In his recent review of the literature, Michael E. Smith concludes that in pre-industrial states, even within a single generation, population mobility at the local and regional levels was more extensive and more varied than archaeologists have traditionally recognized. In other words, population mobility was a common, continual process as opposed to an epochal event (Osborne 1991; Cameron 2013; Smith 2014).
In this paper we examine population mobility in relation to the Minoan settlement of Gournia, its surrounding landscape, and the broader Mirabello region. As part of the Gournia Excavation Project under the direction of L. Vance Watrous, we have been conducting an intensive investigation of Gournia’s architecture over the course of the last seven years. We have produced a new plan of the site and have begun to meticulously unravel the complex diachronic development of the settlement from its foundation in the Early Bronze Age through to its abandonment at the end of the Neopalatial period. We have identified several key developments, including the introduction of the earliest forms of monumental architecture, the construction of earlier and later palaces, two chronologically distinct street systems, changes in mortuary practices, and various phases of expansion and contraction in the residential zones within the settlement. We suggest that these multifaceted intra-site changes are best understood in relation to contemporary population movements in the surrounding landscape and in the broader Mirabello region. These changes did not occur in isolation: they were part of larger processes of local and regional population mobility.