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6-10-2015, 09:55

Mycenaean Greece and Crete

The Mycenaean palatial economy did not differ in many respects from the Mi-noan. In fact, the Mycenaeans seem to have taken over the trading posts once used by the Minoans, as well as the palace of Knossos, after 1450 b. c.e. (see chapter 4). The fact that the Mycenaean palaces fulfilled the same roles as the Minoan is evident from the archaeology, which reveals palaces on the Greek mainland functioning as producers and storers of manufactured goods. This is

Particularly evident at the palace of Pylos in southwestern Greece. Surrounding the megaron, or main throne room, was a series of rooms used for the storage of oil and ceramics. One room contained 850 pots of varying shapes, and another a total of 2,853 drinking cups (Vermeule 1972, 167). To the east and northwest of the palace proper were industrial buildings containing storage jars, pieces of bronze, clay sealings from "packaged goods," and even bits of ivory. Farther on were remains of a potter's kiln with discarded bits of pottery lying about it (Vermeule 1972, 166).

The Linear B archives discovered at the Mycenaean palaces (see chapter 3) give further insight into the functionings of the Mycenaean palace economies. The palaces maintained extensive control of the nondomestic areas of production through careful control of the acquisition and distribution of raw materials, the maintenance of several key personnel in the palace industries, and the tallying of produced goods. The similarities and contrasts among three separate industries will serve to show the various machinations of the Mycenaean bureaucracies.

Textiles were an important Mycenaean commodity: Beyond just the household production of cloth and clothing, the palaces produced textiles for their own use as well as export. Numerous Linear B tablets record the various components of this textile industry. For example, the Da-g and Dn series of tablets from the archives at Knossos show that some 80,000 to 100,000 sheep were grazed in central Crete. Some tablets show how much wool was expected from these sheep; others show how much wool and offspring were expected (it seems that one group recorded males; the other, females). Later, the Dk and Kl tablets revealed that these flocks produced about 30-50 tons of wool, which was collected and brought to palatial workshops, where the Lc tablets show how this wool was allocated (Burke 1997, 414). Here, the Linear B A-series of tablets reveals that the workers in these workshops were predominately women, usually identified only through what they did or where they were from (see chapter 6). Many women were listed with girls and/or boys associated with them. Perhaps they were mothers working with their children, or older women training girls and boys too young yet for other employment (Killen 1984, 49-50). Thus, from Pylos, we have one tablet (Ab 573) that says, "Pylos. 16 Miletos women, 3 girls, 7 boys. 5+1 units of wheat, 5+1 units of figs" (Hooker 1980, 102).

It is clear from this document that food rations were provided for the textile workers. This, plus their namelessness and the fact of their foreign origins (in this case Miletos) may suggest that the workers were slaves, although the word do-e-ro = doulos = slave does not appear.

The L series of tablets covers the target production set for these worker groups, including the allocations of raw materials they were given to process. These "allocations" refer to the still rather ambiguous word ta-ra-si-ja in the tablets. Currently, researchers think that the ta-ra-si-ja were individual units of a raw material, be it wool, bronze, or possibly some other material, which the palace gave to workers to turn into finished products—in this case fabric of some sort. When the finished products were collected by palace officials, the

Amount of fabric (or whatever the commodity) was reckoned against the amount of the original ta-ra-si-ja, to be sure that all necessary materials were used appropriately. In this way, the palaces could administer and control workshops and factories that were not necessarily located within the palaces themselves.

In contrast to the textile industry, bronzesmithing seems to have been under less direct palatial control, and the smiths themselves had a higher status than the textile workers. Unlike the textile industry, not all bronzesmiths received raw materials from the palaces (although many did), suggesting that there was also some noncentralized, free trade taking place. The smiths likewise received no rations from the palaces, and in many instances, they actually owned their own slaves. Thus, tablet Jn 605 from Pylos tells us:

From the region of Amphinouios the bronze smiths with allocations:

Stolios: M1 N2 units of bronze; Eidomoneus: M1 N2 units of bronze;

Mikelion: M1 N2 units of bronze; Phyltas: M1 N2 units of bronze;

Ywantas: M1 N2 units of bronze; Katharwa: M1 N2 units of bronze.

Bronze smiths without allocations:

Witimios, Manouros, Awexeus.

Number of slaves:

Of Perigonios: 2; of Aigiewes: 2; of Mikelion: 1;

Of Phyltas: 1.

(Hooker 1980, 116-117; normalizations of names from Landau 1958)

It is interesting to note that the palace bureaucracies kept track of the smiths to whom they did not send allocations, showing that the centralized powers kept at least some degree of watch and/or control over what may have been the "free sector." It is of note that no smithies have yet come to light in Mycenaean territories, save one at Nichoria dating back into Middle Helladic times (Gillis 1997, 505). This suggests that the smithies were located away from the more populated areas, no doubt due to the fumes produced by the industry.

Finally, let us consider a third, highly specialized industry—perfumed oil. The tablets referring to this industry, the Un series, mention what appears to be a "master" perfumer who worked at the palace itself and who used several different commodities in the production process, including oil, flowers and spices, wool, and even wine (Killen 2001, 169). However, the term ta-ra-si-ja, "allocations," never appears in these perfume production tablets, in spite of the fact that it seems to be very much a palace-centered industry. This is probably because of the highly supervised nature of the industry itself. One might imagine the master perfumer working (and possibly living) at the palace, organizing his materials and disposing of his perfume all within the very hub of the bureaucratic system and therefore without the need for an official to keep track of goods sent outside the palace to him. Such a system would also be applicable to other industries that made use of specialty items (flowers, spices, precious stones) that were processed at the palaces themselves by master craftsmen and - women. This stands in contrast to the more spread-out and sin-

Gle-material industries, such as the bronzesmiths who required bronze and the weavers who required wool or linen. Only these latter fall into the economic category of the ta-ra-si-ja.

These three examples show a spectrum of industries in the Mycenaean economy. At one extreme were industries such as textiles, for which many steps were required between the most basic raw materials (sheep) and the finished product (fabric); in which many, if not all, of the workers in the industry were maintained directly by the palaces through rations; and in which there did not appear to be a "private" industry operating alongside the palatial one (except, of course, for basic domestic textile production). We might call this a state-owned monopoly based on factories. Contrast this with the bronze industry, for which the palace maintained control over many of the raw materials neces-sary—but not all of them, to judge from the smiths who worked without ta-ra-si-ja. The smiths were independent, insofar as they were not allocated rations but presumably earned their own living, and some of them even owned slaves. We might see this as a more freelance industry, with independent or semi-independent smithies doing contract work for the palaces. Finally, there were the luxury item industries, such as perfumed oils, in which the workers worked directly in the palaces in positions that must have attained considerable prestige.



 

 

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