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Minoan Chronology Reviewed

  • R. W. Hutchinson

The system of Minoan chronology proposed by the late Sir Arthur Evans remained almost unchallenged for many years. The first hint that it might not be equally valid for all sites in Crete was given by the excavations of Dr Joseph Hazzidakis at Tylisos where he found three archaeological strata, the first corresponding to Evans’ Early Minoan I, II and III and Middle Minoan Ia, the second to M.M. Ib, M.M. II, M.M. III and L.M. I and the third to Late Minoan III. On the basis of this M. L. Franchet proposed a new classification consisting of Early Neolithic (representing a site examined by Franchet himself), Late Neolithic, Bronze I, II, III and IV and Iron Age. This was tacitly ignored by most scholars, partly because the author was an authority on ceramics rather than on Aegean prehistory, partly because of the cavalier fashion in which this theory had been expressed. That Franchet’s opinions were not entirely without substance, however, was demonstrated later by L. Åberg in the far more serious and detailed criticism of Evans’ chronology expounded in his Bronze-zeitliche und Fruheisenzeitliche Chronologie, where he divided Evans’ Minoan periods into Pre-Palatial (E.M. I to M.M. Ia), Early Palatial (M.M. Ib to pre-earthquake M.M. IIIb) and Late Minoan or Late Palatial (including Evans’ post-earthquake M.M. IIIb). Within these three periods Åberg considered the various stylistic subdivisions to be contemporary. Åberg’s complaint that the earlier periods were not well stratified at Knosos was replied to by Pendlebury who in his Archaeology of Crete, published in 1939, tabulated significant and unmixed deposits at Knosos of E.M. I, II and III, M.M. ra, M.M. Ib, M.M. IIa, M.M. IIb, M.M. ma and M.M. IIIb pottery. So far Evans’ chronology had been shrewdly attacked but adequately defended so far as Knosos was concerned, though Pendlebury had admitted that certain categories were luxury wares and might be absent from other parts of the island.

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1 Tylissos à l’Epoque Minoenne. Introduction. Paris 1921. Both spellings are correct but personally I prefer the ancient varieties, Tylisos and Knosos, to those more current. I must confess, however, that I have spelt Hammurabi and Amenemhat, etc., in current forms.

2 Schaeffer, loc. cit. pp. 30, 31; S. Smith, Alalakh and Chronology and A. J.A. 1945, p. 1 f. Albright, B.A.S.O.R., 1948, p. 126. A. Poebel, I.N.E.S., 1943, pp. 247, 450.

3 V. Milojcič, B.S.A., 1949, p. 300 ff.; Ungnad, W.P.Z., 1949, p. 109; Stock, Analecta Orientalia, 1949.

4 Archaeology of Crete, p. 55, footnote 2.

5 Historia, 1950, Vol. I, No. 2, p. 173 ff.

6 C. F. Smith, Alalakh and A.J.A., 1945, p. 1 f, Albright, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1948, p. 126. Poebel, Journal of New Eastern Studies 1, p. 247, and 11, p. 565, it should be remarked that all authorities seem to agree that the Khorsabad King List is a reliable document for Assyria, the damaged Nassouhi King List less reliable, and King List A is a reliable document for Babylonia though the exact degrees of liability may be open to question.

7 Illustrated London News, 19 January 1952.

8 L. Pernier and L. Banti, Festos 11, passim, and S. Smith, A.J.A., XLIX, 1945, p. 1 ff.

9 Annuario d. Scuola archaeologica di Atena 1942, p. 9 ff.; though this evidence must not be allowed to obscure Professor Levi’s recent discovery of what appears to be pure M.M. 11a pottery just above a neolithic deposit referred to above nor the fact that except under Room xxvn the prepalatial pottery seems to be nearly all M.M. ia.

10 Archaeology of Crete, pp. 94 and 104.

11 C. B. M. McBurney, ANTIQUITY, IOI, p. 35 f.

12 Stratigraphie comparée et Chronologie de l’Asie Occidentale, pp. 321-27.

13 Albright, loc. cit.; Smith in Alalakh dates them 1970-1870.

14 Âberg, loc. cit.

15 Schaeffer, loc. cit, fig. 182.

16 V. R. Grace, A.J.A., 1940, pl. 11, Schaeffer, loc. cit., fig. 196 (15-17), and p. 336. M. J. Vandier, Syria, 1937, p. 72.

17 Dunand, Fouilles de Byblos 1, p. 311, no. 4170, Schaeffer, loc. cit., p. 66.

18 Schaeffer, Stratigraphie Comparée, pp. 65, M. Dunand, Bulletin de Musée de Beyrouth, 1939, P. 77.

19 Schaeffer, Ugaritica 1, pp. 54-6, figs. 43, 44, 47, 49, and Stratigraphie Comparée, p. 16 fï.

20 Schaeffer, loc. cit., p. 117.

21 A.J.A., XLix, p. 7.

22 The assumption by Rowton (loc. cit.) that these two kings never held the eponymous magistracy does not seem inevitable, and even if true might be capable of another explanation. Rowton also tried to support Albright’s chronology by identifying the period between the fall of Ibin Sin and that of Nineveh with Ctesias’ 1300 years of Assyrian rule (J.N.E.S., 1951, pp. 184-204).

23 Rowton, loe. cit., given 1183 for the date of this battle based on the interval of 155 years since the death of Assuruballit according to the Khorsabad King List.

24 Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1948, loc. cit.

25 Iraq, 1946; Rowton has to reject the usual Sothic dating which he avoids by taking ‘the era of Menophres, to mean the era of Memphis and to have nothing to do with Seti 1’; the latter assumption is probably true but the former is more doubtful.

26 In process of publication, but see J.H.S., 1946, pp. 84, 85 and figs. 1, 2.

27 B.S.A., 1952, pp. 243-77, Kretika Chronika, 1952, p. 9 ff.

28 Kretika Chronika, 1952, p. 9 and figs. 1 and 3; the stone described as ‘alabaster’ by the ancient Greeks would be termed calcite by a modern geologist.

29 P. of M., IV, p. 357, and Alexiou, loc. cit.

30 ‘Athens and Minoan Crete’ in Athenian Studies presented to William Scott Ferguson, p. J (Harvard studies in Classical Philology, sup. Vol. 1).

31 Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. IV, p. i.

32 C. B. M. McBurney, ANTIQUITY, 101, March, p. 38.

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