Abstract of Middleton,G.,”Mycenaeans, Greeks, Archaeology and Myth: Identity and the Uses of Evidence in the Archaeology of Late Bronze Age Greece”.
The Greeks of the archaic and classical period viewed their past through myths and history, with little clear distinction. It is in modern times through archaeological research that the prehistory of Greece and the Aegean have been discovered and its cultures named. This paper, then, is concerned with the effect of mythology and terminology on the archaeology of the Late Bronze Age Greece, the so-called Mycenaean period.
Throughout the history of the subject, mythology has been part of the intellectual background affecting, consciously or otherwise, the interpretation of archaeological evidence. It will be demonstrated how this has affected the validity of a research methodology and consequently the results of that study.
Terminology, in the form of the naming of archaeological cultures, has affected our understanding in the same way. By giving a name to an archaeological culture, specifically groups of assemblages (grouped types of remains), a unity of identity or ethnicity can be implied or inferred. It will be demonstrated that while the simple equation of an archaeological culture with a distinct ethnic group has long been realised to be wrong, it still affects archaeological interpretation in a more complex way. That is in how archaeological cultures are seen to be related to each other and in the cultural values ascribed to them.
General conclusions from the discussion will be highlighted and the paper will end with a brief discussion of ethnicity in the Greek Bronze Age.