and swore eternal brotherhood (as they said in those days) with the herders of the burned ground.
You all know what happened after that.
(Picture Credits: D300s, Gerard Sanz, via Google Earth.)
“Collapse, in general, tends to ensue when the center is no longer able to secure resources from the periphery, usually having lost the legitimacy through which it could disembed goods and services of traditionally organized groups. The process of collapse entails the dissolution of those centralized institutions that had facilitated the transmission of resources and information, the settlement of intergroup disputes, and the legitimate expression of differentiated organizational components. The maintenance of those institutions demands a flexibility, a resilience of responses to stresses that are continually produced, often contradictorily, by the various competing groups on the periphery and those within the center itself, as well as by external threats or expansionist policies. A maximizing strategy, in which the political center tends to channel resources and services for its own, rather than for societal, ends, and in which support and legitimation from the periphery are therefore eroded, can lead to collapse.”
|Not actually James Beresford.|
It has twelve covered courts — six in a row facing north, six south — the gates of the one range exactly fronting the gates of the other. Inside, the building is of two storeys and contains three thousand rooms, of which half are underground, and the other half directly above them. I was taken through the rooms in the upper storey, so what I shall say of them is from my own observation, but the underground ones I can speak of only from report, because the Egyptians in charge refused to let me see them, as they contain the tombs of the kings who built the labyrinth, and also the tombs of the sacred crocodiles. The upper rooms, on the contrary, I did actually see, and it is hard to believe that they are the work of men; the baffling and intricate passages from room to room and from court to court were an endless wonder to me, as we passed from a courtyard into rooms, from rooms into galleries, from galleries into more rooms and thence into yet more courtyards. The roof of every chamber, courtyard, and gallery is, like the walls, of stone. The walls are covered with carved figures, and each court is exquisitely built of white marble and surrounded by a colonnade.
Okay, here's the thing. Herodotus is telling us here that this building, the most impressive structure he saw in an Egyptian tour that included the Great Pyramid, is the original "labyrinth." You know, like the one at Knossos.
|The one and only Boris Vallejo. I think the watermark will stand as enough credit for the uploader.|
But! We really, really need to forget that Herodotus said anything of the sort. This is a forgotten idiom. You really have to dig through Wikipedia and allied sources to come to anything like the idea that the mortuary temple complex at the Hawara temple, built "in limnais," that is, "in the marsh" is the original of "labyrinth." You are much more likely to read that "Labyrinth" means "Place of the Double Axe," ie. "labrys," and refers to the cult of the Great Mother Goddess (or Triple Goddess, if you really want to go down the rabbit hole), which is that thing that they did at Knossos on Minoan Crete in the days before the Mycenaean Greeks invaded from the north and conquered the progressive Minoans, as part of their gradual transition from steppe nomads to Sea Peoples. As for Herodotus's claims about a Twelfth Dynasty Egyptian Empire in the Aegean, his basic evidence is laughably wrong: Tarkasnawa's inscription at Karabel is a Late Bronze Age Luwian text, not an Early Bronze Age Egyptian one. And if that error were not enough, Martin Bernal's Black Athena is generally deemed to be an extended Afrocentric trolling of the academic community.
(A writer from a background in the natural sciences marshalling ill-digested evidence from a host of fields in pursuit of a heedlessly contrarian reading of Bronze Age history? Crazy stuff, I've got to say.)
So just to summarise where we are: Eric Cline argues that there was direct contact from Egypt to Crete, in line with a minimalist reading of the Black Athena hypothesis, but focussing on the Late Bronze Age, whereas Herodotus points us, on admittedly shaky grounds, at a period seven centuries earlier. Since archaeological work at least suffices to support the idea that Egypt had a heavy influence on Crete, however "Egyptian objects" got there, the question really seems to be one of quarantining Cretan civilisation from perceptions of Egyptian influence. Bernal claims to see a Eurocentric bias in ancient Greek history. His corrective goes too far, but I am, in a far too brief way, subscribing to this basic point in my beating-around-the-bush way. To round off the historiographic line of inquiry here with one final book-that-I-have-read-lately (because even by my standards I cannot justify digressing here), I instead go here:
It is certainly nice that the author of what is apparently the go-to textbook on archaeological chemistry has written a site-by-site survey of the most exciting digs around Europe, but I was pretty disappointed by Price's discussion of Knossos. He begins very promisingly, with 3000BC on the one hand, and scare quotes around "discovered" when he brings Arthur Evans to the site. I say promisingly because One of the clearest pieces of evidence that led Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century excavators to this hilltop site just south of Heraklion --I mean, apart from the well-attested Classical city there that thought that it was built on the city of Knossos, which even used to give its name to the Roman Catholic titular see at Gortyn-- was the Twelfth Dynasty Egyptian pottery cast up there, but then this would take Price way back into the history of Crete in the Nineteenth Century. I mean, it uffices to wonder that at the very moment that the great powers were trying to prevent a unification of Crete and Greece that would likely lead to ethnic cleansing against Cretan Turks, an archaeologist "discovered" a cosmopolitan pre-Greek civilisation on Crete that was destroyed by Greek invaders. The fact that Knossos was extensively "rebuilt" by Evans is noted, and then we move on.
That Price does not want to write a book in which current archaeology is submerged in vectors leading us back to the insecurities and failed compromises of the Nineteenth Century is understandable. Uttering a series of sentences like this is not: "The Egyptians feared the "great green sea, yet the sturdy Minoan ships with their deep keels and high prows (known from paintings and decorated pottery on Crete) weathered the storms and controlled the sea lanes. One of the striking contrasts between the Minoan towns and the Mykenean citadels is the absence of fortifications... Some have argued that this . . . reflects . . . the power of the fleet."
I mean, seriously, dude. What is this? 1905? You can, with suppleness of argument and solid archaeology, salvage a lot of Evans. Way more than I would grant. That is, you can make a solid argument that I would still reject. But this whole "Rule Minoa?" It's just not on. Read your frigging Brewer! Read Guilmartin! Read Braudel! Admiralty does not work that way. Galleys. Do. Not. Work. That. Way.
Umm, aside from that, great book, Doctor Price. Thanks for writing it. Please don't hate me?
So that's almost all the historiography. I am going to dig up one last book, but as a proposed solution to the riddle, which I am first going to try to reframe, the Bench Grass way. So you know what that means, of course. To Google Maps!
Here's the route from the town of Kommos in southern Crete to Heraklion on the north coast. If my snip makes it hard to see the geography, I flatter myself that it is by design. I am trying to make strange what is normal. Anyway, here's the island of Crete, so that you can locate yourself.