Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


The Greek word δώρο (gift) is first attested at the end of the 13th century BC on a Linear B tablet that was found in the so-called ‘Palace of Nestor’ at Pylos (PY Tn 316). As indicated by the tablet, the palace of Pylos donated valuable gifts (do-ra) to various shrines and deities on the occasion of a celebration.

The importance of gift-giving in Aegean prehistoric society is evident from the various processional depictions with gift-bearers at locations such as the palace of Knossos, at Kadmion in Thebes and at Akrotiri in Thera. Also well known are the so-called ‘Keftiu’ and ‘People in the Middle of the Sea’ that adorn funerary chambers in Egyptian Thebes, which, as it is believed, depict ‘Minoan’ Cretans offering gifts to the pharaoh.

The variety of meanings of the word gift during the Mycenean period is attested by the Homeric poems, albeit in a retrospective manner: valuable objects are donated as departing gifts to guests, as honorary gifts, as votive gifts to gods and shrines, and even as dowry.

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