Beyond 'Counting Sheep': Isotopic Approaches To Minoan And Late Cypriot Shepherding
This dissertation examines the role of shepherds within Late Bronze Age (LBA, c. 1650-1100 BCE) complex political and economic systems on the islands of Crete and Cyprus. It argues that shepherds were strategic actors within these Minoan and Late Cypriot systems, whose control over domestic animals and domestic animal products made them an important-though often overlooked-group during the period. The study examines the livestock management, product specialization and mobilization decisions made by LBA shepherds that were at once based on ecological, political, social and economic factors, and in turn, shaped ecological, political, social and economic processes that characterized the Late Bronze Age on Crete and Cyprus. Non-centralized actors (including shepherds) have traditionally been ignored or unexamined in the Minoan and Late Cypriot world, as research has tended to focus on Minoan 'palaces' and Late Cypriot urban centers. This work turns to consider the role of the individuals and groups that provisioned these growing settlements. I examine the focus on centralized places and perform a critical analysis and review of the theoretical underpinnings of such an approach, ultimately arguing for a new paradigm for considering the agency and role of non-centralized, non-urban groups in the Late Bronze Age. I then proceed to contextualize the agency of Minoan and Late Cypriot shepherds by examining the various environmental, political, social and economic factors that constrained and structured the world in which they made their livestock management decisions. Finally, I turn to original strontium and oxygen isotopic analysis performed as part of this dissertation project to evaluate the actions taken by Late Cypriot shepherds given the historical realities they faced. This project seeks to blend anthropological and political theory, ancient political economics, archaeological data and isotopic analyses to better understand the role of individuals who have been conventionally overlooked. It is an investigation into the complex ecological political, economic, and social variables that would have impacted Mediterranean Late Bronze Age livestock management, and the strategies employed by Minoan and Late Cypriot shepherds within these systems.
Late Bronze Age
Khatchadourian,Lori; Smith,Adam Thomas; Russell,Nerissa
Ph. D., Classics
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis