Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Anthropology

Major Professor

Aleydis Van de Moortel

Committee Members

Benjamin Auerbach, David Anderson

Abstract

Evidence suggests that purple dye was produced on the islet of Mitrou, a Bronze Age and Early Iron Age site in central Greece. The goal of this study is to determine the chronological and spatial patterning of Murex shells in order to better understand the emergence of dye manufacture. The research hypothesis is that Murex dye production was related to the rise of a visible political elite and that the scale of production was large enough at Mitrou to have exceeded the needs of the household, thus providing a cash crop for this elite to obtain imports from the Eastern Mediterranean. Multi-layered statistical analyses were employed to test this two-pronged hypothesis. The first hypothesis that Murex dye production was related to the rise of the elite at Mitrou was confirmed by a series of chi-squared analyses. Based on site-wide estimates of original Murex population, the second hypothesis that dye production exceeded domestic scale cannot be rejected. Since we know the prehistoric Mycenaeans produced very ornate, multi-colored and often banded garments, it is possible that Murex dye was produced at Mitrou to color raw wool for the production of thread, which could then be embroidered on fabric or traded as such. If it was in fact colored thread that was being produced, the site-wide estimates suggest that dye production could have exceeded domestic levels at Mitrou and dyed thread could have been a lucrative trading commodity.

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