The Archaic Polis of Azoria

A Window into Cretan ‘Polital’ Social Structure


  • David B. Small Lehigh University



Archaic Crete, social structure, state formation, Greek polis, structural analysis, civic sanctuaries


This article seeks to build a structural model for the development of the Cretan polis through an analysis of the civic structure of Archaic Azoria. Azoria’s civic structural network is compared to that of the early polis on mainland Greece. Insights gained from comparative modeling of elite-sponsored civic structure in these two regions are applied to Crete, allowing us to construct a more robust network of early ‘polital’ structure for that island. Results of this analysis indicate that Cretan elites constructed their positions within the Cretan polis through methods such as exclusion. They additionally show that the unique relationship between civic institutions and those of the Cretan inter-polital sanctuary highlights the role that the institutions within the andreion and within civic cult play in polis development, as well as elucidating the unique character of the family–community interface on Crete. Results of this analysis highlight important issues in the emergence of the Cretan polis, and suggest fruitful future research.

Author Biography

David B. Small, Lehigh University

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA



How to Cite

Small, D. B. (2011). The Archaic Polis of Azoria: A Window into Cretan ‘Polital’ Social Structure. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 23(2), 197–217.