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VIRTUAL - Power plays at Pylos: The past and memory in the tombs and at the palace

October 20, 2021 @ 4:00 pm EDT Eastern Time

This is an online event.

Lecturer: Joanne Murphy

In this paper I explore how Pylian elites used memory to communicate and legitimate their ideologies first in the tombs near the palace and later at the palace itself.

By discussing evidence from the tombs including their location and the types of objects buried with the dead, I argue that in the early periods of the growth of the settlement of Pylos the tombs acted as mnemonic devices for a nascent ideology that focused on individual family lines. The manipulations of the landscape with the construction on monumental tombs in close proximity to the palace combined with the reuse of the tombs for generations created a shift in people’s memory and their appreciation of time, their understanding of their past, and their projections to the future. I further argue that the objects buried with the dead, which were probably displayed in a procession from the settlement to the tomb, articulated the society’s emphasis and reliance on imported exotica and a warrior ideology. Through these artifacts elites expressed their participation in the Mycenaean cultural koine, their connection to large networks of trade and power, and their military and personal strength to defend these relationships.

During LH IIIIA as the palace grew in prominence, the economic and cultural importance of the tombs began to wane and the Pylians shifted not only their main economic strategies of power to the palace but also the less concrete, but equally effective, strategies based around the senses and memory. Thus, I show that memory and its manipulation was a key strategy in Pylian power dynamics from the Early Mycenaean period through the collapse of the palatial culture.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

C. W. Blegen, M. Rawson, W. Taylour, and W. P. Donovan, The Palace of Nestor 3. Acropolis and Lower Town. Tholoi and Grave Circle. Chamber Tombs. Discoveries Outside the Citadel (1973).

J. Murphy, J. Davis, S. Stocker, and L. Schepartz, “Late Bronze Age Tombs at the Palace of Nestor, Pylos” in J. MURPHY (ed.), Variations on a Theme: Late Bronze Age Mortuary Practices in Greece (2021), pp. 26-44

Zoom Meeting ID: 921 1429 3029
Passcode: 054196

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October 20, 2021
4:00 pm EDT
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Bradley Ault


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