Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


10 October 2011

Newly Excavated Artifacts from Hagios Charalambos, Crete, with Egyptian Connections

Philip P. Betancourt Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 3.2 (May 2011): 1-5.


The Minoan ossuary at Hagios Charalambos is located in the upland plain of Lasithi in Central Crete. This article discusses eight items with Egyptian connections discovered in the excavations of the site in 2002 and 2003. Two pendants carved from hippopotamus ivory in the form of apes belong to classes already known from Minoan Crete. Six clay examples of the sistrum add to our knowledge of this musical instrument on Crete as only a single MM IA sistrum was known previously from this island. The artifacts increase the very small corpus of “Egyptianizing” objects known from MM IA Crete, a period that is contemporary with the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. They point to a complex trade network reaching Cretan ports on both the south and the north coasts that was already present. These objects help document the distribution of exotic items with overseas connections to the interior of the Minoan island, well away from any coastal seaport or important population center. They also underscore the ambiguous nature of the connections between Minoan Crete and the East Mediterranean at this period when one cannot be sure if the overseas connections are direct or indirect. Within Crete, however, the distribution of hippopotamus ivory and objects made from it suggests that this trade from overseas is with South Cretan ports rather than North Cretan ports, because the distribution is densest in the Mesara and gradually diminishes away from this region.

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