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A Great King at Mycenae: Αn Argument for the Wanax as Great King and the Lawagetas as Vassal Ruler, J.Κelder, In Palamedes 3, 2008

A Great King at Mycenae: Αn Argument for the Wanax as Great King and the Lawagetas as Vassal Ruler, J.Κelder, In Palamedes 3, 2008

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Jorrit M.





A Journal of Ancient History

3 (2008)


ANNA SWIDERK6WNA (1925-2008) J6ZEF WOLSKI (1910-2008)








Piotr Berdowski, HEROES AND FISH IN HOMER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 75











5 9

Jorritlv.r. lCelder*




The position of the wanax in the Mycenaean world is ofte~ perceived as that of a local monarch, ruling from a palatial centre and controlling (to a large extent) the surrounding region.' Territorially speaking, that region does generally not exceed its natural border, such as large rivers or major mountain ranges, and can be compared in size to most modern day nomes / provinces. Although these Mycenaean Kingdoms in a cultural respect appear to have been essentially the same, most archaeologists consider this the result of trade / exchange and sheer proximity to each other, rather than anything else. This view is based on archaeological data (which does not provide any evidence in favour of the view, but rather appears to provide no evidence for more than occasional contacts either) and evidence from Linear B texts (that indicate that palatial administration only directly affected the region surrounding the palacei.' As a rule, each Mycenaean Kingdom is thought to have been centred on a single large palatial settlement. The palace in this settlement was the focus of the Kingdom's administration (although su?sidiary or perhaps

* The author is indebted to Ms. Accalie Sharman for proofreading this text, and to Marco Poelwijk and Diederik Burgersdijk for helpful advice. I dedicate this paper to Ms. Willemijn Waal.

1 Cf. J. Bennet, 'Pyles, the expansion of a Mycenaean palatial center', in M. Galaty, W.A. Parkinson (eds), Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces: New Interpretations of an Old Idea, Los Angeles 1999, 10; but see D.B. Small, 'Mycenaean polities: states or estates?', in Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces,' 43-48, for an interpretation of the Mycenaean palaces as expanding estates rather than states.

2 Linear B: J. Bennet, 'The linear B Archives and the Kingdom of Nestor', in J. Davis (ed.), Sandy Pylos: an Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino, Austin 1998, 111-133; archaeology:

Davis, Sandy Pylos, 53-68.



Jorrit M. Kelder

independently operating 'houses' may have been of importance too) and its large megaton was the centre of the realm's religious and economic Iife." Most specialists would argue that it was the Kingdom's military command centre, too.

Linear B texts found at various Mycenaean palatial centres indicate that Mycenaean palatial society was headed by a wanax" The vaanax appears to have been involved in a wide variety of activities, including military, economic and religious affairs. Although the texts suggest that he was the major shareholder of the palatial realm, it appears that the veanax shared most of his 'spheres of influence' within Mycenaean society with another important official: the lawagetas. It is generally thought that each Mycenaean Kingdom was ruled by one vaanax, and that the lawagetas was his second in command (although there is no consensus on the precise status ofthelawagetas). It is generally thought that the vaanax ruled from the large megarol1 referred to above, while the lawagetas would have performed his duties from a smaller megaton nearby.

The argument in this article is twofold: first, it is argued that the view described above is essentially based on a circular argument, spawned from a desire to denounce the - in the 19th and early 20th century ruling - Homeric paradigm of Mycenaean Greek unity (to whatever extent). Second, this article argues that, whilst the modern view of Mycenaean political fragmentation is not necessarily; flawed, a case in favour of a 'unified Mycenaean world' is at least equally persuasive. Moreover, that view would be corroborated by Hittite and Egyptian texts, indicating larger political entities on the Greek mainland during the 15th to 13th century Be. This article focuses on archaeological and Linear Bevidence; 'external' sources, such as the above mentioned Egyptian and Hittite texts, will only be referred to obliquely and as supplements to 'autochthonous' evidence.

Before that evidence is reviewed, it is necessary to briefly discuss the birth of the current paradigm, holding that the Mycenaean world was composed out of several virtually identical, yet politically independent palatial states. That story starts with the birth of the discipline itself; with Schliemann's excavations at Troy, Orchomenos, Tiryns and Mycenae.

Positivists and Negativists

In a lecture presented at the University of Amsterdam in the spring of 2007, Joachim Latacz reviewed the current status of scholarly debate regarding the historicity of the Trojan War and related archaeological and philological debate. It

3 Cf. C.W. Shelmerdine, 'Administration in the Mycenaean Palaces; Where's the Chief", in Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces, 19-20.

4 Cf. Shelmerdine, 'The Palace and its Operations', in Sandy Pylos, 89-92.



A Great King at Mycenae

is appropriate to briefly discuss Latacz's main arguments here, since Troy in many ways marks the beginning of the study of the pre-Classical Greek world. Before Heinrich Schliemann's excavations at that site, the study of the Age of Heroes - as the Mycenaean Era was then most commonly known - was essentially philological discourse, focusing on the analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey and, to a lesser extent, the Homeric hymns and later Classical works on the Trojan War (e.g. the Trojan Epic by Quintus of Smyrna).

The historicity of the Iliad and related works was generally considered a given, and it was only in the late 18th century (AD) that a need was felt to check the reality of the Epics. This swiftly resulted in two scholarly 'camps': those that believed in the general historicity of the Iliad (the 'positivists'), and those that rejected Homeric truth and instead saw the Iliad as a later Greek construct to legitimize e= and 7th century Greek colonization of western Anat~lia (the 'negativists'). Both views were essentially based on 'faith' rather than facts: the positivists essentially considered the Iliad to. be too good, too fantastic, not to be true, whilst the negativists saw the Epics as a result of the curiosity of Greek settlers in Anatolia, wondering at the feet of the numerous settlement mounds in the region, trying to include the region's past in the suitably heroic reality of exploration and Greek expansion of the 8th century Be.5 Neither of these views was supported by actual evidence: both the material culture of Late Bronze Age Greece and the culture(s) of Late Bronze Age Anatolia remained unknown.

That changed with Schliemann's excavations at the Hissarhk, the site of what he believed was the place of Homer's Troy. Schliemann's finds and the uncovering of Hissarlik as a powerful Bronze Age citadel (even though the identification of level 2 as Homer's city was utterly wrong), and his later work at Mycenae, Tiryns, and Orchomenos appeared to confirm Homer's world as essentially Late Bronze Age.6 The Iliad, as a result, was considered to reflect an actual war in that same Age, rather than being the result of propaganda, legitimating later Greek claims to Anatolian lands. Schliemann himself, of course, had always been a positivist, but the introductions to his excavation reports on Troy and Mycenae (1880, by W.E. Gladstone) indicate that the sense of vindication was rather widely felt. Homer must have spoken the truth, and Mycenae therefore must have ruled the Late Bronze Age Aegean!

5 Cf. E. Ruckert, Troia's Ursprung, Bliahe, Untergang und Wiedergeburt in Latium. Eine mvthologische, chronologische und ethnographische Untersuchung der trojanisch-roemischen Stammsage, Hamburg-Gotha 1846, VI-X, or F.G. WeIcker, Der epische eye/us oder die Homerischen Dichter (Zweiter Teil}, Bonn 1849,43, for the respective 'camps'.

6 The best overview for the changing attitudes towards Homer and the ancient traditions in the 19'h century is, in my opinion, still Michael Wood's In Search of the Trojan War, London 1985.



Jorrit M. Kelder

The first cracks in the positivist hegemony in scholarly debate appeared as a result of Arthur Evans' excavations at Knossos and the publication of his 'the Palace of Minos'. Evans' ideas on the Aegean Bronze Age were hugely influential, and his view of the Mycenaeans as a very late and crude derivation of Minoan influence on, or even control over, the barbarian mainland did not fit with Homer's Mycenaean hegemony over Crete with its hundred cities? The discovery of tablets with the Linear B script at Pylos during excavations directed by Carl Blegen initially seemed to support Evans' views: here, in the. south-western Peloponnese, the Minoans had established a colony, or had installed a local strongman to provide them with the produce of the mainland. This local strongman used, naturally, the script of the Minoans to keep track of the flow of goods throughout his realm. Homer had been wrong: the Mycenaeans never had an Empire, but had been dependents of the Minoans. The Trojan War, as a result, could never have taken place.

Methodological problems and the current paradigm

Michael Ventris' decipherment of Linear B as an ancient form of Greek dramatically changed all of that. Evans' ideas of Minoan hegemony could no longer be upheld, and it became increasingly clear that, sometime before the end of the Bronze Age, the Minoans had indeed been overtaken by the Mycenaean Greeks. However, the bureaucratic world of Mycenaean Greece that now slowly began to emerge did not fit at all with Homer's world of heroes, of cattle raiding and of sackers of cities. As Oliver Dickinson put it not too long ago: ' ... the world of Homer's heroes in which wealth is essentially represented by livestock and movable treasures, and to acquire these by raiding is not thought at all reprehensible, seems completely at odds with the world of orderly taxation of territories' produce reflected in the Linear B texts',"

Moreover, new finds at other Mycenaean citadels, including Thebes and Mycenae itself, demonstrated that the palatial administration by and large affected only a relatively limited area around the palatial centres." Despite Michael Ventris' warning words that the evidence provided by the Linear B texts was of a very limited nature and that its importance should not be overrated, the limited

7 For the term 'Minoan': N. Karadimas, N. Momigliano, 'The term "Minoan" before Evans's work in Crete (1894)', Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici 46,2 (2004), 243-258. For Evans' influential paradigm, Wood, In Search of the Trojan War; A. MacGillivray, Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth, London 2000.

8 O. Dickinson, The Aegean Bronze Age, Cambridge 1994, 81.

9 Various discussions on the nature of palatial control in Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces. For the reconstruction of palatial realms, see note 2.



A Great King at Mycenae

geographical reach of the various palatial administrations was readily taken as evidence for small territorial states, whereas the dearth of references to other known centres or regions outside these reconstructed realms were seen as evidence for political independence. The Mycenaean world, in short, resembled more the Greek world of independent poleis, sharing a common material culture -like the world in which Homer himself would have lived - rather than the united Mycenaean world described in the Iliad. Although our understanding of the Mycenaean world in many aspects has improved dramatically since Ventris' days, the majority of theoretical models of Mycenaean palatial society that are used in today's academic discourse are vestiges of the era in which Linear B was first deciphered." As such, these models inherited a number of flaws from earlier research, but these flaws, even though some are quite obvious and often even recognized, have never really been properly addressed.

There can be little doubt that the Mycenaean palatial administrations, as represented in the Linear B texts, affected only a limited geographical area around the palatial centre. There is, however, an important caveat here, in that there are good grounds to assume that the Linear B evidence is worse than patchy: the texts derive from the final weeks - perhaps even final days - of the respective palaces, and appear to have been of a rather limited scope. Moreover, there is conclusive evidence from Hittite texts that at least one of the Mycenaean palaces held sway over an important secondary settlement (Millawanda - Miletus on the Anatolian. west coast) and, regardless of where one is inclined to position the elusive 'Ahhiyawans' from the Hittite texts, the fact remains that orders like those from the Mycenaean King to his governor in Millawanda, referred to in the so-called T awagalawa letter, have not been delivered in Linear B texts:'!

GIM-an-ma-mu t'TE-MU SA SES.I} A? an-da u-emi-ia-at

nu-mu U-U[L as-iu-la-an ku-in-ki} u-da-as U-UL-ia?.rmu 1 up-pi-es-iar ku-it-ki [u-da-ai ki-ii-ia-an-m]a IQ-BI A-NA 'at-pa-ua IS-PUR 'pt-ila-ma-ra-du-un-ua-eajn? A-NA LUGAL URU ha-at-ti SU-i da-a-i

And when [the messenger of mjy [Brother, the King of Ahhiyawa.] arrived, he did not bring me any greeting nor did he bring me' any gift,

10 Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces, 6.

11 Transcription from F. Sommer, Die Ahhijava Urkunden, Munich 1932, 4; translation adapted from Sommer, Die Ahhijava Urkunden, 5. That the King of Ahhiyawa did not only write to his attache, but also to the Hittites, is indicated by the fragmentary text KUB XXVI 91 (CTH 183), in which a letter from the Ahhiyawan King is quoted (0. Gurney, 'The Authorship of the Tawagalawas Letter', in P. Taracha [ed.], Silva Anatolica: Anatolian Studies Presented to l(Iaciej Popko on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Warsaw 2002, 135). Even if one argues that IS-PUR does not necessarily mean 'writing' but more generically 'sending' (and that, consequently, this could also mean 'sending a messenger'), the point remains that clearly, Linear B texts' failed to cover this (political) aspect of Mycenaean society.



[orrit M. Kelder

but thus he spoke: he has written to Atpa:

Place Piyamaradu in the hands of the King of Hatti!

As a result, evidence coming from the Linear B texts must be treated with caution, and although it on the whole seems reasonable to use the available texts to reconstruct the respective 'catchment areas' of the various palaces on the basis of administrative texts (mainly taxation lists), this does not necessarily relate to actual political borders. Equating these 'catchment areas' with the territorial extent of the Mycenaean palatial polities thus appears to be methodologically problematic.

An additional problem with the reconstruction of the political borders of the Mycenaean palatial states is the presupposition that all dependent regions and settlements of the respective palatial centres were subject to the palatial administration and taxation in a single, uniform way. Yet there is no evidence to support this. Diplomatic texts from contemporary - and nearby - Hittite Anatolia, on the other hand, suggest that the relations and stipulations between overlord and vassals varied per specific case.F Some, for example, would have paid regular taxes, whilst others did not. In the case of the latter, there would be little reason to expect this territory to appear in the day-to-day Hittite administration. There is no reason to assume that this could not have been the case in Mycenaean Greece. As a result, there is no certainty that a given region or centre did, or did not, fall under the (nominal) sway of another centre merely due to its absence in a given Linear B archive. To put it simply: the actual territorial extent of the various palatial states may well have been larger than has been reconstructed on the grounds of the Linear B texts, whilst, at the same time, the possibility cannot be excluded that any given palatial centre I state may have (nominally) fallen under the sway of another centre. The Linear B evidence simply is not sufficient to allow for a solid reconstruction of the political map of Mycenaean Greece.

Any doubt regarding the validity of our current model of the layout of the Mycenaean world has profound repercussions for our understanding of the structure of Mycenaean palatial society. In the introduction, I noted that the wanax, an important official attested in the Linear B texts, is generally perceived as the local, autonomous King of the typical Mycenaean palatial state. Yet, if we can no longer assume the reality of various regional, autonomous Mycenaean palatial states, the position of the wanax as an independent monarch becomes problematic - and this, in turn, affects the position of the lawagetas and other officials attested in the Linear B texts. Unlike the position of the wanax, who is generally perceived as the local autonomous King, the position of the lawagetas has been a matter of considerable scholarly debate.

12 Cf. C. Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts, Atlanta 1996; T. Bryce, Letters of the Great Kings of the Ancient Near East, London 2003.



A Great King at Mycenae

Whilst it is clear that the lasoagetas was an important official within the palatial administration, his functions within the administration and his position towards the wanax are difficult to assess. Ruijgh argued that he may have been a crown-prince," whereas it has also been proposed that he was the state's principle war leader - this concept appears to be essentially based on etymological considerations gaos is assumed to refer to the population able to carry weapons, i.e. the army)," but on the whole, there seems to be a general consensus that the wanax and the lawagetas were two distinctly different officials, with different functions and different 'spheres of influence' within the typical Mycenaean state. IS However, the evidence for the Linear B texts seems to indicate precisely the opposite. The 'state-business' of the lawagetas and the wanax in effect seems to have been much the same - if on a different scale: the Linear B texts indicate that they both held plots of lands (they are the only two officials in the possession of a temenos), they both had specialized craftsmen in their service, they both took part in religious activities (or provided offerings for these), and they both were involved in military affairs. I will return to the Linear B evidence in extenso below.

Foreign evidence

It has been demonstrated that our current understanding of the political geography of Greece during the Mycenaean period is based on assumptions rather than facts, and that our reconstruction of the socio-political pyramid of the respective Kingdoms, headed by the wanax and then the lawagetas, is based on similar ass~mptions (we have independent Kingdoms, so the most important official in the various Linear B archives - the wanax - must be the local autonomous King). Despite the lack of arguments in favour of that paradigm, it must be admitted that the picture on the whole seems plausible enough. Moreover, it also closely resembles Greece's political geography during the Archaic and

13 C]. Ruijgh, 'Problemes de philologie mycenienne', Minos 19 (1985), 167, n. 231.

14 Cf. K. Wundsam, Politische und soziale Struktur der mykenischen Residenzen nach den Linear B Texten, Vienna 1968, 58; H. van Effenterre, 'Un Iawagetas oublie', in Incunabula Graeca XXV; 3, Atti e memorie del 1 congresso internazionale di micenologia, Roma 1968,559-573. See M. Lindgren, The Pylos People II. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis (Boreas 3,1), Uppsala 1973, 134-135, for full references on the etymology of lawagetas. But see F. Auro [orro, Diccionario Griego - Espafio! (anejo II): Diccionario Micen, Vol. II, Madrid 1993, 230, for an alternative derivation. In a recent (unpublished) PhD. thesis, Stephie Nikoloudis argued that the lawagetas may have served as a liaison between the palatial elite and the lower classes of the palatial state.

15 Th.C. Palairna, 'The Nature of the Mycenaean Wanax: Non-Indo-European Origins and Priestly Functions', in P. Rehak (ed.), The Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean (Aegaeum 11), Liege 1995, 129. For critical assessment of the Linear B evidence with regards to the position of the wanax and lawagetas, see J. Hooker, 'The Wanax in Linear B texts', Kadmos 18 (1979), 100-111.



] orrit M. Kelder

A Great King at Mycenae

Classical periods with its various independent poleis, which may be more than mere coincidence (it nicely fits current thought on continuity during the Dark Age). Minor problems, such as the uneasy' presence of the iawagetas in our model of the Mycenaean state, certainly are not enough to dismiss the entire paradigm altogether.

There are, however, a number of indications in the linear B texts and from the archaeological data that argue against our current understanding of the Mycenaean world and, to my mind, suggest some sort of single, umbrella authority over the various Mycenaean palaces. Such a sense of supra-regional administration is bolstered by 'external' evidence, including a number of Hittite texts and two Egyptian inscriptions. This external evidence needs to be briefly examined here, before continuing with the data from the Greek world itself.

The oldest known reference to the Greek mainland comes from the so-called Annals of Thutmoses III (ca. 1479-1425 BC): the text deals with the exploits of the Egyptian King, especially his military successes in the Levant. During the King's 42nd regnal year, while he was on campaign in Syria, Thutmoses III received messengers from the King of the hitherto unknown land ofTnj (usually vocalised as Tanaju)." These messengers brought the customary greeting gifts, including a silver jug in Keftiu-style and three copper cups fitted with silver handles, in an effort to establish diplomatic relations between the Egyptian court and Tanaju. That T anaju was indeed situated in the Aegean is confirmed in a later text, dating to the reign of Amenhotep III (ca. 1382-1344 BC). This text, a long list of states describing the world then known to the Egyptians, is incised on the bases of colossal statues in Amenhotep Ill's mortuary temple at present-day Kom el Hetan. On one of these bases, Tanaju is listed immediately following Keftiu, i.e. Crete, which, considering the grouping of other (known) states in the list appears to suggest that Tanaju lay in roughly the same direction as Keftiu, although further away. That Tanaju is the last entry in the list (despite the fact that there is sufficient space on the base for additional names) suggests that Tanaju constituted the very edge of the world known to the Egyptians.V Whilst its grouping with

Keftiu already indicates that Tanaju must be situated in the Aegean, evidence for its exact position is provided in a second column, listing the cities and principal regions of Keftiu and T anaju.

Although it has been proposed that T anaju may have been located in Cilicia, its position in the Kom el Hetan list, as well as the identification of a number of important Mycenaean centres and regions within T anaju, including Nauplion, Kythera, Messenia, the Thebaid and Mycenae itself, rule out any alternative identification other than with the Greek mainland." As a result, the Kom el Hetan text and the Annals of Thutmoses III are complementary: the Kom el Hetan text proves that T anaju must be equated with a significant part of mainland Greece, whilst the passage in Thutmoses' Annals indicates that Tanaju was headed by a King, and therefore was perceived (by the Egyptians at least) as a unified state.

Whilst the two Egyptian texts only refer to the Greek mainland during the relatively brief time span of the second half of the 15th century BC until around the middle of the 14th century BC, Hittite texts referring to the Late Bronze Age Aegean span a period of almost two centuries, from ca. 1400 BC to ca. 1220 Be. The texts relate to a land, Ahhiyawa, which is now commonly identified with (part of) the Aegean, and its involvement in western Anatolia." Millawanda

Millennium Be, III, Vienna 2007, 479-494; J. Phillips, 'Egypt and the Aegean', in Oxford Encyclopedia for Egyptology (forthcoming), for extensive discussions and references on the identification of Keftiu - Crete and T anaju - the Greek mainland.

18 E. Edel, Die Onsnamenlisten aus dem Totentempel Amenophis III, Bonn 1966, proposed the following identification for these names: Amnisos, Phaistos, Kydonia, Mycenae, Messenia, Nauplia (?), Kythera, Ilios (?), Knossos, Amnisos and Lyktos. The enigmatic dq's (di-qa-e-s) has been identified by some as Tegea, by some as the upper Helisson valley, by W. Helck, 'Amnisos in einem agyptischen Text Amenophis' III', in J. Schafer (ed.), Amnisos nach den arckdologischen, historischen und epigraphischen Zeugnissen des Altertums und der Neuzeit, Berlin 1992, 13 as "'",utEi<; and by E. Edel, 'Der Name di-qj-j-s in der minoisch-mykenischen Liste En li 8 gleich 8rJj3ut<;?', Zeitschrift fiir agyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 115 (1988), 30, as the Thebaid. This identification seems to have been generally accepted. The name Ilios for wi-'i,-li-ja, however, is not generally accepted as a correct identification C'N. HeIck, Die Beziehungen Agyptens und Vorderasiens zur AgiUs bis ins, 7.1ahrhundert v. Chr. [second ed. rev. by R. Drenkhahn], Darmstadt 1995, 25-26). Wi-'i,-li-ja has also been identified as Aulis (H. Goedicke, 'Agaische Namen in agyptischen Inschriften', Wiener Zeitschrift zur Kunde des Morgenlandes 62 [1969], 10), which - if correct - would fit nicely in Edel's identification of dq's (as Aulis is supposed to have been the principal harbour of Thebes) and most recently as Elis .G. Latacz, Troia und Homer, Munich 2001, 163). The identifications of Amnisos, Kydonia, Mycenae, Messenia and Kythera and Lyktos have not been opposed (cf, P. Haider, Griechenland-Nordafrika, Darmstadt 1988, 9).

19 First identifications of Greek names in Hittite documents in E. Forrer, 'Vorhomerische Griechen in den Keilschrifttexten von Boghazkiii', Mitteilungen der Deutschen Oriem-Cesellsthaft zu Berlin 63 (1924), 1-22; heavily criticized in Sommer, Die Ahhijava Urkunden. The argument has steadily become more widely accepted ever since. Most scholars nowadays accept Ahhiyawa as a reference to the Greeks (Achaeans). The identification of Ahhiyawa with (part of) the Mycenaean world has received powerful support by J.D. Hawkins, "Tarkondemos", Bogazkoy sealings and KarabeI', Anatolian Studies 48 (1998), 1-31, whose new reading of a rock-cut relief

16 Few relevant Egyptian texts have been published since J. Vercoutter, L'Egypte et Ie Monde Eg"en Prehellenique, Cairo 1956, to shed new light on various names and identities of contemporary Aegeans, but almost all are found in E. Cline, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea (BAR International Series 591), Oxford 1994, 108-120, the most recent compilation. The Egyptian term Keftiu, first appearing possibly as early as Dynasty XII and certainly by Hyksos times, is now almost universally accepted as the Egyptian word for 'Crete' and 'Cretan,' although objections still appear.

17 Cf. C. Vandersleyen, 'Keftiu = Crete? Objections preliminaires', Gottinger Miszellen 188 (2002), 10, arguing against Keftiu - Minoan Crete, but with valuable observations regarding the Kom el Hetan texts; see Cline, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, 108-120; J. Phillips, 'The Amenhotep III "Plaques" from Mycenae: Comparison, Contrast and a Question of Chronology', in M. Bietak, E. Czerny (eds), The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second





[orrit M. Kelder

/ Miletus appears to have been Ahhiyawa's major foothold in that region, and archaeology has confirmed Mycenaean presence at that centre from the early 14th century onwards. The ca. 25 texts or text fragments referring to Ahhiyawa suggest that over the course of almost two centuries, Ahhiyawa and the Hittites both vied for supremacy in western Anatolia. Amongst other things, this involved Ahhiyawan raids, attested in the 'Indictm-ent of Madduwatta' (KUB XIV 1), and Ahhiyawan support to rebellions against Hittite overlordship in the region (KUB XXIII 13). The successes and the duration of Ahhiyawan involvement in Anatolia indicate that it must have had both the political and the military means to assert its interest in the region, even against the might of Hatti. The Hittites themselves, at any rate, recognized the reality of Ahhiyawan power: in a diplomatic letter sent by the Hittite Great King Hattusili III (ca. 1267-1237 BC) to an unnamed Ahhiyawan colleague, the Mycenaean monarch is respectfully addressed as 'my Brother' and as a Great King - equal in rank to the Hittite King himself."

at Karabel Pass solved a number of problems in Hittite Anatolian geography. His new reading leaves no room for a larger entity, such as Ahhiyawa, on the Anatolian mainland. Considering Ahhiyawa's close connection with Millawanda (Miletus) in the Hittite texts, and its apparent proximity to various island, including Lazpa (Lesbos), Ahhiyawa must be situated somewhere in the Aegean. Evidence is summarized in R. Hope Simpson, 'The Dodecanese and the Ahhiyawa Question', ABSA 98 (2003), 203-237; Latacz, Troia und Homer; W.-D. Niemeier, 'The Mycenaeans in Western Anatolia and the Problem of the Origins of the Sea Peoples', in S. Gitin, A Mazar, E. Stem (eds), Mediterranean Peoples in Transition, Jerusalem 1998, 17-65 and P. Mountjoy, 'The East Aegean-West Anatolian Interface in the Late Bronze Age', Anatolian Studies 48 (1998),33-67, with various identifications of Ahhiyawa's core territory (e.g. Mycenae, Thebes, and the Dodecanese). The localization of Ahhiyawa in the Aegean has recently been challenged by Gerd Steiner, 'The Case of Wilusa and Ahhiyawa', Bibliotheca Orientalis 64 (2007), 590-611, but his arguments for an Anatolian based Ahhiyawa fail to convince. Unlike Steiner's claim, it appears most improbable that the Hittite Kings had no proper knowledge of western Anatolia, and had Ahhiyawa, as Steiner has it, been a tiny state in some remote valley in south-western Anatolia, the Hittites would never have regarded it as a significant threat to their enterprises in the region. Steiner's argument that Ahhiyawa in Hittite texts is reported to have been reached by chariots ignores the point that MilIawanda, an Ahhiyawan dependency, would have served as the main focal point of Ahhiyawan - Hittite contacts (from where the voyage would continue by ship). The references to Ahhiyawan ships in Hittite texts, moreover, strongly argue for an Ahhiyawan heartland across the sea.

20 Objections that this may have been the result of ad hoc politics to flatter / appease the Ahhiyawan ruler and keep him from further interference in western Anatolia remain not only unproven but also miss the point. The important point is that the Hittites, for whatever reason, were apparently unable to tame the Ahhiyawan threat with other (military) means. The reality of Ahhiyawan power in the region is stressed by a second text, the Sausgamuwa Treaty (KUB XXIII 1 + KUB XXXI), where Ahhiyawa is included in a list of Kings of equal status as the Hittite Great King (although it has subsequently been erased). See for discussions Sommer, Die Ahhijava Urkunden, 320-327; Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts, 104; T. Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, Oxford 1998, 350; I. Singer, 'The Battle of Nihriya and the End of the Hittite Empire', Zeitschrift fiir Assyriologie und Vorderasiatisehe Arehiiologie 75 (1985), 100-123, esp. 119; J.M. Kelder, 'The Chariots of Ahhiyawa', Dacia. Revue d'Areheologie et d'Histoire Ancienne 48-49 (2004-2005), 151-160.



A Great King at Mycenae

It not the aim of this paper to evaluate the Egyptian and Hittite texts in depth," but the overall impression gained from those texts seems at odds with the current (linear B and archaeology based) paradigm of regional powers. The geographical composition of Tanaju as delivered in the Kom el Hetan text includes a number of important centres and regions that are traditionally perceived as independent Kingdoms, whilst the sheer scale of Ahhiyawan involvement in western Anatolia is difficult to relate to one single palatial state only. One 'could, of course, dismiss the evidence from the Egyptian and Hittite texts. Tanaju may well have been an Egyptian take on the matter; a piece of propaganda to bolster Egyptian international prestige. There is, however, no indication that this was the case: the Annals of Thutmoses III seem too succinct to be far off contemporary reality, whilst it can be argued that the Kom el Hetan text - in those instances that can be checked - appears to be a rather accurate description of the then-known world (supra). The Hittite texts, at the same time, were never meant to be read by more than the officials and Kings immediately involved in western Anatolian affairs, and can therefore be expected to reflect western Anatolian reality - at least in the way the Hittites perceived it (supra),

Supra-regional palatial activity

We have established that there is no unequivocal evidence for the current paradigm of independent, small-sized Mycenaean palatial states, while Hittite and Egyptian texts suggest that somewhere in the Aegean, a Mycenaean state had acquired sufficient status to assert itself in international diplomacy. It has been' argued above that the general rejection of such a concept in the late Bronze Age Aegean appears to be based on convictions rather than actual evidence and. that much of the linear B evidence and archaeological data appear to have been interpreted with a preconceived, poleis-like model in mind. But even if one were to accept the current model of the Mycenaean political landscape, a number of inconsistencies coming from the linear B text themselves seem to argue against .a dispersed Mycenaean political landscape. Considering the doubts now cast on that model, a re-evaluation of that evidence seems appropriate. In the lines below, we will first explore the linear B evidence, before continuing with archaeological data. I must add a disclaimer here: I am an archaeologist and do not pretend to be an expert in linear B. The evidence reviewed below is not meant as a full catalogue of the relevant linear B texts: it is a very personal selection of text-fragments that struck me as incompatible with the current paradigm.

21 For that, see Kelder, 'The Chariots of Ahhiyawa'; Hope Simpson, 'The Dodecanese and the Ahhiyawa Question'; Latacz, Troia und Homer.



Jorrit M. Kelder

A Great King at Mycenae

It has been stated in the lines above that the Linear B texts do not reflect palatial activities beyond what has been taken as the palatial state's borders. This, however, is not exactly the case. There are various occasions of palatial interference in regions beyond the polity's borders. In some cases, this may be considered as evidence for trade between the various. centres. The shipment of livestock from Karystos and Amarynthos in Euboea to Thebes in Boeotia, although it has been considered evidence for Theban political dominance over (part of) Euboea, could perhaps be explained in this way.22 In a similar way, the allotment of cloth to Thebes (te-qa-de), recorded on tablet X 508 from the House of Shields at Mycenae may well reflect trading contacts between the Mycenaean palatial centres." In some instances, however, trade cannot have been the motivation behind palatial interference in regions beyond its administrative control. A conspicuous instance of palatial interference in a region outside the 'realm' is attested at Pyles, on tablet An 12.

The text is a short list of rowers that are dispatched to Pleuron, pe-re-u-ro-na-de in Linear B. All of the towns from which these rowers come are kn~wn from other texts, although, with the exception of Ri-jo (Rhion, associated with Assine in Messenia), none of these places has beensecurely identified.

An 12 [1)

1. E~re-ta pe-re-u-ro-na-de / i-jo-te

2. ro-o-vaa MEN 8

3. ri-jo MEN 5

4. po-ra-pi MEN 4

5. te-ta-ra-ne MEN 6

6. a-po-ne-we MEN 7

vacant 2

1. Rowers to go to Pleuron:

2. Eight from Ro-o-wa

3. Five from Rhion

4. Four from Po-ra

5. Six from Te-ta-ra-ne

6. Seven from A-po-ne-we

(Following M. Ventris, J. Chadwick, Documents ill Mycenaean Greek (2nd ed.), Cambridge 1973, 185-186)

Pleuron in this text is usually thought to have been the Pleuron in Aetolia, mentioned in Homer's Iliad (II 639), although there is no evidence to support this identification." If we assume that the pe-re-u-na-de in An 12 is indeed Homer's Aetolian Pleuron, then the question is why the Pylians would have sent a small number of men (30 rowers) to the centre in Aetolia. The traditional answer is that the King of Pyles, fearing an attack on his Kingdom from the sea,· reinforced the coastal regions with 'watchers' (suggested in tablet An 657) and sent rowers to Pleuron in an effort to thwart the invasion. This interpretation is, however, problematic. The first difficulty is that there is, in fact, very little evidence in the Linear B texts from Pylos that suggests preparations against a sea-borne invasion. If the deployment of watchers in the coastal regions was indeed meant to repel sea-borne attackers, or to establish an 'early warning system', then it is difficult to see why, at the same time (in tablet An 657) the King of Pylos garrisoned the centre of Oikhalia, on the Arcadian border, with' these 'watchers'. This problem had already been noted by Ventris and Chadwick (Documents in Mycenaean Greek, 189), but has subsequently largely been ignored.

Yet, even if the thesis were true, and the watchers on the coast (and at Oikhalia) were indeed on the lookout for enemy sails, whilst the rowers at Pleuron were dispatched to repel an invasion, the question remains as to why a Pylian King would send such a small number of men (30 rowers) to a centre (Pleuron) well beyondhis Kingdom's borders. Considering the limited number of rowers, only 30 men, it appears unlikely that these rowers were sent to repel an invasion. Nor is it likely that the rowers were a supplement to forces already present at Pleuron, since there is no reference elsewhere in the tablets to the deployment of troops to i:hat settlement. Most incongruous, however, is the fact that Pleuron cannot have been part of the Pylian Kingdom as reconstructed on the grounds of Linear B texts (see above). Unless one argues for a Pleuron within the reconstructed borders of the Pylian Kingdom - and as far as I am aware, this has not been attempted - An 12 clearly points to palatial involvement, in this case military, in regions well beyond the reconstructed border of the Pylian polity.

An 12 is not the only instance were supra-regional palatial activity is implied. A well-known problemis the recurrence of a number of persons, acting as 'collectors', in the palatial administrations of Thebes and Knossos. The precise

22 Karystos and Amarynthos are both contributing livestock to a central communal feast in Thebes. In other texts, however, Amarynthos is the recipient of wool coming from Thebes - again in a cIearritual context. Cf. B. Sergent, 'Les Petits Nodules et la Grande Beotie', REA 96 (1994), 369.

23 CE. C.W. Shelmerdine, 'Workshops and Record Keeping in the Mycenaean World', in R. Laffineur, P. Betancourt (eds), TEXNH. Craftsmen, Craftswomen and Craftsmanship in the Aegean Bronze Age / Artisanat et artisans en Egie Ii tage du Bronze (Aegaeum 18), Liege 1998, 292; Th.G. Palaima, 'Maritime Matters in the Linear B Tablets', in R. Laffineur, L. Basch (eds), Thalassa. L'Egee prehistorique ella mer (Aegaeum 7), Liege 1994, 273-311. J. Chadwick ('Translations and Linguistic Commentary', in E. Bennett Jr. [ed.], The Mycenae Tablets II, [Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 48, 1) Philadelphia 1958, 112; 65 and 87 for drawing and transcription) notes that pu-ea-ta-ri-ia may be puktalia, 'a folded, double-thickness garment', dissimilated from plukt- (cf. 1twnoS, 1tUK~(S).

24 M. Ventris, J. Chadwick, Docume~ts in Mycenaean Greek (2nd ed.), Cambridge 1973, 186.





[orrit M. Kelder

A Great King at Mycenae

status and function of these 'collectors' is a matter of debate. At Knossos, some of these 'collectors' appear to have been owners- of land and flocks of sheep in regions at some distance from the palace, and this has been taken as evidence that they cannot have been officials of the Knossian palace.P However, these persons appear also in the archives of Boeotian Thebes, again with the same function (as collectors or 'owners' of flocks and workers in the sheep and cloth industry). This striking degree of coincidence had already been observed by John Killen in 1979 and is difficult to explain within the framework of independent Mycenaean palatial states." One explanation would be that the 'collectors' were divinities, but at least some of the collectors appear in the archives in contexts which make it clear that they were humans. Killen proposed that these collectors are most likely to have been members of a ruling dynasty, especially considering the close connection at Pylos between 'collectors', the e-qe-ta and the lawagetas." If this were the case, the recurrence of names in these high social echelons could be the result of an 'upper class tradition', in which royal scions were only given names from a certain limited stock28 This hypothesis has received only limited attention in the scholarly debate, and -has not gained wide-spread acceptance. Deger-Ialkotzy argued that the recurrence of names may be ascribed to the wide-spread occurrence of Greek names in general on the Mycenaean world." At the same time, she did, however, allow for dynastic and political ties between the various polities, including military cooperation. Of course, the possibility that high status persons, holding identical titles in the various palatial administrations, bore the same names as a result of a wide-spread cultural leoine cannot be excluded, but it seems unlikely that the combination 'name + title' reappears in the archives of various sites in a similar

setting (cloth industry) only as a result of cultural uniformity. Moreover, as has been observed by Nicholas Postgate, the recurrence of specific names as 'collectors', if we are indeed looking at 200 years and five or more generations is surprisingly strongly motivated."

On the whole, I would argue that a dynastic tie between these 'collectors' appears to be the most plausible explanation for this anomaly. This raises the question as to how this would fit with the current paradigm of politically independent palatial states. The answer, I think, is that it doesn't. It could, of course, be argued that various persons from the same royal house each ruled their own, independent realm, but I find it difficult to see how these states could have remained independent for a long period of time. Parallels from 19th and early 20th century Europe, with virtually all major monarchs (Queen Victoria of Great Britain, the German Kaiser Wilhelm, and the Russian Tsar) related to each other whilst ruling their own independent realms cannot realistically be applied, since the whole concept of the nation-state, and the associated social phenomena of nationalism, chauvinism and racism which kept those realms apart / independent were completely alien to the ancient world. In the Hittite world, members of the royal family - even if they were nominally ruling their own lands - would in the end always be answerable to a single authority: the head of the family, ruling from Hattusa. Similar principals applied to Egypt, were the important position of vizier was hereditary but, notably, not held by members of the royal family. It would be remarkable, though not impossible, if Mycenaean Greece did not at all resemble any of these contemporary societies."

In sum, whilst it had already been demonstrated that the current paradigm of independent Mycenaean palatial states is fraught with methodological problems, there are indications in the Linear B texts that at least some of the palaces were

25 Cf. J. Bennet, 'Collectors or owners?' in J-P. Olivier (ed.), Mykenai'ka (BCH Supp!. 25), Paris 1992, 65-101.

26 J. Killen, 'The Knossos Ld(l) Tablets', in E. Risch, H. Miihlestein (eds), Colloquium Mycenaeum, Actes du Sixieme Colloque International sur les Textes Myceniens et Egiens tenu a Chaumont sur Neuchdtel du 7 au 13 septembre 1975, Neuchatel1979, 176.

27 Cf. Killen, 'The Knossos Ld(l) Tablets', 177-178; J. Killen, 'Critique: A View from the Tablets', in Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces, 88; Lindgren, The Pylas People II, 143-144.

28 Killen's argument that the collectors, with the same name, function and activities, may have been members of a single ruling family was supported with parallels from contemporary European royal houses: the high proportion of Danish Kings called Christian, and of English monarchs called Edward (Plantagenet, esp. Angevins), Henry (Plantagenet; esp. Lancaster) and George (House of Hannover). The important point here is that ruling families, regardless of intermarrying with other (foreign) nobility, tend to retain a number of specific names - names that could almost be called emblematic for a certain dynasty. This phenomenon is also apparent in Late Bronze Age states in the Near East, such as Egypt (18,h dynasty names: Amenhotep, Thutmoses; 19'h dynasty names: Ramesses and Seti) and the Hittite Empire (Hattusili, Suppiluliuma, and MurSili).

29 S. Deger-Ialkotzy, 'Theben und Pylos: Terrninologische und onomastische Korrespondenzen?', in S. Deger-Jalkotzy, O. Panagl (eds), Die neuen Linear B-Texte aus Theben, Vienna 2006, 19-35.


30 I am aware of the discussion surrounding the date of the Linear B archives at Knossos.

For convenience's sake, I will follow the 'traditional' date, holding that Knossos was destroyed ca. 200 years before the end of the Mycenaean centres on the mainland. Considering the early date of the archive of Knossos, this dynastic tie between the Theban and Knossian 'collectors' may have originated to the late 15,h century, around the end of LM II. If the re-dating of the Knossian tablets to ca. 1200 BC is proven correct, however, the implications for the current argument are even more profound, as the 'collectors' at Knossos and Thebes should then be considered not only name-sakes and peers, but also contemporaries - a combination of facts which to my mind would easiest, and therefore best be explained if the 'collectors' at Thebes and Knossos were the same persons. Although there is the risk of a circular argument here, one might even consider the recurrence of the 'collectors' at Thebes and Knossos as an additional argument in favour of re-dating the Knossos archive to the late '13,h century Be.

31 The most recent overview of Near Eastern political organisation is M. van den Mieroop, The Eastern Mediterranean in the Age of Ramesses II, Oxford 2007, 68-99; for a specifically Hittite context, see T. Bryce, Life and Society in the Hittite World, Oxford 2002.





[orrit M. Kelder

engaged in affairs beyond their respective administrative borders in ways that seem difficult to explain in terms of loose cooperation or trading contact. The recurrence of the same names amongst the 'collectors' at Knossos and Thebes, and the military involvement of Pylos at Pleuron seem inconsistent with our understanding of political fragmentation. Indeed,it might point to a single overarching authority, supervising (aspects of) taxation, redistribution and military manoeuvres. This possibility might find support in the observation of Nicholas Postgate that the uniformity of the Linear B tablets (not only in terms of administration, but especially in the uniformity in the shapes and sizes of the tablets) in the various palatial archives throughout Greece, to a Near Eastern archaeologist at least, would suggest political unity.

The Wanax and the Lawagetas

If we are ind~ed dealing with a larger Mycenaean state, comprising several palatial centres, then we are faced with the problem of its political organization. It has been noted above that, the vaanax is generally regarded as the King of the 'typical' Mycenaean palatial state. Just below him in the social stratigraphy stands the fawagetas, whose exact political position, despite his apparent high social standing, is' a matter of debate. The new model proposed in the lines above, however, forces us to reconsider the position of these officials. To do so, we need to return to the Linear B texts, and establish the spheres of influence in the Mycenaean bureaucracy of both the wanax and the lasaagetas. Again: the texts presented below should not be considered to be a full catalogue of the relevant texts, but rather as a personal selection of some texts that seemed relevant to the current question.

The wanax is attested on tablets from the archives of Pylos, Knossos, and Thebes, and is attested in inscriptions on jars at Thebes, Tiryns and Chania.P The wanax appears in different contexts in these texts. In Er 312, a text from Pylos,

32 J.T. Hooker catalogued the occurrence of the word wanax at Pyles in his 'The wanax in Linear B texts', Kadmos 18 (1979), 100. Most occurrences of the word wanax at Thebes are listed in [. Chadwick, 'The Linear B tablets', in Th. Spyropoulos, J. Chadwick (eds), The Thebes Tablets II, (Minos, Supp!. 4), Salamanca 1975, 102, 106 and L. Godart, A. Sacconi, Les Tablettes en Lineaire B de Thebes, Rome 1987, 32. I know of one occurrence of the word wanax at Tiryns; on a jar found in 1972 at the Unterburg (d. L. Godart, J-P. Olivier, 'Nouveaux Textes en Lineaire B de Tirynthe', in Tiryns VJII, Mainz am Rhein 1975, 38; A Sacconi, Corpus delle Iscrizioni Vascolari in Lineare B, Rome, 1974, 41), whilst 'wa';, thought to be the abbreviation for 'wa-na-ka-te-ro', appears on vases from Chania and Thebes (Chania: E. Hallager, 'The inscribed stirrup jars: implications for a Late Minoan IIIB Crete', AjA 91 [1987], 177, esp. n. 61 with references; Thebes: H.W. Catling, A. Millett, 'A study of the inscribed stirrup-jars from Thebes', Archaeometry 8 [1965], 3-85 esp. 48, P!. XIIIb and XIV [Thebes no. 873 and 875]).



A Great King at Mycenae

the vaana» is the owner of a temenos (an officially designated plot of land, possibly with some religious connotation). In that same text the fawagetas is also recorded as the owner of a temenos, although the revenues of his land are only a third of those of the wanax's.

Er 312:

1. Wa-na-ka-Ie-ro te-me-no

2. lo-so-jo pe-ma GRA 30

3. ra-vaa-lee-si-io te-me-no GRA 10

4. vacat

5. te-te-ta-o 10-50 pe-ma GRA 30

6. to-so-de te-re-ta VIR 3

7. wo-ro-ei-jo-ne-jo e-re-mo

8. to-so-jo pe-ma GRA 6 [

1. The preserve of the King,

2. seed at so much: 3600 1. wheat

3. The preserve of the fawagetas, seed at so much: 1200 1. wheat

5. (The lands) of the fief-holders ite-re-ta-o), so much seed: 3600 1. wheat;

6. and (there are) so many fief-holders: 3

7. The unencumbered (land) .of the cult association,

8. seed at s much: 720 1. wheat

(Translation adapted from Ventris, Chadwick, Documents, 266)

The wanax also appears to have had craftsmen in his service. Specialized craftsmen, such as fullers or potters are recorded with the adjective wa-na-ke-te-ra 'of the wanax', in texts such as Eo 371 from Pylos and Eo 276.2 - En 74.3 from the same site (Eo 371: lee-ta-me-we wa-na-ka-te-ro, Eo 276.2 - En 74.3: pe-ki-ta ka-na-pe-a wa-na-ka-te-ro) whilst wa-na-ka-te-ra is found as an adjective for cloth on a tablet from Knossos (Lc 525.a: vaa-na-kaie-ra TELN+ TE 40 LANA lOaD. The texts, in sum, indicate that the wanax was a significant landowner, perhaps of some exalted status (seeing that only the wanax and the fawagetas appear to have owned a temenos, and considering the close analogy in Homer's ·rBf..lEVOC; pacnAftLov in Il. XVIII 550), and with an interest in (various types of) craft-specialisation.

No name of a wanax has been identified with absolute certainty, but it has been proposed that Ekhelawon, a person who figures prominently in various texts from Pylos may have been a wanax. Analogies between Linear B texts listing the wanax's activities (and his relation to other persons / officials in those texts, such as Un 11) and the texts in which Ekhelawon is recorded have convinced the majority of scholars that he, indeed, must have been the vaanax at Pyles." I will present an example, in the form of the Pylian text Un 718:

33 Cf. Palaima, 'The nature of the Mycenaean Wanax', 129; Chadwick, Ventris, Documents; 265.



[orrit M. Kelder

1. sa-ra-ve-da po-se-da-o-ni do-so-me

2. o-wi-de-ta-i do-so-ma to-SO e-ke-ra2-wo

3. do-se GR 4 VINUM 3 TAURUS 1

4. tll-r02 TU + R02ko-wo PEL + KO 1

5. me-ri-te CT 3

6. vacat

7. o-da-a; da-mo GR 2 VINUM 2

8. ARIES 2 TU + R02 5 a-re-ro A + RE + PA + CT 2 PEL + KO 1

9. to-sa-de ra-vaa-lee-ta do-se

10. ARIES 2 me-re-u-ro *65 CAS 6

11. \1INUM CQ 2 o-da-a, wo-ro-ei-io-ne-jo ka-ima'

12. GR CAS 6 VINUM CQ 1 TU + R02 5 me-ri]

13. [ 1 CO 1 CT 1

1. At Sa-ra-pe-da to Poseidon, its contribution

2. As far as one can see, Ekhelaw6n will give so much as a contribution:

3. 480 1. wheat, 108 1. wine, one bull,

4. ten cheeses, one sheepskin,

5. 6 1. of honey

6. vacat

7. And similarly the village (will give): 240 1. wheat, 72 1. wine,

8. two rams, five cheeses, 4 1. Fat, one sheepskin.

9. And the lawagetas will give so much:

10. two rams, 72 1. flour,

11. and 24 J. wine. And similarly the estate of the cult association (will give):

12. 72 1. wheat, 12 1. wine, five cheeses,

13. 141. of honey.

(Translation adapted from Ventris and Chadwick, Documents, 171)

The text presents a list of contributions to a ceremonial banquet to the God Poseidon, in the otherwise unknown Pylian district of Sa-ra-pe-da. At the top of the list is the person who contributes most to this ceremony, e-ke-ra[wo (Ekhelawon). He is followed by the da-mo (the community or village) and, finally, by the ra-vaa-ke-ta (lawagetas). Considering the presence of the lawagetas (the owner of a temenosi and the community, one might reasonably assume that the person at the head of the listis the other person owning a temenos (one three times the size of the temenos of the lawagetas), the person who is arguably the biggest landowner within the Pylian administrative realm: the wanax. If we accept the reality of this hypothesis (and, as far as I know, most scholars do), it follows that the wanax at Pyles was involved in religious aspects of Mycenaean life.

Ekhelawon reappears in yet another context, that of the military. He is mentioned in two texts, An 19 [610] and An 724 from Pylos in the context of the deployment of rowers for the Pylian navy." An 19 is badly damaged, but it appears

34 Cf. Ventris, Chadwick, Documents, 186-187.



A Great King at Mycenae

that most troops are provided by towns such as ri-jo (Rhion; see above). Near the bottom of the list, however, we find Ekhelawon and another man, We-da-ne-u, who seem to have had responsibility for a large number of rowers; 40 and 20 respectively. An 724 appears to be a similar inventory of Pylian rowers and the lords responsible for their deployment. As in Er 312, Ekhelawon (the wanax) is mentioned just before the lawagetas. The vaanax, as it seems, was not only a major (arguably the major) landholder within the Pylian realm, but was also actively involved in economic, religious / ritual, and military aspects of Pylian society.

The lawagetas is attested in texts from Pylos and Knossos. As we have seen in Er 312, the lawagetas is the owner of a temenos, albeit only a thirdof the size of the temenos of the wanax. Thus, there may be some ground to ascribe a certain exalted status to the lawagetas (supra). Apart from being a landowner, the lawagetas, too, appears to have had specialist craftsmen in his service. Moreover, Linear B texts from Pylos indicate that he was involved in the deployment of rowers (An 724), and in religious aspects of Pylian life (Un 718, supra). When it comes to 'spheres of influence' in Pylian society, it appears that activities of the wanax and the lawagetas overlapped, although the overall scale of the wanax's influence seems to have been grander.

Mycenaean political structures: interpretations and comparanda

In the old paradigm, with its small palatial states, the wanax and the lawagetas were considered to be the first and second in command of the state: the King and, say, his right-hand man. I already noted that the position of the lawagetas in particular, was somewhat problematic even in the old paradigm, since it was difficult to assign him to a 'job' that clearly stood out from the wanax's. As I demonstrated above, the wanax and the lawagetas, as far as the evidence from the Linear B texts is concerned, seem to have been involved in roughly the same aspects of Mycenaean life. Considering the overlap in activities, it seems unlikely that the wanax and the lawagetas held two markedly different positions in Mycenaean society." It has been proposed that the lawagetas may

35 Contra Palaima, 'The nature of the Mycenaean Wanax'. Palaima argued that the wanax was a 'priest-king', owing much of his prestige to the adoption of Minoan symbols of power, whilst the lawagetas would have been the military leader of the Mycenaean state. Palaima's observation that the affairs of both officials are listed in separate series (Ea and Eb/Bn/Eo/Ep) is of limited value, since we also have a number of texts (supra) recording the activities of both officials. The hypothesis that the lawagetas was the military leader of the Mycenaean state has been adopted by various other scholars, and seems mainly based on etymological considerations (supra), but fails to explain why both the wanax and the lawagetas are attested in a military context (as well as in religious and economic contexts).



[orrit M. Kelder

have been the crown-prince of the typical Mycenaean state. This would explain the overlap in activities between the vaanax and the lavaagetas as well as the difference in scale of their respective involvement in such things as ceremonial banquets. It would also fit nicely with some of the archaeological evidence, to which I will turn below in extenso, in that the lavoagetas may have resided in the little megaron that has _be~n uncovered at various palatial centres, whilst the vaanax may have had his throne in the (adjacent) large megaran. Despite the virtues of this hypothesis, the absence of any anthropological or archaeological parallel for a ruler and his heir apparent to reside in adjacent throne-rooms (in architectural terms both part of one larger bipartite unit (the palace), seems problematic. Moreover, the hypothesis presupposes that both the vaanax and the lavaagetas were officials within a single palatial state; that they were the local autonomous ruler and his heir apparent. But as I have argued above, there is no reason to suppose that we are dealing with such small political entities in the first place. As a result, we could also look beyond the borders of the various palatial administrations and look for a suitable position of the two officials in the wider scheme of a larger Mycenaean state, comprising several palatial centres.

Looking for the vaanax and the lavaagetas in a greater, pan-Mycenaean context, offers a number of advantages. We would, for example, no longer have to struggle to explain that, whilst one Mycenaean palace normally equals one Mycenaean palatial state, the situation in the Argolid, with Mycenae and Tiryns (and arguably Midea, Argos and Nauplion) at a stone-throw's distance of each other, must have been different and that some sort of Mycenaean control over Tiryns and the other centres must be assumed. Instead, it could be argued that the situation in the Argolid was not at all anomalous, and that a similar hierarchy also applied to other palaces. The Argolid was different in only one way, in that the dependent sub-centre (Tiryns) lay so close to the capital (Mycenae), whilst other sub-centres lay at a greater distance of the capital. Whilst there is no unequivocal evidence for this scenario in the Linear B texts, it would explain the supra-regional activities of the Pylian administration, and the recurrence of collectors at Thebes and Knossos. Moreover, this scenario would explain the truly remarkable uniformity of Mycenaean palatial culture; in pottery production, iconography, palatial architecture and administration, and would also be consistent with the impression gathered from the foreign evidence (the Hittite texts and the Egyptian sources).

The overlap in the 'spheres of influence' of the wanax and the lawagetas, which was difficult to explain in the context of the relatively small, independent palatial states, could, within the framework of a larger Mycenaean state with various palatial dependencies, reasonably be explained in terms of overlordship and vassalage. We may think of the wanax as an overlord, whilst the lawagetas could have been the local vassal. Parallels for such as scenario abound in the Late Bronze



A Great King at Mycenae

Age eastern Mediterranean: I have already mentioned similar institutions in the Hittite world, where members of the royal family were often installed as Kings at important provincial centres, answerable only to the Great King at Hattusa, and to a large extent ruling as independent monarchs (the so-called Sekundagenitur). These important, yet dependent sub-centres, in turn, would control a number of 'satellite states', where local dynasties were usually kept in place as oath-bound vassals to Hattusa, We may think of a similar three-tier system in the Mycenaean Greece: vaanax (Great King) - lasaagetas (Sekundagenitur) - basileus (local vassal rulers). The implication would be that we are dealing with a single vaanax, whilst each 'provincial' palace would have been ruled by a lasoagetas.

We may speculate about the organization of a larger Mycenaean state.

The organization of the Great Kingdoms of the Near East may provide us with some idea about what was going on in Mycenaean Greece, although we must remain aware of the clear differences. (mainly in scale) between those Kingdoms and the Mycenaean world. As in the Kingdom of the Hittites or New Kingdom Egypt, we might think of a Great King who directly controls a heartland from his 'capital', whilst maintaining varying degrees of control over his vassals by means of messengers (perhaps the 'collectors' or the e-qe-ta, known from the Linear B texts?). Some of these vassals, especially those whose loyalty was in question, or those that ruled the more distant realms, may occasionally have been summoned to the capital for an audience to account for their deeds (compare to the 'Indictment of Madduwatta'j.i" At the same time, we could also think of royal 'tours' throughout the realm; an opportunity for the wanax to assert his rule, to judge and deal with specific local issues or the inception of large, prestigious building projects. There are a number of indications in the archaeological record and in a Linear B text from Pylos that such royal tours indeed took place. I will present this text, Ta 711, and the archaeological data in the lines below.

L a-wi-de pu£ke-qi-ri o-te wa-na-ka ie-ee au-lee-vaa da-mo-ko-ro

2. qe-ra-na wa-na-se-wi-ja qo-u-ka-ra ko-k-re-ja EWER 1

qe-re-na a-mo-te-wi-ja ko-ro-no-we-sa

3. qe-ra-na wa-na-se-wi-ja ku-na-ja qo-u-ka-ra to-ai-de-we-sa EWER 1

L Thus Pu -lee-qi-ri made inspection, when the wanax appointed Au-ke-wa as do-mo-ko-rc"

2. One ewer of the queen's set, bull's head design, decorated with sea-shells; One ewer of the harmost's set, with a curved handle

36 Indictment of Madduwatta (KUB XN 1): A G6tze, Madduwattas, Darmstadt 1986. See also van den Mieroop, The Eastern Mediterranean in the Age of Ramesses II, 107.

37 Cf. I.-P. Olivier, 'Le damokoro: un fonctionaire Mycenien', Minos 8 (1967), 118-122, for da-mo-eo-ro. For the interpretation of te-ke in Ta 711 as 'appointed', see [. Killen, 'The Pylas Ta Tablets Revisited', BCH 122 (1998),421-422; Th.G. Palaima, 'The Pylos Ta Series: from Michael Ventris to the New Millennium', BICS 44 (2000), 236-237.



[orrit M. Kelder

3. One ewer of the queen's set, a woman's gift, bull's head design, decorated with running spirals.

(Translation adapted from Ventris, Chadwick, Documents, 335)

Ta 711 appears to reflect an inventory made in preparation of a visit of the wanax (to Pylos). Considering the apparent quality of the objects listed in the text, one may reasonably argue that this probably was aninspection of the palace, where the wanax would have presided during his stay at Pylos. The palace, as has been noted above, was a bipartite unit, which included a large and a small megafan.3S The large mega ran is generally believed to have been the focus of Mycenaean political, religious, military and economic life and we may, consequently, assume that the voanax would have held his audience in the throne-room of the large megaran. There, if we may believe Piet de Jong's reconstruction of the palace of Pylos, the vaanax sat enthroned, flanked by sphinxes and lions, and there, we might speculate, may the vaanax have appointed Pu,-ke-qi-ri as da-mo-leo-ro. The smaller megafan, at the same time, may have been the place where the lawagetas would normally deal with the region's day-to-day affairs. In this way, the two megara would reflect the status and positions of their respective users; similar, yet different in scale.

The architecture ~f the Mycenaean palaces is not the only feature that may corroborate the concept of a 'peripatetic Great King' and a locallawagetas as vassal King. It is long known that the system of roads throughout Late Bronze Age Greece was not only extensive, but also remarkably well-built and, presumably, well maintained. Considering the effort it must have taken to build and maintain these roads, it seems that overland transport in the Greek Late Bronze Age must have been of importance and relatively regular, As has been convincingly argued by Crouwel and others, chariots must have been the main mode of transport over these roads, which implies not only that transport was speedy but, more tellingly, that it was 'classy' (since chariots doubtlessly were the vehicles of the elitej."

During discussions with colleagues regarding the political composition of the Mycenaean world, the absence of any Mycenaean road connection with the various 'realms' was often presented as an argument against overarching authority and testimony to the regional rule of the palaces. This argument, however, is problematic for a number of reasons. It seems, for instance, difficult to pinpoint the

38 K. Kilian, 'The Emergence of the Wanax Ideology in the Mycenaean Palaces', Oxford Journal of Archaeology 7 (1988), 293, described the typical Mycenaean palace as a 'bipartite unit which consists of a main palace (megaron or great hall) and a secondary one, each with its own independent functional units',

39 Cf, J,H. Crouwel, Chariots and other Means of Land Transportation in Bronze Age Greece, Amsterdam 1981; R, Schon, 'Chariots, Industry and Elite Power at Pylos', in M. Galaty, W.A. Parkinson (eds), Rethinking M),cenaean Palaces II, Revised and Expanded Second Edition, Los Angeles 2007,139-141.



A Great King at Mycenae

'borders' between the various realms - especially considering the numerous uncertainties concerning the geographical extent of the various palatial administrations (supra). If we cannot with certainty or precision draw the borders between the various regions in the first place, the demand for a border-crossing stretch of Mycenaean road as evidence for unification of those respective regions seems to be somewhat odd. Moreover, the (reconstructed) road connecting Mycenae with the region around Corinth seems to be precisely what we are looking for, since it is essentially on the basis of this road (and additional survey results) that it is generally assumed that Korinthia fell under the control of Mycenae." That we do not have similar examples elsewhere does not indicate that it did not happen: Mycenaean roads were only robust when needed and would not normally have survived the centuries in regions where there was no need to construct ramps or bridges, A number of preserved tracks, including a road connecting Pylos to Kalamata (which may have continued to Sparta I Laconia), and the roads built in association with the extensive drainage works in the Kopais basin in Boeotia (which may have connected Orchomenos to Boeotian Thebes), may have been part of a larger, pan-Mycenaean system of roads."

I have indicated above that the model of a larger Mycenaean state with local lawagetai and a single, travelling vaanax as overlord would be comparable with the social organisations of various Near Eastern state, most notably the Kingdom of the Hittites. This, then, would also explain the impression of familiarity in the Hittite - Ahhiyawan diplomatic correspondence: the Hittite King could relate to the political position of his Ahhiyawan colleague and therefore knew how to address him, even in difficult and potentially threatening situations (such as those reflected in the Tawagalawa letter or the Manapa-Tarhunda letter).42 The very fact that Hattusili III called the Ahhiyawan ruler a 'Great King' may, as a result, not only indicate the reality of Ahhiyawan power (supra), but also reflect the contemporary political reality in the Mycenaean world, since the title of 'Great King' essentially designates an independent King who, whilst ruling his own heartland, exercised (an unspecified degree of) control over other, neighbouring Kingdoms."

40 Survey results, especially the absence of any significant centre in the Korinthia in Mycenaean times, are considered evidence for Mycenaean dominance over the region, already at an early stage: [. Cherry, J. Davis, 'Under the Sceptre of Agamemnon', in K. Branigan (ed.), Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age, Sheffield 2001, 154-156. For the system of roads: G, Mylonas, Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age, Cambridge 1966, 86; Crouwel, Chariots and other Means of Land Transportation in Bronze Age Greece, 17.

41 See for the most recent catalogue R. Hope Simpson, D.K. Hagel, Mycenaean Fortiiications.

Highways, Dams and Canals (SIMA 133), Savedalen 2006,

42 KUB XIV 3; KUB XIX 5: See Bryce, Letters of the Great Kings of the Ancient Near East, 203, for the most recent discussion,

43 Cf. H. Otten, 'Zu den Anfangen der hethitischen Geschichte', Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient Gesellscha{t 83 (1951),35-43; Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, 37.



[orrit M. Kelder

If we assume the reality of this hypothesis, the question remains as to where we should look for the Mycenaean heartland (the capital), and what the territorial extent of the Mycenaean Great Kingdom was. I will turn to these questions in the lines below.

Heartland and periphery

It seems, on the whole, reasonable to assume that the capital of the Mycenaean state must have stood out from the 'provincial' capitals in terms of monumentality, population and wealth. On the grounds of these criteria, only two palatial centres stand the test: Mycenae and Boeotian Thebes. Thebes has, in recent years, received a lot of scholarly attention and it has been proposed that it may have been the 'leading' centre of Mycenaean Greece. This view appears to have been based on three considerations, most recently summarized by Joachim latacz (2004). Apart from Boeotian prominence in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships (but notably not Theban prominence; the centre itself plays no part in the Epic), and the reconstruction of a relatively large Theban realm on the grounds of Linear B texts (methodologically flawed; supra), the argument is based on a new reading, proposed by the eminent Hittitologist Frank Starke, of the Hittite text KUB 26.91. Starke's new reading holds that KUB 26.91 is a letter from an unnamed Ahhiyawan King to a Hittite King (probably Muwatalli II). In the letter, the Ahhiyawan King is presenting historical justification for the recent Ahhiyawan seizure of several islands in the Aegean, arguing that his forefather had received these lands as a gift from the King of Assuwa (a region in western Anatolia). This forebear is named in the letter: his name is Kadmos. Judging the flood of criticism (concerning grammatical impossibilities, and the improbable reading of 'Kadmos' in Hittite nJu-za Ka-ga-mu-na-ai-za-ean A-BA A-BA A-B[J-YA), it appears that Starke's new reading is far from generally accepted." But even if this new reading were true, there is still the leap from the Ahhiyawan king Kadmos to the legendary founder of Thebes that has to be explained to make the scenario of Theban pre-eminence in Mycenaean Greece plausible.

The argument for Mycenae as the capital of a pan-Mycenaean state seems, at the same time, more persuasive. A number of unique features, such as the' construction of 9 monumental tholes-tombs, stone relief work on a large scale (the lions Gate), the 'H~uses' outside the citadel, and the early erection of Cyclopean walls (with Tiryns) make Mycenae stand out amongst the Mycenaean palaces." In addition, only

44 Starke's reading is to my knowledge not published in any scholarly journal. But see J. Latacz, Troy and Homer, Oxford 2004, 244 and its reviews by J. Katz, 'Review of Joachim Latacz' Troy and Homer', JAOS, 125,3 (2005), 422-425; J.M. Kelder, 'Review of Latacz 2004', Bibliotheca Orientalis 59 (2007), 745.

45 Cf. E. French, 'The Role of Mycenae', in R. Laffineur, E. Greco (eds), Emporia (Aegaeum 25), Liege 2005, 125.



A Great King at Mycenae

Mycenae and Nauplion are mentioned as centres in the Kom el Hetan list, as opposed to the other toponyms, which are regions (interestingly including the Thebaid: the region around Thebes, but not the centre itself). Mycenae, in sum, is the most plausible candidate as the capital of a larger Mycenaean state. If Mycenae was, indeed, the capital of a larger state, a number of interesting possibilities can be entertained. Comparisons between the Lions Gate at Mycenae and the Lions Gate at the Hittite capital Hattusa lay at hand," but even seemingly unimportant references such as the above mentioned shipment of cloth from Mycenae to Thebes might now be seen in a wholly different light. The latter might be compared to the well-attested Near Eastern obligation of an overlord to feed and clothe his subjects; an obligation recurring in numerous Near Eastern treaties and royal annals, as well as in the Old Testament.

The question remains as to what the territorial extent of this Mycenaean Great Kingdom was. Given the uniformity of palatial architecture, iconography and administration, a case can be made for the inclusion of all Mycenaean palatial centres. We could also think of two competing Great Kingdoms, since the Hittite sources speak of an Ahhiyawa, whereas the Egyptian texts mention a Kingdom of Tanaju (but compare to Homeric 'Achaioi' and 'Danaoi' as identification for the Greek forces before Troy)." It is perhaps best to acknowledge that the evidence is currently insufficient to argue either way.

Concluding remarks

Having reached the end of this paper, it seems appropriate to devote some lines to the end of the Mycenaean Great Kingdom. I have no clear ideas about Its disintegration and final collapse; with the majority of scholars I suspect that a combination of factors (dynastic quarrels, famines, earthquakes, over-specialization, and social unrest) caused Mycenaean palatial society to collapse. With its collapse, we may presume that many of the Mycenaean elite may have sought their fortunes abroad (as legend suggest), but some must have stayed and attempted to rebuilt what had been lost. The 'palace' at Tiryns that was built over the remains of the old palace during the LH mc period, may reflect just such an attempt. The person that sat on the Tirynthian LH mc throne (interestingly, built on the exact spot of the old throne) may have even styled himself a 'wanax', but it must have been clear for most of his contemporaries that the era of greatness was over.

46 Cf. Bryce, Letters of the Great Kings of the Ancient Near East, 203; N.K. Sandars, The Sea Peoples, London 1978, 63-65.

47 The most recent discussion is Latacz, Troy and Homer.



[orrit M. Kelder

The end of the 12th century BC saw the return to a more (but certainly not completely) egalitarian society and the palace was abandoned. With the final disappearance of overarching authority over (large parts of) Greece, some of those local dynasties that still survived may have continued their rule as local, independent monarchs. Their titles, hitherto the designation for vassal rulers, now gained prestige. This phenomenon-has been observed, especially with regard to the title of basileus (which in the Linear B texts seems to have been a designation for anyone with some authority over a group of people; such as a leader of a group of smiths (I), whereas it became a title for local nobles in the Homeric Epics,' and simply 'King' in later times). That the same, if of more limited occurrence, seems to have happened to the title /awagetas may add gravity to the hypothesis that, in Mycenaean times, he indeed may have been a local vassal-King: the suffix -laos in royal names at Sparta (the Agiads) might reflect Bronze Age practice, whilst in 8th century BC Anato/ia, lawagetas is attested as one of the titles of Midas, King of Phrygia."

The 'Nachleben' of Mycenaean titles is, however, material for another paper.

I have argued that the old model of Mycenaean Greece, with its various independent palatial states is not only not based on hard evidence (but on problematic interpretations and assumptions), but also ignores foreign evidence - without proper explanation. Whilst this does not necessarily prove that model is 'wrong', there seems at least to be an argument to critically re-examine the available evidence. The merit of the model of a pan-Mycenaean state proposed above lays in its compatibility with all available evidence, be it Greek or foreign. It shares the weaknesses of the old paradigm in that there is no unequivocal evidence in the Linear B texts for such a concept, but unlike the old paradigm, there are no inconsistencies in the model itself or discrepancies between the model and the available evidence which need to be explained.

Jorrit M. Kelder jorritkelder@gmail.com

British School at Athens Odos Souidias 52

10676 Athens, Greece

48 Sparta: J.H. Oliver, Demokratia, the Gods and the Free World, Baltimore 1960, 4-7; Phrygia:

G.L. Huxley, 'Titles of Midas', GRBS 2 (1959), 83-99.



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