Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2010

10 July 2011

Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity

Bryan E. Burns

Mycenaean Greece, Mediterranean Commerce, and the Formation of Identity

City: New York

Year: 2010

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Description: Hardback, 258 p., 41 b/w illus, 9 maps, 2 tables, 22,8x15,2 cm


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 artefacts were distinguished by their precious material, uncommon style, and foreign writing, signalling 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.


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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