The nature and extent of relations among Egypt, Cyprus, Anatolia, Crete, the Aegean islands (Cyclades), and mainland Greece increase from late prehistory to the Bronze Age (c.3500–1070 BCE)—albeit with fluctuations and with modern debate concerning the mechanisms and directionality of transmission, the intensity and scope of contact and influence, and the varying preservation and interpretation of archaeological and textual-pictorial evidence. Difficulties and debate also exist regarding complex synchronisms, differing terminologies, and absolute dating for the material culture assemblages of these widely dispersed regions.

The archaeological evidence for Egypt-Aegean contact before the second millennium BCE is sparse and based on Egyptian items, materials, and influences found in the Aegean (mainly Crete and western Anatolia), suggesting that Syria-Palestine, Cyprus, eastern Anatolia, and possibly Libya acted as intermediaries in transmitting items within this region. By the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, evidence exists for both direct and indirect maritime contact between Egypt and the Aegean. The main shipping routes are navigable from May to September; they follow sea currents and winds that go northward and westward, along the Levantine and Anatolian coasts to the Aegean, and those that go southward and eastward, from Crete to Libya and Egypt. A northwestern route likely connected Nile Delta ports, Marsa Matruh (a Late Bronze Age site 290 kilometers/180 miles west of Alexandria), and the Libyan coast with southern Crete (e.g., Kommos).

Middle and Late Bronze Age texts indicate that the state, the temples, and their officials conducted and controlled international trade, while ships' crews practiced small-scale private trade. Archaeological and textual-pictorial sources (e.g., Mari; Avaris; Amarna; Ugarit; Bogazkoy; Theban tombs) reveal increasingly complex international relations and the commercial exchanges of materials and products limited to or abundant in certain locales. These include reciprocal royal and official gifts (luxury items and materials) between nations of equal and unequal status, political alliances, treaties, and diplomatic marriages. The impact of piracy and state-sanctioned private entrepreneurs cannot be ignored in the redistribution of foreign commodities and influences.

Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic.

The late Predynastic (Naqada II–III: c.3500–3050 BCE) and the Early Dynastic (Archaic) period (Dynasties “0,” 1, 2, 3: c.3050–2632 BCE) encompass the Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age I–II in the Levant and Anatolia, Chalcolithic II–III in Cyprus, Neolithic to Early Minoan I in Crete, and Neolithic to Early Helladic/Cycladic I on the Greek mainland and Aegean islands.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Evidence for early Egypt-Cypriot contact is tenuous. The aceramic period (c.7000–6000 BCE) at Khirokitia and the early Chalcolithic levels at Kalavasos-Ayious yield forty carnelian beads and a carnelian pendant, respectively, which are often assigned Egyptian or Sinai origins; some suggest that slabs with thirty depressions from Lemba-Lakkous and elsewhere represent adaptations (via Cilicia) of Egyptian Senet-game boards (which have grids of thirty squares). These carnelian items could originate from Syrian sources or represent Cypriot red jasper, while thirty depressions on a slab could easily reflect the lunar cycle and not necessarily Egyptian influence.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Although the presence of silver in Egypt (e.g., jewelry) and gold in Anatolia might reflect an exchange (albeit probably indirect) of precious metals between these regions, gold sources do occur in Anatolia, while silver is not restricted to Anatolian sources. Better evidence for contact is represented by a loop-handled vessel from Badari (Egypt), which resembles forms in northern Syria and Tarsus (southeastern Anatolia).

The Aegean and Egypt.

Early Egypt-Aegean contacts remain unconfirmed, since all late Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egyptian stone vessels in the Aegean were found in later contexts. Possible Egyptian stone vessels, found during the excavation of Final Neolithic period houses (radiocarbon dated to 4135–3375 BCE) at Knossos (Crete), originated from insecure and contested contexts. No connection is thought to exist between Early Minoan I Red Linear decoration on a buff ground (on Aghios Onouphrios ware) and similarly decorated Predynastic to first dynasty pottery from Egypt.

Old Kingdom.

The Old Kingdom (fourth to sixth dynasties: c.2632–2191 BCE) parallels Early Bronze III, Chalcolithic III to Early Cypriot I, Early Minoan I to IIA–B, and Early Helladic I–II. Despite little textual information, archaeological data confirm connections between Egypt and the Mediterranean area.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Cypriot products remain undetected in Egypt, but may include lumber and possibly copper, transmitted via Byblos. Cyprus yielded possible “Egyptian”-style Senet-game boards (e.g., Sotira-Kaminoudhia), stone slabs with depressions placed in spirals (identified as a Cypriot adaptation of the Egyptian game of Mehen), and faience beads—none of which are necessarily Egyptian. Egyptian seals bearing the names of fourth and fifth dynasty kings (Khafre, Menkaure, and Unas) occur in variously dated and later contexts.

Anatolia and Egypt.

An Early Bronze Age (EB II, elsewhere EB III) Cilician pot came from a fourth dynasty tomb at Giza, while silver in Old Kingdom contexts may originate from Anatolia. Anatolia yielded some probable Egyptian exports: ivory, gold, and turquoise from Troy level II, gold from Poliochni, an ex situ (purchased) gold cylinder seal bearing the names of Menkaure and Djedkare (fourth and fifth dynasties), a turquoise macehead from an Early Bronze Age (EB II, elsewhere EB III) tomb at Dorak (northwestern Anatolia), and gold leaf from a chair with the titles and cartouche of Sahure (fifth dynasty) from Dorak (tomb 1; problematic in date). Despite later texts citing Egypt as a major gold source, gold is found in Anatolia, while ivory could originate from Syrian elephants; however, the nearest turquoise source is in the Sinai, where Egyptian Old Kingdom mining occurred at Wadi Mughara and Wadi Kharig.

Crete and Egypt.

Although Old Kingdom Egypt lacks items from or references to Crete, eighteenth-century BCE Mesopotamian texts and a Neo-Assyrian text (KAV 92) transmitting an inscription of Sargon of Akkad (c.2334–2279 BCE) reveal the name “Kaptara” (Crete?) for a land in the Upper Sea. Excavations at Knossos on Crete have produced an Egyptian Early Dynastic(?) obsidian bowl fragment and a diorite bowl from secure Early Minoan (EM) IIA and II contexts. Other probable Egyptian imports in EM IIA include hippopotamus ivory, amethyst, carnelian, and gold. A pyxis, bearing Khafre's name (fourth dynasty), came from a tholos tomb at Aghia Triadha, but it might represent an antique that was introduced up to 850 years after Khafre, since the tomb's contents span Early to Middle Minoan.

Greece and Egypt.

Greek products and influence are absent in Old Kingdom Egypt, while Early Cycladic II (Keros-Syros culture) artifacts are limited to the Aegean and western Anatolia (despite some from Syria-Palestine in Greece). Evidence concerning the introduction date for Old Kingdom items in Greece is problematic and inconclusive: some scarabs from Camiros on Rhodes displayed the names of fourth and fifth dynasty kings (Menkaure and Unas), but they originated from insecure contexts and may represent twenty-sixth dynasty reissues; later introductions do include an ex situ stone bowl from Kythera (Cerigo Island), with the cartouche of the fifth dynasty king Userkaf, and an Old Kingdom statue head from Athens.

First Intermediate Period.

The period (seventh to early eleventh dynasties: c.2191–2040 BCE) spans Early Cypriot I–II, Middle Bronze I, Early Minoan III, and Early Helladic III, during which there was a decline in international relations. Several scholars assign the appearance of Egyptian stone bowls and scarabs in Crete to Early Minoan III, while others argue a Middle Minoan I date (twelfth dynasty). In contrast, Egypt lacks this period's Aegean and Cypriot items.

Middle Kingdom.

Egypt's late eleventh to thirteenth dynasties (c.2040–1665 BCE) were parallel to Early Cypriot III to Middle Cypriot III, Middle Bronze IIA–B, Early Minoan III to Middle Minoan IIIA, and Early Helladic III to Middle Helladic; there was a revival and increase in international relations.

Cyprus and Egypt.

The names “Alasiya” and “Asy” (Isy) appear in Near Eastern texts from the eighteenth to twelfth centuries BCE; they are generally accepted as designating Cyprus or a town in Cyprus. Cypriot pottery increased in Egypt from Middle Cypriot I to II–III times, while Cyprus yielded Egyptian faience and a Nubian-faced pendant in a nineteenth-century BCE tomb at Lapithos. A Late Cypriot context at Enkomi yielded a scarab of Senwosret I.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Egypt has many eleventh and twelfth dynasty silver items (e.g., from Montuhotep I's mortuary temple, from Tod, Illahun, Dahshur, and the tombs of Senebtisi, Neferuptah, and Wah), which may have originated in Anatolian mines. Egyptian contact with northwestern Anatolia is attested at Alaca Huyuk, which yielded a plaque with a djed-pillar from an eighteenth-century BCE stratum and a Middle Kingdom plaque with a Bes-figure from the earliest Hittite-occupation level. Other Middle Kingdom items from Anatolia occur in later contexts: statuettes from the Hittite capital Hattusas (Bogazkoy), a granite statuette of Sitsneferu (time of Senwosret II) from Adana, and a granite statuette of Keri from a Byzantine cemetery at Kirikkale near Ankara.

Crete and Egypt.

Early second millennium BCE and later texts from Egypt (e.g., Admonitions of Ipuwer) and from Syria-Mesopotamia (e.g., Mari tablets) designate Crete or Cretans as “Keftiu” and “Kaptara”/“Kaphtor” (a land of the Upper Sea), respectively; Crete lacks indigenous texts. In Egypt, the site of el-Lisht has produced a Middle Minoan I potsherd, Illahun yielded a Minoan-style serpentine lid, and some Middle Minoan IIA–B vessels. Minoan influence is evident at Buhen (tomb K5), where an Egyptian pottery vessel displays Middle Minoan II-type decoration, and on Middle Kingdom scarabs and the ceiling of Hepzefa's tomb (time of Senwosret I), which adopt spiraliform designs. A Middle Minoan IB–II date and Minoan influence were assigned to 153 silver bowls and cups found in four copper chests (two bear Amenemhet II's name) deposited in the foundations of a temple at Tod. Kemp and Merrillees (1980) questioned the twelfth dynasty date for the deposition and contents of the boxes, and through contextual analysis argued that deposition occurred later, at some point between Thutmose III's reign and the Ptolemaic period. Some researchers contest a Minoan derivation for these vessels but retain Syria, Anatolia, and Greece(?) as possible sources.

Egyptian products in Crete include First Intermediate Period scarabs in Middle Minoan IA contexts, locally copied and adapted scarabs, an Egyptian-style clay sistrum from Arkhanes Phourni, gold and Egyptian-derived plaques with a sphinx design at Mallia, a twelfth dynasty diorite statuette of User in context (albeit contested) with Middle Minoan IIB pottery at Knossos, and Middle Kingdom(?) ivory statuettes at Palaikastro.

Greece and Egypt.

Egypt lacks Early and Middle Helladic pottery, but the few Middle Kingdom items found in Greece came from later or insecure contexts. The statue of Sonb from Athens and three scarabs of Senwosret from Sparta may reflect later imports.

Second Intermediate Period.

The period (fourteenth to seventeenth dynasties: c.1665–1555 BCE) and the advent of the eighteenth dynasty span Late Cypriot IA–B, Middle Bronze IIC, Middle Minoan IIIB to Late Minoan IA, and Middle Helladic to Late Helladic IA.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Egypt has some imported and locally copied Late Cypriot I pottery. More than five hundred Cypriot potsherds from Tell ed-Dabʿa include White Painted Pendent Line Style, White Painted Cross Line Style, White Painted V, White Painted Alternating Broad Band and Wavy Line Style, White Painted Composite Style, Red on Black, Plain Ware, Cypriot Bichrome Ware, and local imitations of Cypriot pottery. That site and ʿEzbet Helmi have later Cypriot pottery: Base Ring I, White Slip I, White Painted VI, Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware, and Red Slip Wheelmade Ware. Although Cyprus yielded some Hyksos-style (fifteenth dynasty) scarabs and Tell el-Yahudiyya had juglets of possible Egyptian origin, Jacobsson (1994) asserts that they probably represent later imports.

Table 1 Broad Synchronisms between Egypt, Cyprus, Levant, Anatolia, and the Aegean.



EGYPT: Absolute dates BCE are “circa” (approx.) EGYPT: Dates following the chronology in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt CYPRUS * = system followed here for Cypriot Ages LEVANT & ANATOLIA Bronze Ages CRETE Minoan Ages CYCLADES Cycladic (islands) Ages GREECE (Mainland) Helladic Ages
Chronological terminology, sequences, dates, and synchronisms adopted from Albright, Aström, Dickinson, Ehrich (ed.), Evans, Gjerstad, Hankey, Jacobsson, Merrillees, and Warren.
3500–3300 Late Predynastic Chalcolithic Chalcolithic Neolithic Neolithic Neolithic
3300–3050 (or Naqada II–III) Merrillees: Gjerstad: EB I -(EM I?) -(EC I?) -(EH I?)
3050–2850 Dynasty 1 *Chalc.II EC IA EB II EM I EC I EH I
2850–2687 Dynasty 2 *Chalc.II EC IB EB II EM I EC I EH I
2687–2632 Dynasty 3 *Chalc.III EC IB EB II EM I EC I EH I
2632–2510 Dynasty 4 *Chalc.III EC IC EB III EM I–IIA EC I–II EH I–II
2510–2374 Dynasty 5 *EC I EC IC EB III EM IIA-B EC II EH II
2374–2191 Dynasty 6 *EC I EC II EB III EM IIB EC II EH II
2191–2165 Dynasties 7–8 *EC I EC II EB IV/MB I EM III EC IIIA EH III
2165–2040 Dynasties 9–10 vs. 11 *EC I–II EC III EB IV/MB I EM III EC IIIA EH III
2040–1998 Late Dynasty 11 *EC II–III EC III MB IIA EM III EC IIIA EH III
1998–1991 Civil strife MM IA EC III B MH early
1991–1895 Early Dynasty 12 *EC III EC III MB IIA MM IA EC IIIB MH early
1895–1786 Late Dynasty 12 *MC I MB IIA MM IB/MM IIA EC IIIB MC early MH middle
1786–1700 Early Dynasty 13 *MC II MB IIB MM IB/MM IIB MC early MH middle
1700–1665 Late Dynasty 13 *MC III MB IIB MM IIIA MC late MH late
1664–1555 Hyksos Dyns. “14”-15 LC IA Aström: MB IIC MM IIIB MC late MH late
Theban Dyns. 16–17 *LC IA:1 LM IA LC I LH I
1555–1482 Early Dynasty 18 LC IB LC IA:1–2 MB IIC LM 1A LC I LH I
(Ahmose-Hatshepsut) *LC IB LB IA LM IB LC II LH IIA
1482–1452 Early Dynasty 18 LC IIA *LC IB LB IB LM IB LC II LH IIA
(Thutmose III yr.22+)
1452–1410 Mid-Dynasty 18 LC IIA *LC IIA:1 LB 1B LM II LC II LH IIB
1410–1382 Mid-Dynasty 18 LC IIB *LC IIA:1 LB 2A LM IIIA1 LC III early LH IIIA1
(Amenhotpe III) *LC IIA:2
1382–1365 Late Dynasty 18 LC IIB *LC IIB LB 2A LM IIIA2 LC III early LH IIIA2
(Amenhotpe IV)
1365–1323 Late Dynasty 18 LC IIB LC IIB-C:1 LB 2A LM IIIB LC III middle LH IIIB1
1323–1237 Early Dynasty 19 LC IIC *LC IIC:1 LB 2B LM IIIB LC III middle LH IIIB1-2
1237–1201 Late Dynasty 19 LC IIIA *LC IIC:2 LB 2B LM IIIB/C LC III late LH IIIB2/C1
1200–1149 Early Dynasty 20 LC IIIB *LC IIIA:1 Iron 1A LM IIIC LC III late LH IIIC1
1149–1076 Late Dynasty 20 LC IIIC *LC IIIA-2 Iron 1B LM IIIC LC III late LH IIIC2-3
1076–1000 Early Dynasty 21 Geometric *LC IIIB:1 Iron 1B subminoan LC III final LH IIIC3?
BCE (Smendes-Psusennes) I *LC IIIB:2 submycenaean

Anatolia and Egypt.

Egypt lacks obvious Anatolian imports, but an obsidian vase fragment with Khyan's cartouche (fifteenth dynasty) occurs in occupation debris at Bogazkoy; it is ex situ and may reflect later Egypt-Hittite relations.

Crete and Egypt.

Minoan contact with Egypt increased in the late fifteenth and the seventeenth dynasties. At el-Lisht, a pot with birds and dolphins reflects Middle Minoan III decoration. Tell ed-Dabʿa (Avaris) yielded a Middle Minoan IIIA/B potsherd, an Aegean/Minoan-style gold pendant from a tomb, and a niello dagger with Minoan motifs. Late Hyksos period debris from the palace area at Tell ed-Dabʿa yielded Middle Minoan IIIB to Late Minoan IA contact with Egypt through thousands of fragments of paintings that are Minoan in their techniques of production, style, and themes. The nationality of the painters (i.e., Egyptian versus Minoan) and the direction of influence (i.e., which culture influenced the other) has been debated, since comparable Minoan frescoes are either a little later in date (e.g., Late Minoan IA/Late Cypriot I Theran frescoes on Akrotari), or mostly later in date (e.g., Middle Minoan IIIB–Late Minoan IIIA frescoes from Knossos and elsewhere).

Some Egyptologists argue strongly for a Minoan origin for, and Minoan artists producing, the Avaris frescoes. Earlier and contemporary Egyptian paintings (mostly from tombs) differ in technique, style, and themes from the Avaris and Aegean palace frescoes. The Avaris paintings incorporate Minoan techniques of buon fresco (background color), secco (later colors), and stucco relief on lime plaster, in contrast to the less frequent Egyptian use of gypsum plaster to prepare surfaces for painting. Other Minoan techniques include pressing stretched strings into wet plaster to outline the borders of compositions. The selection of colors—black, white, yellow, red, blue—for background and details follow Minoan rather than Egyptian preferences (which uses green more frequently). The Avaris frescoes are Minoan in their style and composition of details, elements, and themes for large and small-scale images: red backgrounds (with trees, hills, and figures), Cretan flora (e.g., dittany), bull-leapers, winged griffins, bulls, flying gallop motif (MM II origin), maze/labyrinth designs, conical rhyton, acrobats, Minoan-style garments (kilts, belts, boots, flounced skirts), persons with blue-tinted shaven scalps, and black curled locks of hair. As in the Theran and Knossos compositions, the Avaris frescoes contain Egyptian elements: Nile vegetation (palms, blue papyrus, reeds, wʒḏ-lily), landscapes with rivers, and wild-life (leopards, lions, antelopes, hunting dogs); some Aegean plants (e.g., crocuses) are noticeable by their absence.

In Crete, Middle Minoan III to Late Minoan I/IA contexts contain Egyptian items: an ivory figurine, a Hyksos scarab, and seven Egyptian vessels of calcite (alabaster, marble), porphyrite, and faience from Mallia, Mavrospelio, Katsamba, Knossos, and Akrotiri. A stone lid from Knossos bears the cartouche of a Hyksos ruler (Khayan), which appears alongside Middle Minoan III pottery. Mallia contains locally adapted images of the Egyptian hippopotamus deity (Taweret) reconfigured as a Minoan fertility spirit.

Greece and Egypt.

To date, no Early to Middle Helladic products appear in Egypt, whereas some Egyptian items in Greece may date to the advent of Late Helladic I.

New Kingdom: Eighteenth to Twentieth Dynasties.

The Early eighteenth dynasty of Ahmose to Thutmose III (c.1555–1452 BCE) spans Late Cypriot IB–IIA, late Middle Bronze 2C to early Late Bronze IB, Late Minoan IA–B, and Late Helladic I–IIA.

Cyprus and Egypt.

The Late Bronze Age Cyprus-Minoan script has similarities to Cretan Linear A, but it remains undeciphered and lacks identifiable references to Egypt; Near Eastern and Egyptian texts mention “Alasiya” (probably Cyprus). Late Cypriot I pottery occurs throughout Egypt (e.g., Saqqara, Sedment, Meidum, el-Balabish, Deshasheh, Abydos, Shellal, Riqqeh, Rifeh, Aniba), and consists of imported and locally copied jars, jugs, juglets, tankards, pilgrim flasks, spindle bottles, and some bowls and arm-shaped items. These vessels display various styles: Base Ring I, White Painted Pendent Line, Cross Line Style, White Painted VI, White Slip I–II, Black Slip II, and Red Lustrous Ware (the last was initially equated with Syria, but has since been shown to be Cypriot). Late Cypriot I contexts yield Ahmose's name on a scarab (Akhera) and a serpentine jar fragment (Koulia-Teratsoudhia). Five scarabs of Thutmose III occur in Late Cypriot IIIA, in IIIB:1, and in broader Late Cypriot contexts at Enkomi, Kourion, and Maroni.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Silver items in Egypt may originate from Anatolia or elsewhere, while texts mention Hittite gifts given to Thutmose III during his campaigns in Syria-Palestine. Egyptian items in Anatolia are equally sparse, but may include scarabs from Bogazkoy.

Crete and Egypt.

Although inscriptions in Linear A (undeciphered) and Linear B from Crete contain evidence for relations with the Near East, their interpretation remains problematic and they lack definite references to Egypt. The suggestion that a Semitic loan-word (A-ku-pi-ti-jo) in a Linear B tablet (Bb1105) from Knossos means “Egyptian” is tenuous. New Kingdom texts record contact with “Keftiu” (Crete), which is described either as an island in the middle of the sea or a place near Asia. Minoan products and influence in Egypt include a Late Minoan IB alabastron (bag-shaped vessel) from Sedment (tomb 137), an imitation Late Minoan 1A–B alabastron from Aniba, copies of Late Minoan I pottery from Abu Ghurob, potsherds from Late Minoan I jars, bowls, and ewers, and an Aegean-derived niello dagger from Queen Ahhotep's tomb (from the time of Ahmose). A second phase of Minoan-style frescoes at Tell ed-Dabʿa was dated to the time after Ahmose's destruction of Avaris. During Hatshepsut's reign, Theban tombs begin depicting people from Keftiu.

Egyptian amphoras at the coastal site of Kommos in southern Crete assist arguments for direct maritime contact between Egypt and Crete. Late Minoan I and IB contexts yielded thirty-one Egyptian containers of calcite (alabaster), basalt, porphyrite, faience, and pottery, an amulet, a scarab, and a Tridacna shell. Other probable Egyptian exports to Crete included amethyst, carnelian, ebony (African blackwood), hippopotamus and elephant ivory, African fauna (monkeys, oryx/antelopes?, cranes?), and possibly rock crystal and ostrich eggs (from Libya?). Late Minoan 1A paintings from Cretan and Aegean palaces display Egyptian influence in various motifs and iconography: papyrus, reeds, wʒs/wʒḏ-lilies, palms, monkeys picking flowers, antelopes, and tall poles outside shrines (similar to the flagstaffs fronting Egyptian temple pylons). Parallels between Egyptian and Aegean art include depictions of women with light-colored skin (cream: i.e., untanned) and men with darker-colored skin (red-brown: i.e., tanned).

Greece and Egypt.

Some Late Helladic IIA (Mycenaean) pottery was found in Egypt at Saqqara, Illahun, Abu Ghurob, Sedment, and Dra Abul Naga, while Late Helladic I–II and IIA contexts in Greece provide seven calcite (Egyptian alabaster) and faience containers, scarabs and seals, and a cosmetic spoon. Late sixteenth-century BCE shaft graves IV–V at Mycenae yielded dagger blades with inlaid Nile landscapes and hunting scenes. The Theran frescoes also included a Nile landscape. Thutmose III's name appears on a granite offering stand and on a basalt statue from later contexts at Salonica, as well as on twenty-sixth dynasty reissues of scarabs from Camiros (Rhodes).

Mid-Eighteenth Dynasty.

The time of the kings Amenhotpe II and III (c.1452–1382 BCE) spans Late Cypriot IIA–B, Late Bronze 1B–2A, Late Minoan II–IIIA:1, and Late Helladic IIB–IIIA:1.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Late Cypriot I–II pottery (e.g., Base Ring I–II and Red Lustrous ware) continues to be found in Egypt. The analysis of Base Ring juglets reveals an oily substance (scents or ointments) and possibly opium. Stratified Late Cypriot IIA:2 contexts reveal various Egyptian items in Cyprus: calcite (alabaster), glass, and faience vessels; jewelry of bronze, gold, and silver; and scarabs. These and later contexts reveal the names of Amenhotpe III and/or Queen Tiy on a ring, a scarab, and a commemorative scarab.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Inscriptions in Akkadian, Hittite, and Egyptian record the names of Anatolian countries and peoples: “Arzawa” (southern Anatolia), “Khatte/Khattuša” (central Anatolia), “Kaška” (northeastern Anatolia), and “Arusna” (northwestern Anatolia). Two letters cite the exchange of gifts and messages between Amenhotpe III of Egypt and Tarkhundaradu of Arzawa: a daughter was promised in marriage to Amenhotpe III, while in exchange Amenhotpe discussed the dowry and sent a greeting gift of gold, 317 linen pieces (garments, mantles, other items), 10 containers of sweet oil, 13 ebony chairs with ivory and gold overlay, and 100 ebony pieces. Several Late Helladic IIIA burials at Panaztepe near Troy contained Egyptian gold, an alabastron, a scarab from the eighteenth dynasty, and a scarab of Amenhotpe III.

Crete and Egypt.

Amenhotpe III's statue base from Kom el-Hetan lists toponyms for Crete and places in Crete: “Keftiu” (Crete) is described as an obscure northern country near Asia, while the remaining places include “Lyktos” in eastern Crete, “Amnisos” in northern Crete, “Knossos” in central Crete, “Kydonia” in western Crete, and “Phaistos” in southern Crete. Although no Late Minoan II pottery is known from Egypt, the Egyptian textual-pictorial record reveals much Minoan influence and products in Egypt. One ostracon bears a reference to “the Keftiuan.” A medical papyrus transcribes a remedy in the Keftiu language for recital to cure an “Asiatic [Near Eastern] disease.” Wall scenes depict ships of Keftiu in a royal dockyard. Theban tombs display Keftiu bringing elaborate metal vessels (animal-shaped rhyta, jars, jugs, bowls), ingots, leather, and cloth; these Minoans have long, multiple locks of black hair and wear short kilts (with multicolored patterns, tassels, and a belt), and sometimes boots or sandals with leg bindings. In the vizier Rekhmire's tomb, a painter replaces a Keftiu kilt with a plainer kilt, which some scholars suggest reflects the Mycenaean seizure of Crete and the replacement of Minoan emissaries in Egypt. Minoan patterned textiles (depicted in Aegean frescoes), which figure among Aegean exports to Egypt, probably inspired the identical patterning found on ceilings in Egyptian tombs. Aegean-style decoration also appears on a wooden cosmetic-jar lid from Saqqara.

In Crete, Egyptian influence in Late Minoan II and IIIA:1 is less widespread, but includes thirty Egyptian containers of calcite (alabaster), diorite, pottery, frit, and porphyrite, a scarab (of Amenhotpe III and Queen Tiy), and Egyptian-style lapis lazuli amulets and beads. More broadly dated Late Minoan I–II and II–IIIA:1/A contexts produced twelve calcite (alabaster), gypsum, and diorite containers from Knossos, while Amenhotpe III and Queen Tiy appear on scarabs and a seal from Khania, Knossos (Sellopoulo), and Aya Triadha.

Greece and Egypt.

Near Eastern texts use several names for Mycenae and places in Greece and western Anatolia. Hittite texts mention the kingdom of “Ahhiyawa” in western Anatolia (possibly Homer's Achaeans: Mycenaeans), a coastal city named “Millawanda”/“Milawata” (Miletus?), and a treaty with “Tarwisa” (Troy?) and “Aleksandu” (Alexander) of “Wilusa” (Ilion?). Amenhotpe III's statue base lists places and peoples associated with Mycenae. These places are described as obscure northern countries, while other Egyptian texts mention islands (the Cyclades) in the midst of the “Great Green” (Mediterranean).

Although only a few Late Helladic IIB vessels occur in Egypt, more evidence exists for Egyptian contact with Greece. There are similar themes in Egyptian and Aegean art, such as paintings of cattle in a marsh (e.g., Amenhotpe III's Malqata palace and Mycenaean pictorial vessels). Late Helladic II and later contexts at Mycenae and Argive Heraion yielded many Egyptian items: a jug, bowl, and alabastron of stone, calcite (alabaster), and faience, six fragmentary plaques of Amenhotpe III, eighteenth dynasty scarabs, a flying-gallop motif on a niello inlaid dagger, and an Egyptian (?)-transmitted ostrich egg (mounted in a Minoan-style gold and faience casing). Other broadly dated items include the cartouches of Amenhotpe III and/or Queen Tiy on an ape figurine, a faience vase, and scarabs from Mycenae, Ayios Elias, and Ialysos (Rhodes); Camiros (Rhodes) and Sounion yielded twenty-sixth dynasty reissued scarabs with Amenhotpe III's name. Lambrou-Phillipson (1990) reports an unprovenanced eighteenth dynasty–style anchor in the Marine Museum of Piraeus (Attica).

Late Eighteenth Dynasty.

The time of Amenhotpe IV to Horemheb (c.1382–1323 BCE) covers Late Cypriot IIB, Late Bronze 2B, Late Minoan IIIA2–B, and Late Helladic IIIA2–B1.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Amenhotpe IV's archives at Tell el-Amarna (the city of Akhetaten) contain correspondence, the Amarna Letters, from the king of Alasiya (Cyprus), detailing gifts of copper ingots, oil, wood, horses, and ivory sent to Egypt (EA 33–40); he mentions attacks against Egypt by the Lukka and some Cypriots and requests the return of captured Cypriots. Other texts refer to Cypriot traders residing in Egypt. A text from Ugarit notes the Cypriot manufacture of ships for Egypt. Imported and locally copied Cypriot ceramics in Egypt consist of mainly closed forms (juglets, flasks, bottles, a bull-vase) and some bowls in Base Ring II, White Slip II, and Red Lustrous ware. Letters from Alasiya mention Egyptian emissaries residing in Cyprus: for example, Egyptian envoys were delayed for three years awaiting the production of copper which was halted, owing to the death (by a plague) of copper workers. Other Cypriot letters request (reciprocal) Egyptian gifts: an ebony bed, gold, silver, good oil, and a chariot-and-horse team. The king of Alasiya even councils the Egyptian king (Amenhotpe IV or a successor) against making a treaty with Khatte, which was then an enemy of Alasiya. Egyptian items appear throughout Cyprus: glass, faience, and a late eighteenth dynasty bead with a Nubian-style head. Broadly dated and later contexts yielded a silver ring with Amenhotpe IV's cartouche at Enkomi, a faience scepter head with Horemheb's name at Hala Sultan Tekke, and bronze and ivory “weights” with Nubian heads at Enkomi and Kalavassos-Ayios Dhimitrios.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Evidence for Egypt-Anatolian contact increases. Texts from Amarna and Khatte record an exchange of messengers and correspondence. King Shuppiluliumas of Khatte sends a greeting gift of silver stag-and-ram-shaped rhyta and two silver disks (ornamented? with trees) to Amenhotpe IV, Smenkhkare, or Tutankhamun. Another letter reports a Hittite prince sending a greeting gift of sixteen men. Both Hittite and Egyptian texts record the dispatch of Egyptian presents and emissaries to Khatte and include requests for the Egyptian ruler to send gold, a piece of lapis lazuli, gold and silver statues, and a furniture stand. Egyptian objects in Anatolia include a calcite (Egyptian alabaster) vase at Bogazkoy, and an eighteenth dynasty scarab in later Phrygian levels at Fraktin (central Anatolia). A shipwreck (late eighteenth dynasty) at Ulu Burun near southern Anatolia contains Egyptian items bound for northwestern Anatolia, Rhodes, or Greece: three gold and silver rings, a plaque, six scarabs, a gold bezel, a hematite weight, and five bronze tools (adze, axe, chisels).

Egypt-Hittite relations were initially cordial in the late eighteenth dynasty. A Hittite text reports that King Shuppiluliumas sent an emissary to Egypt to determine whether Tutankhamun's recently widowed queen (Ankhesenamun) was serious regarding her unprecedented request to marry a Hittite prince. Egypt's relations with Khatte deteriorated when the Egyptian escort murdered the Hittite prince en route to Egypt, thereby permitting Ay to usurp the throne. Egypt and Khatte then battled for control of Syria. Ay's donation stela from Giza refers to a district called “The Field of the Hittites,” which may indicate an area settled by Hittite captives; a Hittite text records the outbreak of plague among Egyptian captives brought back to Khatte, which subsequently infected the Hittite population.

Crete and Egypt.

Although Egypt-Minoan contact continued, Late Minoan III pottery in Egypt is virtually indistinguishable from Late Helladic (Mycenaean) IIIA:2 and IIIB pottery at Tell el-Amarna and Sedment. Minoan/Aegean influence appears through the transference of painted decoration, albeit in purely Egyptian motifs, to the floors and dadoes in the Malqata and Amarna palaces of Amenhotpe III and IV. Egyptian products appear in Crete, including an ivory seal and eleven pottery and calcite (alabaster) containers.

Greece and Egypt.

Late Helladic (Mycenaean) IIIA:2 and IIIB pottery increased dramatically throughout Egypt during and after Amenhotpe IV's reign, at Tell el-Amarna, Deir el-Medina, and Saqqara. A chapel of the king's statue at Amarna yields a fragmentary painted papyrus, depicting a battle scene in which two soldiers (wearing Mycenaean-style helmets, with boar tusks, and dappled ox-hide[?] tunics) may represent Greek mercenaries employed by Egypt. Egypt and Greece contain similar artistic elements (which continue in the thirteenth century BCE), such as gestures, postures, and details in illustrations of bulls, cows, horses, goats, monkeys, lions, and hunting scenes. Egyptian items appear in stratified Late Helladic IIIA:2 contexts in Greece.

Nineteenth Dynasty.

The reigns of Ramesses I to Queen Twosret (c.1323–1201 BCE) parallel Late Cypriot IIC:1–2, Late Bronze 2B, Late Minoan IIIB–B/C, and Late Helladic IIIB1–2/C1.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Despite textual attestations for a Hittite seizure of Cyprus early in the dynasty, evidence exists for continued contact (via Ugarit) between Egypt and Cyprus. Late Cypriot IIC pottery appears in Egypt at Kom Rabia (Memphis), while Egyptian products appear in Late Cypriot IIC:1–2 and IIIA:1 contexts: calcite (alabaster), glass, and faience containers, a pendant, a gold diadem (with a Nubian face), faience, and scarabs. In Late Cypriot IIA:2 and IIIA:1, an ex situ amphora handle from Hala Sultan Tekke bears Sety I's name, while five scarabs of Ramesses II occur.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Egypt-Hittite contact consists mainly of warfare in Syria until the ratification of a peace treaty in the twenty-first year of Ramesses II. Huge Egyptian facilities have been excavated at Pi-Ramesses (northeastern Delta) for chariotry and metalworking (furnaces, tools, and smelting channels—from the time of Sety I and Ramesses II). The foundry contains a stone mold for producing Hittite-style shields, which may reflect the presence of Hittite craftsmen under Egyptian supervision. Sety I's and Ramesses II's battles against the Hittites brought much booty to Egypt, and Hittite captives appear as soldiers, laborers, craftsmen, and other personnel in palace and temple workshops. In contrast, an early nineteenth dynasty granite stela fragment, from a palace in Hattusas (Bogazkoy), probably represents booty from the Egypt-Hittite war (possibly from the Syrian city of Kadesh). Around Year 18 of his reign, Ramesses II granted sanctuary to Urhi-Teshub (formerly “Great King” of Khatte: Murshili III), who had been deposed and exiled by his uncle, Hattushili III. After a period of heightened tension concerning Urhi-Teshub and a realignment of Syrian-Mesopotamian countries backing either Egypt or Khatte, Ramesses II and Hattushili III established peace and exchanged letters, messengers, and gifts. Copies of the treaty survive in both Khatte and Egypt, demarcating the Egypt-Hittite border and stipulating the nature of relations between Egypt, Khatte, and each other's vassal states, including mutual military assistance against external and internal threats.

From about twenty-two thousand cuneiform documents at Bogazkoy, over one hundred letters and copies of letters represent correspondence exchanged between the royal families of Egypt (Ramesses II and Queen Naptera) and Khatte (Hattushili III and Queen Puduhepa), including a reply from Ramesses II to a Hittite vassal ruler (Kupanta-Kurunta of Mira). Ramesses II and royal family members send greeting gifts to Khatte, such as gold necklaces and cups, dyed and undyed linen items (garments, tunics, cloaks, bedspread), furniture, and boxes inlaid with gold and lapis lazuli. A text from Year 34 of Ramesses II records the stabilization of commerce with Khatte, noting that a man or woman leaving on business to Syria could reach Khatte in confidence, owing to Ramesses II's establishment of peace.

Hittite relations with Egypt include the visit of a Hittite prince to Egypt, and the marriage of Ramesses II (in Year 34 and in 40/45) to two Hittite princesses who are accompanied by personnel, their belongings, and gifts (gold, silver, copper, stone vessels, slaves, horses, cattle, goats, sheep). King Merenptah later sends grain to Khatte to relieve a famine, while Egyptian influence in Anatolia is known from the human-headed sphinx statues at Alaja and Bogazkoy and the royal symbol of a winged disk displayed over Hittite kings.

Crete and Egypt.

Although Egypt-Minoan contact declines in this period, Late Minoan IIIB contexts in Crete produce an Egyptian ceramic jar from Kommos and a faience scarab from Poros.

Greece and Egypt.

Late Helladic (Mycenaean) IIIB pottery increases throughout Egypt, virtually replacing Cypriot wares—even Cyprus contains high proportions of the pottery. Egyptian products in Late Helladic IIIB Greece include eight alabastra and bowls of calcite (Egyptian alabaster), diorite, porphyrite, and faience; a figurine; three scarabs; faience beads; amulets (Bes figures; crocodiles); and six plaques from Langada (Kos), Mycenae, Perati, Dendera, and Pylos. Perati has yielded scarabs of Ramesses II, while an unprovenanced granite statue of Unnufer is probably a later import.

Early Twentieth Dynasty.

The time of Sethnakhte to Ramesses VI (c.1200–1149 BCE) spans Late Cypriot IIIB, Iron Age 1A, Late Minoan IIIC, and Late Helladic IIIC:1.

Cyprus and Egypt.

Small quantities of Late Cypriot IIC–IIIA pottery appear in Ramessid contexts at Memphis (Kom Rabia), while some Egyptian pottery of the dynasty is reported from Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus. Late Cypriot IIIA:1–2 contexts in Cyprus yielded Egyptian glass, faience, and calcite (Egyptian alabaster) containers; scarabs; a pendant; and a staff terminal. Late Cypriot levels at Enkomi contain a scarab of Ramesses III and an ivory game box with an Egyptian Senet-game board on one side and a twenty-square game on the other.

An overview of Egypt-Cypriot relations reveals Late Cypriot pottery at over fifty New Kingdom Egyptian sites, in contrast to a broader variety of Egyptian products in Late Cypriot contexts at Akanthou, Aradhippou, Apera, Cesnola, Dromolaxia, Enkomi, Ayios Iakovos, Hala Sultan Tekke, Kazaphani-Ayios Andronikos, Klavdhia, Kouklia-Teratsoudhia, Kourion-Bamboula, Kourion, Limassol, and Maroni. The Egyptian items include Nile perch (Lates niloticus); vessels of calcite (Egpytian alabaster), faience, or glass; pottery amphorae; a bronze razor; kohl containers of glass and faience; jewelry of gold, silver, electrum, bronze, glass, and faience (amulets, rings, a collar, pendants of Ptah, Taweret, cats, and flies); scaraboid and scarab seals; a bronze statuette of Amun; and possibly ostrich eggs and ivory.

Anatolia and Egypt.

Egypt-Hittite contact ends during this period, when invasions by the Sea Peoples (and the displaced peoples) destroy Khatte and other Levantine states. West Anatolians number among the Sea Peoples who attack Egypt's borders. In Anatolia, a late New Kingdom statuette is known from Karamugh near Edessa (which probably was introduced later). Better provenanced Egyptian products come from a merchant ship of contested nationality (Syrian, Cypriot, or Aegean), which sank at Cape Gelidonya, near southern Anatolia, about 1200 BCE). The wreck contains four Egyptian scarabs; a plaque; and some weights (matching Egyptian standards) out of a cargo of storage jars; lead scraps; bronze and stone tools; a cylinder seal; jewelry; unworked crystal; ingots of copper (one ton), of bronze, and of tin.

The Aegean and Egypt.

Although no Late Helladic IIIC or sub-Mycenaean pottery is found in Egypt, increasing Aegean contact occurred through Libyan and Sea Peoples' invasions of Egypt's western and eastern borders. Some Egyptian items appear in Late Helladic IIIC:1 contexts in Greece, such as scarabs, cartouches, and an alabastron (tomb 124 at Perati), but could easily reflect heirlooms predating this period. Broadly dated Late Helladic/Late Mycenaean IIB–III contexts yielded eighteen Egyptian containers of stone, pottery, and glass, ten scarabs, and two amulets.

The Sea Peoples.

The successive maritime piracy, coastal raids, mass migrations (e.g., Mycenaean diaspora), and settlement of the Sea Peoples and other displaced peoples (c.1232–1191 BCE until c.1100 BCE), destroyed or destabilized empires, kingdoms, regions, and cities throughout the eastern Mediterranean (Mycenae; Khatte; Alasiya; Levantine towns), but these groups and their movements remain complex and incompletely understood. Various groups of Sea Peoples and raiders are encountered in fourteenth-century BCE texts, which mention the “Meshwesh” (Libya), “Shardana” (northern Syria), “land of Danuna/Denyen” (Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia), and “Lukka” (Lycia in southwestern Anatolia). The Shardana, Meshwesh, and Lukka reappear alongside several new peoples—the Shekelesh (southern Italy?), Teresh (Lydia in western Anatolia), and Ekwesh (near western Anatolia)—who represent Libyan allies in an invasion of Egypt's western Delta in Year 5 (c.1232 BCE) in the reign of Merenptah. Later, despite repelling another Libyan invasion (c.1194 BCE), Ramesses III confronts and barely defeats a massive overland and maritime invasion of “Djahi” (Palestine) and Egypt's Delta, by raiders and Sea Peoples in Year 8 (c.1191 BCE). The invaders included already known enemies (Shardana; Teresh; Shekelesh; Danuna/Denyen) and new foes (Peleset [Anatolia?/Aegean?]; Tjeker [Troad]; Weshesh [Troy?]), many of whom were captured and placed in Ramesses III's army. By 1100 BCE, these Sea Peoples and raiders appear settled in Palestine (Peleset [Philistines]; Tjeker), northern Syria-Palestine (Danuna/Denyen), Sicily (Shekelesh), Sardinia (Shardana), and possibly Etruria (Teresh?).

Late Twentieth Dynasty.

The time of the late twentieth dynasty to the early twenty-first corresponds to Iron Age 1B, Late Cypriot IIIA:2 to IIIB:1–2, Late Minoan IIIC and the sub-Minoan period, and Late Helladic IIIC:2–3 and the sub-Mycenaean period. Although Egypt lacks contemporary Cypriot or Aegean pottery, Late Helladic/Late Minoan IIIB/C and IIIC contexts in the Aegean yielded Egyptian items: fourteen scarabs, ten figurines and amulets, seven calcite (alabaster) and glass containers, two cartouches, and a stone pendant. Late Cypriot IIIA:2 and IIIB:1–2 contexts on Cyprus produced a seal (with a Nubian head), scarabs, and calcite (alabaster), faience, and glass containers from Kition and Enkomi. One of the few accounts of Egyptian activity abroad is the Journey of Wenamun, written about 1076 BCE, which relates the return journey from Byblos (Lebanon) of an Egyptian priest whose chartered ship is driven by a storm to Alasiya (Cyprus); Wenamun locates a townsperson who understands Egyptian, to negotiate with the town's princess in dissuading the townsfolk from killing him and the ship's crew (probably a defensive or retaliatory practice adopted by coastal towns to deal with unknown foreign maritimers who could represent sea raiders).

Egypt and the Mediterranean then entered a “dark age,” regarding international relations, although some texts and artifacts indicate continued trade with the Levant. Soon, the Macedonian Greeks, under Alexander the Great, incorporated Egypt into their plans of empire. Under the Ptolemies, and later under the Romans, Egypt became an important province in an expanding circum-Mediterranean trade empire. With the Arab conquest of the mid-seventh century CE Egypt became one of the several Islamic lands around the Mediterranean basin; it then became a special province of the Ottoman Empire.

See also CRETE; CYPRUS; HITTITES; MYCENAE; and SEA PEOPLE.

Bibliography

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Gregory D. Mumford