Mycenaean roads is preserved at the settlement of Mycenae in the Argolid and its hinterland, this site is considered to be the best case-study for analysis. In order to ascertain the significance of roads on the locations chosen for the chamber tombs, this paper builds a methodological approach that makes use of GIS-based mobility analysis and historical cartography. The analysis has shown that, at least at Mycenae, issues of accessibility to the tombs did not play as crucial role as the actual performance of rituals such as the funerary procession. It also sheds light on the form funerary processions probably took at Mycenae and on common notions of wheeled traffic use for the transfer of the dead to their tomb.
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