Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Baltic Amber Lion of the Royal Tomb of Qatna (ca. 1340 BC, today in Syria) has Amber Connections to Mycenae, Ugarit and the Tomb of Tutankhamun

Baltic Amber in the Royal Tombs of Qatna, Mycenae, Ugarit and the Tomb of Tutankhamun?

"The Treasures of Ancient Syria – Discovery of the Kingdom of Qatna”

is of interest in this regard.

Having started October 17, 2009 and running until March 15, 2010
"one-of-a-kind objects from the royal cript are displayed together with finds from the royal cities of Ebla, Mari, Ugarit and Alalakh. “The Treasures of Ancient Syria – Discovery of the Kingdom of Qatna” will run through March 14, 2010 at the Württemberg State Museum in Stuttgart."
The Wikipedia writes about Qatna:
Qatna (Arabic قطنا, modern Tell el-Mishrife, Arabic المشرفة) is an archaeological site in the Wadi il-Aswad, a tributary of the Orontes, 18 km northeast of Homs, Syria. It consists in a tell occupying 1 km², which makes it one of the largest Bronze Age towns in western Syria. The tell is located at the edge of the limestone-plateau of the Syrian desert towards the fertile Homs-Bassin....

Historical geography and trade

In the 2nd Millennium BC trade routes developed connecting Mesopotamia with Cyprus, Crete and Egypt. Qatna was then situated near the end of the road connecting the middle Euphrates valley, for example Mari by way of Tadmor/Palmyra to the Mediterranean. Another route started from Aleppo, left the Euphrates at Emar and led via Halab, Qatna and Hazor to Egypt. The valley of Homs formed a connection to the Mediterranean near the port of Byblos and Tripoli, running between the Lebanon and the Ansari-mountains. Qatna is mentioned in the tin trade, which went from Mari via Qatna to the Mediterranean, Cypriote copper was transported in the other direction. The Mari texts mention cloth, clothing, a certain kind of bows, jewellery, woods, wine and two-wheeled chariots as trade goods reaching Mari via Qatna and partly going on to Babylon. Recent scientific investigation has determined that a carved hollow lion head vessel (circa 1340 BC) found at Qatna was made from amber imported from the Baltic region.[2] This type of amber has also been found in the Mycenae region from the same time period."

See at in general, The Qatna lion: scientific confirmation of Baltic amber in late Bronze Age Syria, Antiquity, March 1, 2008 by Anna J. Mukherjee, Elisa Rossberger, Matthew A. James, Peter Pfalzner, Catherine L. Higgitt, Raymond White, David A. Peggie, Dany Azar, Richard P. Evershed, where it is written:
"The combined findings of FTIR, py-GC/MS and radiocarbon analysis confirm the Baltic origin of the amber used to fashion these artefacts....

The quantity of amber in the Royal Tomb of Qatna is unparalleled for known second millennium BC sites in the Levant and the Ancient Near East. In Syria, to date, amber beads have only been discovered in small numbers in private graves at Alalakh (Woolley 1955: 203, 208), Mari (Jean-Marie 1999: 119, 120, 122, 144, 151, 153, 158, 162) and at the royal palace of Ugarit where 14 beads were found together with 'Mycenaean objects' (Schaeffer 1939: 100; Caubet 1998: 106). Except for the latter, these have neither been chemically analysed nor discussed in detail making their identification uncertain.

It is at the beginning of the Mycenaean period (early sixteenth century BC) that Baltic amber, almost exclusively in the form of beads, reached the central Mediterranean, occurring in large numbers in the famous Shaft Graves of Mycenae and in a few other high-status burials on the Peloponnes (Harding & Hughes-Brock 1974: 147-8; Harding 1984: 69-87). It remains a matter of debate as to how they came to be in the Aegean and whether amber reached ancient Greece as a raw material or finished product (Harding & Hughes-Brock 1974: 154; Hughes-Brock 1993: 219, 221). While restricted to high status burials in the Mycenaean core area during this period, amber beads were distributed more widely in the fifteenth-thirteenth centuries BC, although the numbers present in any one single burial reduced dramatically (Harding & Hughes-Brock 1974: 149-52). In the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC some amber beads reached the Eastern Mediterranean, notably Cyprus, Egypt, Syria and Palestine (Harding & Hughes-Brock 1974; Hughes-Brock 1993; Hood 1993; Todd 1985; 1993). The 41 amber beads found in the Uluburun shipwreck off the Turkish coast, dating to the late fourteenth century BC, can either be interpreted within a context of trade, of gift exchange between royal elites, or as the personal belongings of high-ranking Mycenaeans onboard the vessel (Pulak 2005). A reputed amber bead necklace consisting of around 60 short biconvex to lentoid beads and various other putative amber objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun (Hood 1993), roughly contemporary with the latest phase of use of the Royal Tomb at Qatna, may hint at the high prestige value that was attributed to the material in Egypt at this time."

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