Mainland Greece in the Early Mycenaean period (LH I-II) was home to a number of political centers competing for resources, power, and territorial control (Ch. 10, pp. 242- 51). By the beginning of LH III the most successful developed into full-fledged states, political structures administered from central places of power. These central places are marked archaeologically by the monumental buildings we call palaces (Fig. 11.1; Ch. 11, pp. 261-4), and in most cases by administrative records inscribed on clay tablets in an early form of Greek. Recent scholars prefer “state” or the even more neutral “polity” (politically organized society) to the older term “kingdom,” to avoid possibly misleading presumptions about internal political organization. Palace-centered states were not universal in Mycenaean Greece; regions such as Achaea and Laconia apparently never developed a monumental center like Mycenae or Pylos. These areas may have continued to operate at the level of the Early Mycenaean village-centered societies, outside the control of any particular center; and indeed they benefited from the collapse of the palatial administrations ca. 1190 bce, at the end of LH IIIB (Ch. 15, pp. 395, 397-9, 405-6). We do know something about a number of Late Mycenaean states, however, particularly those controlled from Mycenae and Tiryns in the Argolid, Thebes in Boeotia, Pylos in Messenia, and Knossos on Crete.
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