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Abstract

When the modern nation state of Greece became recognized in 1830, archaeology suddenly became ensnared in the politics of identity formation in various Greek speaking communities. Although historical narratives about the development of Greek archaeology have been characterized as marred by antagonistic accounts of western European imposition, the contentious territory of Crete under the Ottoman Empire tells a particularly unique and complementary narrative that warrants our critical attention. This dissertation investigates the development of Cretan archaeological practices by examining the discipline’s shifting dynamics from the time Crete became a semi-autonomous parliamentary state until its bilateral unification with Greece in 1913. My study advocates a new and comparative evaluation of Crete’s political, social, and economic upheavals under the Ottoman Empire through three principal arguments regarding the early moments of Cretan archaeology. First, Cretan archaeology was initially used as a strategy of resistance by the indigenous Cretans and foreign archaeologists as a means to divest from the Ottoman administration between 1878-1898. Second, while previous histories have framed discussions of archaeology through a “colonial” or “crypto-colonial” framework, the involvement of the Cretan intelligentsia and foreign excavators suggests that these accusations were not entirely accurate. Third, the Cretans’ appeal to a common western heritage was, in part, responsible for the reason why the Filekpaideftikos Syllogos (and then later the Archaeological Service of Crete) was accommodating toward non-Greek western archaeologists. After Crete’s unilateral unification with Greece between 1908-1913 and the Great Powers’ military departure, the internal dynamic of Crete’s archaeological politics began to shift.

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