Crete, the Aegean, and the Near East in the Early 1st Millennium BCE
The dense and complex networks of interaction connecting the prehistoric Aegean and the Near East were severely dismantled ca. 1200 BCE. In the course of the early 1st millennium BCE new and very different networks of interaction emerged through the agency of people from both regions, and by the 7th century BCE Greek culture was strongly Orientalizing. Crete was once taken to hold a key role in this process and to be the cradle of the Greek Orientalizing culture, as the intellectual tradition of Pan-Cretism had it. More recently, however, the island has been seen as a passive periphery and a cultural backwater in this period. My paper offers a corrective approach to these contrasting interpretations. I argue for the important role of Crete in connecting the Aegean and the Near East based on new and old discoveries, and a range of archaeological and art-historical evidence for increasingly closer links between the island and the Eastern Mediterranean from the 11th to the 7th century BCE. I also explain the ways in which this evidence is exceptional for broader Greek contacts with the Near East. Lastly, I investigate the manipulation of Oriental styles and imports by different Cretan communities and social groups, and I analyze the serious demise of such imports to Crete in the course of the 7th century BCE and the reorientation of the island’s culture to the Aegean.
(Co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)
September 24 at 6:00 pm (Reception to follow)
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 15 East 84th Street
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