My research project focuses on sociocultural and sociopolitical transformations which affected Cretan communities during the two and a half centuries covered by the LM IB-LM IIIB ceramic phases (1480-1200 BC). It aims at a better understanding of the sequence and contextualization of these changes within the framework of contemporary Aegean and East-Mediterranean societies by concentrating on the main aspect of material culture: pottery.
This is a key-period of Cretan history with, firstly, a critical transitional phase which sees the end of the Neopalatial organization, potential internal conflicts and a new external impetus with major alterations in administration and funerary practices and, secondly, a thorough reorganisation of Cretan society with the disappearance of the last palace at Knossos, the emergence or re-development of wealthy regional centres and an intensification of both short and long distance interaction. The causes and conditions of these important changes remain highly debated, although commonly attributed to Mainland Mycenaean incomers. I focus on a contextual analysis of modes of consumption and distribution of Cretan ceramics associated with social groupings in a series of coastal settlements. Through the examination and contextualization of first-hand material data from the Late Bronze Age settlements at Sissi and Malia in North-Central Crete and Palaikastro in Eastern Crete, and a comparison with published data from other sites, a more fine-tuned chronological and geographical definition of current sociopolitical transformations and sociocultural identities is looked for, as the results of the ceramic analyses will help to clarify not only the sequence but also partially the nature and variations of these changes. In other words, the definition of the developments of pottery traditions and the contextualization of key changes made by their sponsors, producers or consumers may allow us to identify the forces at work in social transformations. Throughout successive inquiries, an explanatory framework of potential coexisting phenomena is incorporated: indigenous continuous developments, pan-Aegean gradual syncretism and local episodic responses to external intrusions. In doing so, I also try to open a window on the dynamics related to the issues of transmission and transformation of material culture within Protohistoric civilizations.