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From Migrant Camp to Mega-city: Urbanisation at Ancient Knossos

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Prof Nicoletta Momigliano No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Bristol United Kingdom Ancient History Archaeology European History History

About the Project

The student will investigate aspects of urbanisation at Knossos – one of the most significant ancient Mediterranean cities, and the second most visited archaeological site in Greece today – through research on one area within its urban landscape. How this area developed and functioned within the Knossian urban landscape will be researched through a study of archaeological materials selected from the excavations by Arthur Evans and his successors, which have remained unpublished or have been published in only a summary fashion. The project will focus on one of the following areas (although there is flexibility for the candidate to suggest others):

1. Caravanserai area;

2. Hogarth’s Houses (both spanning Bronze and Early Iron Ages) to investigate social life and ritual activities within the city’s southern suburbs and their relationship with the elite core;

3. West Court (from Neolithic to Early Iron Age) to investigate how a central authority choreographed space and controlled access to elite areas;

4. Ailias tombs (Bronze Age) to explore the funerary landscape in relation to the wider urban landscape;

5. Gypsades tholos (Bronze Age) to understand the use of an anomalous tomb form within the wider Knossian funerary landscape;

Most unpublished finds from these excavations are curated in the Knossos Stratigraphical Museum (KSM), which is managed by the British School at Athens (BSA) through its Cretan base, the Knossos Research Centre (KRC). Their study will shed significant and substantial light on Knossian urban developments beyond the elite ceremonial core, leading eventually to the publication of peer-reviewed monograph and/or articles.

The study of any area suggested above addresses the question of how this enhances our understanding of the urban development, spatial organization, and functional activities of Knossos from a migrant camp at the beginning of the Neolithic period (c. 7000-3000 BCE) to the largest Aegean urban agglomerate in the 2nd millennium (BCE), and one of the most important Greek cities in the Iron Age- Archaic periods (c. 1100-500 BCE). The specific research questions to be addressed will depend on the area chosen by the PhD candidate. Flexibility is therefore built into this project, but broad questions likely to be addressed are:

1. What was the nature of ‘domestic space’ in Bronze Age Knossos?

2. What was the urban structure of Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Knossos?

3. Does the Knossian urban layout reflect a single central authority (hierarchy) or multiple competing authorities (heterarchy)?

4. How did this hierarchy/heterarchy choreograph urban space?

5. How did ritual practices in suburban areas relate to those in the elite areas?

6. How representative were the Knossian burials of the actual population in the settlement?

The project entails development of solid familiarity with the archaeology of Knossos, ensuring a sound chronological and spatial framework within which the student will work. The specific materials to be studied will then be situated within that framework and their interpretation will be informed by relevant social theory, to understand the development and maintenance of power through manipulation of the built environment (including residential, ceremonial, funerary spaces).

Find out more about the project here:

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Funding Notes

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