Mittwoch, 13. Dezember 2017, 17:30

The anatomy of a system reform: the Cretan matrix where the ‘Mycenaean’ administrative system took shape

Vassilis Petrakis (Hellenic Ministry of Education, Affiliate Research Collaborator at the National Hellenic Research Foundation)

Discussions on the origins of the Linear B script, as well as the administrative system it supported during the 14th and 13th centuries BC (the so-called Third Palace period), have commonly revolved around certain intertwined questions: when, where, how and why did these novelties take place? This lecture will attempt to refresh this agenda by introducing some new perspectives on this constellation of problems. In this lecture, I propose to establish as our starting point the observation (also developed in previous analyses by Erik Hallager and Helena Tomas) that the administrative apparatus of the ‘Mycenaean’ literate administrative system displays the co-existence of features whose ancestry has hitherto been ‘canonically’ associated with two different writing systems in use in Protopalatial (or First Palace period) and Neopalatial (or Second Palace period) Crete, known as ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ and Linear A. Establishing a pattern falls short of explaining it, and assessments of the aforementioned paradox have so far been scarce and diverse. The lecture aims to rethink the phenomenon and propose its association with the well-known (but still insufficiently understood) co-existence of ‘Cretan Hieroglyphic’ and Linear A on Crete, where an interesting concentration of documents with doubtful classification also occurs in the so-called ‘Hieroglyphic Deposits’ at Knossos and Malia. The possibility will be explored that the aforementioned concurrence might not have been a true co-existence of different scripts at all; rather, it could have been a regional feature of Neopalatial administrative practice in north central Crete rather than an occasional ‘symbiosis’ between two otherwise well-defined systems, which provided an appropriate context (a ‘matrix’) for the shaping of the administrative system associated with the Linear B script as we know it.