Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
A recent Heidelberg dissertation surveyed the use and settlement history of the small peripheral islands around Crete. The author, Kostas Halikias, presents a compelling hypothesis that settlement on all 6 of Crete’s small islands exhibits strong “patterns of insularity, isolation, and intensive interaction with the communities of the mainland. His survey of one of these islands, Chryssi, and the opposite Ierapetra coast identified three periods of intensive interaction or what Rainbird and Broodbank call “connectedness.” These occurred in the Neopalatial phase of the Bronze Age, the Late Hellenistic Period, and the Roman Era that were preceded and punctuated by long periods of isolation and abandonment (e.g., 1400-150 B.C.)
For the purposes of this lecture, I focus on Bronze Age insular activity and more specifically the archaeology of a Minoan maritime community on Chryssi. I begin with a brief review of Crete’s island histories to set the stage for the story. According to Rainbird, the moment when this contact shifted from visitation to habitation is of considerable interest to all island studies. For Crete signs of increased activity appear on all the peripheral islands in the Protopalatial period as palaces emerge on the Cretan mainland and begin exploiting the available resources and harbor locations on these small islands
Recent excavations of the largest settlement on the island of Chryssi in 2008-2009 and again from 2015-18 have uncovered a specialized maritime community active for a period of 200-400 years from Middle Minoan II-Late Minoan IB and provide significant new evidence for its organization and dependence on major settlements on mainland Crete. The results, which include the clearest context from the Mediterranean for the production of dye from purple shells, also offer interesting perspective on different scales of the Minoan palatial economy: at the level of household, community, and region and new insight into maritime trade routes and exchange networks.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Apostolakou, S., P.P. Betancourt, T.M. Brogan, and D. Mylona (2016) “Chryssi and Pefka: The Production and Use of Purple Dye on Crete in the Middle and Late Bronze Age,” in Purpurae Vestes V: Textiles, Basketry and Dyes in the Ancient Mediterranean World, J. Ortiz, C. Alfaro, L. Turell and J. Martinez, eds., Valencia, pp. 199–208.
Apostolakou, S., P. Betancourt, T. Brogan, D. Mylona, and C. Sofianou (2014) “Tritons Revisited,” in Physis. L’environnement naturel et la relation homme-milieu dans le monde Égéen Protohistorique. Actes de la 14e Rencontre égéenne internationale, Paris, Institut National d’ Histoire de l’Art (INHA), 11-14 decembre 2012 (Aegaeum 37), G. Touchais, R. Laffineur, and F. Rougemont, eds., Liège, pp. 325–332.
Chalikias, K. (2013) Living on the Margins. Chryssi Island and the Settlement Patterns of the Ierapetra Area, Crete (BAR)