Managing Minoans: elites and craft specialists - controlled or autonomous? Investigating the effective extent of Minoan elites’ political management using craft specialists as a guide
My thesis aims to investigate the relationship between Minoan elites and craft specialists which has traditionally been viewed from the need for Minoan elites to ensure an ongoing supply of prestigious objects, with which to maintain and solidify their status. According to this traditional assumption, Minoan elites ensured the production of high-status goods by controlling the craft specialists who produced the goods. My thesis focuses on three particular points of intersection between elites and craft specialists, which have heavily influenced the prevailing, traditional views: In Chapter One, I examine Protopalatial elites and pottery specialists and the topics of craft specialisation, elite Kamares Ware pottery and the introduction of the potter’s wheel. In Chapter Two, I examine the relationship between Neopalatial elites and fresco wall painters, which has been viewed through the perception of an elite need to control the iconography by controlling the painters. In Chapter Three, I investigate the arguments that Mycenaean administration era elites tightly controlled the Minoan textile specialists in order to provide textiles for elite usage and exchange and find that there are significant indications that the textile workers were able to operate with a degree of autonomy. By reviewing the evidence for the argument that craft specialists were controlled by elites, my thesis examines the validity of such assumptions and endeavours to introduce some evidence that may point to an alternative view. The picture that is emerging provides a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between Minoan elites and craft specialists, one whereby elites and craft specialists were able to conduct their lives with a measure of autonomy.