The role of the religious sector in the economy of late Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece
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Because many Linear B tablets record offerings of useful commodities to deities and sanctuaries, the religious sector of Mycenaean Greece has been seen as dependent on the palatial administration for its maintenance. The sanctuaries were therefore thought to have been subject to palatial authority. But, Linear B tablets provide evidence that deities or religious personnel were associated with economic resources. For instance, religious personnel hold a majority of the land recorded on the Pylos Ep/Eb and En/Eo series, and deities hold flocks of sheep in the Knossos D series. The religious sector was also involved in industrial concerns, as demonstrated by the Potnian bronzesmiths in the Jn series, the religious textile workers of the Thebes Of tablets, and the Potnian unguent boiler of PY Un 267.1. The industrial activites of religious personnel are also demonstrated by tablets found within the Northeast Workshop at Pylos, and by the Oi series of Mycenae. Archaeological evidence supports the textual: evidence for various workshop activities was found within the cult areas of Pylos, Mycenae, Methana, Phylakopi, Kition, Enkomi, and Athienou. The economic role of the sanctuaries may have been akin to that of the “collector,” who is taxed by the palace, but who seems to own his own resources. The personnel of the sanctuaries then, like the collectors, were probably able to provide for their own livelihoods, both through the production of their own goods and through the exchange of the goods that were not requisitioned by the palace. Thus the sanctuaries were probably not dependent on the palace for their sustenance. Rather, the sanctuaries were an integral part of the non-palatial economic sector, and prosperous sanctuaries, such as Pa-ki-ja-ne, may have been able to accumulate real wealth. Economic wealth may have brought with it an influence within the community that was not based solely on the sanctuaries’ role as intermediary between the divine and mortal realms. The fact that the king of Pylos is initiated at Pa-ki-ja-ne (Un 2) shows that the sanctuary of Pa-ki-ja-ne, and those who held the higher positions within the religious hierarchy, may also have had some political power.