It’s not often that we’re anywhere near the cutting edge of the news at Historically Thinking (our name kind of indicates that we’re interested in things that have already happened), but every once in a while the blind pig finds a truffle…if that’s the right peasant metaphor.
Last month, we scheduled a conversation with Dimitri Nakassis, associate professor of classics at the University of Toronto, who was visiting Augustana College to give our annual American Institute of Archaeology Lecture. Lo and behold! the day Dimitri arrived in Rock Island, Illinois, the John D. and Catharine T. Macarthur Foundation named him a 2015 Macarthur Fellow.
But even before we learned about this honour, we were very much looking forward to our conversation. He knows a lot of languages, including an uncanny familiarity with Linear B, and he’s done a lot of fieldwork in Greece–particularly in the Mycenaean center of Pylos. This work he has combined into a new and controversial theory: that Mycenaean Greece, far from a stratified and centralised oligarchy, was instead a more open and dynamic economic system.
In this conversation, he helps us understand just how far removed and remote the Mycenaean Age is; what separates Mycenaean Greece from Ancient Greece; how Mycenaean Greece was structured; and–perhaps most interesting of all–what evidence we have for these things, where it it is found, and how to interpret it. Enjoy!
For Further Reading
John Chadwick, The Mycenaean World (Cambridge, 1976)
Eric H. Cline, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Princeton, 2015)
Dimitri Nakassis, Individuals and Society in Mycenaean Pylos (Leiden, 2013)