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Labouring with large stones

A study into the investment and impact of construction projects on Mycenaean communities in Late Bronze Age Greece

Y. Boswinkel
17 February 2021
The publication in Open Access

This study aims to test the hypothesis that large schale constructions of the Greek Late Bronze Age (1600 - 1050 BCE), such as fortifications, were so elaborate that they may have overstretched the economic capabilities of communities, causing the collapse of these communities. In order to do this, the costs, in labour, of certain structures are calculated. These labour costs are calculated for various sub-processes of the construction process. However, since such a calculation will never be able to provide an absolute answer, there are simply to many uncertainties and unknowns, the relative costs of the studied fortifications can inform about the scale of the required investments. To be able to make comparisons, not only fortifications are studied, but a number of domestic structures as well.

The research has shown that the impressive style in which the fortifications are constructed, using massive blocks of stone, is not, in itself, an overly expensive building style. The decorative styles at certain gates, however, is an expense style and is therefore only used sparingly. The fortifications themselves are expensive endeavours, but not beyond the capabilities of communities, as long as no other major issues were being a factor simultaneously.

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