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Minoan Halls: A Syntactical Genealogy

Quentin Letesson
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 117, No. 3 (July 2013), pp. 303-351
DOI: 10.3764/aja.117.3.0303
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Page Count: 49
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Minoan Halls: A Syntactical Genealogy
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The tripartite room labeled a Minoan hall is probably the most emblematic architectural feature of the Neopalatial period in Bronze Age Crete (1700/1675–1470/1460 B.C.E.). Although this spatial arrangement stands out as an exceptional accomplishment because of its elaborate layout, fine materials, and innovative properties, its function is still somewhat enigmatic. In fact, some of its very characteristics, such as flexibility and layout complexity, significantly hinder an in-depth evaluation of the role that Minoan halls played in Late Bronze Age Crete. I argue here that the lack of an exhaustive and systematic analysis of the spatial structure of these tripartite arrangements has hampered our understanding of them and that their architectural development should receive more attention. I present an approach for analyzing the spatial syntax of Minoan halls, their evolution in a diachronic perspective, and their diversity in specific buildings. Far from being yet another attempt to give a clear-cut functional definition of Minoan halls, this research offers instead a new way of considering Minoan architecture.

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