An age of transition: ceramic innovations and social changes in the Mirabello gulf during the Middle Minoan period
This paper offers new insights into the social changes that took place in the Mirabello Gulf in eastern Crete during the Middle Minoan (MM) period (ca. 1900-1700 BC). The most significant change appears to have been the transformation of society from localised chiefdoms to decentralised states for the first time in Greek prehistory, and the archaeological finds from the Mirabello area demonstrate that change. Specifically, the newly examined ceramic material from the site of Mochlos furthers our understanding of this transformation, and is discussed here alongside two other factors that also contributed to the development of states: the population increase and the introduction of the potters’ wheel. The production, distribution and consumption of ceramic material in the Mirabello Gulf demonstrates cultural, economic, and social bonds between sites within the region. The introduction of new standardised ceramic shapes, either local or imported, depicts the common production and consumption habits of a unified socio-cultural regional landscape. Considering the new evidence from the perspective of transitions, this paper discusses the transformation in production technology, as well as in decorative schemata in drinking and storage wares like cups and jars from Mochlos as they relate to other changes taking place in the Mirabello region during this period. It also gives a glimpse of how this transition affected the cultural and economic life of the settlement, such as the intensification of local pottery production, and its relation to the centre’s trends, and offers insight about how a primary material can enrich the present model of a new state level society.
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