Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity

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The impact of long-distance exchange on the developing cultures of Bronze Age Greece has been a subject of debate since Schliemann's discovery of the Shaft Graves at Mycenae. In Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity, Bryan E. Burns offers a new understanding of the effects of Mediterranean trade on Mycenaean Greece by considering the possibilities represented by the traded objects themselves in their Mycenaean contexts. A range of imported artifacts were distinguished by their precious material, uncommon style, and foreign writing, signaling their status as tangible evidence of connections beyond the Aegean. The consumption of these exotic symbols spread beyond the highest levels of society and functioned as symbols of external power sources. Burns argues that the consumption of exotic items thus enabled the formation of alternate identities and the resistance of palatial power.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521119542
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryan E. Burns is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Wellesley College. He is the author of numerous articles on Bronze Age Greece and has been awarded fellowships and fieldwork grants from the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Effects of Trade 1

Consumer Cultures 3

1 Aegean Agency in Mediterranean Exchange 8

Exchange in the Bronze Age Mediterranean 9

Assessing Individual Imports 20

Acts of Consumption and the Materialization of Ideology 29

An Overview of Imported Objects in Mycenaean Greece 36

2 Becoming Mycenaean: Definitions of Civilization, Style, and Art 41

Foreign Elements in the Monuments at Mycenae 43

Ethnicity of the Shaft Grave Treasures and People 51

The Institutionalization of Mycenaean Artifacts as Greek Art 57

Internal and External Perspectives 66

3 Imports in the Early Mycenaean Period 73

Social Context of the Shaft Graves at Mycenae 80

A Prehistory of Foreign Relations 86

Exotic Objects in the Shaft Graves 88

Ivory in the Shaft Graves and in Early Mycenaean Crafting 95

Early Imports Outside the Shaft Graves 100

4 Crafting Power Through Import Consumption 105

Perspectives on Kingly Power 107

Instability and Independence within Centralized Systems 111

Limitations of Palace Economies 116

Local Networks Employing Foreign Goods 119

5 Import Consumption in Palatial Centers 130

Imports and Textual References at Pylos 132

The Erasure of Foreign Symbols at Thebes 135

Religious Associations in the Citadel at Mycenae 139

An Enigmatic Group Outside the Citadel at Mycenae 147

Utilitarian and Decorative Imports at Tiryns 156

6 Funerary Consumption and Competition in the Argolid 163

Site Hierarchy and Regional Competition 166

Individual and Communal Identities 171

Late Helladic IIIA Tombs as Places of Celebration 179

Continued and Concentrated Tomb Use in Late Helladic IIIB 186

7 Conclusions: Foreign and Domestic in the Mycenaean World 191

References 197

Index 241

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