Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor: Minoans and Mycenaeans abroad
In 1984, exactly ten years ago, at a conference in Athens on the ‘Function of the Minoan Palaces’, several participants in a general discussion on economy and trade brought up the possibility of Minoan artists working overseas. Peter Warren later went on to discuss the existence of Minoan merchants abroad, but few of the other participants pursued the topic any further. Indeed, although there are quite a lot of very well known data which can be used in the attempt to identify expatriate Minoans and Mycenaeans, it has proven rather difficult to actually document this elusive class of people.
Recently, some new finds of frescoes, papyri and weapons of Minoan and Mycenaean inspiration in Egypt and the Near East have brought renewed interest in, and speculation about, the foreign contacts of the Late Bronze Age Aegean. For example, from 1987 through 1991, fragments from a floor and from wall paintings of Aegean inspiration and/or manufacture were uncovered at Tel Kabri in Israel — the site of a large fortified Middle Bronze city, possibIy to be identified as Rehov. Similar finds previously identified elsewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean include wall paintings of Aegean inspiration in the palace at Alalakh in Syria and at Qatna, also in Syria. In 1991, a bronze sword of possible Mycenaean manufacture was uncovered at Hattugas, capital city of the Hittites. In 1992 and 1993, fragments from a wall painting of Minoan inspiration if not outright Minoan manufacture were uncovered at Tell ed-Dab’a, identified as ancient Avaris, capital city of the Hyksos. Also in 1992, a fragment of papyri depicting possible Mycenaean warriors aiding a fallen Egyptian was finally pieced together and reconstructed, after having been originally uncovered during Pendlebury’s excavations at Arnarna, capital city of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Aegaeum, Vol.12 (1995)