From ships to palatial centres: an analysis of Mycenaean domestic economy and long-distance trade in the Late Bronze Age
Mycenaean Greek polities during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600-1100 BC) have been considered economic and political monoliths. It was believed that the palatial centres controlled many facets of life through monopolies on staple resources and prestige goods maintained through taxation and long-distance trade. Building on more recent research, this thesis seeks to question notions of palatial control within the Mycenaean world and its contact with the eastern Mediterranean by investigating the underlying mechanisms of trade and interaction. This will be achieved through the use of material culture relating to both domestic economy and long-distance trade, textual evidence (Linear B and Near Eastern texts), and through the investigation of theoretical economic frameworks. Within this thesis, the aspects relating to domestic economy include prepalatial Mycenaean society, craft specialisation, and the social and economic roles of individuals and institutions within Mycenaean society such as the dāmos, religious sphere and the wanax. Long-distance exchange is examined through shipwreck evidence, Mycenaean exchange and interaction with the east Mediterranean, and evidence of foreigners working and living in Mycenaean lands. It is proposed that there were multiple mechanisms of trade and interaction simultaneously operating within the palatial and non-palatial sectors in domestic and ‘international’ contexts. This reveals that, even among those who were ultimately subordinate to the palatial elite, there were likely individuals and institutions who were economically independent of the palatial centres and were free to take part in commercial exchange for their own benefit. This thesis contributes to the view that the palatial centres should no longer be treated as monoliths that were uniform across space and time.