Since the 1970s, many intensive archaeological surface surveys have been conducted on the Mediterranean island of Crete. These surveys have yielded important information about settlement patterns and land use across all periods of human history. However, analysis of survey results has consisted largely of building settlement hierarchies based on site size and, in particular, reconstructing episodes of population nucleation and dispersal across the landscape. In such analyses, artifacts are used to date sites and fit them into diachronic narratives of cultural evolution rather than to understand site function and the social relationships underlying agricultural production. In this paper, I compare Iron Age sites recorded by ten Cretan surveys, using a data structure that standardizes information across catalog entries from different surveys while retaining as much idiosyncratic detail as possible. I focus particularly on sites smaller than 0.5 hectare. Although these sites are generally classified together in site size hierarchies as “farmsteads” or “hamlets,” major differences in their surface assemblages suggest that they hosted diverse activities and comprised distinct social places in the landscape. I conclude with a detailed case study of the architecture and ceramic assemblages from rural settlements in the Mirabello region of East Crete. This paper thus provides a model for using legacy survey data to glean new insight into the structure of Cretan society during a poorly-understood period in the island’s history.
Grace Erny is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Classics department and Archaeology Center and Stanford. Her research focuses on the archaeology of Greece in the first millennium BCE, with special interests in survey archaeology and the social and economic relationships between town and country. She is currently involved in three archaeological projects in Greece: the Anavlochos Excavations in East Crete (area supervisor and ceramic analyst), the Bays of Eastern Attica Regional Survey (co-director of intensive survey), and the Western Argolid Regional Project (publication team).
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