Friday, February 17, 2017

Fact or Factoid? The "Granary" at Mycenae

Archaeologists often uncover features and structures which at first defy easy attribution of use or probable functions. The material culture and bioarchaeological remains found in association with such enigmas are employed to infer the possible use(s) that a structure might have had. From such educated guesses evolve a “label” to succinctly encapsulate the presumed purpose. These simple, tentative labels frequently take on a life of their own and often become persistent “factoids” in the archeological literature.

On Wednesday, February 22nd Trevor Van Damme, a Ph.D. candidate at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, will give a lecture entitled “Food for Thought: The Granary at Mycenae Revisited” that addresses such a conundrum.

The so-called “Granary” at Mycenae was one of the first structures excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, even before his discovery of rich Early Mycenaean shaft graves in Grave Circle A. Although clearly an important and well-preserved structure, its function remained unclear. Its excavation was completed by Alan Wace in 1920, who, on account of abundant charred remains of cereals and vetches, suggested a public storage function for the structure and named it the Granary.

This lecture will re-examine the excavation records of both Schliemann and Wace and compare the recovered assemblage of finds to typical post-palatial households elsewhere. The presence of a large number of undecorated three-handled goblets in particular suggests ritualized drinking may have been integral to its function and offers tantalizing links between the LH IIIC Granary and the early Mycenaean Grave Circle A.

So you are invited to come to the Library of the Institute this coming Wednesday at 19:30 to see if Trevor will confirm or debunk as a factoid Wace’s assertion that the Granary was a public food storage structure! Be sure to come early as we have had standing room only attendance for our lectures this winter!

David Rupp

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