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From wanax to βασιλεύς: a consideration of the development of the wielding of Greek power and authority from the Late Bronze Age into the Early Iron Age, 1400-800 BC
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 17:30 authored by Samantha Mills
In the Late Bronze Age (LBA), the wanax was the central figure of Mycenaean society, around whom the palatial administration was organised. Archaeological and textual evidence of the LBA points towards a highly religious and social role of the wanax. However, after the palatial administration system collapsed at the end of the LH IIIB period, much of the Mycenaean social organisation and hierarchy disintegrated. It has been proposed that during the Early Iron Age (EIA), the Greek βασιλείς, who were likely the LBA qa-si-re-we, who held minor a chieftain position within the Mycenaean polities, emerged as the prominent authority figures. Previous scholarship constructed the role of the βασιλεύς from the term's usage in the Homeric epics. However, more recent excavations suggest that this figure fulfilled a role which is perhaps explained as that of a 'big-man' system. The big-men of the EIA depended on their ability to attract followers by offering security and resources. The EIA was also a period of great population movements, which may also be explained by the nature of big-men societies. It is the aim of this thesis to assess what the archaeological and literary evidence reveals of the different social constructs surrounding the maintenance of Greek authority in the LBA, LH IIIC, and EIA. In this way, this paper will hope to offer a clear analysis concerning the transition of power between 1400 and 900 BC.