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Exotic Imports in the Social and Political Development of Prepalatial Crete (ca. 3000-1900 BC)
Cynthia Colburn, Pepperdine University
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-59223-11
Performance Spaces in Prepalatial Crete (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Performance Spaces in Prepalatial Crete
Author: Cynthia Colburn
Abstract: The impetus for the rise of “palatial” civilization in Crete during the Bronze Age has been a focus of discussion among Aegean and Near Eastern scholars since the first excavations of Knossos at the dawn of the twentieth century. Arguments for indigenous evolution of the Minoan palaces or exogenous influence from the Near East have oscillated, often in concert with popular theoretical trends in archaeology. Though much early scholarship on this debate focused on the actual construction of the palaces, in more recent years, many scholars have turned their attention away from the palaces themselves, looking instead for evidence of social ranking in the formative Prepalatial period. Studies of Prepalatial tombs, seals, pottery, and metals suggest the presence of emergent elites in Prepalatial Crete. My research on Near Eastern imports to Prepalatial Crete further supports this conclusion. As many of the imports were used as bodily adornment, they were highly visible and may have played a performative role in Prepalatial society.
In this paper, I analyze the evidence for performance spaces that may have been used by emergent elites in the Prepalatial period to display and reinforce their nascent and perhaps tenuous social power. Notably, such spaces first appear at the same time as Eastern imports used as bodily adornment, and at the same sites where these imports are concentrated. This suggests that Near Eastern imports may have played a prominent role in ritual performances in the formative Prepalatial period.
Conference Name: American Schools of Oriental Research
Sacred Spaces and the Politics of Performance in Early Bronze Age Crete (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Sacred Spaces and the Politics of Performance in Early Bronze Age Crete
Author: Cynthia Colburn
Abstract: In this paper, I analyze the artistic and archaeological evidence for ritual performance spaces in Prepalatial Crete that may have been used by emerging elites to perform their nascent and likely tenuous social identities. Such embodied practices play a key role in communication within societies, including the creating or crossing of boundaries. As a result of its dynamic nature, embodied performance can often create and convey meaning more effectively and powerfully than other forms of communication and, therefore, has a more powerful impact on social memory. It is also well known, however, that rituals or embodied performances can be manipulated to conceal or exaggerate reality, and thus often speak more to identity discourse than to actual lived experience.
Conference Name: Surveying Sacred Space: An Interdisciplinary, Interfaith Symposium