Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Discontinuous Settlement Structures and Social Organization in Late Early Helladic and Middle Helladic Greece
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This dissertation examines the replacement of domestic architecture in the Peloponnese from Early Helladic III (ca. 2200-2000 BC) to the early Mycenaean period (ca. 1700-1400 BC). Based on Tringham’s “continuous house” model and subsequent scholarship, I argue that many of these houses were cyclically destroyed and rebuilt, and explore methods for investigating this phenomenon in context using cross-cultural comparanda. I suggest a wide-spread experience of the house as a physical manifestation of the cycles of the living household—the house is rebuilt on the occasion of the death of the household head. This phenomenon is particularly visible in the Argolid. Elsewhere in the Peloponnese, the replacement of the house is very often divorced from natural generational cycles and instead works to create a link with older abandoned architecture and presumably the lineages represented by these material remains. The destruction/rebuilding cycle—regardless of whether it marked real familial patterns or fictive claims of descent—was often (if inconsistently) marked by other ritual action, including feasting/termination rites. Occasionally these rites included the burial or caching of feasting debris or offerings with the destroyed house architecture itself, parallel to the common practice of intramural burial in these settlements, itself acting further to create and maintain “place” for a kinship group within the community. House-rebuilding, however, functioned beyond place-creation in the renewal and definition of the household itself. It is in this way both continuous with the past and actively breaking from it in order to (re)create a new social group. This idea corresponds to previous assessments of the treatment of settlements especially at the end of the period. At this time, settlements were abandoned, transformed into cemeteries, or totally reorganized, and new settlements were founded. These changes are likely to represent efforts to create more cohesive regional communities, capable of more effective interaction with other communities within an increasingly “global” Mediterranean network. I argue that the mechanism for creating these new communities was derived in part from the understanding of built space and the house in particular as an identifier of and actual means of defining a social group.