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Minoan Architecture and UrbanismNew Perspectives on an Ancient Built Environment$
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Quentin Letesson and Carl Knappett

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793625.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 December 2021

The Development and Character of Urban Communities in Prehistoric Crete in their Regional Context

The Development and Character of Urban Communities in Prehistoric Crete in their Regional Context

A Preliminary Study

(p.114) 7 The Development and Character of Urban Communities in Prehistoric Crete in their Regional Context
Minoan Architecture and Urbanism

Todd Whitelaw

Oxford University Press

This chapter is a preliminary sketch of an approach to analysing Minoan and Aegean urbanism in the Bronze Age. It comprises two sections, the first an outline of urban development, focusing particularly on the Cretan evidence but situating that in its southern Aegean context, on the far western fringe of Eurasian Bronze Age urban societies. The second section is a preliminary comparative exploration of the Cretan data in the context of Bronze Age urbanism in the broader East Mediterranean and Near East. This is aimed at assessing whether, despite its geographical remove, Minoan urbanism shares significant characteristics with other examples of Bronze Age, institutionfocused urbanism, and whether the diversity of the latter, with their more extensive textual documentation, may potentially provide models which can help us to analyse the Cretan evidence. Today, urban status tends to rely on bureaucratic and legal definitions, which vary arbitrarily between jurisdictions (Roberts 1996). They are usually based on population size, sometimes on areal extent, but the underlying idea is that the size of the population interacting in a community has an impact on the nature of those interactions, with larger communities being more complex, with individuals, through spatial propinquity, being able to interact with greater numbers of other individuals, interact in more complicated ways, and require more organization and infrastructure to facilitate these interactions (Bairoch 1988; Mumford 1966). This is well documented through recent analyses that explore the intensification of social interactions in larger cities (not just more, but more per person), whether positively, as measured through, for example, GDP or innovation rates, or negatively, through crime rates (Bettencourt et al. 2007, 2010). Moving away from modern industrial and post-industrial contexts, viewed cross-culturally, it has long been established that the largest community in a culture provides a general index of overall cultural complexity, measured in a variety of ways (Carneiro 1967; Tatje and Naroll 1970; McNett 1970).

Keywords:   Archanes, Galatas, Knossos, Malia, Phaistos, Zakros, communities, fortifications, harbours

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