Aegean was a region that was located to the northwest side of Egypt. The word “Aegean” is derived from the name of the Greek Deity who according to legend was drowned in the sea. Aegean comprised of many islands like the Crete, the Cyclades settled around the Aegean Sea along with Greek mainland. The Aegean civilization is also known as the Bronze Age civilization. Ancient Egypt Aegean Trade Relations flourished vigorously in the second millennium B.C.
During the 2nd millennium BC, The Minoans, and the Mycenaeans inhibited the Aegean islands of Crete and Cyclades respectively. The Cyclades are a group of more than 100 islands in the Aegean Sea and the Cycladic civilization was contemporary to the Egyptian civilization. The Mycenaeans were a warlike civilization and fought often. The Aegean and Egypt engaged in trade activities.
Minoan and Mycenaean Art and Culture
In the initial years of trade, very few items were exchanged. The Minoans traded gold, ivory, copper, and tin with Egypt and Greek mainland. The Minoan metalwork was much prized on the mainland. Cretan vessels have been found in Egypt during excavations. After 1600 BC, the trade and commerce relations between the two gradually grew stronger.
During excavations in ancient Egyptian sites, Aegean pottery, and ceramic artifacts have been found. These artifacts and pottery items can be dated back to the Middle Kingdom period. Important inscriptions showcasing the relations between Egypt and Aegean have been discovered on a statue base at the funerary temple of Amenhotep III. These inscriptions indicate that the Egyptians had knowledge of the Aegean towns and regions. However, it is unclear whether the people from Aegean civilization settled in Egypt and vice versa.
The Mycenaeans, however, were not been more different from the Minoans. The Minoan culture appeared peaceful, their towns were unfortified, and battle scenes were virtually nonexistent in their art. The Mycenaeans lived in communities that surrounded fortified hilltops, and battle and hunting scenes dominated their art. The warlike Mycenaeans lived and died by the sword.
In the Mycenaen culture, the Kings not only controlled their own cities but also the surrounding countryside. Merchants, farmers, and artisans owed their own prosperity to the king for their protection and paid high taxes for the privilege of living. Going a step ahead, more powerful kings, such as those at Mycenae itself, also expected the loyalty of nobles and financial support of other cities over whom they exercised authority.
Mycenaean culture, a forerunner of ancient Greek culture was essentially feudal in nature. Under this system of a political organization that was held together by ties of allegiance between a lord and those who relied on him for protection.
Bronze Age Aegean
No written records of the early Cycladic people remain, although archeologists have found a good deal of art in and around hillside burial chambers.
Minoan frescoes, as well as those on Thera, differ from ancient Egyptian frescoes in several ways:
The most obvious are that they were painted not in tombs but on the walls of homes and places where they could be enjoyed by the living.
The two kinds of frescoes were made differently as well. Lik the Egyptians applied pigment to a dry wall in the fresco secco technique, Minoan artists employed a Buon fresco technique similar to that used by Renaissance artists nearly 3,000 years later.
In Buon fresco, the pigment is mixed with water and then applied to a wall that has been coated with wet lime plaster. As the wall dries, the painting literally becomes part of it. Buon fresco is far more durable than fresco secco, for the paint will not flake off as easily.
A good example of this is the Vaphio Cup, one of two golden cups found in the nineteenth century in a tomb at Vaphio, just south of Sparta, on the Peloponnese.
This cup was executed in repoussé- the artist hammers out the design from the inside. The Vaphio Cup depicts a man in an olive grove capturing a bull by tethering its hind legs. The bull motif is classically Minoan. The Mycenaeans, however, could not have been more different from the Minoans. Whereas Minoan towns were unfortified, and battle scenes were virtually nonexistent in their art, the Mycenaeans lived in communities surrounding fortified hilltops, and battle and hunting scenes dominate their art. Minoan culture appears to have been peaceful, while the warlike Mycenaeans lived and died by the sword.
Mycenae was discovered by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822–90) in the late nineteenth century before Sir Arthur Evans discovered Knossos.
Its walls that were 20 feet thick and 50 feet high—were built from huge blocks of rough-hewn stone, in a technique called cyclopean masonry because it was believed by later Greeks that only a race of monsters known as the Cyclopes could have managed them. Visitors to the city entered through a massive Lion Gate at the top of a steep path that led from the valley below.
Mycenae was only one of several fortified cities on mainland Greece that were flourishing by 1500 BCE
The Mycenaean culture was the forerunner of ancient Greek culture and was essentially feudal in nature—that is, a system of the political organization held together by ties of allegiance between a lord and those who relied on him for protection.
Kings controlled not only their own cities but also the surrounding countryside. Merchants, farmers, and artisans owed their own prosperity to the king and paid high taxes for the privilege of living under his protection. More powerful kings, such as those at Mycenae itself, also expected the loyalty (and financial support) of other cities and nobles over whom they exercised authority.
One of the fascinating aspects of the eastern Mediterranean in the Bronze Age is the development of written language. First, around the middle of the second-millennium BCE, as trade increasingly flourished between and among the Greek islands and the mainland, a linear Minoan script began to appear on tablets and objects across the region. Then, 600 to 700 years later, the Phoenicians, the great traders of the area, began to spread a distinctly new writing system, based on an alphabet (apparently of their own invention), across the entire Mediterranean basin.
Once the ancient Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet in about 800 BCE, they began to write down the stories from and about their past, their archaeology, that had been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth.