Paper at the 12th Cretalogical Congress

The 12th International Cretological Congress will be held in Heraklion, Crete, Sept. 21-25, 2016 (for program and abstract, see here).

Louise Hitchcock will be presenting a paper (with A. Maeir as 2nd author) at the meeting, which I believe will be of interest to many of you:

Pirates of the Crete-Aegean: migration, mobility, and Post-Palatial realities at the end of the Bronze Age

Abstract: Our recent research (Hitchcock and Maeir 2014; in press) has used historical accounts of piracy to briefly examine pirate leadership, pirate culture and social organization, feasting activities, and studies of pirate geography to propose an interpretive framework for understanding the migration of the Sea Peoples as, inter alia, pirate tribes who plundered some of the great centers at the end of the Mediterranean Bronze Age (ca. 1177 BCE, e.g. Cline 2014). We suggest that as Mycenaean control over trade routes collapsed with the destruction and/or eventual abandonment of the Mycenaean palaces, that Crete became particularly vulnerable to piracy, because of certain geographical and topographical features that characterized its coastlines. Unless defended, rocky coastlines, natural harbors, promontories, and river valleys were susceptible to piratical activity, as we shall discuss. Historical records indicate that piracy resulted in a desolation of coastlines, as coastal settlements and coastal plains might be attacked at night, with villages burnt and pillaged, and fields devastated. Inhabitants of such areas were motivated to move to defensible places further inland. Such abandonment and move to defensible areas characterized early Iron Age Cretan settlements, such as Karphi, Kavousi, Kephala-Vasiliki, Chalasmenos, Monastiraki, Thronos-Kephala, and many others, which were relatively inaccessible from the surrounding landscape with the numerous sites documented by Nowicki (2000) in postpalatial Crete representing only a fraction of the total. Our paper will consider the role of piracy at the end of the Bronze Age in influencing migration, new realities, social practices, and changes in the cultural environment and social organization of post-palatial Crete. We will also explore the idea that just as certain areas of Crete were geographically suitable for seeking refuge from pirates, other sites in Crete became geographically suitable for pirate activity to take place. This will eventually be incorporated into an understanding of the larger picture of the major transformation, which occurred in the eastern and central Mediterranean in the transition between the 13th and 12th centuries BCE.

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