One of the recurrent themes in research in the prehistoric period in the Aegean basin is the nature and the extent of the cultural and economic influence of the proto- and neo-palatial Minoan culture of Crete on the islands of the Cyclades, on the islands and coastal littoral of the eastern Aegean and on the southern Peloponnesos. Were the artifacts found in these locations the result of direct or indirect trade, or produced there by itinerant crafts specialists from Crete, or the possessions of resident Minoans. Maybe a combination of these? Then there is evidence of Minoan-style architectural features and layouts as well as external and internal decorative styles. Was all of this evidence for what has been termed “Minoanisation” the result of some form of local acculturation via frequent trading contacts or indications of residents (seasonal and/or permanent from Crete?

In Late Minoan I there is evidence for a major route of travel from Crete through the southern and western Cyclades, the so-called “Western String” as seen at Akrotiri on Santorini, Phylakopi on Melos, and Ayia Irini on Kea. At some point I predict that the harbor at Ios will be added as a stopping point on this chain. The 'Western String' model articulated by Jack Davis in a seminal article in 1979 in which he argued that Minoan economic and political influence spread along this westerly group of the Cyclades to exploit commercial potential, especially the copper and silver at Lavrion in southern Attica. This is one of the approaches available to investigate spheres of interaction or relationships between individual communities.

On Wednesday, December 6th Rodney D. Fitzsimons (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Trent University) will give an illustrated lecture entitled “Taking a Seat at the Minoan Banquet: An Architectural Approach to the Minoanisation of the Aegean Islands”.

The dissemination of “Minoanising” cultural traits throughout the Aegean in the latter half of the second millennium BC has long been of interest to archaeologists working in this region of the ancient world, with recent scholarship stressing the active, rather than passive, role played by the indigenous inhabitants of the various territories participating in this process. While much emphasis has rightly been placed on the adoption and adaptation of the wide range of “imported” artefactual, artistic, administrative, and technological cultural traits throughout the region, comparable changes in the built environment that resulted from the same phenomena of “Minoanisation” have received relatively little attention to date beyond basic enumeration. In his lecture Professor Fitzsimons seeks to address this lacuna in current scholarship, using as a starting point the Northeast Bastion at Ayia Irini on Kea, where a new Minoan-style banquet hall has recently been identified. He will then reassess the evidence for and the significance of the adoption and adaptation of Minoan-style architectural motifs elsewhere in the southern and eastern Aegean. The focus of Fitzsimons’ study will fall not on the ultimate origin of “imported” architectural elements, but rather on the significant changes that the adoption and adaptation of such motifs wrought on the local physical, cultural, and sociopolitical landscapes.

This Institute Lecture will take place in the Library of the Institute starting at 7:30 PM. Please join us for the lecture and then afterwards help us welcome the holiday season.

David Rupp