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DBAS-MAE Mycenaeans in the Amarnian Egypt

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Mycenaeans and Amarnian Egypt: A Database of Mycenaean pottery found in Amarna Age Egypt

Benedetta Torrini
Cristian Faralli
(technical support)


Access to the database

The aim of this work is to shed light on the topic of the contacts between Mycenaeans and Egypt during the so-called Amarna Age, by analyzing a class of archaeological records as a whole. Practically, this leads to an on-line collection of pottery of Mycenaean style (Late Helladic III A2-IIIB) found on Egyptian land. Most of these objects entered Egypt in a time span of approximately 30 years, while the country was under the rule of Pharaoh Akhenaten, and under his immediate debated successions.

The first interesting datum is the huge amount of objects of Mycenaean facture coming from Amarna Egypt sites: we are dealing with at least 56 complete vases and more than 1300 sherds. Such a quantity of foreign objects has not been found in Egypt, either before or after the Amarna age. Moreover, pottery proves to be the only testimony of an intense relationship between Mycenaean world at the top of its power and Egypt in a particular socio-political situation. In fact, written and iconographic sources about this contact cannot be of any help in adding details, because of their paucity or their generic informations. All we can say about this interesting question must be inferred directly by the study of pottery, its characteristics, its diffusion and distribution.

In the databases as much objects as possible are included (some others are unfortunately no more retraceable). In the great majority of cases we are dealing with stirrup jars or flasks, mostly of small size, with all likelihood used as refined containers for scented oils, perfumes or essences. Either the high quality of fabric and decoration or the precious content made these foreign vases so appreciated in Egypt. As it will result from the provenance of the single items, LH IIIA2-IIIB1 pottery scattered all over Egyptian territories of the Amarna Age, from the farthest borders throughout the Nile Valley, and embraced all sorts of contexts: domestic, sacred, public structures. It seems a natural consequence of the points highlighted above that we are facing evidence of an intense commercial exchange. We can see clear proofs of this contact following the directory Aegeum-Egypt only; the Egyptian counterpart to Mycenaeans perfumes is still a debated point, and would possibly be the task of further research.

Structure of the Database

The database provides a tool for studying each record in all its features, and for statistic enquiries. We sorted three steps for a single object's filing:

  • Identification: defining shape and indicating dimensions, chronology, state of conservation, provenance, and bibliographic references of the item. The abbreviations between brackets next to each shape refer to Furumark's shape codesi.
  • Description: describing each feature of the object and indicating fabric and paint used for decoration.
  • Decoration: taking in exam each part of the vase, indicating the decorative motif used, and its relation with what is immediately next to it. The abbreviations between brackets next to each motif refer to Furumark's motif codesii.

We have to notice that the provenance information is missing for many objects: this is due to non-sistematic digging and recovering of them. Even if removed from the original context, these pieces are nevertheless included, since they fit the period of our interest on typological and stylistic bases.


The issues of the search through this database can be organized as follows:

  1. General Search consists of
    • Shape: how many pieces for each shape
    • Provenance: vases from the same site or context (or both)
    • Current location (i.e. Museum)
  1. Advanced Search is made up of
    • Motif - Shape: occurrences of a decorative motif linked to a particular shape
    • Motif - Chronology: a motif related to a specific chronologic sub-phase of the analysed period

These two kinds of search make the queries through the database contents fast and easy. It is also possible to view all works about our topic in the Bibliographies.

Finally, we have to notice that all the pictures reproduced on this databases are only for personal use and for scientific and educational purposes, and are properly credited.

This database is a result of my Degree Dissertation in Archeology; I therefore wish to thank Professor A.M. Jasink, who followed the entire work, for the permission to join the DBAS project.

i Fukumark 1941
ii Fukumark 1941


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