Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


15 November 2010

The Late Bronze Age Near Eastern cylinder seals from Thebes (Greece) and their historical implications

Konstantinos Kopanias Athenische Mitteilungen 123 (2008) [2009]: 39-96.


The collection of imported Near Eastern lapis lazuli cylinder seals from a palatial room in Thebes still remains a unique find in the Aegean. The heterogeneous lot consists of 7 Old Babylonian seals, 12 Kassite, 8 Mitannian, 4 Cypriote, 4 Cypro-Levantine, 2 Cypro-Aegean, 3 Mycenean, 1 Hittite seal, and 1 of unknown origin. A quarter of a century has passed since their publication by Edith Porada (1981-1982). Therefore, new comparative material and new studies are now at hand, which make their re-examination imperative. In this article a new date in the 14th c., is proposed for the Kassite group of seals, which, as shown below, must have originally belonged to a royal diplomatic gift made by Burna-Buriaš II to the king of one of the major powers of the Amarna Age. Why and how these seals were later imported to Thebes is then examined. Finally, the significance of this hoard to the question of the location of the Ahhiyawan centre is discussed in detail. After examining the available archaeological data we conclude that Thebes must have had enough power to be the main rival of Mycenae. It is argued that usually, but not exclusively, the terms Tanaja/Danaja and Ahhiyawa referred respectively to the Peloponnese and Central Greece.


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