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The Politics of Storage

The Politics of Storage: Storage and Sociopolitical Complexity in Neopalatial Crete

Kostandinos S. Christakis
Volume: 25
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: INSTAP Academic Press
Pages: 185
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Storage
    Book Description:

    The storage of staples and its importance for the functioning of Cretan Bronze Age society has become an active topic of debate. This study reassesses the intrinsic relationship between storage and sociopolitical complexity by combining testimonies on the storage of staples from palatial, nonpalatial elite, and ordinary domestic contexts dated to the LM I period. The main goals are (1) to examine a wide range of information concerned with the storage of staples; (2) to develop a comprehensive model to explain how storage strategies operate within LM I societies; and (3) to infer sociopolitical and socio-economic levels of interaction among the different social sectors operating within LM I societies (mainly LM IB societies).

    eISBN: 978-1-62303-012-4
    Subjects: Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The manner of storing all sorts of material is a fundamental strand in our understanding, as archaeologists, of the workings of ancient societies: part of archaeology’s “mutual knowledge” (Giddens 1993, 105–106). And yet it is almost impossible, or at least very difficult, to quantify. We cannot always detect its presence in the material record, and our estimates of its size are based on assumptions and uncertainties. Nonetheless, the existence and storage of surplus produce is accepted in any recent model of development of social complexity. This is understandably so, as only through such a mechanism can sedentary populations first...

  8. 1 From Storage Implements to Subsistence Autarkies: A Framework for Interpreting the Archaeological Record
    (pp. 9-38)

    Basically speaking, storage, in any time or place is a behavioral and technological mechanism that ensures the availability of a very wide range of products, for example, subsistence commodities, artifacts, currency, and knowledge (written records and electronic data). Storage is a delayed-return system where an individual “holds rights over valued assets of some sort, which either represent a yield, a return for labor over time or, if not, are held and managed in a way which resembles and has similar social implications to delayed yields on labor” (Woodburn 1982, 432).

    In this study, I shall be concerned with one aspect...

  9. 2 Palatial Storage Practices
    (pp. 39-54)

    The monumental complexes known as palaces are distinctive markers of the political landscape of Bronze Age Crete. They are considered seats of political institutions, acting as regional polities through both the Protopalatial and the Neopalatial periods. Palaces during their life-span were subject to complex architectural modifications following destruction events and changing needs. The analysis of these modifications has led to several interpretations involving diachronic changes in the nature of the palatial economic system. Several scholars have argued that staple storage within some palaces decreased from the Protopalatial to the Neopalatial period when storage activities were transferred to second order centers—...

  10. 3 Domestic and Nonpalatial Elite Storerooms
    (pp. 55-108)

    About 430 Neopalatial buildings that could be defined, on the basis of their architectural layout and artifactual assemblages, as residences of simple and elite households have been located and/or explored, albeit many incompletely. Most are connected to the major urban centers of east-central and eastern Crete—Malia, Gournia, Pseira, Mochlos, Palaikastro, and Kato Zakros—of which only the town of Pseira has been published fully. Few domestic contexts have been excavated in central Crete and hardly any at all in the western part of the island. Of these buildings only 120 provide testimonies on storage activities, some partial and others...

  11. 4 Storage Behaviors and Subsistence Autarkies in the Nonpalatial Sector of LM I Societies
    (pp. 109-118)

    The great variety of storerooms and their equipment found in simple houses, wealthy mansions, and central nonpalatial elite complexes across the island, described in the previous chapter, illustrates the diversity of storage practices adopted by groups operating within LM IB societies. This chapter brings together the testimonies on storage and highlights possible patterns of storage behaviors and subsistence autarkies adopted by households/groups residing in these contexts before their abandonment and/or destruction. This diversity is here reduced to a few simplified process patterns, bearing in mind however that houses and households are unique.

    The consideration of datasets concerning food storage within...

  12. 5 Storage and Sociopolitical Dynamics in LM I State Societies
    (pp. 119-146)

    The question of storage is a vital one in any discussion of the economic management of complex societies. The development of any form of institution, whether religious, political, or military, presupposes access to an uninterrupted supply of goods. Discussions on production, exchange, and consumption of material wealth, however, usually have paid little attention to storage except as a necessary stage of the exchange process where the focus is primarily on the surplus presumed to be in the stores (Gudeman 1998). Storage is here seen as a dynamic stage in the process of production, mobilization, storage, and consumption of staples. Storage,...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-172)
  14. Index
    (pp. 175-184)
  15. Tables
    (pp. None)
  16. Figures
    (pp. None)