New Thoughts on the End of the Mycenaean Palaces

A paper by Professor Philipp Stockhammer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 3 April in the Mcmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts.

For a long time, the 13th century in the Aegean has been considered as a peaceful period marked by rather stable, local communities and the large-scale exchange of commodities most emblematically materialised by the Mycenaean palaces of the Argolid.  In contrast to that, the 12th century seemed to be characterised not only by the end of the palaces and all connected societal institutions but also by human mobility together with a rather neglectable scale of the exchange of commodities.  The year 1200 BC was considered as the peak of the crisis which has been taken as an explanation for the assumed groundbreaking shifts between the two centuries.

In my paper, I want to go beyond simplifying narratives and take a more differentiated view on what transformations took place at the end of the 13th century or already during its course.  I want to show that major changes already seem to have taken place in the second half of the 13th century and continued into the 12th century and thereby relativise the year 1200 BC as a hallmark of the developments.  I will demonstrate the shifts of the Mediterranean network of mobility of humans and objects during the 13th century and in the early 12th century with a strong focus on the archaeological evidence from Tiryns. This will lead to a revaluation of the historical developments in the 13th century.

In the final part of my paper, I will then present our newly founded Max Planck Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean (MHAAM) and present a vision for future research which will help us to shed a completely new light on the issues discussed in the first part of my lecture.

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