A Comparative Spatial Analysis of Ancient Palaces

Author(s): Tia B. Watkins; John Walden

Year: 2018


Ancient palatial complexes offer opportunities to understand the actors at the apex of prehistoric polities. With careful and complex design, these structures were built to represent the affluence of those who resided within their confines. While the external façade of a palace represents the defining barrier between the elite and the public, the architectural layouts of ancient palaces reveal multiple levels of exclusivity. The varying levels of privacy in different palaces may relate to the differing roles and functions that palaces fulfilled across the ancient world. In some contexts palaces were simply a grandiose residence for the ruling elite, whereas elsewhere they fulfilled political, religious, administrative, economic and military functions. Furthermore, the accessibility of the inner areas of palaces might reflect the gulf between rulers and subjects, or the overall safety of the elite. We apply a space syntax analysis to several ancient palatial complexes to measure privacy and accessibility. We compare the results to identify patterned variability in the level of restriction between palaces, which might be structured by the presumed function of the palaces (military, economic, religious, residential, and administrative), the broader bases of political power in the society, or the level of societal complexity.

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A Comparative Spatial Analysis of Ancient Palaces. Tia B. Watkins, John Walden. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443214)

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Abstract Id(s): 22521