[A Network Approach to
Urbanization and Processes of Invention/Innovation in the Material
Culture of Bronze Age Crete (3100-1200 BCE)]
The project focuses on the relationship
between urbanization and processes of invention/innovation in the
material culture of the Bronze Age society of Minoan Crete (3100-1200
In essence, it first proposes to address issues of settlement growth,
layout and elaboration, but also plans to develop a diachronic approach
to connections between settlements and to investigate issues of site
hierarchies. Methodologically, along with a description of urban
infrastructures, the intra-site study will use space syntax, an approach
to spatial organization through graph analysis, to highlight
characteristics of the selected sites in terms of accessibility, street
layout, and density of occupation. At the inter-site level, comparisons
will allow the production of a typology of settlement patterns. The
project will subsequently adopt a network approach to model and test
hypotheses in terms of how settlements related to one another through
time and across different scales (local, regional, island-wide).
Secondly, the project intends to consider the appearance of
technological innovations constituting crucial watersheds in the
production of various aspects of Minoan material culture (including
architecture, ceramics, glyptic, metalwork, script, etc.) and analyse
their spatial distribution. The proportion of technological novelties
exhibited in the archaeological data of various types of settlements
through the history of their occupation will then be highlighted.
Finally, on the basis of the hierarchies of settlements and the
demographic processes they implied, a network analysis of scenarios of
diffusion of innovations will be conducted and evaluated in terms of
their congruity with archaeological data. Through these analyses, the
project ultimately aims at exploring to what extent urbanization played a
role in the appearance of technological inventions, the spread of
innovations, but also the persistence of traditional expressions of
material culture of Bronze Age Crete…
NetUrbIn is funded by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action of the European Union Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007-2013] [FP7/2007-2011]) under grant agreement n°PIOF-GA-2012-326640.
[Minoan Architecture: A Syntactical Genealogy]
An ongoing project since my doctoral thesis, this research is a diachronic approach of Bronze Age Crete architectural
configuration. Within the theoretical and methodological framework of
space syntax, this research focuses on the evolution of the Minoan built
environment and on the societal processes that may have led to and/or
been triggered by it.
Mainly based on space syntax and proxemics,
this ongoing research focuses on the evolution of Cretan Bronze Age
architecture and investigates the ways in which Minoans might have
interacted with their built environment.
The idea that space and society co-construct each other is an
enduring one. It assumes that some sociocultural norms exist that are
materialized in the built form, which in turn, notably by its formal and
configurational properties, helps maintain and reproduce sociocultural
requirements and behaviors. In other words, architecture and society
mutually structure each other. Of course, one can rightfully argue that
analyzing spatial structure would never reveal a mental blueprint that
could ultimately lead to the perfect understanding of a social group.
By focusing on spatial configuration however, space syntax is more
concerned with the understanding of how, where, and why people engage
with one another and, in a broader sense, with the built environment. In
that sense, architecture is not considered a simple backdrop for human
actions or a straightforward crystallization of social norms but an
ongoing process of complex and dynamic interplays between space and
Building on the concept of the Neopalatial architectural genotype (Letesson 2009),
this project underlines the development of particular
socio-architectural dynamics in Bronze Age Crete. To address such
issues, all the sufficiently well preserved architectural remains from
the Pre-, Proto- and Postpalatial periods are currently analyzed in a
similar fashion than the Neopalatial ones.
The analyses first produce graphs that can be assessed qualitatively (topological properties) and quantitatively (using JASS) . In a second time, each building is also studied using Depthmap,
a software that performs visual analyses. Detailed descriptions of the
theoretical and methodological background of this research can be found
in Letesson 2009 and 2013.
The data produced are then mobilized to understand the development of
Minoan architecture and, more specifically, to investigate processes of
invention, innovation and tradition (Letesson 2014a).
Recently, I also used this configurational approach in combination with
praxeology and concepts from grounded/embodied cognition to
characterize and investigate complex assemblages of buildings, fixtures
(such as hearths and kernoi), and objects (Letesson 2014b).