Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 November 2014

Knossian gifts? Two Late Minoan IIIA1 cups from Tel Beth-Shebesh, Israel

Shlomo Bunimovitz, Zvi Lederman & Eleni Hatzaki Annual of the British School at Athens 108 (2013): 51-66.


Two Late Minoan IIIA1 cups were recently found in the excavations at Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel. They were part of a larger assemblage of local Late Bronze IIA (first half of the fourteenth century bc) drinking and eating vessels sealed under a destruction layer in one room of a large edifice, presumably a ‘palace’. A commemorative scarab bearing the name of Amenhotep III and related to the first Jubilee (Sed festival) in his thirtieth regnal year was found alongside the cups, providing further chronological evidence. This article examines the Late Minoan IIIA1 cups from Beth-Shemesh within their Aegean context and emphasises their close affinity with comparable cups from the palace of Knossos, catalogued and republished here. The Tel Beth-Shemesh cups are the second occurrence – after Sellopoulo Tomb 4 – of Knossian Late Minoan IIIA1 pottery found together with Amenhotep III’s scarab. This new evidence strengthens the likelihood of some chronological overlap between Late Minoan IIIA1 and the reign of this Pharaoh. The article also considers the biography of the two Minoan cups, as social agents within the intricate network of the Late Bronze Age palatial gift exchange in the eastern Mediterranean. While it is possible that the cups came to Beth-Shemesh directly from Knossos, another viable option is that they arrived as a gift from the Egyptian court. The two rare Late Minoan IIIA1 Knossian cups could have reached Egypt on the occasion of Amenhotep III’s much-discussed official embassy to the Aegean – including Knossos – and then been sent as royal gifts to the ruler of Beth-Shemesh.



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