Dr. Maud Devolder (Associate Researcher of the AEGIS Research Group of the Université catholique de Louvain), “Unfolding the History of the Palace at Malia”
Following its discovery by Iossif Hatzidakis in 1915, the Minoan Palace at Malia was excavated by the French School at Athens until 1935. After two decades of extensive excavations, the site continued to be the focus of archaeological research and soundings were made between 1936 and 1992 to explore the earliest levels under the edifice. Several generations of archaeologists successively led by Fernand Chapouthier, Pierre Demargne and Olivier Pelon explored a monumental palatial edifice, the scale of which matched that of the Palaces at Knossos and Phaistos. The thorough excavations within and under the building and its surroundings in the Malia town outlined a long and complex history of occupation. However, many questions were left unsolved and the Palace at Malia is now the focus of a new research project.
This conference discusses a series of new hypotheses concerning the evolution of the building during the Proto- and Neopalatial periods (ca. 1900-1700 and 1700-1450 BCE). The detailed observation of the architectural remains has enabled the identification of elaborate features that the First Palace at Malia shared with those at Knossos and Phaistos, which suggests that an architectural koine emerged in Crete during the early 2nd millennium BCE. After its destruction around 1700 BCE, the Palace at Malia was thoroughly reconstructed during an extensive Neopalatial building program that involved both local and non-local participants, who performed different crafts with varying skills. This Second Palace reflects the will of the builders to conform to pan-Minoan architectural practices, especially under the predominating influence of Knossos. But it also shows how the building project was adapted to local resources and echoed the particular history of the site. By focusing on building materials and techniques, this conference aims at reassessing the observations made by the early excavators, so as to shed light on the material and human processes that contributed to the creation of a major edifice in Minoan history.
Dr. Maud Devolder is a specialist of Bronze Age architecture with a keen eye for the production of the built environment. She is especially interested in exploring the choices posited by the builders during the construction processes, as they are reflected by the use of specific building materials and techniques. Her main research goal is to explore the potential of architectural approaches for unveiling the biography of Bronze Age buildings and identifying the builders who produced them. She is involved in several archaeological projects, past and present, on Crete and in the Greek Mainland (Malia, Sissi, Anavlochos, Palaikastro, Myrtos-Pyrgos and Thorikos). Her fieldwork experience has provided her with the opportunity to explore further Bronze Age architecture through the study of architectural material and features (mudbrick architecture, masons’ marks, ashlar masonry) as well as the study and publication of the architectural sequence of incompletely published buildings. From 2012 to 2016 she has been directing the study and publication, now fulfilled, of the Building Dessenne at Malia, and since 2014 she is the Director of the Malia Palace Project, both projects being set under the aegis of the French School at Athens. She is involved in the excavation and publication of Building E and the Court-Centered Building at Sissi, for the Belgian School at Athens, since 2007, and she has also worked on other sites in Crete (Palaikastro, Myrtos-Pyrgos, Dreros and the Anavlochos) and in Attica (Thorikos). She studied in the UCLouvain and KULeuven universities in Belgium, and obtained her PhD with Professor Driessen in 2009, after which she was successively Belgian member of the French School at Athens, postdoctoral researcher of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, Humboldt fellow (Excellence cluster Topoi in Berlin), holder of the Michael Ventris award, Gerda Henkel fellow (UCLouvain), Onassis fellow (University of Crete), and Peter Warren fellow (University of Bristol). She is now Associate researcher of the AEGIS research group in UCLouvain.