Indigenous Archaeologies of Crete, 1878–1913

Vasileios Varouchakis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This article makes a contribution to the emerging study of alternative, indigenous and subaltern archaeologies, using the Mediterranean island of Crete as a case study. My focus is on the crucial political developments that took place during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly the establishment of the Cretan State. These developments coincided with and facilitated the consolidation of archaeology as a scientific discipline and a state policy on the island. The Cretan population of the countryside ‘contested’ the new attitudes towards the material past by persevering with embedded practices that questioned the validity of scientific approaches. What kind of indigenous imagination underscored such practices? And how did the peasants interact with the new dogma regarding antiquities? Contrary to other groups involved, such as local and Western archaeologists, the rural Cretans remain among the ‘great unknowns’: accounts of relevant events by their own pen are scarce, highlighting the importance of oral historical sources. I therefore present these people through the voices of the others. Archival material such as administrative documents, correspondence, memoirs and newspaper articles, critically assessed, are used for this purpose. This research is also influenced by autobiographical archaeology, as glimpses of my personal work experience and family background overlap with the archival data discussed here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Archaeology
Early online date22 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2018


  • archaeological ethnography
  • Crete
  • Greek nationalism
  • history of archaeology
  • indigenous archaeology
  • politics of the past


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