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Summary

‘Mediterranean polyculture’(the systematic exploitation of olives and vines in addition to cereals from the beginning of the Bronze Age) has been considered as one of the main factors which led to the development of palatial institutions in Bronze Age Crete and mainland Greece. This paper reviews all the available, direct archaeological evidence for olive and vine exploitation and oil and wine production and use from Bronze Age Crete (microbotanical, macrobotanical, artefactual, epigraphic), discussing at the same time their taphonomic, analytical and interpretative problems. It is suggested that, at present, there is no reliable direct archaeological evidence to substantiate the ‘Mediterranean polyculture’model. More significantly, research on wine and oil, if disconnected from the discourse of subsistence and the cultural-evolutionary models such as that of subsistence-redistribution and viewed within the framework of the anthropology of consumption, can more fruitfully illuminate important issues related to the dialects of power such as establishment and legitimation of authority, exploitation of labour and factional competition.