Livarda, A., Orengo, H. A., Cañellas-Boltà, N., Riera-Mora, S., Picornell-Gelabert, L., Tzevelekidi, V., Veropoulidou, R., Marlasca Martín, R., & Krahtopoulou, A. (2021). Mediterranean polyculture revisited: Olive, grape and subsistence strategies at Palaikastro, East Crete, between the Late Neolithic and Late Bronze Age. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 61, 101271.



This paper examines agriculture, farming and dietary resources in east Crete, and re-evaluates the role of grape and olive in its prehistoric economy, these being key in debates on the emergence of social complexity. To do so bioarchaeological, paleoenvironmental and landscape survey data from the Bronze Age town at Palaikastro and its territory are combined. The results indicate a highly compartmentalised landscape, including intensive crop cultivation and extensive animal herding with careful monitoring to maintain productivity. A heightened specialisation in ovicaprine management at Palaikastro and east Crete seems to be delineated. Marine resources were regularly exploited from easily accessible coastal areas. Other activities included viticulture since the Early Minoan period, with the possible involvement of several houses in wine-making. A final important activity in the area was large-scale olive tree management since the Final Neolithic period and through to the Late Bronze Age, that seems to be entangled with ovicaprine herding and grazing. Thus, the demand for olive oil production does not seem to have been the driving force behind the intensification of the tree management, at least initially, but a corollary of its use in other aspects of the local economy.

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