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Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 22.

2 (2009) 211234
ISSN (Print) 0952-7648
ISSN (Online) 1743-1700

The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt

Caitln E. Barrett

Department of History, Columbia University, 611 Fayerweather Hall, Mail Code 2527, New York, NY
10027, USA. Email: ceb2165@columbia.edu

Abstract
This paper investigates the Egyptian valuation of imported Minoan and locally produced Minoanizing
pottery: that is, why Egyptians found this pottery desirable, which Egyptians wanted it, and which were
able to acquire it. In order to address these questions, this study first reviews the archaeological contexts
of all Minoan and Minoanizing pottery in Egypt, and then compares this archaeological evidence to the
textual and iconographic data on Egyptian attitudes towards Minoan goods. The results suggest that while
ownership of this pottery may have carried some cultural cachet as a mark of cosmopolitan sensibilities, it
was not restricted to the highest officials. Instead, the more widespread availability of Minoan and Mi-
noanizing pottery may have enabled Egyptians from various socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in
an internationalizing cultural milieu.
Keywords: New Kingdom Egypt, Minoans, trade/exchange, concepts of value, prestige, status, pottery
styles
Introduction
desirable and extremely hard to acquire. Archae-
Amongst many goods traded between Bronze ologists may examine accessibility by observ-
Age Egypt and Crete (e.g., Warren 2000; on ing the restrictions on the distribution of
Bronze Age trade generally, see Sherratt and objects, but without texts it is harder to measure
Sherratt 1991; Bevan 2007: 30-38), pottery these objects desirability. In Egypt, however, a
attracts particular attention as a chronological variety of iconographic and textual references to
indicator. Many scholars use Minoan pottery Minoans and Minoan imports provides just such
in Egypt to link the Aegeans relative chronol- data. Most of these documents originate in a pa-
ogy to the more secure Egyptian absolute chro- latial or otherwise elite setting and seldom refer
nology (see, e.g., Clines 2008 overview of the to pottery per se. Nonetheless they do shed light
resulting debate). Comparatively little discus- on the broader question of Egyptian attitudes
sion, however, has focused on the meanings and toward Minoan society and culture, and the very
values Egyptians attached to imported Minoan absence of pottery from elite representations of
pottery and its locally-produced imitations. desirable Minoan imports is itself a clue to the
Building on the work of Simmel (1930: 3-29), potterys perceived value (or lack thereof ) relative
van Wijngaarden (1999: 3) defines value as an to other goods. Additionally, the archaeological
interaction between the desirability of an object contexts of Minoan and Minoanizing pottery
and the difficulty of accessing it (cf. Bevan 2007: in Egypt provide essential information on these
8-18): high-value objects are both extremely objects use and valuation. In order to determine

The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2009 doi: 10.1558/jmea.v22i2.211
212 Barrett
who owned these vessels and how they used material disappeared from Crete after LM IIIB
them, this paper first reviews the archaeological (Phillips 2005). No pre-MM Aegean pottery is
contexts of all currently-published imported or attested in Egypt, although Egyptian and Egyp-
imitated vessels of the Middle Minoan (MM) IB tianizing artifacts appear in Crete as early as the
through Late Minoan (LM) IB periods in Egypt, Prepalatial period (Phillips 1991; 1996; 2008;
and then compares this archaeological evidence Carinci 2000: 31-33; Pini 2000; Bevan 2007:
to textual and iconographic data on Egyptian 94-96; Colburn 2008).
attitudes towards Minoan goods. As the focus of the present investigation is not
This study excludes all sherds of possible Myc- primarily chronological, the ongoing debate on
enaean origin (e.g., Kemp and Merrillees 1980: high versus low Aegean chronologies is beyond
232, 242; Hankey and Leonard 1998: 32-33). this studys scope. Table 1 summarizes the two
After the reign of Tuthmosis II (ca. 1492-1479 major arguments for correlating the Aegean chro-
BC), Aegean vessels in Egypt were mostly Myc- nology to the Egyptian sequence; but instead of
enaean, very different in form and function assigning absolute dates to Minoan periods, this
from their Minoan predecessors; and Egyptian study merely offers the current Egyptological

Table 1. Concordance of Egyptian chronology with the high and low Aegean chronologies.

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 213
consensus on the dates of the Egyptian sites that in Egypt suggest a more nuanced picture. While
produced Minoan vessels. Dates of kings reigns ownership of these wares may have carried a cer-
follow Shaws (2000: 480-81) version of the con- tain cultural cachet as a way to display cosmo-
ventional Egyptian chronology and may have a politan sensibilities, it was not restricted to the
10-20-year margin of error (Kitchen 1991; cf. highest officials. Instead, the more widespread
Cline 2008: 545, n. 4). availability of Minoan and Minoanizing pottery
The Minoan pottery imported and imitated in may have enabled Egyptians from a variety of
Egypt consists almost exclusively of fine wares, socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in an
many closely related to those frequently attested internationalizing cultural milieu.
in elite spheres (among other contexts) on Crete.
In Egypt, these vessels were accessible to indi- Types of Middle and Late Minoan Pottery in
viduals from a fairly wide range of social strata, Egypt
and they appear in a broad variety of contexts, During the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2055-1650
including settlement debris and private tombs. BC), most Minoan pottery in Egypt was the
As van Wijngaarden (1999) has shown for Myce- fine, polychrome, often wheel-made Protopa-
naean pottery in Late Bronze Age Ugarit, foreign latial pottery known as Kamares ware (Walberg
imports need not always be high-status goods. 1978; 1987a; 1987b; 2001). Kamares ware
Although a strict view of exchange and exotica appears in a variety of settings on Crete, includ-
(Helms 1988; 1993) might imply that imported ing (though not restricted to) palatial contexts
goods should always be objects of great prestige, and religious sanctuaries that received elite
the data for Minoan and Minoanizing pottery dedications (Walberg 1987b; see Walberg 1983

Figure 1. Vessel BM A 562 from Kahun (Table 2, row 1): an Egyptian-made vessel with Minoanizing form and decora-
tion. (After Kemp and Merrillees 1980: 69, fig. 28.)

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214 Barrett

Site Minoan or Minoanizing Context Previous Publications


Pottery
Kahun 17 imported Kamares Settlement; findsites minimally Petrie (1891); Petrie et al. (1923); Kemp and
sherds; 9 locally produced recorded (Kemp and Merrillees Merrillees (1980: 57-79, figs. 22-32); Walberg (1983:
sherds with Minoanizing 1980: 80; cf. Gallorini 1998) 142); Booth (2005: 54); Warren (1985: 148-49);
form or painted Fitton et al. (1998); Karetsou (2000: nos. 26, 27ac);
decoration Merrillees (2003: 136); Phillips (2006)
El-Haraga Up to 20 pieces of Settlement debris, date Engelbach (1923); Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 6-14,
cemetery Kamares ware, MM IIA between Sesostris II and 2nd figs. 3-5); Walberg (1983: 141-42); Warren (1985:
(dump) Intermediate Period 148-49); Merrillees (2003: 137)
El-Haraga 2 locally produced Tomb Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 21-39); Grajetski et al.
cemetery Minoanizing bowls with (2002); cf. Walberg (1987a: 32) for the forms
(Tomb 326) crinkled rims
El-Lisht 4-6 Classical Kamares Unclear; sherds may have Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 1-4, fig. 1); Walberg
(fill west ofsherds, MM IB-II; 2 originated from a Middle (1983: 141); Karetsou 2000: cat. nos. 28-29d;
Amenemhat Issherds may be imitations Kingdom cemetery, or from a Merrillees (2003: 136), with refs.
pyramid) (Walberg 1983: 141) village above it
El-Lisht Egyptian-made jug; Tomb Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 220-25); Kantor (1965:
(Tomb 879) MM III and Syro 23-24); Warren (1985: 149); Warren (1985: 149;
Palestinian stylistic 1995: 3); strm (1998: 257); Hankey and Leonard
influence (1998: 30)
Abydos (Tomb MM II bridge-spouted Tomb Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 108-12, 117-19, fig. 38);
416) Kamares jar. Warren (1985: 149); Carinci (2000: 36); cf. Walberg
(1983: 142-43)
Qubbet el- Kamares or possibly Tomb Edel (1980); Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 215-19);
Hawa imitation Kamares Walberg (1983: 70, 143); Warren (1985: 148);
(Tomb 88) vase with floral appliqus Merrillees (2003: 136-37); for Minoan parallels, cf.
Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 215); Walberg (1983:
143); Helck (1987: 279); Carinci 2000: 36; Merrillees
(2003: 136-37). On an Egyptian precedent for the
vases appliqu decoration, see Schfer (1964 [1903]);
Donnat (1999); and Darnell and Darnell (2002:
76) on Prunkgefsse. Such vessels can appear among
foreigners tributes in Egyptian tombs (Hallmann
2006), but the form is Egyptian in origin (Schfer
1964 [1903]: 43; cf. Hallmann 2006: 162).
Buhen Egyptian vase; Tomb Randall-Maciver and Woolley (1911: 132-33, 199,
Minoanizing painted 233, no. 10738, pl. 50); Kemp and Merrillees (1980:
decoration 102-04, fig. 35)
Tell el-Dabaa Several fragments of a MM IIB cup fragments: Walberg (1991: 115-18, pls. 1-2; 1992); Bietak et
Kamares MM IIB cup gardens of 13th-dynasty al. (1994: no. 234); Bietak (1995: 19); MacGillivray
(Figures 2, 3); one MM palace. Post-Kamares sherd: (1995); Warren (1995: 3); Bietak (1997: 104); Hankey
IIIA/B post-Kamares sherd unstratified context. and Leonard (1998: 35); Morris (1998: 282-83);
Bietak and Marinatos (2000: 40); McGovern (2000:
52, 155); Merrillees (2003: 137-38)
Ezbet Rushdi Sherds from MM IIIA 12th-dynasty domestic complex, Czerny (1998: 46, fig. 21); Bietak and Marinatos
Oval Mouth amphorae reign of Amenemhat II (2000: 40); Merrillees (2003: 137); cf. Bietak and
Dorner (1998: 15, 28)
Wadi Gawasis Sherd from a cup of Mid-12th to early 13th Dynasty Wallace-Jones (2008: see esp. n. 24)
possible Kamares ware deposit at a Red Sea port site;
the sherd and its context still
await final publication, but
the preliminary report suggests
a multi-functional activity
area possibly involving food
consumption, preparation, and
storage.

Table 2. Middle Minoan imports and imitations from Middle Kingdom contexts in Egypt and Nubia.
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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 215

Figure 2. Fragment of the base of a Kamares vessel, inner side, from the 13th-dynasty palace gardens at Tell el-Dabaa
(Table 2, row 9). Base diameter 5.5 cm; wall thickness 2 mm. (After Hein 1994: no. 234.)

Figure 3. Fragment of the base of an imported Kamares vessel, outer side, from the 13th-dynasty palace gardens at Tell
el-Dabaa (Table 2, row 9). Base diameter 5.5 cm; wall thickness 2 mm. (After Hein 1994: no. 234.)

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216 Barrett

Figure 4. The Qubbet el-Hawa vase (Table 2, row 7). Height: 10 cm. (After Edel 1980: 199, Abb. 60.)

for non-palatial MM pottery). Many Kamares 1998: 35-36). Egyptian potters at Tell el-Dabaa
forms are designed for eating and drinking (Day also imitated one vessel typethe rhyton, typi-
and Wilson 1998: 350-57), perhaps suggest- cally associated with Minoan cult activities such
ing conspicuous consumption at feasts (Wright as ritual processions, libation, and communal
2004). The definitive catalog of MM pottery in drinking (Walberg 1987b: 171; Koehl 2000:
Egypt remains Kemp and Merrillees (1980), al- 99-100; on Type III CV Conical rhyta, see
though one must now add the more recent finds Koehl 2006: 65, 343, 353). Egyptian craftsmen
from Tell el-Dabaa and Ezbet Rushdi. Table 2 also produced faience rhyta (Koehl 2000; 2006:
summarizes current knowledge on MM pottery 238-20), although non-pottery vessels are out-
in Egypt (see also Figures 1-4). side this studys scope.
Post-Kamares Minoan imports in the Second It is still debatable whether Minoan palaces
Intermediate Period (1650-1550 BC) and early controlled long-distance trade or whether Crete
New Kingdom (1550, through at least the reign produced independent/semi-independent mer-
of Tuthmosis II, 1492-1479 BC) were primarily chants; even in Mycenaean times, the absence of
Late Minoan fine wares (Table 3; Figure 5). LM long-distance trade from the Linear B texts ob-
pottery in Egypt was also typically high qual- scures the palaces role in exchange (see the over-
ity, and its frequently ornate painting and fine view of these problems in Koehl 2008a: 270). In
fabrics testify to its status as a prestige item on Egypt, traders (wty) were typically commissioned
Crete (Warren 1995: 8; Hankey and Leonard by temples or officials, but may also have car-

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 217

Site Minoan or Minoanizing Pottery Context Previous Publications

Sidmant LM IB hole-mouthed pot (Figure 5) Tomb. This pot is the only LM Merrillees (1972: 283); Kemp and
(Cemetery A, IB vessel found through scientific Merrillees (1980: 228-31, fig. 70);
Tomb 137) excavation in Egypt (Merrillees and Warren (1985: 150)
Winter 1972: 108).
Sidmant? LM IB bridge-spouted jug handle Seemingly from the excavations of Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 226-28,
the British School of Archaeology in 230, fig. 71)
Egypt, 1919-1921; possibly from a
tomb at Sidmant
Abydos (Tomb Rim of a LM IB spouted bowl Tomb, late MK/2nd Intermediate Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 232-42,
328) Period; disturbed fig. 72); Warren (1985: 149)
Abydos Probable LM sherds, possibly from a Possibly from a tomb; context unclear Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 240-42,
bridge-spouted jug fig. 75)
Aniba Imitation LM I alabastron Tomb, possibly that of an Woolley (1910: 47-48); Kemp and
Egyptianized Nubian; New Kingdom Merrillees (1980: 242-43); Warren
(1985: 150)

Kerma W. Stevenson Smith (1965: 39-40; Room in the fortified Lower Deffufa W. Stevenson Smith (1865: 39-40);
cf. Warren 1985: 150) identified one Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 244);
spiral-decorated sherd as Aegean, but Warren (1985: 150); Hankey and
this was probably a misidentification; Leonard (1998: 31)
the fabric is local, and the decoration
is not sufficiently distinctive to prove
an Aegean link (Kemp and Merrillees
1980: 244; Hankey and Leonard
1998: 31).
Arminna Imitation LM rhyton Tomb, 18th dynasty Simpson (1963: 31, fig. 24, pl. XV):
Koehl (2000: 96)
Tell el-Dabaa Several imitation LM IA rhyta Fragmentary rhyta: Tuthmoside Hein (1994: 245, 261, nos. 314, 359);
and a fragmentary amphoriskos, waste deposit. Complete rhyton: Bietak (1996: 70-72); Hankey and
perhaps Levantine in origin, whose 18th-dynasty palace magazine. Leonard (1998: 35); Manning (1999:
decoration shows LM IA affinities Amphoriskos: Tuthmoside waste 114-15); Bietak (2000: 192; 2004:
(Hein 1994: 261, no. 359; Bietak deposit associated with palace. 209-210); Karetsou (2000: no. 126);
1996: 70-72; Manning 1999: Bietak et al. (2001: 37, 41, fig. 6, no. 7)
114-15; Bietak 2004: 209-210)
Kom Rabiaa LM sherd, probably from a bridge- Stratum of mud and mud-brick Warren and Hankey (1989: 139);
spouted vase, but possibly a conical debris within a settlement Bourriau and Eriksson (1997); Hankey
rhyton or baggy alabastron (Warren and Leonard (1998: 31)
and Hankey 1989: 139-40)
Deir el- Imitation LM IA rhyton Unclear; possibly from Deir el- Koehl (2006: 239, no. E5)
Medina? Medina
Egypt; The LM IB Abbott Jug and two Old museum records, publications, Kemp and Merrillees (1980: 226);
provenance LM IB cups. (Extant records are and residues on the vessels testify to Merrillees (1972); Merrillees and
unknown unclear on the origins of other LM Egyptian origins, although specific Winter (1972); Karetsou (2000: nos.
IB vessels potentially from Egypt, sites are unknown. The excellent 120a-121)
such as the Marseilles ewer and preservation of the Abbott Jug
two other cups; see Merrillees 1972: implies a funerary findspot (Merrillees
284.) and Winter 1972: 106).
Gurob LM IIIA:2 conical rhyton Tomb, late 18th dynasty Koehl (2006: 65, 170, 345-364, with
bibliography)
Nubia; Imitation LM IA rhyton with red- Said to come from a New Kingdom Holthoer (1977: 91-92, pls. 20, 53);
provenance painted rim context; no further information Koehl (2006: 239)
unknown available (Holthoer 1977: 91).

Table 3. Late Minoan imports and imitations in Egypt and Nubia.

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218 Barrett

Figure 5. Late Minoan IB pot from Tomb 137, Cemetery A, Sidmant (Table 3, row 1). (After Kemp and Merrillees
1980: 229, fig. 70.)

ried out informal transactions on the side (Kemp 1991: 149; OConnor 1997). Many papyri, in-
1991: 257; Warburton 1997: 308, 323-24). cluding private letters (Collier and Quirke 2002),
testify to a literate, educated population at Kahun,
Archaeological Contexts of Minoan/Minoan- and the Minoan sherds need not only have come
izing Pottery in Egypt from smaller houses (Fitton et al. 1998: 131; Wal-
As Tables 2 and 3 suggest, the findspots of Minoan berg 2001: 17). Rather, these sherds came from
and imitation-Minoan pottery in Egypt suggest a various places in the town, including dumps, and
diverse range of social contexts. Many vessels come specific find sites were only recorded minimally
from settlement contexts, especially at Kahun, el- (Kemp and Merrillees 1980: 80; Gallorini 1998).
Haraga, and el-Lisht, and probably saw domestic use The pottery collected by the excavators may well
(Table 2, rows 1-5; Figure 1). Kemp and Merrillees have stressed unusual pieces such as the Minoan
(1980: 285; cf. Merrillees 2003: 139) somewhat material, biasing their representation in the cor-
misleadingly characterize these sites inhabitants pus as a whole. Nonetheless, the high amount of
as people of humble means; but the urban com- Minoan pottery at these sites probably relates to
plex that included Kahun and el-Haraga was not their advantageous placement for trade within the
just any community. The site was devoted to the newly prosperous Fayum (Kemp and Merrillees
administration of the mortuary cult of Sesostris II 1980: 87-88). At Lisht, the presence of foreign ves-
(reigned 1877-70 BC), housing not only workmen sels recalls the proximity of Itjtawy, the 12th- and
on royal tombs, but also the dead kings priests and 13th-dynasty royal capital, but the vessels contexts
cult officiants (Kemp 1983: 92, 103, 149; Kemp (Table 2, rows 4, 5) suggest private ownership.

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 219
Funerary findspots are also common (Ta- 1991: 128-36). Such interactions ultimately
ble 2, rows 3, 5-8; Table 3, rows 1-5, 7), and contributed to an increasingly fluid interplay
the accompanying grave goods suggest that ac- between Nubian and Egyptian cultural identi-
cess to these vessels was not limited to elites ties in Lower Nubia, particularly in the New
(Carinci 2000: 36; Walberg 2001: 17; Merril- Kingdom (Buzon 2006), and tombs with imi-
lees 2003: 139, see the tomb owners as mid- tation Aegean pottery and Egyptian-style arti-
dle class). For example, one modest burial at facts might belong to either Egyptians or Egyp-
Sidmant (Table 3, row 1; Figure 5) contained, tianized Nubians. Either way, the presence of
besides a LM IB pot, merely a throwing stick, a Minoanizing artifacts as far south as Lower
corn winnower and a wooden ushabti (Merril- Nubia demonstrates the extent of these objects
lees 1972: 283). In contrast, a LM IB spout- appeal, far from their Mediterranean origin.
ed bowl from one tomb at Abydos (Table 3, Finally, at Tell el-Dabaa, locally-made Minoan-
row 3) belonged to someone higher in status; izing rhyta even appear in possible ritual con-
a stele lists the deceaseds titles as steward and texts. As Koehl (2006: 343) notes, two mini-
reckoner of cattle (Kemp and Merrillees 1980: ature rhyta were discovered with a large number
234-35, fig. 73), showing he was a man of some of vessels, most of which were miniatures, in an
position, although not a court official. Given the outdoor cult spot... With them were many small
heavy looting of national officials tombs, it is handleless cups, suggesting a ritual that involved
impossible to say whether their burials contained drinking or toasting. The rhyta also possessed
comparable quantities of Minoan/Minoanizing strainers, suggesting that these vessels were used
pottery. Nevertheless, a Kamares cup from the to strain a mixed, probably fermented, beverage
gardens of the 13th-dynasty Tell el-Dabaa pal- (Koehl 2006: 343), just as this particular rhyton
ace (Table 2, row 9; Figures 2, 3) demonstrates type (Koehls Type III CV Conical) was used in
that such vessels could appear in highly elite set- the Aegean. Koehl (2006: 343) further proposes
tings also. Overall, the pottery appears in a range that a third rhyton may come from a temple
of social contexts, and there is no evidence for precinct, but the context is ambiguous (Hein
its restriction to any single echelon of Egyptian 1998: 553), and the vessels association with the
society. temple is uncertain. The miniature rhyta, how-
Furthermore, the tombs geographical spread ever, do provide plausible evidence for the use of
indicates the penetration of Minoan/ Minoan- Minoan vessels in a way paralleling their use in
izing pottery throughout all of Egypt, even into the Aegean.
Nubia. Settlement findspots concentrate in Lower These vessels owners seem not merely to have
Egypt and the Fayum, but the tombs range from admired their appearance, but to have been
areas in or near the Fayum (el-Haraga, Sidmant, familiar with foreign cultural behaviors associ-
el-Lisht, and Gurobsee Table 2, rows 3, 5; Ta- ated with their use. This singular engagement
ble 3, rows 1, 2, 12), to Abydos, Qubbet el-Hawa, with Minoan cultural practices on their own
and perhaps Deir el-Medina in Upper Egypt terms, rather than through the lens of Egyptian
(Table 2, rows 6, 7; Table 3, row 3 and per- tradition, may derive from the unusual nature
haps also row 4, 10; Figure 4), and on to of the Tell el-Dabaa site. Inhabited by people
Arminna, Aniba, and Buhen in Nubia of a number of different cultural backgrounds
(Table 2, row 8; Table 3, rows 5, 7, 13). The (Bietak 1997), this was in many ways an atypi-
garrisoned Egyptian forts at Middle King- cal settlement, and it should not be surprising
dom Aniba and Buhen engaged, among other if people there used Minoan pottery in differ-
activities, in trade with local populations (Kemp ent ways than in the rest of Egypt. Also, if the

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220 Barrett
famous 18th-dynasty Tell el-Dabaa wall paint- so, Egyptian and other, culturally diverse paint-
ings are taken to indicate the activity of actual ers may have been present as well (Shaw 2009:
Aegean artistsor at the very least artists in- 473-74; cf. Younger 2009, on some non-Aegean
timately familiar with Aegean craftsmanship features in the frescoes). Originally assigned to
and iconography (see discussion below)the the Second Intermediate Period, the painted
local population possibly had some exposure to building is now dated to the reign of Tuthmosis
Aegean customs. During the Middle Kingdom, III, 1479-1425 BC (despite the persistence of
in contrast, many Minoan vessels may have arguments for the Second Intermediate Period
reached Egypt via Near Eastern merchants, so see Shaw 2009: 471, 474-75). Regardless of
Egyptians need not have been as familiar with the artists debated origins, the frescoes certainly
Minoan practices. Before the Late Bronze Age, testify to the high value in which Egyptian, like
evidence for direct contact between Minoans Near Eastern, elites held these frescoes as indica-
and Egyptians is equivocal, and Syrian or Cyp- tors of participation in a prestigious internation-
riot intermediaries may have handled much of al koin (Feldman 2008; Shaw 2009: 475-76).
the exchange (Kemp and Merrillees 1980: 283; Also suggesting a royal interest in demonstrat-
Phillips 1996: 465-66; Hankey and Leonard ing connections with the Aegean are Queen
1998: 34; Merrillees 1998: 154; Hood 2000). Ahhoteps title of nb.t, or lady, of a region
called the h.w-nb.wt, a possible reference to the
Textual and Iconographic Evidence for Egyp- Aegean islands or Mediterranean littoral (Bietak
tian Perceptions of the Aegean 1996: 80; Vandersleyen 1971: 139-74; Darnell
In contrast to earlier periods, the early 18th 1991: 121-23; 1992: 74-75); in her tomb were
dynasty (1550-1352 BC, Ahmose through an axe and dagger displaying Aegean influences
Amenhotep III) provides strong evidence for (Kantor 1947: 63-66, 71-72; Lacovara 2008).
direct Minoan-Egyptian contact (Watrous 1992: Amenhotep III also prominently displayed his
172-78; Carinci 2000: 31). Numerous icono- activity in the Aegean: a statue base at his Kom
graphic and textual allusions to the Aegean from el-Hetan mortuary temple names fourteen sites
this period shed light on Egyptian perceptions widely acknowledged to be in the Aegean, possi-
of Minoans and Minoan imports. Following the bly the itinerary of an official voyage (Edel 1966;
Egyptian belief in the kings duty to spread maat, 1988; Cline 1987; 1994: 38; Wachsmann 1987:
or cosmic order, beyond the states borders, these 95-97; Banou 2000); his palace and ceremonial
documentsgenerally found in elite contexts complex at Malqata incorporated Minoanizing
often present foreign contacts as a manifestation decoration (Stevenson Smith 1998: 163-64, fig.
of the Egyptian kings international influence. 285; Kemp 2000; Nicolakaki-Kentrou 2000;
At Tell el-Dabaa, the technique and iconogra- Bietak 2005: 80).
phy of the Minoan-style frescoes from the palace Particularly informative on Egyptian attitudes
suggest that the artists were thoroughly trained towards Minoan imports are the wall paintings
in Aegean craftsmanship; some of them are on the tombs of certain 18th-dynasty court
thought to have come from the Aegean (Negbi officials at Thebes, depicting Keftiu-people
1994: 77; Bietak 1995: 23-25; 1996: 75; 2005: with Aegean-style clothes and features (Wachs-
77-80; 2008; Bietak and Marinatos 1995; 2000: mann 1987: 41-48; Rehak 1998: 40; Graff
42-44; Shaw 1995; Merrillees 1998: 152; War- 2008). Here I adopt the usual reading of the
ren 2000: 26; Aslanidou 2005: 468; Bietak et al. word Keftiu as a reference to Crete (cf. Sher-
2007; Brysbaert 2007; cf. Sherratt 1994: 237-39; ratt and Sherratt 1998: 339 for another opin-
Knapp 1998: 201; Manning 1998: 319). Even ion), as opposed to Cyprus (Strange 1980) or

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 221
the Nile Delta (Duhoux 2003: 268), but equally traditional role as Hr swsh t=f, Horus who ex-
I accept the caveat that some members of a crew tends his boundary (see, e.g., Hymns to Sesostris
perceived by Egyptians as culturally Minoan- III, II.10; Griffith 1898: 1-3, pls. 1-3; Mller
ized might potentially have been born elsewhere 1909: pls. 4-5; Sethe 1928: 65-67; for further
in the Aegean. Although it is unclear whether references, see Simpson 2003: 580) by expand-
members of the royal court commonly owned ing the limits of maat beyond Egypt. Imported
Minoan pottery (see above), their tombs picto- goods might thus serve as tokens of the kings
rial depictions of Minoan goods may at least in- fulfillment of this role.
dicate how highly these wealthy officials valued Pottery, however, is completely absent from
Minoan pottery in relation to other imports. these tomb paintings, which show the Keftiu
The paintings often show Keftiu-people car- carrying metal vessels and other goods such as
rying metal vessels, among other goods (Vercout- textiles (Warren 1995: 9; Barber 1991; 1998: 14;
ter 1956; Schachermeyr 1964: 112-15; Wachs- Tzakili 2000). The accuracy of these depictions
mann 1987: 49-77; Matthus 1995; Koehl 2006: confirms the Egyptian artists close familiarity
246-53). The Keftiu appear with other groups of with Minoan imports, just as the metal vessels
foreigners bringing goods to the Egyptian king, shapes correspond strongly to known Minoan
and scholars generally interpret these scenes as vessel types (Matthus 1995; Koehl 2006:
depictions of tribute-bearers (Hallmann 2006), 246-53). The omission of clay pots from these
implying a fictitious, propagandistic portrayal paintings suggests that the tombs wealthy own-
of the Egyptian king as ruler of all these lands. ers viewed ceramic imports as less valuable than
These scenes, however, are more likely to depict other, more highly desired imported goods. The
ambassadors bringing presents on the occasion absence of painted representations of Minoan
of a royal ceremony, perhaps the hb-sd festival pottery may not be total, if a poorly preserved
(Aldred 1969; Koehl 2006: 344-45; cf. Hall- plaster fragment from Malqata does indeed
mann 2006: 288), making the objects diplomat- depict a clay rhyton (Nicolakaki-Kentrou 2000:
ic gifts rather than tokens of subjugation. Koehl 48; another possible pottery depiction [Lilyquist
(2006: 344) accordingly describes as misleading 1997] probably does not show a Minoan ves-
the accompanying hieroglyphic texts calling the sel), but metal vessels unquestionably dominate
imports n.w, a word often translated as tribute. Egyptian depictions of Minoan goods.
Yet the literal meaning of n.wa passive parti- These 18th-dynasty officials may not have
ciple derived from n, bringis simply that deemed pottery worthy of inclusion in paintings
which is brought, and Egyptians used the term of Aegean goods, but later in the New Kingdom
in a variety of contexts besides that of tribute a different type of Aegean pottery warranted
(Warburton 1997: 221-36; cf. Bleiberg 1996, depiction in the tomb of the king himself. Ram-
though his association of n.w with the kings ses III (1184-1153 BC) depicted Mycenaean
privy purse is also overly limited). A more vessels, both in his tomb and possibly also in
accurate translation would simply be income. his Medinet Habu temple (Vercoutter 1956:
Nonetheless, by showing the king receiving 309-10, 354, pls. XXXVI nos. 239-40, LIX
gifts from the four quarters of the world, the nos. 438-41; 1997: fig. 3). Egyptian-Mycenae-
tomb paintings certainly offer an ideologically- an trade, however, differed significantly from
driven presentation of Egypts international po- Egyptian-Minoan trade. The Keftiu-paintings
sition. To an Egyptian audience, these images may depict diplomatic gifts of luxury goods,
like the other royal allusions to activities in but the much greater number and more-stand-
the Aegeanwould have suggested the kings ardized forms of imported Mycenaean vessels

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222 Barrett
suggest more regularized, commercialized trade mand economy (Bleiberg 1996: 1-28), but the
(Merrillees and Winter 1972: 122, 125; Hankey reality was more nuanced. Peasants and crafts-
and Leonard 1998: 33; Koehl 2008a: 271). men bartered goods in local markets from the
Therefore, one should not conflate Egyptians Old Kingdom onward (Janssen 1975; Eyre 1987:
attitudes towards Mycenaean pottery with their 31-32; 1999: 53-54; Kemp 1991: 248-59), and
earlier attitudes towards Minoan pottery. Warburton (1997) argues persuasively for some
After the 18th dynasty, Egyptian references production for the market in the New Kingdom
to Minoanslike Minoan imports in Egypt (contra Janssen 1975: 558-62). Although much
disappeared. Following the possible conquest remains unknown about local village economies,
of Crete, Mycenaean imports largely replaced it is reasonable to expect that traders offering
Minoan imports in Egypt. Moreover, from Minoan vesselsor potters producing imita-
LM/LH IIIB onward, Egyptian imports in the tions thereofwould have wanted to consider
Aegean appear primarily at mainland Greek consumers preferences when attempting to
sites, not on Crete (Cline 1994: 36). After this exchange goods.
point, vessels in Egypt are seldom identifiable as
clearly Minoan rather than Mycenaean (Merril- Forms and Possible Uses of the Vessels
lees and Winter 1972: 115; Merrillees 1972: Some argue that Egyptians desired Minoan pot-
285; for contestable sherds, see Hankey 1997: tery not for its inherent value, but for something
nos. 23-26, although fabric analysis identifies contained in the vessels, such as precious oils
at least one as Mycenaean). To avoid confus- (e.g. Merrillees and Winter 1972: 109-10, 115;
ing Egyptian-Minoan and Egyptian-Mycenaean Warren 1995: 12). Yet no Minoan pottery from
trade, this study sets aside such pottery of poten- Egypt has been shown to have contained a mate-
tially Mycenaean origin. rial necessarily placed in it at the time of export
Regarding Minoan-Egyptian contacts, the rather than during its use in Egypt. Merrillees
Keftiu-paintings support Sherratt and Sher- and Winter (1972: 107; see also Knapp 1991:
ratts (1998: 341) characterization of pottery 26) see the oleaginous substance in one intact
exchange as an incidental and informal sideline, LM vessel, the so-called Abbott jug (Table 3,
secondary to more highly-valued goods. Fur- row 11), as potentially Minoan; but, as they
thermore, as Merrillees (2003: 138-39) states, recognize, an Egyptian could equally well have
most of these vases in Egypt were discarded put this substance in the vessel (Merrillees and
within a time frame not too far removed from Winter 1972: 107). Oil was a common Myc-
the dates of their importation and manufacture, enaean export, but the Mycenaeans transported
suggesting that the owners had little interest in it in different, specialized forms, such as stirrup
conserving them as heirlooms. But even if the jars (Merrillees and Winter 1972: 116-18, 122;
tomb paintings ignore Minoan pottery, many Knapp 1991: 29; Bevan 2007: 37), and Minoan
Egyptians clearly owned these vessels. What, exports were not necessarily identical to Myc-
then, was their appeal to Egyptian consumers? enaean.
First, the word consumer may require some Furthermore, the assemblage of Minoan pot-
explanation. As Tartaron (2005) argues, the tery from Egypt includes many open forms
opposition of substantivist versus formalist such as cups (e.g., Figure 1), lacking utility as
understandings of ancient economies presents transport containers (Warren 1995: 12; Fitton
a false dichotomy, obscuring the complexity of et al. 1998: 131; Carinci 2000: 36; Koehl 2000:
Bronze Age exchange. Scholars sometimes still 97; Warren 2000: 25; Booth 2005: 54; Bevan
portray Egypt as a purely redistributive com- 2007: 35). Even in the case of closed forms, sur-

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 223
prisingly few Egyptian texts refer to specialized version of brand-name infringement? If, theo-
Cretan substances that these vessels might have retically, some LM closed-form pots did contain
contained. The only mention of possible vessel high quality oil, might an Egyptian oil-producer
contents from Crete is an 18th-dynasty medi- place his wares in Minoanizing vessels to make
cal reference to the laxative properties of Keftiu people think his oil came from Crete? Problematic
beans (Vercoutter 1956: 39-40; Strange 1980: for this theory, however, is the fact that Egyptian
93-94; Merrillees 1972: 285; Cline 1994: 109). Minoanizing vessels often do not look much
While Minoans certainly may have exported like real Minoan pottery at all. Some reproduce
beans (laxative or otherwise) to Egypt, they the painted decoration, but have completely dif-
probably did not use elaborate Kamares ware; ferent forms; others mimic the form, but ignore
fragile, baroque-looking vessels like the Qub- the characteristic decoration (see below). That is,
bet el-Hawa vase (Table 2, row 7; Figure 4) are these imitations would not fool anyone who had
clearly not designed for bulk transport. The LM seen the real thing, i.e. Minoan vases. The pot-
vases from Egypt are similarly fine, highly deco- ters were not trying to trick people, but rather to
rated vessels; and although some might conceiv- invoke the concept of Minoan craftsmanship in
ably have contained luxury oils, it is highly un- an almost hieroglyphic sense.
likely that they held staple foods. Texts suggest Egyptian consumers interest, therefore, seems
Minoan bulk goods reached Ugarit and Mari to have lain primarily in the stylistic qualities
(Knapp 1991: 37-38, 42; Hood 2000: 23; War- of Minoan pottery: they sought to display and
ren 2000: 25, 27), and Merrillees (1998: 152) replicate Minoan style as such. In 1962, Meyer
identifies an organic substance in a stone vessel in Schapiro (1994: 51) could write that For the
Tuthmosis IVs tomb as possibly Minoan. Most archaeologist, style is exemplified in a motif or
bulk-shipment pottery, however, was more utili- pattern; but for pottery specialists today stylistic
tarian, like the resin-filled Canaanite amphorae analysis lies not only in the application of chron-
from the Uluburun shipwreck (Haldane 1993: ological and cultural labels to a pots external
352-53; Bass 1997: 163-64). decoration, nor only in the iconographic study
of painted motifs (see, e.g., Panofsky 1955: 31).
Egyptian Imitations of Minoan Pottery, and Rather, style represents the sum total of all the
the Question of Ceramic Style choices potters make at every stage of manufac-
Egyptian-made vessels imitating Minoan shapes ture, including the unconscious physical actions
or decoration provide important clues to the involved in production (Chilton 1998; Dietler
Egyptian valuation of Minoan pottery. The and Herbich 1989; Lechtman 1977; Lemonnier
local imitation of Minoan stylistic traits suggests 1986; Mahias 1993; Sackett 1990).
Egyptians were at least as interested in the ves- When Egyptian potters imitated Minoan
sels form and decoration as in any putative con- wares, however, they concentrated on deco-
tents (Fitton et al. 1998: 131; Carinci 2000: 36; rative elements such as polychrome painting
Walberg 1988; 2001: 17). Imitations of Minoan (Figures 2-4) and ornamental rim shapes (Figure
wares occur throughout the Middle Bronze Age 1). These features of Minoan pottery have lit-
(Table 2), and a stirrup jar from Sidmant tomb tle to do with the pots functional utility, fitting
59 probably incorporates LM/LH IIIB influenc- instead Sacketts (1990: 34) definition of ad-
es (Kemp and Merrillees 1980: 246; cf. Merril- junct, or decorative and non-functional, style.
lees and Winter 1972: 109-10). Egyptian potters might imitate Minoan adjunct
Might the imitations indicate not a desire to style, but in other respects, their manufacturing
duplicate Minoan vases beauty but an ancient techniquesfor example, clay preparation and

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224 Barrett
tempering methodswere typically Egyptian, correct that not every spiral in Egypt is Minoan-
not Minoan. izing, but one can distinguish Minoanizing spi-
The specific nature of the potters allusion ralform designs by focusing on specific motifs
to Minoan ceramic styles, furthermore, varies that have well-established Aegean precedents,
from case to case. Some Egyptian potters used that appear suddenly in Egypt in the early Mid-
Minoan forms without Minoanizing painted dle Kingdom, and that are sufficiently compli-
decoration, while others used Minoanizing cated so that their appearance is not likely to
polychrome decoration on Egyptian vessel represent independent invention (Ward 1971:
forms. Two bowls from el-Haraga reproduce 122; Crowley 1989: 105-12; Quirke and Fitton
the crinkled rims of Kamares ware but not the 1997; Caubet 1998: 109-10; Barber 1998; Laff-
painted decoration (Table 2, row 3), and four ineur 1998: 53-54). The S, C, Quadruple, and
vessels from Tell el-Dabaa imitate the shape of Running spirals are often held up as examples of
conical rhyta, but their red-slipped surface dec- such motifs (for definitions, see Kantor 1947:
oration is purely Egyptian (Table 3, row 8; cf. 21-30, 56-61; Crowley 1989: 106), although
Koehl 2006: 47-50 on the painted decoration of some caution is appropriate for the S-spiral and
Minoan rhyta of this type). On the other hand, Quadruple spiral, which appear also in Early
the Buhen vase has a Middle Kingdom Egyptian Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Anatolia (Max-
form but Middle Minoan-style painted deco- well-Hyslop 1971: 35; 1989; Frangipane 1993:
ration (Table 2, row 8); and from Kahun, five 45). Running spirals appear later in early Iron
locally-made pieces imitate only the polychrome Age Anatolia, but probably derive from Aegean
decoration of Kamares ware, while four pots of antecedents (Sams 1994: 132; Frankfort 1996:
Egyptian fabric incorporate both the painted 395).
decoration and the shape of Minoan vessels (Fig- This Egyptian interest in Minoanizing sty-
ure 1; Table 2, row 1). Egyptian potters did not listic and decorative motifs persisted into the
consistently strive, then, to reproduce one invar- early 18th dynasty, as the Tell el-Dabaa frescoes
iable type of form or decoration. More broadly, would seem to demonstrate. Aegeanizing deco-
these potters sought to incorporate something rative motifs continued to appear in tombs, pri-
that either decoration or form could suggest: a vate chapels (Stevenson Smith 1965: 135, 156;
general sense of Minoan stylistic influence. Barber 1991: 311-48; Barber 1998: 14-15; M.
Egyptians also expressed interest in Aegeaniz- Shaw 2000: 61; Bietak 2005: 80-81), and even
ing styles by adopting Minoan design elements in the Malqata palace and ceremonial complex of
in other media. From the 12th dynasty on, Amenhotep III (Stevenson Smith 1998: 163-64,
Egyptian art saw a sudden increase of Minoan- fig. 285; Kemp 2000; Nicolakaki-Kentrou 2000;
izing spiralform motifs (Kantor 1947: 21-30, Bietak 2005: 80).
56-61; Stevenson Smith 1965: 31). Such deco- The use of these exoticizing motifs belongs
rations appear on scarabs and on Middle King- within a broader context of contemporary east-
dom tombs and tomb chapels at Meir, Qaw el- ern Mediterranean artistic and cultural hybrid-
Kebir, Beni Hasan, and Asyut (Stevenson Smith ity. By the latter half of the second millennium
1965: 131-32, 135; Morgan 1995: 44; Warren (roughly contemporary with the Minoan and
1995: 2; Barber 1998: 14; M. Shaw 2000: 61; Minoanizing pottery of Table 3), elite material
2009: 476). Additionally, the spiral-decorated culture in Egypt, the Near East, and the Aegean
kilt of a faience figurine from a Middle Kingdom shared so many artistic and technological fea-
tomb at Lisht recalls the kilts in Keftiu-paintings tures that it is often described as an international
(Rief-stahl 1972: 140). Ward (1971: 109-16) is koin (Kantor 1947; Stevenson Smith 1965;

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 225
Crowley 1998: 176-77; Feldman 2006), affect- primarily luxury goods (Feldman 2006: 10-13,
ing not only pictorial art but also fields as diverse 62-63). In Egypt, however, the existence of
as architecture, metallurgy, musical instruments, ceramic imports whose distribution was not
and pottery (Caubet 1998: 106-107). This restricted only to the highest echelons of society
hybridized material culture also had ideologi- may imply the possibility of broader participa-
cal elements; throughout the Late Bronze Age tion in this cultural koin.
eastern Mediterranean, the ruling elites of the During the Late Bronze Age, then, Egyptians
so-called great powers club were conscious of may have valued Minoan ceramic imports not
sharing certain values and common interests and only because they were specifically Minoan, but
saw themselves as part of an overarching interna- also, more generally, because they came from
tional society (Ragionieri 2000; Feldman 2006). this international sphere. The use of foreign ob-
In the Late Bronze Age, then, Egyptians con- jects and design motifs would have given private
sumption of Minoan and Minoanizing pottery individuals a way to participate in this far-rang-
comprised only one aspect of their participation ing koin, demonstrating their sophistication
in this international milieu. Early 18th-dynasty and cosmopolitanism. Displays of exotic goods
Egyptian art evinces intense interest not only may have conveyed the message that one was a
in the Aegean, but in foreign lands in general. worldly, cultured individual accustomed to par-
Examples of this exoticism, as Rehak (1998: ticipating in an international milieu; with their
48) notes, include the representations of foreign elaborately painted, visually striking appearance,
plants in Tuthmosis IIIs h-mn.w chapel at Kar- Minoan vessels would have been among the
nak (Beaux 1990) and Hatshepsuts depictions most conspicuously exotic-looking Mediterra-
of the land of Punt (including its steatopygous nean pottery available.
queen) at Deir el-Bahri (Beaux 1990: 296; Roth Indeed, both Middle and Late Minoan pot-
2005: 149; Roehrig 2005). Carved wooden toi- tery in Egypt frequently appears in more broadly
letry boxes with Aegeanizing or International internationalizing settings. Syro-Palestinian pot-
Style imagery also appear in a number of Egyp- tery, in particular, often co-occurs with Aegean
tian officials tombs, including one at 18th- wares at Egyptian sites (Kemp and Merrillees
dynasty Kahun (Kantor 1947: 84; Morgan 1995: 1980: 244). Sites producing Syro-Palestinian
40). These boxes demonstrate some penetration and/or Cypriot, as well as Minoan or Minoan-
of exoticizing imagery into the private sphere, izing pottery include the el-Haraga cemetery
even if that private sphere was still a wealthy one (Merrillees 1974: 59), Kahun (Stevenson Smith
(Feldman 2006: 140-41). 1965: 133; Kemp and Merrillees 1980: 98), Ez-
The Late Bronze Age koin is generally con- bet Rushdi (Bagh 1998; Czerny 1998: 45-46),
sidered an elite phenomenon. As Caubet (1998: Tell el-Dabaa (Karageorghis 1995; Maguire
105) notes, the emergence of a common inter- 1995; Bietak 1997: 97-104; Hein 1998; Bietak
national artistic culture often depends upon the and Marinatos 2000: 40; Bietak et al. 2007: 17),
existence of affluent individuals in each soci- and Kom Rabiaa (Bourriau and Eriksson 1997:
ety who wish to display their privileged status. 107). In addition, some Minoanizing vessels,
A cross-cultural comparison comes from Early including a MM III-influenced jug from el-Lisht
Classic Mixtequilla potters, who imitated for- and a LM IA-influenced amphoriskos from Tell
eign centers styles to participate in an elite koin el-Dabaa, actually incorporate elements from
associated with international trade (Stark 1999). several different artistic traditions (see references
In the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, objects in Table 2, row 5, and Table 3, row 8), suggest-
displaying the so-called International Style are ing that the artists were blending different cul-

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226 Barrett
tural influences to create a cosmopolitan, inter- in exotic goods, during all periods of Minoan-
national effect. Egyptian trade, would have been the ideology
The 18th-dynasty tomb paintings, too, some- that presented imports as confirmation of the
times show Keftiu-people carrying Syrian vessels kings influence in foreign lands. As discussed
or depict Syrians or Levantine people carrying above, the most detailed iconographic and tex-
Aegean vessels (Rehak 1998: 46-47; Hallmann tual sources on Minoan imports in Egypt
2006: Taf. 1, Dok. 4). Certain images even de- the Keftiu-paintings, with their accompanying
pict people with a combination of Syrian and inscriptionspresent the objects through the
Cretan features, whom Darnell (1991: 122; frame of this royal ideology. Foreign pottery
Graff 2008) identifies as northern, coastal Syr- was more widely accessible than elaborate tomb
ians showing Keftiuian and Hittite influences paintings of foreigners bringing gifts, but to an
or Syro-Keftiuian hybrids. Minoan pottery was Egyptian who believed in the kings duty to swsh
popular in the Levant, first appearing there earli- t=f, or extend his boundary, an exotic vessel
er than in Egypt (Merrillees 2003; Koehl 2008b; would still appear to be tangible evidence of the
Walberg 1983: 144-46) and boasting a different kings efforts to spread maat into foreign realms.
range of forms (Cadogan 1983: 514; Merril-
lees 2003), but seemingly serving, similarly, as Conclusion
a relatively inexpensive yet exotic addition to In Egypt, Kamares ware and Late Minoan fine
domestic pottery assemblages (Koehl 2008b: 59; wares show up in a wide range of contexts and
Merrillees 2003: 139). seem to have been accessible to a broad section of
In early New Kingdom Egypt, then, people the population. While many of the people who
may have alluded to familiarity with foreign owned this pottery appear to have been fairly
lands not necessarily to imply an esoteric knowl- comfortable and by no means poverty-stricken
edge of supernatural or sacred realms (Helms lower elites perhaps, rather than indigents
1988; 1993), but rather to demonstrate their there is little indication that these vessels were
participation in a shared elite koin associated restricted to any exclusive social group, and they
with international trade (similarly Stark 1999). certainly reached an audience much wider than
The Kamares imports of the Middle King- the small number of court officials who could
dom, however, predate the great powers club, construct great tombs with Keftiu-paintings.
the International Style, and many of the Late Furthermore, the finds of such pottery in settle-
Bronze Ages shared motifs and technologies. Yet ment debris, as well as in private graves, suggest
Egyptian interest in these exotic objects appears that Egyptian consumers often employed these
already to have been widespread; even in the vessels as objects of daily use: domestic tools
Middle Kingdom, Minoan/Minoanizing ves- or knick-knacks, even if their foreign origins
sels appeared at sites from the Delta to Nubia imparted to them an exotic cachet.
(Table 2), and Minoan spiral-form designs were Nonetheless, imported pottery may have given
popular. Even before the Late Bronze Age koin individuals a way to display their cosmopolitan-
blossomed, some of its cultural foundations may ism and interest in the international sphere. Cer-
already have been laid, as Egyptians were already tain imported goods, such as metal vessels and
acquiring goods to showcase their cosmopolitan- textilesthe glittering luxuries of the Keftiu-
ism and awareness of foreign lands. Shaw (2009: paintingsmight have been available only to
476) has made similar observations on Minoan- the very wealthy. People from a broader swath
izing ceiling designs. of Egyptian society, however, could acquire
Yet another factor in the Egyptians interest Minoan and Minoanizing pottery. As a result,

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The Perceived Value of Minoan and Minoanizing Pottery in Egypt 227
these exotic-looking vessels enabled would-be References
social climbers in a variety of socioeconomic groups
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