December 31, 2017 | Author: Angelo_Colonna | Category: Ancient Egypt, Bronze Age, Levant, Canaan, Mediterranean Sea
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MEDITERRANEAN BRONZE AGE TRADE: DISTANCE, POWER AND PLACE* The importation and occasional imitation of Aegean objects in Egypt and Asia, as well as the oriental goods found in the West demonstrate that a taste for exotic objects existed among the peoples of the ancient world.1 Introduction Thus begins Chapter III — ‘The Inf luence of the Aegean upon the Arts of Egypt and Western Asia in the Late Bronze I and II Ages’ — of Kantor’s best known publication, and the theme that structures this volume. The multiple stylistic links that Kantor attempts to trace between the Aegean and the Orient, in particular the Aegean inf luences on the arts of Egypt and western Asia, seem to me today rather more problematic and unconvincing than they would have seemed to her contemporaries. Although I return periodically to Kantor’s ideas throughout this study, its basic purpose is to reconsider the relationship between the Aegean and the exotic civilisations of ancient western Asia in the light of recent finds of ‘Aegean-style’ f loor- and wall-paintings in the Levant and the Egyptian delta. These finds open up new possibilities for considering concepts of maritime space, and the role of distance and the exotic in Bronze Age Mediterranean travel and trade. Today, distance no longer remains ‘the first enemy’2 as it did in the 16th century AD when, mutatis mutandis, the Mediterranean Sea was comparable to the known world: it was vast, and charted only by those who traversed it. How much greater would that distance have been, temporally or spatially, in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, when the sea was certainly not ‘within the measure of man’ — or of any other sex for that matter? Communications over very small distances had the potential to create very large problems, whether in 16th century Europe when mail between Rome and Lyons took up to six weeks,3 or in the 14th century BC Levant when an Egyptian royal messenger was held up in Cyprus for three years, and a Babylonian messenger was detained at the Egyptian court for six years.4 In terms of space, rather than time, the struggle with distance could be serendipitous, especially at sea where a favourable wind and good weather (again in the 16th century AD) might make possible a 13-day venture from the Sea of Mamara to Venice, a trip that more frequently took up to six months.5 Whereas today bad weather is simply an inconvenience, in the past all travel was weather-dependent, and irregularity was the rule. Various 16th century

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Acknowledgments: An early version of this paper was presented at the TAG meeting in Reading, England, in December of 1996; I thank Sturt Manning for organizing the session in which the paper was presented and for his detailed comments on that earlier version. I have also benefitted from discussions of the paper with Sophia Antoniadou (University of Edinburgh) and Priscilla Keswani (University of Washington, Pullman). This version owes a significant debt to a careful reading and comments by Marian Feldman (Harvard University). The research for this study was first conducted whilst I was Australian Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Sydney; subsequent research and writing was carried out in the Dept of Archaeology, University of Glasgow. I am most grateful to both institutions for their support. KANTOR, 56. F. BRAUDEL, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, vol. 1 (1972) 355. Ibid. 356. G.H. OLLER, “Messengers and ambassadors in ancient western Asia,” in J.M. SASSON, J. BAINES, G. BECKMAN, and K.S. RUBINSON (eds.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East 3 (1995) 1470. BRAUDEL (supra n. 2) 357.


A. Bernard KNAPP

records indicate that crossing the Mediterranean from north to south could take from one to two weeks; from east to west — or vice-versa — two to three months.6 We are less well informed about the length of time it took to travel from port to port in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, but there is no reason to think that the basic art of navigating sailing ships would have changed substantially at any time, until the end of the sail’s pre-eminence on the seas in the early modern era.7 Distance, one might say, was always variable, and so scores of different distances existed between any point of departure and destination. Land travel could be more predictable than sea travel, but it was always slower and, with rare exceptions, more expensive. In any case, I am concerned here primarily with seaborne travel and travellers in the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, and with distance that must be regarded as other than everyday distance, itself measured in time and space. Furthermore, we must not overemphasize the obstructional aspects of maritime spatial distance: for sailors with a developed maritime technology, the sea is more of a bridge than a barrier.8 In contemporary Micronesia, long-distance voyages are regarded more as endurance tests than as challenging navigational exercises.9 In the remainder of this study, I want to consider another kind of distance, what we may call conceptual distance. Following Mary Helms,10 I consider distance to be an esoteric resource because it is non-local, may be physically challenging, and demands specialised effort to reach it or traverse it. Anyone who studies such issues must acknowledge a debt to Helms’ work;11 indeed Broodbank12 has already looked anew at the Early Bronze Age Cyclades through the lens of Ulysses’ Sail, with the intention of questioning conventional wisdom, and of transforming archaeological opinion on long-distance contacts. It is unfortunate that Helms, in her wide-ranging ethnographic Odyssey seeking sources of knowledge on the relationship between geographic distance and power, made so little use of the rich material and documentary record of the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia. This study will redress that imbalance, and attempt in part to bring the wider world of Odysseus back to Ulysses’ Sail, in part to develop discourses on the relationships between distance, knowledge, and politico-ideological power. My aim is to look from a different perspective and in different ways at long distance traders and at some of the exotica that were exchanged. These objects and individuals were entangled in non-economic as well as economic systems, that is, in personal, local, or state-level ideologies. The study of islands, in particular, helps to amplify concepts of isolation and interaction,13 and to consider how distance and knowledge of the exotic might be manipulated to support specific ideologies. In the settlement of the remote Oceanic islands, for example, the mythical hero-navigator sailed the ocean, discovered new lands, and returned home to tell the tale, along with information on how to get back to the newly-found paradise; by so doing, he gained both personal prestige and social power.

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10 11 12 13

Ibid. 363; J.H. PRYOR, Geography, Technology, and War: Studies in the Maritime History of the Mediterranean, 649-1571 (1988) 25-57. PRYOR (supra n. 6) 6. C. GOSDEN, “Learning about Lapita in the Bismarck Archipelago,” in J. ALLEN and C. GOSDEN (eds.), Report of the Lapita Homeland Project. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 20. Dept of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University (1991) Gosden 1991: 260. G. IRWIN, “Voyaging,” in M. SPRIGGS et al. (eds.), A Community of Culture: The People and Prehistory of the Pacific. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 21. Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University (1993) 76. M.W. HELMS, Ulysses’ Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge, and Geographical Distance (1988) 81. Ibid. passim; Eadem, Craft and the Kingly Ideal: Art, Trade and Power (1993). C. BROODBANK, “Ulysses without sails: trade, distance, knowledge and power in the early Cyclades,” World Archaeology 24 (1993) 315-31. M. PATTON, Islands in Time: Island Sociogeography and Mediterranean Prehistory (1996).



Distance and the Exotic Pre-capitalist networks of long-distance trade must be considered not only in the context of ancient world systems,14 but in a material discourse that incorporates the social significance of distance and the exotic. The otherness associated with experiencing the exotic should also include the realm of conceptual (geographic) distance and the people or goods located in such places. Knowledge of these domains, furthermore, forms an essential aspect of the exotica controlled and manipulated by elites to legitimise and maintain their politico-ideological status. Helms15 cites and quotes generously from the ethnographic literature to demonstrate that objects, information, and experiences obtained from afar are imbued with latent power, and have the capacity to increase the prestige and status of those who acquire them. In other words, long-distance voyages ostensibly conducted as trading ventures to obtain material goods or basic resources in demand may also be seen as exercises in obtaining esoteric knowledge or exotic products which, once the voyager returns home, would serve to enhance social prestige and reaffirm social power.16 Appadurai,17 in a parallel argument, argues that commodities, or ‘economic objects,’ represent complex social forms and manifestations of knowledge. Although Appadurai is concerned with ‘knowledge’ of production or consumption, not knowledge as a path to power, the point is that objects realise value through their social potential, and that the tension between knowledge and distance affects the value and f low of commodities. The symbolism and ideology associated with prestige goods acquired from far-distant settings forms a vital component of long-distance trade.18 Precious raw materials may pervade every social level; in the west African kingdoms of the mid-second millennium AD, for example, gold became a vital part of marriage negotiations, and its display as jewellery was a matter of family wealth and status, not just individual taste.19 Such imports from afar may be symbolically reinterpreted or materially altered to conform to the specific political and ideological requirements of local elites. Cultural distance itself, not just the inordinate significance attributed to objects from mysterious lands, made both the individuals and objects involved pivotal in the legitimisation of politico-ideological power.20 Helms21 goes one step further and suggests that the ‘skilled crafting’ (i.e., craft specialization) and acquisition of exotic raw materials or manufactured goods make up a single package of closely related elite activities, with comparable meanings and values attached to both the people and the products.

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19 20 21

E.g., K.P. MOSELEY, “Caravel and caravan: West Africa and the world economies, ca. 900-1900 AD,” Review 15 (1992) 523-55; G. ALGAZE, The Uruk World System: The Dynamics of Early Mesopotamian Civilization (1993); A.G. FRANK, “Bronze Age world system cycles,” Current Anthropology 34 (1993) 383-429; A.G. SHERRATT, “What would a Bronze Age world system look like? Relations between temperate Europe and the Mediterranean in later prehistory,” Journal of European Archaeology 1(2) (1993) 1-58; S.R. STEADMAN, “Isolation or interaction? Prehistoric Cilicia and the fourth millennium Uruk expansion,” JMA 9 (1996) 131-65. HELMS (supra n. 10) 261-63 and passim. BROODBANK (supra n. 12) 331. A. APPADURAI, “Toward an anthropology of things,” in A. APPADURAI (ed.), The Social Life of Things (1986: 41. HELMS (supra n. 11) 3-4; I.A. HODDER, “Toward a contextual approach to prehistoric exchange,” in J. ERICSON and T.K. EARLE (eds.), Contexts for Prehistoric Exchange (1982) 205-209; MOSELEY (supra n. 14) 527-28. A. WILLARD, “Gold, Islam and camels: the transformative effects of trade and ideology,” Comparative Civilizations Review 28 (1993) 98. C. HUMPHREY and S. HUGH-JONES, “Introduction: barter, exchange and value,” in C. HUMPHREY and S. HUGH-JONES (eds.), Barter, Exchange and Value: an Anthropological Approach (1992) 3-4. HELMS (supra n. 11) 5-6.


A. Bernard KNAPP

The Aegean and Ancient Western Asia Taking my cue from Helms and similar ethnographic work, then, this study focuses more on the accumulation of social power than it does on exercising power relations within society. The wealth of maritime ports as witnessed in their material remains suggests that social power rested at least partly in maritime activity itself.22 The Bronze Age Mediterranean world may fairly be characterised by its coastal towns, maritime ports with multi-ethnic populations, merchant quarters, and storage facilities — for both ships and merchandise. Mediterranean ports were encircled everywhere by thinly-populated stretches of land and sea — the Mediterranean itself and beyond that the ocean; the steppes of the inner Levant and eastern Europe, leading on to those of central Asia; the deserts of the Middle East and north Africa, and the vagueness of all that lay beyond them. The ‘threshold of the distant’ and the ‘other’ lay very near the Mediterranean horizon.23 At this point, we must at least consider the issue of how, or whether, Bronze Age Mediterranean society/societies conceived of otherness and the exotic. We may agree that they conceptualized the composition and functioning of the world, as well as its material resources, quite differently from us. The interchangeability between material, symbolic, and ideological resources is a feature of many traditional societies,24 and one that archaeologists or anthropologists must grasp if they wish to gain some insight into emic frameworks of thinking and living. In this case, we need to consider economic concepts of long distance trade and raw material exploitation in the context of symbolic, artistic, and ideological activities.25 At the crux of this matter is the active role that material culture plays in all societies, past or present. The objects entangled in long-distance exchange were not arbitrary: their symbolism and contexts — and the very materials of which they were made — played key roles in the construction and elaboration of social strategies26 and especially in the conception of oppositional categories, otherness, and the exotic. Whereas different artifact types will have specific meanings within their own historical and ideological contexts, the exchange of objects or decorative styles between different cultural groups — and the maintenance of boundaries, or otherness, between ethnic or social groups — will likely be based upon and manipulate such differences.27 Thus, objects acquire meaning as types or categories that may be opposed to other categories, and the social effect of exchanging such objects must be understood in relation to contextual differences of meaning, and to the ways in which the symbolism and/or iconography of the objects supports and legitimizes power strategies. The iconographic koine and the hybrid forms of elite art that developed in the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean must be seen in this light, and must be understood in the context of a “constant tension between connectedness and otherness that motivates and is mediated by [this] koine.”28 Recent archaeological discoveries have demonstrated that, from the third millennium BC onward, the high urban cultures of Egypt and the Levant — the magical civilizations of ancient western Asia — increasingly came into contact with coastal and island centres in Greece, Crete, the Cyclades, and Cyprus.29 What was the nature of that contact and can we ascertain its directionality? Who controlled trade between various regions? Were western Asiatic symbols of authority emulated in Mediterranean centres? What social classes or

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BROODBANK (supra n. 12) 323. Ibid. 316. HELMS (supra n. 11). Ibid. 211. I.A. HODDER, The Present Past: An Introduction to Anthropology for Archaeologists (1982) 207. HODDER (supra n. 26) 208; HELMS (supra n. 11) 215-16. M. FELDMAN, personal communication. J.F. CHERRY, “Polities and palaces: some problems in Minoan state formation,” in C. RENFREW and J.F. CHERRY (eds.), Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-Political Change (1986); A.B. KNAPP, “Island cultures: Crete, Thera, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Sardinia,” in J.M. SASSON, J. BAINES, G. BECKMAN, and K.S. RUBINSON (eds.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East 3 (1995) 1433-49.



cultural groups were involved? How inf luential was the image, or spectre, of Egyptian civilization? Whilst it is impossible to address all of these questions, the data at hand cry out for evaluation in a globalising, holistic context, particularly given the current interest in ancient world systems, prestige-goods’ economies, and the role of distance and the exotic in contextualizing Bronze Age Mediterranean traders and trade. Amongst the archaeological case studies that might be used to engage such questions are: 1) The portrayal on the ‘miniature fresco’ from Thera, and on other, very fragmentary Aegean frescoes, of diverse stylistic elements — f lora and fauna, ‘negroid’ human representations, the riverine setting of the ‘miniature fresco,’ etc — that seem to be north African, ‘Libyan,’ or Egyptian in origin.30 2) The practice by rulers of small city-state kingdoms in the Levant of sending their offspring or heirs to the Egyptian court at Amarna, there to be raised and indoctrinated into the cosmopolitan cultural milieu of pharaonic Egypt;31 foreign princes and princesses were not only educated and entertained in Egypt, but at least occasionally were married off for diplomatic purposes.32 Members of politico-ideological elites in many traditional societies undertake such ‘travel and training’ for eventual positions of authority.33 3) The socioeconomic and ideological transformations that characterise Late Bronze Age Cyprus have been linked in part to a major expansion in interaction with the older ‘civilisations’ of the Near East and Egypt.34 Specifically, Keswani mentions that, towards the end of the 13th century BC, Cypriot elites began to distinguish themselves more obviously than before by using various prestige goods imported from the Near East or the Aegean, or by imitating prototypes from those areas. 4) Fragments of wall-paintings from an early 18th Dynasty ‘palace’ at Tell el-Dabca in the eastern Nile Delta reveal several elements reminiscent of Aegean or Cycladic wall paintings.35 At a Middle Bronze Age ‘palace’ at Tel Kabri in Israel, distinctive architectural elements, as well as f loor- and wall-paintings, again recall similar designs in Aegean materials.36

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33 34 35


A.B. KNAPP, “The Thera frescoes and the question of Aegean contact with Libya during the Late Bronze Age,” Journal of Mediterranean Anthropology and Archaeology 1 (1981) 249-79; O. NEGBI, “The ‘Libyan Landscape’ from Thera: a review of Aegean enterprises overseas in the Late Minoan IA period,” JMA 7 (1994) 73-112. M. LIVERANI, “Political lexicon and political ideologies in the Amarna letters,” Berytus 31 (1983) 41-56; B.M. BRYAN, “Art, empire, and the end of the Late Bronze Age,” in J.S. COOPER and G.M. SCHWARTZ (eds.), The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-First Century The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference (1996) 38-41. M. HELTZER, “Problems of the social history of Syria in the Late Bronze Age,” in M. LIVERANI (ed.), La Siria nel Tardo Bronzo. Orientis Antiqvi Collectio 9. Centro per le Antichità e la Storia dell’Arte del Vicino Oriente (1969) 31-46; K.A. KITCHEN, “Interrelations of Egypt and Syria,” in M. LIVERANI (ed.), La Siria nel Tardo Bronzo. Orientis Antiqvi Collectio 9. Centro per le Antichità e la Storia dell’Arte del Vicino Oriente (1969) 77-95; M. LIVERANI, Prestige and Interest: International Relations in the Near East ca. 1600-1100 BC (1990) 274-82. HELMS (supra n. 10) 76, 98. P.S. KESWANI, “Dimensions of social hierarchy in Late Bronze Age Cyprus: an analysis of the mortuary data from Enkomi,” JMA 2 (1989) 49-86. M. BIETAK, “Connections between Egypt and the Minoan world: new results from Tell el-Dabca/Avaris,” in Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant, 19-28; M. BIETAK and N. MARINATOS, “The Minoan wall paintings from Avaris,” in Hyksos Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean World, 49-62; M.C. SHAW, “Bull leaping frescoes at Knossos and their inf luence on the Tell el-Dabca murals,” in Hyksos Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean World, 91-120. W.-D. NIEMEIER, “Minoan artisans travelling overseas: the Alalakh frescoes and the painted plaster f loor at Tel Kabri (western Galilee),” in Thalassa, 189-201; Idem, “Tel Kabri: Aegean fresco paintings in a Canaanite palace,” in S. GITIN (ed.), Recent Excavations in Israel: A View to the West. Archaeological Institute of America, Colloquia and Conference Papers 1 (1995) 1-15; NEGBI (supra n. 30).


A. Bernard KNAPP

5) The existence and exchange of common or hybrid ‘helleno-semitic’ prestige goods (e.g., ivories, precious metals, alabaster goods, rhyta, faience) throughout the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.37 Each of these archaeological situations could be developed further through a detailed empirical study. Here I propose to consider brief ly the last two, where (1) we are dealing with a presumed ‘export’ of Aegean iconography, designs, craftspeople or ideas to the Levant and Egypt, and where (2) we might posit an international, helleno-semitic, artistic koine of exotica and iconographica. Although others have treated the possible exchange of ideas, ideology, and iconography between the Aegean/east Mediterranean and the Near East,38 none have done so explicitly from the perspective of considering distance and access to the exotic as possible sources of elite power. The Question of Aegean Influence on the Southern Levant and Egypt Archaeologists and historians of art, beginning notably with Helene J. Kantor, have long debated the existence of technical and artistic links between the Aegean and western Asia, for example in certain constructional features (drainpipes), stylistic features, and methods of wall-painting found in the palaces at Mari, Qatna, or Alalakh as compared to those seen in various monumental structures in the Aegean. In the increasingly international climate that enveloped socio-economic structures in the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia alike during the early to mid-second millennium BC, the development of cultural, social, and political or ideological interconnections need occasion no surprise. However one interprets the various mechanisms of exchange that operated at this time,39 trade between Crete and the Greek mainland, on the one hand, and Ugarit or Egypt on the other is well attested by both written and archaeological evidence, and has been published in detail at various times over the past fifty years.40 Nonetheless, the discovery of ‘Aegean-style’ motifs in the f loor- and wall-paintings at Tel Kabri in Israel and at Tell el-Dabca in the Egyptian Delta has given an urgent new impetus to this discussion. The Middle Bronze Age monumental structure at Tel Kabri is unquestionably Syro-Palestinian in plan, but the use of distinctive architectural elements, such as orthostats, or half-timber construction techniques, are thought to be Minoan in origin and conception.41 The outstanding feature of Hall 611 in the ‘palace’ at Kabri is a painted lime plaster f loor executed in the so-called buon fresco technique, typical of f loors found in the Bronze Age Aegean. Red and yellow ochre, carbon, and lime were used to paint a grid-pattern of red lines with decorative elements that include imitation alabaster slabs, stylised linear irises, blue f lowers, and yellow crocuses: most of these elements — with the exception of the grid lines — also occur in Late Minoan (LM) IA wall paintings but are foreign to the iconographies that typify the southern Levant.42 In a doorway leading from Hall 611 to the north were found

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39 40 41 42

M.C. ASTOUR, Hellenosemitica (1965); C. LAMBROU-PHILLIPSON, Hellenorientalia: The Near Eastern Presence in the Bronze Age Aegean, ca. 3000-1000 B.C. SIMA Pocketbook 95 (1990); M.H. FELDMAN, Luxury Goods from Ras Shamra-Ugarit and Their Role in the International Relations of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, Dept of Fine Arts (in progress); and SWDS. J.F. CHERRY, “The emergence of the state in the prehistoric Aegean,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 210 (1984) 18-48; Idem (supra n. 29); CLINE, SWDS; M. LIVERANI, “Dono, tributo, commercio: idiologia dello scambio nella tarde eta del bronzo,” Annali dell’Istituto Italiano di Numismatica 26 (1979) 9-28; Idem, “La ceramica e i testi: commercio miceneo e politica orientale,” in M. MARAZZI, S. TUSA, and L. VAGNETTI (eds.), Traffici Micenei nel Mediterraneo (1986) 405-412; NEGBI (supra n. 30); L.V. WATROUS, “The role of the Near East in the rise of the Cretan palaces,” in R. HÄGG and N. MARINATOS (eds.), The Function of the Minoan Palaces (1987) 65-70. A.B. KNAPP and J.F. CHERRY, Provenance Studies and Bronze Age Cyprus: Production, Exchange, and Politico-Economic Change. Monographs in World Archaeology 21 (1994) 126-51. E.g., KANTOR; Interconnections; SWDS. A. KEMPINSKI and W.-D. NIEMEIER (eds.), Excavations at Kabri. Preliminary Report of 1991 season (1992) 265 fig. 4; NIEMEIER 1991 (supra n. 36) 191. NIEMEIER 1995 (supra n. 36) 2-3, with further references.



over 2000 tiny fragments of wall painting, rendered with a higher quality lime plaster and painting than that used on the f loor. This painting was again done in buon fresco but with straw as a binder, another technique well known from Crete and Thera. The same colour pigments are seen, with the addition of ‘Egyptian blue’ (silicon, copper oxide, and calcium oxide). Niemeier43 maintains that all of these fragments belong to an Aegean-style miniature fresco, best known from the Theran example but also found on Crete and Kea. Design elements from the miniature fresco at Kabri include reddish-brown rock motifs, a stippled sea-scape, ashlar masonry with rounded beam-ends, and a f lying swallow, all of which are repeated on the miniature fresco from Akrotiri on Thera. Niemeier44 estimates that the Kabri fresco could have had a length of up to 40 meters, compared to the 12-meter-long example at Akrotiri. The Kabri f loor paintings are unique in the Levant, but closely contemporaneous (i.e., Middle Bronze [MB] IIC/MB III) wall frescoes have long been known from Alalakh (Tell Atchana) in Syria,45 and now have been recovered in excavations at Tell el-Dabca, the Hyksos capital of Avaris, in the eastern Nile Delta.46 These fresco fragments, found in what was initially described as the garden area of a Hyksos ‘palace’ dated to the end of the Middle Bronze Age (now redated to the early 18th Dynasty) and thus broadly contemporary with the finds from Tel Kabri, portray amongst their varied motifs a bull’s head, bull leapers/acrobats, f lowers, a hunting scene, and a leopard depicted in the ‘f lying gallop’ style well known from Minoan wall paintings.47 The Tell el-Dabca wall paintings combine buon fresco and fresco secco techniques. Most of the design elements are represented on wall paintings at Knossos in Crete or at Akrotiri on Thera.48 Looking at the issue of ‘Aegean’ inf luences at Tel Kabri and Tell el-Dabca from another angle, one thus far understated in the literature, it should be noted that the Hyksos were rulers of Syro-Palestinian origin, and thus most likely part of the same broader ‘Canaanite’ ethnic group to which both the inhabitants and the elite of Tel Kabri would have belonged. Despite their Canaanite origins, the Hyksos rulers of Tell el-Dabca came under the strong inf luence of local Delta traditions.49 The debate over chronological issues,50 however, makes it difficult to determine — even if it were possible stratigraphically at Tell el-Dabca — whether we are dealing with Canaanite ‘immigrants’ early in their rise to pre-eminence in Egypt, which might signal strong cultural continuity with the inhabitants of Kabri, or whether the Tell el-Dabca material evidence should be more closely associated with the fully developed Hyksos rulers (or, indeed, early 18th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaohs) who had become more assimilated into Egyptian traditions. I do not propose to venture into this chronological and ethnocentric minefield, not just because the Egyptian material is complicated by the excavator’s adoption of an

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Ibid. 6-7. Ibid. 7-9. L. WOOLLEY, Alalakh: An Account of the Excavations at Tell Atchana in the Hatay, 1937-1949 (1955) 228-34. M. BIETAK, “Minoan wall-paintings unearthed at ancient Avaris,” Egyptian Archaeology 2 (1992) 26-28; Idem, Avaris: The Capital of the Hyksos. Recent Excavations at Tell el-Dabca (1996). BIETAK AND MARINATOS (supra n. 35). Ibid.; SHAW (supra n. 35). C. REDMOUNT, “Pots and people in the Egyptian Delta: Tell el-Maskhuta and the Hyksos,” JMA 8/2 (1995) 61-89. E.g., M. BIETAK, “The Middle Bronze Age of the Levant: a new approach to relative and absolute chronology,” in High, Middle or Low?, Part III, 78-120; Idem, “Egypt and Canaan during the Middle Bronze Age,” Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research 281 (1991) 27-72; Idem, “Die Chronologie Aegyptens und der Beginn der Mittleren Bronzezeit-Kultur,” Ägypten und Levante 3 (1992) 30-37; NIEMEIER 1991 (supra n. 36); S.W. MANNING, “The Bronze Age eruption of Thera: absolute dating, Aegean chronology and Mediterranean cultural interrelations,” JMA 1 (1988) 17-82; Idem, “Response to J.D. Muhly on problems of chronology in the Aegean Late Bronze Age,” JMA 4 (1991) 249-62; S.W. MANNING, S.J. MONKS, G. NAKOU, and F.A. DE MITA, JR., “The Fatal Shore, the long years and the geographical unconscious. Considerations of iconography, chronology, and trade in response to Negbi’s The ‘Libyan Landscape’ from Thera: a review of Aegean enterprises overseas in the Late Minoan IA period,” JMA 7 (1994) 222-26; NEGBI (supra n. 30); cf. also the Discussion section at the end of Hyksos Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean World, 121-26.


A. Bernard KNAPP

idiosyncratic, ultra-low chronology widely criticized as unworkable by Syro-Palestinian archaeologists,51 but also because those archaeologists involved in the relevant excavations subscribe to opposing schemes for Aegean chronology.52 Moreover, Bietak’s statement that “I have an open mind as far as absolute dating is concerned but I do think that historical dating should have precedence over scientific dating”53 reveals a profound misunderstanding of radiocarbon dating and dendrochronological calibration and at the same time demonstrates the power of Egyptological tradition to confound not just scientific expertise but human logic. The most that we can probably agree upon is a broad chronological correspondence between all of these cultural horizons — Minoan, Theran, Canaanite, and Hyksos — during a 150-year span of time between about 1725-1575 BC. How, then, may we understand this articulation of technique and style in several lands of the eastern Mediterranean toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age? Neimeier54 regards the oriental occurrences as exemplifying the presence of Aegean (Minoan and Cycladic) artists travelling in the Levant and the Egyptian Delta; in this he is followed by Negbi,55 Cline,56 and Shaw.57 An interesting gloss on this scenario derives from Canaanite (Ugaritic) mythology, and concerns a Semitic god of handicrafts, Kothar-wa-Hasis.58 In the Ugaritic epic of Ba‘al and ‘Anat, Kothar-wa-Hasis is brought from Kptr (=Kaptaru, Caphtor, most likely Crete) to erect a splendid palace for Ba‘al, equipped with all manner of precious decorations.59 In this tale, Ba‘al speaks to Kothar-wa-Hasis as follows: Quickly, a house, O Kothar Quickly raise up a palace Quickly the house will you build Quickly will you raise up the palace In the midst of the fastness of Zaphon A thousand fields the house shall cover A myriad of acres the palace. Niemeier60 and those who follow him evidently take this epic literally, since they seem to be convinced that the Kabri and Tell el-Dabca frescoes were the result of diplomatic exchanges between ruling dynasts, in which Aegean specialist craftspeople were used to design and decorate the walls of Egyptian and western Asiatic palaces. For Neimeier, there is no doubt that the inf luence derived from the Aegean. Bietak,61 Hankey,62 and Negbi63 concur that, in the case of Tell el-Dabca, a Minoan princess may have been given in marriage

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52 53 54 55 56

57 58 59 60 61 62 63

E.g., W.G. DEVER, “Tell el-Dabca and Levantine Middle Bronze Age Chronology: a rejoinder to Manfred Bietak,” Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research 281 (1991) 73-80; Idem, “The chronology of Syria-Palestine in the second millennium B.C.,” Ägypten und Levante 3 (1992) 39-51; J. WEINSTEIN, “Ref lections on the chronology of Tell el-Dabca,” in Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant, 84-90. NIEMEIER 1991 (supra n. 36); Idem 1995 (supra n. 36) 10-11; BIETAK 1989 (supra n. 50); Idem 1991 (supra n. 50). BIETAK (supra n. 35) 122. NIEMEIER 1991 (supra n. 36) 199. NEGBI (supra n. 30) 87-88. E.H. CLINE, ‘My brother, my son’: rulership and trade between the Late Bronze Age Aegean, Egypt, and the Near East,” in Role of the Ruler, 150; Idem, “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor: Minoans and Mycenaeans abroad,” in Politeia, 267-70. SHAW (supra n. 35) 112. S.P. MORRIS, Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art (1992) 73-100. H.L. GINSBERG, in J.B. PRITCHARD, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3rd edition (1969) 131-38. NIEMEIER 1991 (supra n. 36) 199-200; Idem 1995 (supra n. 36) 10-11. M. BIETAK, “Die Wandmalereien aus Tell el-Dabca/’Ezbet Helmi: erste Eindrucke,” Ägypten und Levante 4 (1994) 58. V. HANKEY, “Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant,” Egyptian Archaeology 3 (1993) 29. NEGBI (supra n. 30) 88.



to one of the last of the Hyksos rulers, who had a Minoan-style palace constructed and decorated in his spouse’s honour. Marinatos64 simply refers to these wall paintings as “Minoan frescoes from Avaris” and goes on to discuss gender roles in Minoan art. Others are more circumspect: Shaw’s detailed comparison of the Tell el-Dabca and Aegean frescoes leads her to conclude that the Avaris paintings may be hybrids, but ones that used Minoan prototypes. I find very enticing Shaw’s statement that “Bull-leaping scenes seem to be much more at home in the iconography of the Aegean and they show the rich range of rendition more typical of creative rather than derivative art.”65 But I wonder how it is possible to make such fine distinctions with such fragmentary and worn materials? Younger66 finds so many ‘peculiarities’ in the Dabca frescoes that he reserves judgment about the nationality of the painters and the circumstances under which they may have been painted. From the opposite perspective, Woolley, who excavated Alalakh with the specific purpose of finding the Asiatic origins of Minoan art and architecture, found just what he was looking for.67 Hood68 long ago accepted Woolley’s argument and reportedly still adheres to his opinion.69 Despite the close affinities of the Levantine and Egyptian wall-paintings with those of the Aegean, Sherratt70 pointedly questions the ‘Aegeocentric’ view which sees them as works of Minoan or Cycladic artists and concentrates on their exotic content. She regards this view as a “Renaissance concept of the mobility and personal observation of the individual artist.” More importantly, Sherratt71 challenges the presumed west to east transmission of both technique and style in wall paintings, and argues that we must consider seriously the possibility of western Asiatic inf luence on the Aegean: “A whole series of manifestations of new symbolism, ideology and technology hit the Aegean, along with figured frescoes, during the Second Palace period, including such things as siege and hunting motifs, fantastic beasts (griffins and sphinxes), chariotry and inlaid daggers. For few of these is an autonomous Aegean origin, let alone an initial west-east transmission, automatically assumed or even posited.... If Bietak had got to Dabca or Niemeier to Kabri, before Evans got to Knossos, I doubt if the question of a diaspora of Aegean fresco artists to the east would seriously have arisen.” If ethnic arguments were taken a step further in this direction, then we would have to consider the possibility of Canaanite (Canaanite/Hyksos) inf luence on Aegean material culture. Sherratt72 dismisses the notion of travelling Aegean craftspeople, and points out that similar representations in such widely-spaced geographic settings may indicate the artistic, iconographic, technical, and ideological activities of an elite koiné involved in intensive maritime interaction along the coastal zones of the eastern Mediterranean. Elites generally seek to make manifest their personal and political status by constructing their dwellings with the finest materials and by adorning themselves with the most exotic goods, obtained through long distance acquisition and produced by the most skilled artisans.73 Like Sherratt, I find it unhelpful to resort to the use of ethnic labels (e.g. Minoan or Cycladic artisans overseas) in the attempt to explain the origins of all these (international) hybrid products. None of these discussions, furthermore, reveal any awareness of or

______________________ 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73

N. MARINATOS, “Formalism and gender roles: a comparison of Minoan and Egyptian art,” in Politeia, 579. SHAW (supra n. 35) 112 n. 80. J.G. YOUNGER, “Bronze Age Aegean representations of Aegean bull-games, III,” in Politeia, 517-18. L. WOOLLEY, A Forgotten Kingdom (1953) 74-75; Idem (supra n. 45) 228. S. HOOD, The Arts in Prehistoric Greece (1978) 48. SHAW (supra n. 35) 112, n. 80. S. SHERRATT, “Comments on Ora Negbi, The ‘Libyan Landscape’ from Thera: a review of Aegean enterprises overseas in the Late Minoan IA period,” JMA 7 (1994) 239. Ibid. 238. Ibid. 238. HELMS (supra n. 11) 126.


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sensitivity to widespread current debates in archaeological and social theory over the value and meaning of ethnicity, much less the problems of identifying ethnicity in the material record.74 Brief ly, it must be pointed out that ethnicity is a f luid and dynamic, contested phenomenon, manifested in different ways in different contexts, with relation to different forms and scales of interaction. Most people have multiple identities, all at the same time, as members of various national, linguistic, religious, ethnic, occupational and other groups. As archaeologists, we have to determine when these identities are likely to be proclaimed to others as distinguishing features, what kinds of material goods are likely to be employed as the media for such identity statements, and how archaeologists can come to recognise these items. This is no simple task, and certainly not one to be undertaken without full awareness of the conceptual and methodological issues involved. The presumed existence of an “elusive class of ... Aegean craftsmen ... actively pursuing their chosen vocations in areas outside their native lands”75 obviates the need to consider such problems or the alternatives. Niemeier76 discounts the ‘exotic’ characteristics of the Levantine frescoes, and assigns to them a ‘ritual function’ based on their palatial context or on the presumed ritual character of bull-leaping. However, as Morris has suggested,77 the symbolism inherent in the Aegean (and by extension the Levantine) wall- and f loor-paintings may have formed part of an oral tradition that owed a debt to Near Eastern epics, perhaps mirrored in the tale of Kothar-wa-Hasis and the erection of Ba‘al’s palace. Morris78 also maintains that the Theran frescoes may represent highly charged, ideological, Aegean ‘fantasies’ of Egypt (or the Levant). Moreover, Manning et al.79 rightly point out that the main players in the debate over the Kabri and Dabca frescoes have overlooked the impact of iconography on the ideological dimensions of cultural exchange. The exchange of motifs and techniques perhaps ref lects the experience and general knowledge that stem from travel to distant shores, and symbolises a restricted visual vocabulary that also embodies social forms of knowledge and power. In other words, ‘reading’ the images represented in these paintings probably demanded an understanding of foreign or exotic signs that was limited to a very few, elite individuals. Prestige Goods in the Eastern Mediterranean Koine The reaction against ethnocentric (Aegeanizing or Orientalizing) approaches brings us face to face with the second issue I wish to treat in this study. Specifically I wish to reconsider the role of prestige goods and the relationship of iconography to ideology within Late Bronze Age Aegean and eastern Mediterranean societies, as well as the likelihood of a Mediterranean iconographic koine. This perspective has been raised in the literature by Susan Sherratt80 and forms the major component of a Harvard doctoral dissertation by Marian Feldman.81 The individual states and palatial polities of western Asia, at least from the end of the Middle Bronze Age, regarded themselves as part of a larger economic, if not ideological system. For the contemporary, ‘secondary’ states of the Aegean and Cyprus, if not the Levant, contacts with the magical civilisations of western Asia were inspired in part by the aim of

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75 76 77 78 79 80 81

See most recently M. BANKS, Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions (1995); I. BANKS, “Archaeology, nationalism and ethnicity,” in J. ATKINSON, I. BANKS and J. O’SULLIVAN (eds.), Nationalism and Archaeology (1996) 1-11; P.L. KOHL and C. FAWCETT (eds), Nationalism, Politics, and the Practise of Archaeology (1995); P. GRAVES-BROWN, S. JONES, and C.S. GAMBLE (eds.), Cultural Identity and Archaeology: The Construction of European Communities (1996); S. JONES, The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Reconstructing Identities in the Past and the Present (1997). CLINE, Aegaeum 12 (supra n. 56) 267. NIEMEIER 1995 (supra n. 36) 10. S.P. MORRIS, “A tale of two cities: the miniature frescoes from Thera and the origins of Greek poetry,” AJA 93 (1989) 511-35; Idem (supra n. 58). MORRIS (supra n. 77) 529. MANNING et al. (supra n. 50) 222. SHERRATT (supra n. 70). FELDMAN (supra n. 37).



enhancing the politico-ideological position of local elites. By the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1650 BC), exotic goods such as Levantine or Egyptian pottery, small finds of precious metals, lead and faience, Syro-Babylonian cylinder seals, and Levantine-inspired tin-bronze shafthole axes were being deposited in Cypriot tombs.82 Such goods strongly suggest emulation of the politico-ideological iconography of Near Eastern elites. The situation in the Aegean during the Late Bronze Age I (about 1650-1450 BC) is perhaps not quite as clear, yet there is no doubt that exotica from Egypt (amulets, figurines, scarabs), Mesopotamia (plaques, beads, pendants, seals, an engraved stone box), and the Levant (seals) were present.83 Marinatos refers specifically to a “koine of eastern Mediterranean cultures,”84 with specific reference to Egypt and Minoan Crete. This co-optation of Egyptian, western Asiatic or Levantine iconography, images, artists or ideas into localised contexts on Cyprus and within the Aegean represents social, ideational, and individual exchanges. Whereas each polity likely negotiated its often-changing status and cultural identity in the context of the broader eastern Mediterranean system, by the second phase of the Late Bronze Age (post-1450 BC), there is a shift in the materials used for elite goods (an increase in ivory and faience over metals) and a small corpus of highly distinctive, elite, prestige goods is found throughout this region.85 Feldman regards these items — e.g., ivories from Ras Shamra and Minet el Beidha, two ‘niello’ silver bowls (Enkomi, Dendra), and the Kition faience rhyton — as international in style and scope; Bryan86 suggests that ‘cosmopolitan’ ivories depicting a heroic figure in a chariot (found in Cyprus, the Levant, and Crete) represented a form of prestige good in the Mediterranean which was dependent on the iconography of pharaonic power. The exchange of such luxury goods — defined on the basis of precious materials, design, and workmanship — would have played an active role in maintaining foreign relations, and would have served as the primary visual media for communication between various elite groups.87 In the cuneiform tablets that document interregional exchange,88 and at the same time served as the critical written medium for inter-elite communications, such luxury goods and their unique iconography were categorised as ‘gifts;’ these gifts promoted reciprocity, social exchange, and politico-ideological calculations and negotiation. Whereas all social classes in Aegean polities would have been affected by the growth and intensification of commercial contacts, it was the elite who benefited most from access to distant power centers, and accordingly they were the ones primarily involved in developing those contacts. In those instances where documentary evidence of trade exists, for example between Cyprus and Egypt in the form of the Amarna letters (14th century BC), it is clear that

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83 84 85 86 87 88

J.-C. COURTOIS, “A propos des apports orientaux dans la civilisation du Bronze Récent à Chypre,” in V. KARAGEORGHIS (ed.), Acts of the International Archaeological Symposium: Cyprus between the Orient and Occident (1986) 69-87; P.S. KESWANI, Mortuary Ritual and Social Hierarchy in Bronze Age Cyprus. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Dept of Anthropology, University of Michigan (1989) 522-67; Eadem, “Hierarchies, heterarchies, and urbanization processes: the view from Bronze Age Cyprus,” JMA 9 (1996) 219-20. SWDS, 24, 32, 49. MARINATOS (supra n. 64) 577. FELDMAN (supra n. 37). BRYAN (supra n. 31) 78. FELDMAN (supra n. 37). E.g., C. ZACCAGNINI, “On gift exchange in the Old Babylonian period,” in O. CARRUBA, M. LIVERANI, and C. ZACCAGNINI (eds.), Studi Orientalistici in Ricordo di Franco Pintore (1983) 189-253; Idem, “Aspects of ceremonial exchange in the Near East during the late second millennium BC,” in M. ROWLANDS, M.T. LARSEN, and K. KRISTIANSEN (eds.), Centre and Periphery in the Ancient World (1987) 57-65; LIVERANI (supra n. 38); A.B. KNAPP, “Hoards D’Oeuvres: of metals and men on Bronze Age Cyprus,” OJA 7 (1988) 147-76.


A. Bernard KNAPP

dynasts on either end of the exchange regarded themselves as being in charge of international trade.89 If Cline is correct,90 the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III sent trade emissaries to the Aegean, from which we may also presume at the minimum bi-modal control over interregional trade during the 14th century BC. The impact of Egyptian contacts on Mediterranean cultures was always notable,91 and is documented extensively in cuneiform, Egyptian, and Aegean records;92 however, there is nothing to warrant Bernal’s93 idea of an Egyptian conquest, or of Egyptian colonies, within the wider Minoan-Mycenaean world. For Herodotos, the pyramids represented “a peg upon which to hang an embodiment of the Other;”94 for elites of the various Bronze Age Mediterranean polities, contact with Egypt represented access to power and knowledge associated with the Other. The likely coding of elite motifs used in Aegean, Cypriot, and Levantine frescoes, jewellery, metalwork, faience, and alabaster or pottery vessels has rarely been discussed,95 certainly not with respect to their active, ideational role in long-distance trade, nor even with respect to the possible exchange of craftspeople as producers of art, works that capitalised on the significance of distance and the other. To travel, of course, one must consciously confront the Other.96 And for the Other to maintain its magnetism and mysticism, to defy domestication, it must always remain the Other. Almost two decades ago, Edward Said foreshadowed this very position:97 The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences. To that list we should add the power and knowledge associated with this distant, Oriental Other. Conclusion Manning et al.98 provide the exception to traditional scholarship on this topic, but they discuss only brief ly the social construction of meanings and values in long-distance trade. Extrapolating from their discussion, the widespread use of certain images and motifs found in elite structures throughout the eastern Mediterranean suggests two possibilities: (1) either the exchange of artisans or ‘kingly crafts’ ref lects a special form of an exclusionary political economy, where the images themselves are not nearly as significant as the actual travel or distance to foreign lands; or (2) the Oriental images may have had an exotic, cultural value in the Aegean world, or else were representative of an encoded system that had meaning and value common to elites in several interregional polities within the Mediterranean.

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92 93 94 95 96 97 98

A.B. KNAPP, Near Eastern and Aegean Texts from the Third to the First Millennia BC (1996) 21-25; KNAPP and CHERRY (supra n. 39) 147-50. E.H. CLINE, “Amenhotep III and the Aegean: a reassessment of Egypto-Aegean relations in the 14th Century B.C.,” Orientalia 56 (1987) 1-36; Idem, “An unpublished Amenhotep III faience plaque from Mycenae,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 110 (1990) 200-212. E.g., SWDS, 31-42; J. ELSNER, “From the pyramids to Pausanias and Piglet: monuments, travel and writing,” in S. GOLDHILL and R. OSBORNE (eds.), Art and Text in Ancient Greek Culture (1994) 224-54; I. JACOBSSON, Aegyptiaca from Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 112 (1994). LIVERANI (supra n. 32); KNAPP (supra n. 89). M. BERNAL, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. Volume 2: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence (1991) 445. ELSNER (supra n. 91) 246. FELDMAN (supra n. 37). ELSNER (supra n. 91) 226. E.W. SAID, Orientalism (1978) 1; see also MORRIS (supra n. 58). MANNING et al. (supra n. 50).



The only way to refine such suggestions is to pay closer attention to the possibility of a hybrid, eastern Mediterranean iconography, to absolute chronology (and thus to make a commitment to radiocarbon dating and dendrochronological calibration), and to historical correlations based on a recursive and ref lexive study of the documentary evidence, in particular the cuneiform evidence from Ugarit and Amarna. I would suggest, nonetheless, that the f loor-paintings and frescoes found at Tel Kabri and Tell el-Dabca represent an iconographic exchange that bears on concepts which became increasingly common in the Aegean and on Cyprus, but which were nonetheless of Asiatic origin. The use of ‘exotic’ motifs in many Aegean wall-paintings, not least of foreign landscapes, was directly related to the critical importance of distance as knowledge and power. If these motifs and materials were spread by skilled craftspeople, then such people probably also served as ambassadors for their elite patrons;99 these elites, then, maintained communications primarily through the active mediation of material culture and/or the exchange of correspondence in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the time. Exotic representations were not just a polemical distancing act, but also a means of gaining access to the mystical world of Egypt and western Asia, and of creating a dialogue with it.100 The display of such items helped to substantiate the politico-ideological power base of Aegean elites, which was linked closely to the intensification of the Aegean palatial economy as part of a broader Mediterranean interaction sphere, or to what Sherratt101 refers to as a ‘secondary core state.’ Contact, economic or ideological, with the distant civilisations of ancient western Asia served as an exclusionary political strategy with far reaching social implications. The growth of evidence throughout the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean for an artistic or ideological koiné that revolved around the accumulation and substantiation of politico-economic power, and which was expressed in a variety of ideational and material exchanges, seems hard to deny. Yet in each instance this must be assessed cautiously and contextually. Overemphasis on any one aspect of this phenomenon — whether on chronology or the movement of individual artisans — is unlikely to illuminate the political, ideological, commercial, or artistic endeavours that characterised the eastern Mediterranean world, and helped to legitimise and perpetuate its elites, during the middle centuries of the second millennium BC. The experience and knowledge that accrued to Aegean traders or raiders as a result of their contacts with the distant polities of Egypt and western Asia became key sources of social power, invisible commodities that motivated trade, modified cultural attitudes towards the maritime seascape, and continuously transformed socio-ideological practice in the wider world of the Bronze Age Mediterranean. A. Bernard KNAPP

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Y.L. HOLMES, “The messengers of the Amarna letters,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 95 (1978) 376-81; HELMS (supra n. 11) 37, 53; CLINE, Aegaeum 12 (supra n. 56) 278; OLLER (supra n. 4). ELSNER (supra n. 91) 228. SHERRATT (supra n. 70) 237.


A. Bernard KNAPP

Discussion following A.B. Knapp’s paper: W-D. Niemeier: Of course, I have to comment. I think that we are not as far away from each other as it may appear to some people after the discussion yesterday. I would subscribe to nearly everything you said. I see the same koine, this exchange of ideas, iconographical schemes and motifs, between the different areas in the eastern Mediterranean. Still, I wouldn’t agree with you about the role which you give to the Aegean in this place, so to say. In your picture, which you have developed now, the Aegean is only the receiver of ideas, and delivers nothing back. This, I think, is wrong. If you imagine a scale, on one side is the Aegean wall paintings, and on the other side is Egyptian and Near Eastern art. You then have to put Tell el-Dabca, Kabri, and Alalakh on this scale. Even though I would admit some peculiarities, as Paul Rehak has pointed out, and Maria Shaw as well, still all of these paintings are very much nearer to the Aegean than to everything we know from the Near East and from Egypt. I would remind you all of another book, a classical book that we haven’t discussed yet in this conference, in my opinion an excellent book by H.A. Groenewegen-Frankfort, Arrest and Movement (1951). Groenewegen-Frankfort has excellently demonstrated the basic differences between Aegean and Near Eastern and Egyptian art, and that is what she is calling the absolute mobility of Minoan art. I tried to show this yesterday very brief ly, by showing next to each other, the ivy of the cat fresco from Ayia Triada, in which the ivy moves in the wind, which we have also in the Alalakh reeds, and then those stiff, very stiff, plant representations in the Near East. Therefore, I see a strong Aegean element in these fresco paintings. I can’t see any Canaanite or Syro-Palestinian style or iconography in this; also the dress is clearly Aegean. We know how the Canaanites were dressed; they didn’t wear these Cretan items as we see on the Tell el-Dabca frescos. And then, yesterday we discussed the possibility of textiles. I believe, and Elizabeth Barber has demonstrated, that motifs can travel on textiles, but the Aegean landscape which we have to reconstruct in the Kabri miniature fresco, with houses and rocks, I think that this you wouldn’t find on textiles. Moreover, a scenario in which Aegean motifs travel on textiles to the Levant and Egypt, to be painted by local artists in Aegean fresco technique, appears strange to me. I think people traveled, and we have seen enough evidence in these days of traveling people. E-mail didn’t exist during the Bronze Age; Aegeanet couldn’t transmit ideas about Aegean frescoes to the Near East, so I think we have to admit that traveling artisans exist. You cited Mary Helms, as I did yesterday, but you did not say how important for her are the traveling artisans and the role that they play in this distant exchange, which is important for the rising of elites. So, I think we still have to admit to traveling artisans; they may have trained, then, in the Levant and in Egypt local painters, and some of the peculiarities may be explained in this way. But, still I think human beings were involved in this exchange. Thank you very much. A.B. Knapp: Should I comment to that comment? I would agree that in some instances we are not too far apart. For me, however, the Dabca and Kabri frescoes only form one element, and I only talked about two aspects of what I see as a much larger issue, an issue which has been made quite clear by the people doing the important work of excavating, restoring and publishing this material so quickly, so that we can all see and deal with it. I would suggest that you are just now confronting the first wave of a tsunami, which is about to come rumbling out of the Eastern Mediterranean against you. And for me, this is only one aspect. I today also talked about, and have no problem with, traveling craftspeople as part of this larger phenomenon. What I argued, however, was that to concentrate too much on any one aspect, such as a traveling artisan, is the wrong way to approach this very exciting, but complex issue. The reason that I asked yesterday that we not call these “Minoan frescoes” — and I find myself not one millimeter moved from the way I felt yesterday after all your eloquent argument — the reason I said that is that I hope that this meeting would allow us to have a wider exchange of ideas, and the only way that is going to happen is if I stand up here, as your foil, which I am more than happy to continue to do. M.H. Wiener (Chair): I think it’s only appropriate to put in the record for one second that the excavator of Avaris, Manfred Bietak, now believes these frescos to be New Kingdom and not Hyksos. Moreover, many people, one can cite Peter Warren or Vronwy Hankey and dozens of others, would quarrel greatly with your dates — they would not accept that the dates could be as early as 1750, but would argue that they could be as late as 1530. Just on this one point, it does seem to me that in order to get the total wide, broad picture, one has to start with basic facts in various areas, and to inquire into the precise nature of these frescoes is not a bad place to start. Here, one could only take into account the facts that we are dealing with the technique of painting fresco,



otherwise undocumented in the east; we are painting on plaster instead of mudbrick, otherwise unknown in the east; that this painting on plaster requires a certain kind of firing temperature, which has caused Vronwy Hankey to insist that the Minoan painters may have brought their own wood; that the intimate details are entirely Aegean, down to the hair styles and the dress of the bull-leapers, and the fact that the head is partially shaved and shown in blue; the colors of the paints are those used in Crete and not in the Near East; no f loors such as those we’ve seen at Kabri have ever been found elsewhere; and that the Near Eastern texts speak of the exchange of craftsmen. So, as a starting proposition in this one particular case, it is not unreasonable to suggest that these are Minoan, or Minoan-trained, painters, which of course is not to deny the enormous impact of Egypt and the Near East on Crete in the Early as well as the Middle Bronze Age. Thank you all very much.

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