Previous research

The Syro-Palestinian littoral, commonly known as the Levant, is now taken up by six modern nation states: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Palestine Autonomy. This configuration and the political instability in the region over the last fifty years have influenced archaeological research, and any interpretation of distribution patterns in this area is hazardous. This is true also for the distribution of Mycenaean pottery, which has been found at 111 sites, from Charchemish (site no. 133) in Turkey to Tell es-Shari'a (site no. 243) in northern Sinai (Map 6). The concentration of sites visible in the southern Levant is at least partly caused by the intensity of archaeological research since the foundation of Israel in 1948.1 Moreover, for a long time research has been difficult at many sites in Lebanon, which has influenced the quality of the information available.

The earliest report, to my knowledge, of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant is given by F.J. Bliss in 1894 who had discovered it at El-Hesy (site no. 231) in Palestine.2 F.B. Welch named Tell es-Safiyeh (site no. 228) as another site with Mycenaean imports and saw an Aegean influence in Levantine vase shapes and decoration.3 R.C. Bosanquet probably referred to these publications when he asserted the presence of Mycenaean pottery in southern Palestine.4 None of these scholars distinguished between actual Mycenaean pottery and so-called Philistine ware, a distinction that was first made by H. Thiersch in 1908.5

In the early decades of the twentieth century, several sites with Mycenaean pottery were excavated in southern Palestine, among them Garife (site no. 159), Gezer (site no. 224) and ~Ain Shems (site no 227).6 As a result, D. Fimmen in 1924 was able to list six sites.7 The discovery of a tomb near Minet el-Beida (site no. 142) in Syria in 1928 and the subsequent excavations by C.F.A. Schaeffer at the site and at nearby Ras Shamra (site no. 141) can be considered a landmark in the research of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant. Not only did these discoveries establish the presence of Mycenaean pottery in the northern Levant, the amounts of that pottery on both sites at the time exceeded that on any other. Schaeffer's ideas about Mycenaean colonisation and even domination of Ugarit by Mycenaeans8 were not taken over by contemporary scholars working at other sites with a large amount of

1 Hankey 1993a, 101. Before the establishment of the 6 For Mycenaean pottery in Garife, see, for example, state of Israel, this area also received much archaeologi- Woolley 1921, 181-183. For Gezer, see MacAlister cal attention by scholars interested in the archaeology 1912, 155-156 Pl. CLI; Thiersch 1909, 384-386. For of the Bible. 'Ain Shems, Mackenzie 1912-13, 10; Grant & Wright

2 Bliss 1898, 61-63 (first published in 1894). 1938.

3 Welch 1899-1900, 119. 7 Fimmen 1924, 98, 106-107.

4 Bosanquet in Dawkins 1904, 127-128. 8 Schaeffer 1936b, 99-103.

5 Thiersch 1908, 378-384.

Mycenaean pottery, such as Tell Beit Mirsim (site no. 232), Alalakh/Tell Atchana (site no. 137) and Tell Abu Hawam (site no. 175).9

During and shortly after the Second World War several important studies appeared. Furumark treated Mycenaean pots from twenty-five Levantine sites and used them to help construct his basic typology and chronology of Mycenaean pottery.10 An analysis of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant was given in 1951 by F.H. Stubbings who listed 28 sites.11 He did not only discuss the pottery, but also tried to connect its distribution with historical developments. Stubbings made a distinction between the northern Levant (Syria) and the southern part (Palestine) and concluded that most of the LH III material is found in the south, which was the area controlled by Egypt.12 Although cities like Ugarit (site no. 128) and Alalakh (site no. 137) were notable exceptions, Mycenaean trade with the Hittite area in the north seemed to Stubbings to have been restricted.

Stubbings' work was brought up to date in 1967 by Vronwy Hankey. She discussed the Mycenaean pottery from 57 sites in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. On this basis she was able to make general observations of considerable importance.13 Hankey found only little evidence for the presence of LH II pottery in the Levant and even less for LH I. She stated that the repertoire of LH III pot shapes in the Levant is similar to that of Cyprus and differs from mainland Greece in the absence of kylikes, jugs and bowls. The quality of the pottery in the Levant equals that in Cyprus, although the island possesses larger quantities. Hankey also noted that there was very little LH IIIC pottery in the Levant and that imports seem to have ended at the end of the Late Bronze Age around 1200 BC. An important observation made by Hankey was that Mycenaean pottery in the Levant generally is found on sites where Cypriot pottery is also present. On the basis of these characteristics, Hankey evaluated Mycenaean trade with the Levant, thus providing a framework in which to view the import of Mycenaean pottery. Stubbings had suspected that much of the Mycenaean pottery found in the Levant was produced on Cyprus.14 Hankey, in contrast, assumed that the Mycenaean pottery originated in mainland Greece and that Cyprus had been the first stopping place of Mycenaean ships, which later continued to Near Eastern harbours.15

An overview of the available evidence for Mycenaean contacts with the Levant was given in 1974 by H.G. Buchholz.16 He presented a catalogue of sites and discussed Levantine finds in the Aegean. General remarks on the distribution of Mycenaean pottery in the Eastern Mediterranean were made by G. Cadogan in 1973. He commented on the fact that Mycenaean pottery is not only found on the Levantine coast, but also in the interior.17 In his view, this spread shows that there was a demand for Mycenaean pottery or their contents as luxury products. Cadogan also discussed the presence of LH IIIB2 material, which is thought to have been imported on a smaller scale than that of the previous phase.18 In the same volume, J.-C. Courtois likewise addressed the issue of late LH IIIB imports in the Levant. He discussed a group of amphoroid kraters from the latest phase of Ras Shamra, which were probably produced in the Dodecanese or the south-western coast of Asia Minor. According to Courtois, peripheral areas in the Aegean became more important for the im-

9 See Albright 1930-31; Woolley 1955; Hamilton 19341935 respectively.

10 Furumark 1941a, 644-654.

11 Stubbings 1951, 53-87.

12 Stubbings 1951, 104-105.

13 Hankey 1967, 145-146.

14 Stubbings 1951, 87, 108.

15 Hankey 1967, 146-147; see also Hankey 1970, 20-23.

16 Buchholz 1974, 389-439, with extensive bibliography.

17 Cadogan 1973, 170.

18 Catling (1964, 35), was among the first remarking on this phenomenon.

port of Mycenaean pottery during the final stages of LH IIIB2.19 This would tie in with evidence that the production of LH IIIB2 pottery within Greece was less centralised than in the preceding periods.20

Important information regarding the use and appreciation of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant was provided by Albert Leonard Jr. in 1981. He showed that the most popular open shapes filled specific gaps in the local ceramic repertoire, suggesting that the popularity of Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery in the Levant is somehow related to the Levantine pottery industry.21 Closed pots were, according to Leonard, imported for their contents. The stirrup jar most likely contained pourable oil, while the wide-mouthed alabastron, amphoroid jar and pyxis could have held more viscous oils or unguents. Leonard also commented on the social status of those who acquired Mycenaean pottery in Transjordan.22 The fact that the chariot krater is also found in the interior of the Levant suggests, in his view, that the owners were familiar with the iconography of such a vase and would therefore most likely be influential persons in their communities. Using contextual evidence, Hankey likewise commented on the social status of those importing Mycenaean pottery.23 Mycenaean pottery found in palaces and temples testifies that the demand for it originated in the upper levels of the societies. However, according to Hankey, this pottery, like other exotic goods, trickled down to people of more modest stature as well.

Recent research has focused on the provenance of the Mycenaean pottery found in the Levant. Clay analyses have led to a better understanding of the extent to which Mycenaean pottery was imitated locally.24 In contrast to Cyprus and Italy, manufacture of Aegean-type pottery in the Levant was limited to a few closed pot shapes such as flasks and stirrup jars.25 A few overviews of the distribution of Mycenaean pottery in the Levant have been recently been published, in particular the index by A. Leonard, who catalogued the Mycenaean pottery from 89 sites by pot shape and decorative motives.26 Vronwy Hankey has discussed the contexts in which the pottery is found, the historical background and the development of the trade, thus providing a summary of all the available evidence.27

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