Megarons and Minoan Hall Systems: A Comparison of the Large Hall Systems in Minoan and Mycenaean Architecture
Scholarship comparing the Minoan Hall System with the Mycenaean ‘megaron’ has in general emphasized either the similarities or differences between the two types of suite. Early archaeological literature tends to equate the two suites, with scholars such as Joseph Hazzidakis (Hazzidakis 1934:16-17) suggesting that the differences between the two can be explained by differences in climate between Crete and mainland Greece. On the other hand, in more recent scholarship, the two forms are distanced from one another, in effect polarizing the two architectural forms. Comparisons such as these tend to imply that the form of both types of hall system is very regular, with each suite likely hosting the same function as the next. In order to study the similarities and differences between the Minoan Hall System and Mycenaean ‘megaron’, 27 Minoan hall systems and 15 megaron-units have been analysed and compared. These hall systems will be compared in their form, in the way they were incorporated into the surrounding building, and in the features they incorporate. To discuss how the hall systems were incorporated into buildings, Space Syntax Analysis will be used alongside a typology of access and circulation developed by Miriam Clinton (2013) for Minoan architecture. The climate-controlling features of open-air spaces, pier and door partitions and hearths will also be discussed. A close examination of a wide variety of Minoan Hall Systems and Mycenaean ‘megarons’ shows that both forms differed considerably from site to site. Within each architectural form are examples of vastly different sizes, which are incorporated into buildings in very different ways. It is likely, therefore, that these buildings would have functioned in different ways. With this wide variation, it is unsurprising, therefore, that in comparison while some Minoan Hall Systems and Mycenaean ‘megarons’ are very different, others are very similar. It is likely that the functions of some of these more standard hall systems may have overlapped. An examination of the climate-controlling features of open-air spaces, pier and door partitions and hearths reveals that Minoan Hall Systems and Mycenaean ‘megarons’ likely did not differ primarily based on differences in climate. Though these features would have certainly been used for climate control, it will be shown that they likely had some other significance. Finally, from this comparison some tentative and broad conclusions about the possible functions of the two types of hall system have been drawn.