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A Tale of Two Cities in Dark Age Crete: Karphi and Kavousi

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Uploaded on Oct 6, 2011

A lecture by Leslie Preston Day given at the Penn Museum on April 13th, 2011.

The complex palatial society of the island of Crete in the Bronze Age still dazzles us today, but what happened to this society after the palaces fell and before the rise of the Greek city-state (1200-700 BCE)? What was life like in this transitional period? In the eastern part of the island, people fled up into almost inaccessible mountain sites and maintained little contact with the rest of the Aegean, at least in the later part of the period. The lecture will bring together evidence from a variety of recent excavations at Halasmenos, Vasiliki, Knossos, Thronos/Sybrita, and Chania, but will focus on two major sites in eastern Crete: Karphi and Kavousi. The British excavations at Karphi in the 1930's brought to light a large town of this period, and recent study by the author and a new group of British and European scholars are making clearer the nature of that settlement. Excavations at Kavousi have produced three settlements and cemeteries that span the entire period: Vronda, Kastro, and Azoria. Examination of the material from these two sites tells us much about the social structure, political organization, religious beliefs, technology, and burial customs of the people and suggests that while there are differences among the communities, there is also a great deal of homogeneity.

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