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Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 713–750 | Cite as

Fire and the Holes: an Investigation of Low-Level Meanings in the Minoan Built Environment

  • Quentin LetessonEmail author
Article

Abstract

Drawing in equal measure on space syntax and a theoretical framework recently advocated by Carl Knappett for the study of material culture, this paper offers an innovative approach to the fixed, semi-fixed, and mobile elements constituting the built environment. Through a case study from Bronze Age Crete, the paper deals with specific fixtures (hearths and hollowed slabs called kernoi). It first investigates their spatial contexts through configurational analysis and highlights the long history of their existence in Minoan Crete. Finally, the paper addresses the ways in which these fixtures might have acquired particular symbolic and functional meanings through recursive interactions with people. By focusing on these associations and affordances of hearths and kernoi, the paper intends to highlight the profound importance of low-level meanings of the built environment for the understanding of the complex interactions between architecture, material assemblages, and people. Furthermore, it proposes a holistic analytical method allowing the approach of interactional dynamics (people–space–objects) that do not necessarily appear conspicuously in the archaeological record.

Keywords

Built environment Fixtures Space syntax Material agency Praxeology Minoan Crete 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This paper was originally written as part of a postdoctoral project entitled Minoan Architecture: A Syntactical Genealogy founded by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS). In a later stage, additional research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme ([FP7/2007-2013] [FP7/2007-2011]) under grant agreement no. PIOF-GA-2012-326640. I am grateful for the comments and critical reading of the two anonymous reviewers. I also warmly thank Carl Knappett for his insightful suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper, Joe Shaw for his authorization to reproduce the photograph used in Fig. 2, and Charlotte Langohr and Simon Jusseret for their support and inspiring conversations.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology Centre—Aegean Material Culture LaboratoryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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