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Labouring with Large Stones (Paperback)

A Study into the Investment and Impact of Construction Projects on Mycenaean Communities in Late Bronze Age Greece

Ancient History > Prehistory > Mediterranean Prehistory

Imprint: Sidestone Press
Pages: 220
Illustrations: 31fc/13bw
ISBN: 9789464280098
Published: 28th December 2021
Casemate UK Academic

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This book explores the cost, expressed in labour, of constructing fortifications during the Late Bronze Age in Greece (ca. 1600 - 1050 BCE). The underlying question for this study is whether the cost of large scale constructions, built with large, unwieldy blocks, may have overstretched the (economic) capabilities of communities, leading to their collapse.


In order to determine the labour costs, the building process is deconstructed and for each sub-process, the costs are determined. The costs for these sub-processes are based on the amount of material that is required and the speed with which the tasks associated with these processes can be performed. However, a simplistic number expressing the labour (in person-hours, for example), gives limited insight into the impact such building projects may have had on the communities. Hence, elaborate comparisons are made to put these labour costs into context. This involves, for instance, comparisons between different fortifications, different building styles, as well as between types of structures. It is in these comparisons where the true strength of labour cost studies lie.


This study on its own cannot definitively answer the question whether these construction projects led to the downfall of the Mycenaean communities. However, based purely on the results of the labour cost analyses, it is shown that, despite the impressive nature of the walls, both due to their size as well as due to the size of the stones used, communities seem to have been able to cope with the stress it may have put on their economies. This study, therefore, provides insights into building processes, the impact of material and building styles on construction costs as well as the large varieties that exist within a context collectively known as ‘Mycenaean’.

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