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Samantha Mills & Dr Mary Hartley

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 31 March 2020 (Week 6), 2-3.30pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


Samantha Mills | PhD candidate, Macquarie University

Connect with Samantha on Twitter: Twitter

From wanax to basileus: The development of Greek authority from the Late Bronze Age into the Early Iron Age

The past fifty years of archaeological excavations and the analysis of Linear B texts has produced much evidence for the role of the Mycenaean wanax in the Greek Late Bronze Age. The transition of authority from the wanax to the social elite in the LH IIIC period, and to the rulers of the Early Iron Age can be understood by comparing archaeological and textual evidence of the Late Bronze Age with archaeological evidence from the LH IIIC period and the Early Iron Age.

The wanax appears to have held a highly religious and social role, and the extensive palatial administrative system of the Mycenaean civilisation was centralised upon this figure. However, after the palatial system collapsed at the end of the LH IIIB period (ca. thirteenth century BC), much of the Mycenaean social organisation and hierarchy disintegrated.

It has been proposed that during the Early Iron Age, the Greek βασιλεύς, who had played a minor role in the Bronze Age hierarchy as the qa-si-re-u, emerged as the prominent authority figure. Previous scholarship has constructed his role from the term’s usage in Homeric texts. However, more recent excavations suggest that this figure fulfilled a role different to the wanax. These Iron Age authority figures were, perhaps more like ‘big-men’ than the English translation of ‘king.’ The development of authority between the Late Bronze and Early Iron ages, then, is not a simple transition.

Dr Mary Hartley | Research Assistant, Macquarie University

Tiny bird bones from an Old Kingdom tomb in Dendera

During the 2019 season at Dendera, a number of different animal bones were excavated from a number of shafts and Old Kingdom tombs. These bones were dominated by cattle, sheep and goat but in one particular tomb, dozens of tiny bird bones were found buried beneath a collapsed wall in a burial chamber. These tiny bones have a story to tell and by understanding the how, when, where and why they were originally deposited in that burial chamber so many thousands of years ago, we can appreciate their significance to the funerary practices of the ancient Egyptians.

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