The Location of Alashiya: New Evidence from Petrographic Investigation of Alashiyan Tablets from El-Amarna and Ugarit
Ancient Near Eastern archives of cuneiform texts contain tablets whose origin is unknown. Letters often do not contain the name or address of the sender. Moreover, the locations of some ancient Near Eastern countries and cities have not yet been clearly established. Hence we perform a research program that intends to fill this gap through a systematic provenance study of the Amarna letters and other Near Eastern texts using petrographic and geochemical methods. So far, over 300 tablets have been analyzed. This paper presents the provenance of the Alashiya letters from Amarna and Ugarit as well as an assemblage of Cypro-Minoan texts from Cyprus. Petrographic and chemical examinations indicate that the Amarna letters from Alashiya originate from the area on the margin of the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. Various lines of evidence make it clear that the raw material was collected by the scribes in their immediate vicinity and not transported over large distances. Within Cyprus, either Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios or Alassa Paliotaverna/Pano Manadilaris are identified as the source of official Alashiyan letters. Since the geopolitical configuration of Late Bronze Age Alashiya is still unclear, the implications of our conclusions for this vexed issue are discussed.