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ΠΛΟΕΣ. Sea Routes. Interconnections in the Mediterranean 16th–6th Centuries B.C. Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Rethymnon, Crete, September 29–October 2, 2002

ΠΛΟΕΣ. Sea Routes. Interconnections in the Mediterranean 16th–6th Centuries B.C. Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Rethymnon, Crete, September 29–October 2, 2002

Edited by N. Stampolidis and V. Karageorghis. Pp. 374, figs. 235, tables 3. The University of Crete and the A.G. Leventis Foundation, Athens 2003. €50. ISBN 960-7143-25-6 (paper).

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Sea Routes could well have been characterized as simply another book in the long series of volumes on trade, commercial relations, itinerant craftsmen, and so forth were it not for the fact that all these issues, and more, are highlighted within the context of interconnections in the multicultural area of the Mediterranean. Stampolidis and Karageorghis, both experienced organizers of symposia, invited leading scholars to discuss various topics in a wide geographical spread from the beginning of the Late Bronze Age to the transition from premonetary to monetary societies. The symposium was completed with a successful exhibition entitled ΠΛΟΕΣ: From Sidon to Huelva. Interconnections in the Mediterranean, 16th–6th Centuries B.C., held in the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, and accompanied by a hefty catalogue, for which some of the speakers wrote detailed introductory notes.

The 29 papers delivered (it is unfortunately impossible to address them all here in detail) were organized into coherent and well-defined sections. The first eight entries focus on excavations and archaeological evidence, past and recent: F. Lo Schiavo, “Sardinia Between East and West: Interconnections in the Mediterranean”; R.S. Merrillees, “Egyptian Foreign Relations (Late Bronze Age and Iron Age)”; M. Yon, “The Foreign Relations of Ugarit”; L. Vagnetti, “The Role of Crete in the Exchanges Between the Aegean and the Central Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C.”; St.R. Snape, “Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham and Egyptian Foreign Trade in the 13th Century B.C.”; D. White, “Multum in Parvo: Bates’s Island on the NW Coast of Egypt”; L. Badre, “Handmade Burnished Ware and Contemporary Imported Pottery from Tell Kazel”; and Y. Lolos, “Cypro-Mycenaean Relations ca. 1200 B.C.: Point Iria in the Gulf of Argos and Old Salamis in the Saronic Gulf.”

Lo Schiavo presents the foreign (Mycenaean, Cretan, Cypriote, Near Eastern, Italian, North African, Iberian) material from Sardinia and Sardinian material (13th–8th century B.C.) from various Mediterranean sites. She discusses critically the situation as it emerges from the documentation, and presents cautious conclusions, avoiding extensive interpretation; her bibliography is extensive. The same holds true for Vagnetti, who deals with the interesting, though limited, information connecting Crete with Central Mediterranean from the 17th to the 11th century B.C. Merrillees’ and Yon’s papers synthesize the evidence from Egypt (without reference) and Ugarit (a successful combination of archaeological and textual documentation), the result of copious work and deep knowledge within their respective areas of expertise. Snape’s and White’s contributions concern northwest Egypt. The first reports the recent data from his excavation at Zawiyet Umm el- Rakham and interprets the role of the site during its short period of use, whereas the latter provides a synopsis of the material from the Bates’ island. Badre offers an overview of Barbarian Burnished Ware and its appearance in the Near Eastern Mediterranean coast, and gives a chronological frame according to the imported pottery from Tell Kazel. Part of Lolos’ paper concerning the shipwreck at Point Iria in the Gulf of Argos restates his earlier papers (but is no less welcome, since this evidence confirms his view about the sea traffic from Cyprus to the Argolid); his treatment of the material from old Salamis, however, needs updating (e.g., spindle whorls of the kind discovered at Kanakia on Salamis with parallels to Cypriot examples [112–13] are found in the Aegean from the Neolithic period on; for earlier LH parallels, see J. Carrington-Smith, Spinning, Weaving and Textile Manufacture in Prehistoric Greece [Hobart 1975] figs. 66m [LH I–II] and 67i [LH II] from Mycenae).

The next four contributions discuss various products, such as oil (perfumed and plain), wine, other foodstuffs, metals, and vitreous materials. S. Hadjitsavvas, “The Production and Diffusion of Olive Oil in the Mediterranean, ca. 1500–500 B.C.,” gives a synopsis of his past studies, examining all the aspects of oil production and trade (to the third millennium Aegean [118] must be added evidence from the Cyclades [C. Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization (London 1972) 285]). R. Palmer, “Trade in Wine, Perfumed Oil and Foodstuffs: the Linear B Evidence and Beyond,” provides a well-organized paper on this subject. J.D. Muhly, “Trade in Metals in the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age,” deals with his favorite subject, which he now extends to the Iron Age. And V. Matoïan, “Aegean and Near Eastern Vitreous Materials: New Data from Ugarit,” provides an interesting essay with an extensive bibliography.

The nine entries that follow concern the presence or movements of groups of people (ethnic, professional, and social). T.J. Barako, “The Changing Perception of the Sea Peoples Phenomenon: Migration, Invasion or Cultural Diffusion?,” discusses the Philistines, relying on evidence from the Iron Age, when they tried to reaffirm “their connection to their homeland,” the Aegean. A. Kanta, “Aristocrats—Traders—Emigrants—Settlers. Crete in the Closing Phases of the Bronze Age,” gives an interesting overview of the warriors’ graves on Crete from LM IIIA2 on. I.S. Lemos, “Craftsmen, Traders and Some Wives in Early Iron Age Greece,” offers an insightful analysis of the evidence from Lefkandi.

The rest of the papers in this section concern the Phoenicians. P. Bartolini, “The Phoenicians and Carthage in the Central Mediterranean between the 8th and the 5th Centuries B.C.,” surveys Phoenician history but without notes or bibliography. H.G. Niemeyer, “On Phoenician Art and Its Role in Trans-Mediterranean Interconnections ca. 1100–600 B.C.,” examines and discusses several categories of Phoenician finds, with accurate observations. G. Markoe, “Phoenician Metalwork Abroad: A Question of Export or On-site Production,” uses archaeological and philological evidence to propose that most Oriental metal finds from various Mediterranean sites were produced in situ. N.C. Stampolidis, “On the Phoenician Presence in the Aegean,” first reports the evidence concerning the Phoenician presence in the Aegean (with comprehensive bibliography) and then focuses on the important material from the Orthi Petra cemetery. L.E. Stager, “Phoenician Shipwrecks in the Deep Sea,” successfully combines archaeological and historical data, coupled with his impressive knowledge of Semitic philology. And N. Kourou, “Rhodes: The Phoenician Issue Revisited. Phoenicians at Vroulia?,” provides an interesting, well-organized, and bibliographically rich paper in which she underscores the presence of Phoenicians and Cypriots on the island.

The next two contributions relate to the alphabet and script. A. Johnston, “The Alphabet,” defines cultural zones according to script (an interesting table [274]). J. Smith, “Writing Styles in Clay of the Eastern Mediterranean Late Bronze Age,” uses script to describe relations and interconnections over the eastern Mediterranean.

A very interesting section follows containing important papers on seals, weights, bull currency, and coinage: J. Smith, “International Style in Mediterranean Late Bronze Age Seals”; J. Boardman, “Seal Engraving in the Mediterranean 1000–500 B.C.”; and J.H. Kroll, “Weights, Bullion Currency, Coinage.”

The next two contributions are devoted to tombs and burials. P. Belli, “Aspects of Monumental Funerary Architecture in LBA Crete,” summarizes his previous work, but he omits comparisons with built chamber tombs, at least those few constructed in the 14th century (see N. Papademitriou, Built Chamber Tombs of Middle and Late Bronze Age Date in Mainland Greece and the Islands [Oxford 2001] 164–65, 168). V. Karageorghis, “Heroic Burials in Cyprus and Other Mediterranean Regions,” offers an important synthesis concerning the heroic burial in Cyprus (11th–10th century); his comparisons mostly with Aegean data highlight a common ideology in burial customs.

The final two papers concern types of goddesses, their common elements all over the Mediterranean, and the continuity of tradition: J. Karageorghis, “The Goddess of Cyprus Between the Orient and the Occident,” and S. Böhm, “The ‘Naked Goddess’ in Early Greek Art: An Orientalizing Theme Par Excellence,” discuss subjects with which both have been familiar for many years and epitomize their previous excellent studies. Merrillees succinctly summarizes the key points of the symposium (372) with some acute observations.

This book is a stimulating collection of well-documented articles focusing on a large area, covering a long and crucial period, and discussing various subjects, most of them with original approaches and extensive bibliographies. It is well produced from a technical standpoint (almost no typographical errors), with excellent figures and drawings (though the absence of a unified map at the beginning with all the sites mentioned in the texts, such as the one at the end of the ΠΛΟΕΣ catalogue, is a serious omission). Though the book aims at the scholarly community, the nontechnical treatment of some of the issues makes this book accessible to the nonspecialists and advanced students alike.

Naya Sgouritsa
Department of Archaeology and History of Art
University of Athens
Panepistimioupoli Zografou
157 84 Athens

Book Review of ΠΛΟΕΣ. Sea Routes. Interconnections in the Mediterranean 16th–6th Centuries B.C., edited by N. Stampolidis and V. Karageorghis

Reviewed by Naya Sgouritsa

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 110, No. 2 (April 2006)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1102.Sgouritsa

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