Argolid was one of the core regions of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age (Late Helladic period = LH, 1700 – 1050 BC). In the 14th century BC it formed a locally specific palatial culture and entered an era of complex, urbanized, functionally and structurally organized settlement networks, centred around palatial towns, formed of palaces and lower towns surrounding them. In the Argolid, a Mycenaean state developed around the site of Mycenae, with another palatial town at Tiryns, serving probably as a secondary capital and a main harbour. However, this dynamic changed in the 13th century BC, when a series of events started to unfold that ultimately lead to the collapse of the Mycenaean palatial system around 1200 BC. Although both natural disasters and human agency contributed to the fall of the palaces, the chain of events and their results seem to differ in Mycenae and Tiryns. In the post-palatial period (LH IIIC, 1200 – 1050 BC) Mycenae experienced a gradual loss of political and economic status, while Tiryns soon expanded as a settlement and became the main centre of the region. This paper, built on a comparative perspective, aims at elaborating and explaining differing trajectories of collapse and resilience, of both palatial towns of the Argolid. Drawing from the systematic, relational approach to settlement studies and urbanization, as well as the entanglement theory, I discuss the disintegration of palatial culture and urbanized settlement networks as a long-term, multi-causal and gradual process of de-urbanisation and disentanglement of the social and economic networks organized around the palaces, which in the same time formed a new, post-palatial Mycenaean world.
Late Bronze Age, Mycenaean, Mycenae, Tiryns, Collapse, Settlement network